Sunday, April 29, 2012

5th Sunday of Easter - B

Texts: Acts 8:26-40; Psalm 22:25-31; ! John 4:7-21; John 15:1-8

Call to Worship
L: We come to this place where God pours out love on us,
P: we join our voices in praise, as our fears are left behind.
L: We gather with these people, those who seek to follow Jesus,
P: so we might walk the paths of service hand in hand.
L: We open our hearts to the gifts of the Spirit,
P: so that grace and peace might be the fruit we bear.

Prayer of the Day
Like a mother
sending her children
off to school each day,
you watch us walk down
the streets of the kingdom,
keeping an eye on us
while giving us freedom,
trusting and believing
we will bear fruit;
like a mother
gently rocking her babe,
you let us snuggle into your lap,
as you softly lullaby us
with songs of grace and hope;
like a mother
warmly welcoming her neighbor
over for coffee and a chat,
you invite us into your heart,
so we may whisper to you
of our deepest longings.

God in Community, One in Abiding Love,
hear us as we pray as we are taught,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation
There come those moments when we stand
exposed, our failings, our hurtful words, our
harmful ways open for all to see. But God
takes these moments, and these sins, redeeming
them through compassionate love, making us
new people, children of the Living God. Let
us come, in these moments, with our prayers
to the One who waits to forgive us and make
us whole. Please join me as we pray together,
saying,

Unison Prayer of Confession
We carry our fears around with us like so
much pocket lint, Compassionate Heart, when
you would take them and toss them aside,
spent and useless. You invite us to sit and chat
with someone who wants to know more about
you, but we are busy running errands. You give
us a simple command - to love, and we complicate
it with rules, worries, and doubts.
Forgive us, Vine Grower. You have planted
those seeds of mercy, of hope, of grace deep
within us, so we might bear rich and nourishing
fruit for others. May we not get in the way of
your Gardener, Jesus Christ our Lord and
Savior, who will use the Holy Spirit to bring
forth an abundant crop.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
L: God abides in you! God is breathing, living,
forgiving, restoring you in this moment, and in
the days to come. This is the good news for us!
P: As God is in us, so we can live, work, care
for others, so that love, hope and joy might
touch all people. Thanks be to God, we are
forgiven. Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
L: As much as we loved by our God,
P: so we are to love one another!
L: Beloved of God, come to this Table
with your hearts wide open.
P: For God has promised to dwell in us.
L: Here at the Table of wonder and grace,
we are fed by the One who loves us.
P: Though we have never seen God, we know
and testify to the One who gives us all we need.

When light pierced the shadows of chaos,
when waters sluiced through valleys,
when tadpoles transformed into frogs,
it was in those moments that your creative love
was revealed for all time, Abiding God.
Even though you loved us first,
we desired the temptations of the world more,
getting up and wandering along
the dusty way of death.
Prophets came to be our guides,
seeking to help us understand
your great love for us,
but our fears cast their words
far away from our hearts.
Then, as an everlasting sign of love,
you sent Jesus to be among us,
the True Vine who would bear
the fruits of redemption and grace.

So, with those who have gone down to the dust,
and with all the generations yet to come,
we join our voices, singing your praises:

P: Holy, holy, holy, God of grace and peace.
All the ends of the earth sing of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes to guide our way.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, God of every moment,
and blessed is Jesus Christ,
the Vine of life and hope.
When he told stories of branches
that would bend from the weight of grace;
when his perfect nature showed us
we could cast off sin's fears;
when he went down into death's dust,
that we might be reshaped in your image,
it was in those moments
that your sacrificial love
was revealed for all time.

So, as we come to the Table,
as we remember his life, death,
and sing of his resurrection
we proclaim to all the generations to come
that mystery we call faith:

P: Christ walked the wilderness road to death;
Christ cast aside the grave, raised to life;
Christ will come again to guide us to glory.

When we gather at the Table,
where your Spirit has been poured out
upon the generous gifts of bread and cup;
when we are strengthened by the bread,
and then go forth to work so
the poor can eat and be satisfied;
when grace overflows from the cup
and like a roaring river, carries justice
into all the places of inequity and oppression;
when your hope casts out all our fears,
so we can stand beside our sisters and brothers:
it is in these moments
that your sanctifying love
is revealed for all time.

And when all moments have stopped,
all the ends of creation will remember your grace;
when families of every time and place
gather around the Feast of the Lamb;
our hearts will love forever,
abiding in your love,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

© Thom M. Shuman