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

Sunday, April 22, 2012

4th Sunday of Easter - B

Texts: Acts 4:5-12; Psalm 23; 1st John 3:16-24; John 10:11-18

Call to Worship
L: In the presence of God, we gather:
P: people burdened and looking for comfort;
folks whose spirits need a makeover.
L: Like little children, we surround God:
P: hoping for that touch which will refresh us;
longing to be embraced in arms of love.
L: We look, and find a feast has been prepared for us:
P: bread which will give us life anew;
the cup which overflows with grace and hope.

Prayer of the Day
On the lonely paths through life,
you are smoothing the way for us.
In the barren soil where we till our souls,
you are nurturing us with love.
Wherever we are, we find you,
Crafter of Creation.

When we go to fill the emptiness
of a hungry world,
you are handing us the bags of food.
When we see children struggling
to get past the potholes of poverty,
you are waiting with the gifts
we can use to smooth their way.
Wherever we are, we find you,
Shepherd of God's little ones.

At the corner where anger
intersects with judgment,
you are handing out bottles
filled from peace's spring.
At every opportunity we have
to share goodness and mercy,
we find our pockets stuffed
with simple acts of kindness.
Wherever we are, we find you,
Shepherd's Spirit.

Wherever we are, we find you,
God in Community, Holy in One,
even as we pray as Jesus has taught us, saying,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation
We wander from hope to hope, thinking the next person,
the next book, the next new thing will lead us in the ways
in which we long to live. Yet, if we open our eyes and
pay attention, we will see the Good Shepherd, the One
we will bring us into the kingdom of God's mercy and
hope, even as we confess all the foolish mistakes we
have done, and all the wrong turns we have made.
Join me, as we pray saying,

Unison Prayer of Confession
You long to fill us with your comfort and peace,
Still Waters of Grace, but we continue to take on
more anxiety, more worry, more fear. You would
comfort us in the gentleness of your hope, but we
welcome the embrace of a world spinning more and
more out of control. You would feed us with more
than we need, but we continue to hunger for the
sweet sensations offered to us by temptation.
You keep your promises and offer us forgiveness
and mercy all the days of our life. May we keep our
eyes focused on the path you have shaped for us; may
we listen to the call of the Good Shepherd who leads
us into your joy, that kingdom prepared for us by
Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silent prayers may be offered

Assurance of Pardon
L: This is the good news: wherever we are, God
is with us; whoever we are, God forgives us,
and offers us new life.
P: Surely goodness and mercy are the companions
we have been longing for, faithful friends as we
continue our journey as God's people. Amen.

The Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
L: May God be with you.
P: And also with you.
L: Beloved of God, lift up your hearts.
P: We lift them to the One who leads us
where we need to be.
L: Little children, give thanks to the Lord our God.
P: Our praise is continually offered to our Heart,
our Shepherd, our God.

Holy God,
Planter of green pastures where we might be fed;
Pooler of waters which nourish us forever;
Shaper of paths which lead us into your presence:
all that you made is beautiful and good
and given to those created in your image.
Sadly, our wisdom leads us to choose hunger
over the feast you prepare for us;
we thirst in the deserts
when we could drink deeply
from your grace;
we stumble off those paths
leading to your holy presence.
Yet you continue to seek us out,
to bring us home to your kingdom,
preparing a feast for those who will not respond
to your gracious invitation.

Therefore, we lift our voices to you day and night,
with those gathered around your throne
and with those who struggle to be faithful today,
singing your praise and our thanksgiving:

P: Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of goodness and mercy.
Ggreen pastures and summer nights are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.

Blessed is the One who lays down his life for your children.
Hosanna in the highest.

Holy are you, Shepherd of all people,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior,
one with you in every respect.
For your name's sake,
he left the green pastures
to climb the garbage heap of Golgotha;
he waded out of the living waters
to be drenched with the abuse of the world;
he wandered the streets of the kingdom
covered with the dust of sin and death
to lead us into the kingdom of joy.

As we seek to follow the Good Shepherd
into all the places he would lead us,
we celebrate that mystery we call faith:

P: The Good Shepherd walked through the darkest valley;
the Good Shepherd prepares a Table for us;
the Good Shepherd abides in us.

Pour out your Holy Spirit
upon these gifts of the bread and the cup
you have prepared for your Table.
As the bread which is broken
makes us whole,
and the cup overflows with your grace,
so pour us out for others:
so we may offer shelter
to those who have no home;
so we may comfort those
whose hearts are broken by the world;
so we may share food
with all who ache from hunger;
so we may guide the thirsty
to the pools of life we have found.

And when our journey is ended,
when we are at home in the soft, green pastures,
resting by the still waters, we will find that Feast
of grace, mercy, and hope you prepare for us,
and we will join with our companions
from every time and place, singing joy to you:
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

© Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, April 15, 2012

3rd Sunday of Easter - B

Texts: Acts 3:12-19; Psalm 4; 1 John 3:1-7; Luke 34:36b-48

Call to Worship
L: We are witnesses,
P: to the love God has poured into us.
L: We are witnesses of God's love,
P: sharing it with each person we meet.
L: We are witnesses to everyone we encounter,
P: little children like us, sisters and brothers in God's family.

Prayer of the Day
When it seems that no one will listen,
we find you at our side,
leaning over to catch every
faltering, stumbling, fearful word
spilling forth from our hearts.

When it seems that the world
rushes past us, leaving us behind,
we find you waiting just ahead of us,
ready to light the way
into the future you have prepared.

When we worry about yesterday
and all the tomorrows to come,
you gather us up in your arms,
gently rocking us in your hope.

God in Community, Holy in One,
continue to touch us with your peace,
even as we pray as we are taught, saying,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation
We know how easy it is to trick ourselves into believing
that every thought is pure, every act is just, every choice
is correct. But if we want to be God's children, to grow
in hope, to walk in the Light, we must admit our mistakes,
so we may open ourselves to the healing mercy of God's
love. Join me, please, as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer of Confession
Emptier of tombs, we find ourselves running down the
street after lies, rather than walking with you. We find
it easy to love other people, as long as they don't annoy
or bother us. We hunger for love and search for affirmation,
yet find it difficult to let others love us for who we are.
Forgive us, Compassionate Heart. You listen to the
whispers of our hearts, and then sing of the promises
of hope. You grace us with peace, so our hearts can
rest in you. You continue to transform us into Easter
people, brothers and sisters of our Lord and Savior,
Jesus Christ.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
L: Not everything has been revealed to us, but
this we do know: as God's children, we
are blessed, we are loved, we are forgiven.
P: Our lives have been transformed by the
abundant mercy given to us in Christ
Jesus our Lord. Thanks be to God!
Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
L: May the Lord of Easter be with you!
P: And also with you!
L: Open your hearts to God, beloved of the Lord.
P: We lift them to the One who fills our lives
with joy and wonder.
L: Children of Easter, sing praises to God.
P: Our voices unite in thanksgiving to the One
who walks with us in this life.

You opened your hands,
pouring creation's glory
into the emptiness of chaos,
God of beginnings.
The sun, moon, and stars became
the mirrors of the light of your face,
shining down upon all that was crafted.
Shaping us in your divine image,
you stood beside us,
pointing out all the good you offer to us.
But we found comfort in sin's shadows,
fear and doubt claiming us as friends,
and we turned our backs on you.
Through our ancestors in the faith,
Sarah and Samuel, Hannah and Hosea,
you demonstrated your faithfulness,
your longing to welcome us
into your embracing arms of love.
But we did not recognize them,
and clung to the vain words
spoken to us by temptation.
So, you sent your child to us,
to show us what love truly is,
that we might have this hope
offered to us in Jesus.

So, with little children who delight in your joy,
and with older folks who trust in your promises,
with our sisters and brothers throughout all time,
we join our voices in praising your name:

P: Holy, holy, holy, God of grace and beauty.
All creation joins in singing your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.

Blessed is the One who comes so we may be like him.
Hosanna in the highest.

Blessed are you, Holy and Righteous God,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, Author of Life.
In the Word become flesh,
you call us to repent and turn to you.
In the Light of the world,
our eyes are opened
so we can see you standing with us.
In scarred hands and feet,
we see the power of sin and death
destroyed by your grace and hope,
so we can reach out and embrace
that life which is ours forever with you.

As we gather around the Table to remember,
as we give thanks for the life which was given for us,
we speak of what we do not always understand - the mystery of faith.

P: Christ walked to Calvary to die for us.
Christ strode from the tomb to raise us to life.
Christ will come and stand among us, to lead us home.

In this moment, and in this place,
pour out your Spirit upon us,
and on the gifts of the bread and cup
which have been prepared for us.
As we take the bread
from your scarred hands,
may we reach out
to mend the broken of our world.
As we drink from the cup,
open our hearts and eyes,
so we may see those
the world overlooks,
so we may stand with them
in every moment and place.

And when our journey has ended,
when at last all is revealed to us,
we will take our places around
the wedding banquet in heaven,
joining our sisters and brothers
in singing our thanks and joy to you,
God in Community, Holy in One,
now and forevermore. Amen.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Monday, April 09, 2012

Second Sunday of Easter - B

Texts: Acts 4:32-35; Psalm 133; 1st John 1:1 - 2:2; John 20:19-31

Call to Worship
L: The Word of life spoke:
P: so we could hear the angels' 'Alleluias!'
L: The Word of life reached out:
P: so we could touch the hope which heals us.
L: The Word of life walked out of death's dread tomb:
P: so we could follow him into life forever.

Prayer of the Day
Emptier of Tombs:
you raised Jesus
from the grave
so all fears might be banished;
so the locked doors of our hearts
could be flung open;
so our quivering lips
could declare what
we have seen and heard.

Bright Glory of God:
as you stood in the middle
of your friends
on that first Easter night,
come among us now,
in this time and place,
showing us that death and sin
no longer stand in the way
of our life with you.

Breath of Peace:
strengthen us
so we may stand
with all who fear life;
take our hands in yours,
so we may serve all
who are broken with grief;
inspire us to share
the grace which has been breathed
into our very souls.

God in Community, Holy in One,
hear us as we pray as Jesus taught us, saying,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation
How often have we heard the good news of forgiveness and restoration? Yet,
we are still reluctant to believe. God offers us new life, yet we are afraid
to let go of the old. Let us confess our doubts and fears to the One who
waits to make us whole.

Unison Prayer of Confession
We use a lot of words, Gracious God, but do little to turn them into
deeds. Instead of being of one heart and soul, we choose sides and form
groups of folks just like us. Blessed with great grace, we have trouble
sharing it with those who need it the most.
Forgive us, God of love. Forgive us, as we step out of our shadows into
your light. Restore us, as we reveal our brokenness. Hear us, as we proclaim
Jesus Christ as our Lord and our God.

Silent Prayers may be offered

Assurance of Pardon
L: This is the good news we have declare: God leads
us out of the shadows to walk in the light of Christ.
P: This is the word we have heard: our faithful God
forgives our sins and raises us to new life. Thanks
be to God. Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
L: May the Risen Lord be with you!
P: And also with you!
L: Lift your hearts to God, Resurrection People.
P: We lift our glad hearts to the One who gives us new life.
L: Children of God, sing with joy on this day of resurrection.
P: Songs of joy flow for our very being on this day.

How good and pleasant
it was, Joyous God,
when creation sprang forth:
great power flinging stars
into the blue-black skies;
precious goodness dripping down
the mountains into the valleys.
We were created in your image,
your breath filling us with your Spirit,
but in the evening on that day,
we followed sin and death
on the journey away from your grace.
Your prophets came with great grace,
declaring what they heard and saw,
but we remained determined in our rebellion.
Though the doors of our hearts
were locked for fear you would condemn us,
Jesus came into our midst,
with words of peace on his lips.

So, with those from every time and every place,
with whom we hold faith in common,
we sing your praises forever:

P: Holy, holy, holy, God of grace and hope.
All creation praises your glorious name.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes that
       our joy may be complete.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, Ordainer of blessings,
and gracious is your son, Jesus our Christ.
He came, showing us his hands
which were full of your healing.
He lived, to stand by our side
when pain and anger assail us.
He spoke, proclaiming your good news
of salvation for rebellious children.
He died, going deep into death's shadows,
that we might walk in your light.

As we give bear witness to his life and death,
as we celebrate his resurrection and new hope,
we declare that mystery we have heard and seen:

L: Christ went to the cross,
       stretching out his hands to embrace death;
Christ came out of the grave,
       reaching out his hands to embrace your love;
Christ will come, offering us his hands
       so we might go home with him.

Breathe on us, Spirit of God,
as we gather around your table.
Transform this simple bread
into that gift of life which, broken,
can make us whole once again.
Sanctify this common cup
that it might become the grace
for which we thirst in this and every moment.
And when we have been nourished,
may we go forth into the world,
pushing aside the doors locked tight
by the forces of prejudice and oppression,
that all might receive your hope,
that everyone might feel your Breath
bringing them back to life.

And when we have come to the end of our journey,
when we gather with our sisters and brothers
around that feast of wonder and grace you prepare,
we join our hearts and voices in singing
your praises throughout all eternity,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

© 2012 Thom M. Shuman

Monday, April 02, 2012

Easter - Year B

Texts: Isaiah 25:6-9; Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24; 1st Corinthians 15:1-11; Mark 16:1-8

Call to Worship
L: This is the day:
P: when tears are wiped away;
shattered hearts are mended;
fears are replaced with joy.
L: This is the day the Lord:
P: rolls away the stone of fear;
throw's off death's clothes;
goes ahead of us into God's future.
L: This is the day the Lord has made:
P: death has no fear for us;
sin has lost it's power over us;
God opens the tombs of our hearts
to fill us with life.
L: This is the day - Easter Day!
P: Christ is Risen! Hallelujah!

Prayer of the Day
Very early on that first day
you caught chaos unawares,
Astounding God:
planting grace in a garden,
setting love loose on creation,
flinging joy into the air.

Very early on that first day
Jesus, Sun of Justice:
you staggered sin,
throwing its weight off the world;
you confounded death,
leaving it alone in the grave;
you opened the gates of the kingdom,
so all could follow you into life.

Very early on this first day of the week,
while we were washing sleep from our eyes
and trying to make sense of our lives,
you sang glad songs to us,
Scarred Spirit:
rolling away fears from our hearts
so we can see the Risen Lord.

God in Community, Holy in One,
very early on this first day of the week,
as we do on every day of our lives,
we lift our prayers as Jesus has taught us,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation
Very early in the morning, God created all that is
good and beautiful. Very early in the morning,
a mother placed her newborn in a manger. Very
early in the morning, the good news was shared
with frightened friends, that Jesus was risen and
alive in our midst. Let us confess the fears and
the amazement we bring this morning . . .

Unison Prayer of Confession
On this morning of hallelujahs, we must confess how
human we are, Emptier of tombs. We haven't done
any great evil, but we have failed to do good when
we had the chance. We have not intentionally hurt
any one, nor have we offered healing to the broken.
We easily accept the witness of the angel in the tomb,
but find it difficult to share this good news with our
friends and neighbors.
Bring us new life, Dazzling God. Where we are tired
and stressed, give us the energy to serve your creation;
transform our hardened hearts into fountains of grace;
forgive us of all the damage we have done, and fill us
with the joy of your Spirit. In the name of Jesus Christ,
who gives us new life, we pray.

Silent Prayers may be offered.

Assurance of Pardon:
L: God, our Creator, gives us new life;
Christ, our Redeemer, prepares a Table for us;
Holy Spirit, our Joy, calls us to service.
This is the good news: the tomb is empty, sin
is powerless, death is defeated forever.
P: On this very first day, and every day, we walk
as God's people, forgiven and made whole.
Thanks be to God. Amen.

The Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
L: The God of every morning be with you.
P: And also with you.
L: People of Easter morning, lift up your hearts!
P: We lift them to the One
who has raised Jesus from the grave.
L: People of Easter's joy, give thanks
to the One who raises us to new life.
P: We sing our hallelujahs
to the God of everlasting love.

On this day of joy and hope,
Redeemer of the lost,
we sing our praise to you.
Very early in the morning,
your Word shattered the silence of chaos,
and grace flowed forth like a river.
You reached down
and gathered up the dust of creation,
forming us into your image,
and breathing life into us.
Yet the day came
when we chose to turn from you
believing our wisdom was superior
to your will for us.
You sent us the prophets,
to speak of your gracious hope,
but we refused to listen.
When you could have let us remain
in the clutches of sin and death,
you sent Jesus to be one of us,
so we could come home to you.

Therefore, we join our voices this morning
with those who stood at the empty tomb,
as well as those of every time and place,
singing our Easter joy to you:

P: Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of the empty grave.
Glad songs of resurrection joy are offered to you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes bearing your steadfast love.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, God of every day,
and blessed is Jesus Christ,
Bright Morning Star.
Creator of all that is good,
he entered the shadows of hell
to lead us into hope's light;
Beloved of your Heart,
he embraced our sin
so we could be forgiven;
Glory beyond imagination,
he welcomed death
so we could enter life eternal.

Even as we believe
what we may not understand,
we trust that mystery we call faith:

P: On the first day, Christ shaped all that
is good and beautiful;
on the first day of the week, Christ
swallowed up death forever;
on the last day, Christ will call us
to the Table of the Lamb.

It is here at this Table,
Resurrecting God,
that we are fed by your love.
As you pour out your Spirit
upon the Bread and the Cup,
fill us with the spirit of Jesus,
so we may go forth to be your people.
Feed us with the Bread of Heaven,
so we can fill the hunger of the world.
Touch our lips with salvation's cup,
so we can proclaim the good news
of this day to everyone we meet.

And when the morning comes
when we are united with all the saints
gathered around heaven's Table,
we will lift our voices to you,
God in Community, Holy in One,
forever and ever. Amen.

© Thom M. Shuman

Good Friday

(Note: Some believe the Passion Story in Mark's Gospel was written to serve
as an Easter Vigil, telling the story as early Christians 're-lived' the
last 24 hours of Jesus' life as they prepared to celebrate our Lord's
Resurrection. Today's service 'reduces' those 24 hours into one, as we
remember the final hours of our Lord's life.)

The people gather in silence

Call to Worship
L: Into the shadows of chaos
P: the Light of the world steps;
L: from the silence of death
P: the Word of God breaks free;
L: for the emptiness of our souls,
P: the Bread of the world is broken.

First Three Hours (6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Thursday)

Eating with Friends - Mark 14:17-25

Response
L: it was at table
that the story began:
a people longing
for freedom;
P: a meal to prepare them
for the journey
into the wilderness;

L: it was at a table
that the story was re-told:
a teacher and students
wondering what
the coming hours
would bring;
P: a meal to prepare them
for the journey
into death;

L: it is at the Lord's Table
that the story is remembered:
by people struggling
to be faithful;
P: a meal to prepare us
for the journey
into resurrection.

Second Three Hours (9:00 p.m. - midnight Thursday)

Running Away - Mark 14:26-50

Response
L: we convince ourselves
that we would not
act as Jesus' friends do in this story,
but lest we forget:
P: we are the ones
who slip quietly away
when asked to stand
beside the poor and oppressed;

L: lest we forget:
P: we are the deniers
of Jesus
when we turn our backs
on those whom
our world does not recognize;

L: lest we forget:
P: we are the greedy
who cling to our possessions
we never use
when they could bless others;

L: lest we forget:
P: we are the comfortable
who can sleep
through the cries
of hungry children;

L: lest we forget:
P: let us remember
who we are
and who we can become.

Third Three Hours (midnight - 3:00 a.m. Friday)

The Troublemaker - Mark 14:53-65

Unison Prayer

rock star,
politician,
pro athlete:
of all the people
you could have been,
you chose to become
a servant -
for us.

Power,
wealth,
divinity:
of all the privileges
you might have grasped,
you chose to take hold
of a cross -
for us.

Paris,
Cancun,
Los Angeles;
of all the roads
you might have taken,
you chose the one
running through Jerusalem -
for us.

Of all the people
you might have died for -
you did.
Amen.

Fourth Three Hours (3:00 - 6:00 a.m. Friday)

"I do not know him" - Mark 14:66-72

Reflection

Fifth Three Hours (6:00 - 9:00 a.m. Friday)

Trial - Mark 15:1-24

Response
L: no one asked him . . .
not the chief priest
P: or his bought judges
though
fear would
have deafened them;

L: not the governor,
P: balancing
political options
on
his
decision;

L: not the mob:
P: pockets full of nightmares,
stomachs full of poverty,
voices brimming with bile
no goodness or mercy
flowing over
their cupped hands;

L: no one asked him
(but don't you think)
Jesus himself
would have said
(maybe he whispered
it to himself . . .)
P: give them Barabbas!

Sixth Three Hours (9:00 a.m. - noon Friday)

Crucified! - Mark 15:15-32

Response
L: Ridiculed by his enemies,
outcast of his kin,
deserted by his friends,
God-forsaken:
P: the Morning Star of Creation
hangs
covered with the grit
of the sins of the world.

L: Nailed to the cross,
the Carpenter of Calvary
P: repairs our brokenness
so we might be
restored to God's kingdom.

Seventh Three Hours (12 noon - 3:00 p.m.)
Mark 15:33

Silence is observed for 4 minutes

Eighth Three Hours (3:00 - 6:00 p.m.)

From the Cross to the Tomb - Mark 15:34-47

Response
L: feet that danced
through the streets
of Jerusalem
welcoming the Messiah
P: now softly pad
the back alleys
in search of shadows;

L: hearts that leapt
with joy at the sight
of David's true son
P: are thrown out
with Golgotha's
garbage;

L: hands that wrapped
a new born son
in bright bands of cloth
P: now shroud
his broken body
and lay him
gently,
tenderly,
softly
in death's manger.

L: where glad hosannas
rang out
P: there is
now
only
the silent,
weeping
heart
of
God.

The Service is Concluded.
Please depart in silence.

© Thom M. Shuman

Holy Thursday

Call to Worship
L: In remembrance, we gather:
P: to be with the One who teaches us the meaning of faithfulness.
L: In remembrance, we worship:
P: lifting our voices to the One who calls us to love one another.
L: In remembrance, we feast:
P: breaking the Bread which makes us whole,
drinking the Cup which fills us with grace.

Evening Prayer
It was the beginning of hope
on that night long ago,
Liberating God,
as you prepared to lead
your people to freedom.
As they readied themselves,
you fed them
with your unblemished grace,
so all sin, pain, and bitterness
could be set down and left behind
when it was time
to follow you.

It was the beginning of salvation
on that night long ago,
Servant Lord,
as you prepared your disciples
for all the things which were to happen.
You humbled yourself
by washing their feet,
so they could follow you
in service and love
to a world which would reject you
and hang you on a cross.

We tell these stories once again
on this night of remembrance,
Servant's Spirit.
Here is the Bread
which gives us life;
here is the Cup
which slakes our thirst for justice;
here is the towel
with which we wipe the tears
of the broken-hearted;
here is the basin
which cleanses the stains
of the world.

Prepare us for our journey of discipleship,
God in Community, Holy in One,
as we pray as our Servant, Jesus Christ,
teaches us, saying,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation
How is it people will recognize us as followers of Jesus? Simply by how we
treat one another. Let us confess how we have not loved as Christ loves us.

Unison Prayer of Confession
Creator and Loving God, you kneel to wash our feet, yet we are reluctant
for you to see all the places we have gone in our attempts to escape you.
You would bathe us in the warm, living waters of your love, and though we
splash and play in the puddles of temptation. We have received all the
gifts you have to offer, yet we are tempted to think they are only for us,
rather than sharing them.

Forgive us, Holy One, and have mercy on us. What can we give you for all
your wonderful graciousness towards us? As you have broken your heart for
us, may we open ours in service to others. As you have given your life for
us, may we offer ours to bring healing to the world. As you have called us
together around your Table, may we go forth to feed a world hungry, not only
for food, but for that Spirit which brings peace and reconciliation. This
we pray as servants of Jesus Christ, who came to serve us in life, in death,
in resurrection hope.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon

L: On this holiest of nights, we have received the good news: God has come
in Christ Jesus, to fill us with hope and peace, to bathe us in grace and
mercy.
P: In remembrance, we go forth:
to bring hope where despair resides;
to be servants to those who are broken;
to love as selflessly as we are loved by Jesus Christ, our Lord
and
Savior. Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
When the hour had come, Creator of the heavens and earth,
you lifted up the cup of creation,
pouring it into the emptiness of chaos.
Rivers played tag through the valleys,
stars spangled the blue-black night,
joy danced in the fields of grace.
Given that fountain flowing with living water,
we drank from betrayal's bitter cup;
offered the feast of faith,
we sat down at sin's groaning table.
You asked the prophets to remind us of promises made,
but we continued to embrace the pangs of hopelessness.
Then, because we are your own, you sent Jesus
to glorify you by saving us from ourselves.

Therefore, with those whose feet are covered with sin,
and those who hearts are gripped by fear,
we join the choirs of every time and place,
forever singing your praises:

P: Holy, holy, holy, God of towels and basins.
We join heaven and earth in praising your name.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who became a servant for us.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, God of Redemption,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, our Servant, our Savior.
When the hour had come, he got up from grace's side,
took off his glory, tied humanity around his heart
to cleanse us of our sins.
In the midst of his friends, in the congregation of his enemies,
he kept the promised made to you, to love us to the very end.
our friend, he welcomed all;
our teacher, he modeled the life of obedience and faith;
our Lord, he endured the snares of death,
that we might have life with you.

Every time we eat the bread, our brokenness is made whole;
every time we drink from the cup, we receive unceasing grace;
every time we come to the Table,
we remember that mystery called faith:

P: In remembrance, we mourn Christ's death;
in remembrance, we look to the Day of Resurrection;
in remembrance, we await his return to us.

Now that the hour is come,
send your Spirit upon the gifts
of the bread and the cup.
As you cradle the bread in your gentleness,
break it, give it to us, feed us with your compassion
that we might be made whole
and, in our healing,
become servants to a shattered world.
As you take the cup,
mingle its juices with your tears of hope,
so we might carry this gift
to all who have lost every thing.

and when there are no more hours to come,
when there is only eternal peace and life with you,
we will gather in that upper room called your heart,
serving our families and friends with grace,
receiving forgiveness from our enemies,
singing your joy, forever and ever,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

(c) Thom M. Shuman