Sunday, May 06, 2012

6th Sunday of Easter

Texts: Acts 11:44-48; Psalm 98; 1 John 5:1-6; John 15:9-17

Call to Worship
L: We gather to worship the One
who crafted creation out of chaos,
P: our cries of joy join the anthems of the universe.
L: We gather to lift our praise
to the God who gives us voice,
P: we bring the songs which have echoed
in our hearts all week long.
L: We gather as the children of God,
our joy unbroken in God's love.
P: young and old, tone deaf and perfect-pitched
lift the new, new songs of faith.

Prayer of the Day
You raise your hand
and gently begin
the concerto of creation:
birds carry the melody
while stars keep the beat;
mountains dance in merriment
and little children clap
their hands with joy.
Love's Composer,
our new songs are lifted to you.

The old, old song
is made new in our hearts:
Christ is Risen!
Sing Alleluia!
You invite us to sing to a world
deafened by despair
and haunted by the tunes of fear.
Lord of the Dance,
our new songs are lifted to you.

Believing we cannot
carry a tune,
we hesitate to join in
the chorus of praise
sung by all creation.
So, you softly and gently
hum the melody in our hearts
until they burst with you,
raising a rousing chorus
of Amazing Grace.
Music-making Spirit,
our new songs are lifted to you.

Every song, old and new, is offered to you,
God in Community, Holy in One,
even as we lift the prayer Jesus teaches,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation
Beautiful music, every note perfect, joining
together in graceful harmony - this is what we
imagine our lives to be. Yet our love is flat,
our anger often sharp. Let us confess how we
struggle to keep the measured beat of God's
life-giving melody in our lives, even as we pray
together saying,

Unison Prayer of Confession
Joy-giving God, we know who we are: people
who hear the harmony of your grace and love in
our souls, but who sing off-key so often. We want
to learn new songs, but those haunting tunes of our
past mistakes run through our heads. We long to
make a joyful noise to you, but the hurts inflicted
on us, and the pain we have caused others, silence
our voices.
Sing to us, Conductor of Grace: sing of your
forgiveness, your hope, your love for us. Strike
a chord of humility in our hearts so our eyes could
see all you have done for us; and in seeing, we
might believe how much you love us; and in believing,
we would echo that new song of hope and life
composed through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

Silence is observed

Assurance of Pardon
L: Listen to the melody of the good news: Christ is
risen, bringing joy into the world. The One who
was dead now lives, and wraps us in the delight
of life forever with our God.
P: Now, our dirges have turned to joy;
our requiem has been rearranged as a hymn of hope;
our laments are lost in a cantata of praise.
Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed! Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
L: May the God of creation choruses be with you!
P: And also with you!
L: God sings of hope and grace to your hearts,
people of God!
P: We open them to be filled with the wonder of love.
L: God welcomes your songs of praise and joy.
P: We lift our hearts and voices in thanksgiving
to the composer of all!

Maestro of the Universe:
the song began low and quiet,
barely disturbing chaos,
but then it slowly grew in tempo
as you beat out the rhythm of creation,
light, sharp and clear,
like the blast of a trumpet;
the hills and valleys bursting forth
like the beat of the tympani;
water running clear and free
like arpeggios on a piano.
You composed all this, and more,
for those created in your image,
and filled with the music of your heart.
We thought your tunes burdensome,
and turned our ears to the dischords
of sin, temptation, and death.
You wrote new tunes,
to the same words of hope and promise,
sending the prophets to play them
in the streets where we wandered,
but we continued to dance
to the music only we could hear.
So you sent Jesus to us,
loving us enough to send us
the very One who could bring us home.

So, with those who have sung the song
of grace and hope in every time and place,
and with all who are just learning the words,
we lift our voices in praise to you:

P: Holy, holy, holy, God of beauty and joy.
All the ends of the earth sing praises to you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes to sing a new song.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holiness is the melody of who you are, Gentle God,
and blessed is the Song of your heart, Jesus Christ.
As he loved you, so he loved us:
keeping your word close in his heart,
he came singing of your gracious love;
abiding in your promises of hope,
he came bringing the harmony
of peace for our fragmented lives;
coming to judge the world with righteousness,
he laid down his life for his friends,
trusting and believing that the funeral dirges
they sang on that sad Friday,
would be rearranged as Easter cantatas
on that first morning of the new creation.

As we remember his life, death and resurrection,
as we seek to follow his command to love,
we sing of that mystery we call faith:

P: The Singer was not silenced by death;
the Singer was raised to new life;
the Singer will come to lead us home to God.

Pour out your joyful Spirit
upon the gifts of the bread and the cup
and on your children gathered at your feast.
We would open our hearts
to receive the bread of life,
not with silenced gratitude,
but with glad songs of joy.
We would empty ourselves
to be filled with the cup's compassion,
not with speechless thanks
but with shouts of praise.
And as we learn the new song
of sacrifice on behalf of others,
we would go to serve the brokenhearted;
as we are given the instruments of praise,
we would turn them into the means
to transform the lives of the hungry,
the homeless, the forgotten, the outcast.

And when our music has ended,
and there is only the plainsong of life forever
in the tender embrace of your peace,
we will gather at the Table once again,
hands and hearts, brothers and sisters,
joining in the never-ending praise to you,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

(c) Thom M. Shuman