Sunday, May 27, 2012

Trinity Sunday - Year B

Texts: Isaiah 6:1-8; Psalm 29; Romans 8:12-17; John 3:1-17

Call to Worship
L: God, who flung the stars into the night sky,
rejoices over all creation, especially us!
P: Come to us, Laughing God, and gladden
our hearts with your goodness and grace.
L: Christ, the Word of joy and life,
fills all creation with hope, especially us!
P: Come to us, Brother and Savior, and reclaim
our hearts as your own.
L: The Spirit, who breathes life into emptiness,
gives all creation the gift of peace, especially us!
P: Come to us, Spirit of Gentleness, and refresh us
with the dew of delight.

Prayer of the Day
You bind us to yourself
this day, God of seraphim and sinners.
You reach out to draw us ever closer,
that we might feel the brush
of your grace soft upon us,
that we might feel the healing touch
of your compassion resting gently within us.

You bind us to yourself
this day, Heir of Glory and Grace.
You keep us by your side,
that we might walk with you
through the streets of the kingdom,
bringing hope to the despairing,
offering consolation to the brokenhearted,
sharing love with those tossed aside by the world.

You bind us to yourself
this day, Spirit of Justice.
You fill our hearts with living water
that they might overflow to parched people,
you teach us how to give ourselves away,
so we might take on the burdens of others.

We bind ourselves to you this day,
God in Community, Holy in One,
even as we pray the words Jesus has taught us,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation
Called to be God's people, we know how often we
act as spoiled and petulant children. Yet, like a mother,
God looks past our mistakes to see our hearts. Like
a father, God lifts us to our feet to put us back on
the path to life. Let us bring our prayers to the
One who listens, and then forgives us with unceasing

Unison Prayer of Confession
In the mystery of creation, Imaginative God, you
shaped beauty and goodness, yet we damage it by our
selfishness and anger. In the mystery of life, Child
of Hope, you became one of us, yet all too often
we turn our back on you. In the mystery of peace,
Breath of Life, you would gentle our natures, yet
we cling tenaciously to our bitterness and hurt.
In the mystery of grace, Holy God, you forgive
us our sins, that we might embrace others. In the
mystery of mercy, you touch our lips, that we might
speak gently to others. In the mystery of hope, you
claim us as family, sisters and brothers of the One
who brought new life for all, Jesus Christ, our Lord
and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
L: Here, in this moment and in this place, the
Spirit of gentleness moves in our midst.
Mercy, hope and joy are the gifts of God
to each and every one of us.
P: No longer lost, we have found our way
home, surrounded by God's peace, by
God's grace, by God's love. Thanks
be to God, we are forgiven! Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
L: God the Life, God the Hope, God the Peace
be with you.
P: And also with you.
L: Children of the most Holy, open your hearts
to the One who has created you.
P: We open ourselves to the mystery
we know as the Community of God.
L: Heirs of salvation and joint heirs of grace,
give thanks to the One who loves you forever.
P: We lift our praise to God, crying out with all creation,
'Glory! Glory! Glory!'

You shattered the silence
of chaos, Majestic God,
as you spoke creation's language
with your voice of power and patience.
Your Word sang in the morning,
sending lambs skipping across
pastures lush with life,
young colts pranced through
valleys overflowing with wonder.
Your Spirit breathed life
into those shaped in your image,
filling our souls with joy and grace.
When we wandered far from you,
you remembered the soft touch
of our hands in yours,
and sent the prophets to call us home.
When we got in over our heads
in debt to sin and death,
Jesus came, to redeem our lives.

Therefore we lift our voices,
with those who worship you
in every time and place,
singing your glory forever and ever:

P: Holy, holy, holy, God of glory and grace.
All creation dances in joy before you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes to bring us life.
Hosanna in the highest!

You are holy, God of all life,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, Word of creation.
Filled with your glory,
he emptied himself to become one of us.
Knowing the heartache of loneliness,
he became the friend of all;
walking the streets beside us,
he became the guide we need;
recognizing the power of sin and death,
he followed them to Calvary,
leaving them behind in the empty grave,
as he was raised to new life.

So, here in this holy time of celebration,
here at the sacred feast prepared for us,
we would speak of that mystery we call faith:

P: We remember Christ's death;
we remember Christ's resurrection;
we remember Christ will come again in glory.

Here in this place of gentleness,
here at the Table of goodness and grace,
pour out your Spirit, Eternal Love,
upon the gifts of creation made holy for us,
and upon your children adopted into your heart
through the life and joy of your Child, Jesus.
In the broken bits of the bread,
may we be made whole once again,
so we might bring healing
to the deepest sufferings of our time.
In the taste of salvation's joy,
may we be renewed in our calling
to justice and righteousness,
so we might go forth to be companions
for all those who have lost their way.

And when, in the mystery of your heart,
it will come to pass that we are gathered,
with our sisters and brothers of every time and place,
around the feast prepared for us in eternity,
we will join our hands and hearts,
crying with one voice, 'holy, holy, holy!'
to you forever, God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

© Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Pentecost - Year B

Texts; Acts 2:1-21; Psalm 104:24-34, 35b; Romans 8:22-27; John 15:26-27;

Call to Worship

L: The Day of Pentecost is here:
P: the day when the flames of faith
dance in our hearts.
L: The Day of Pentecost is here:
P: the day when our babbling speech
becomes the Good News for the world.
L: The Day of Pentecost is here:
P: the day when compassion
is seared into our souls.
L: The Day of Pentecost is here:
P: let the people of God rejoice. Alleluia!

Prayer of the Day

L: Spirit of the Living God,
dance with us on this day.
P: Come, Whirlwind of Wonder!
L: Sing to the groaning of creation.
P: Come, still small voice of Hope!
L: Enflame us with your passion for justice.
P: Come, Liberator of the Least!
L: Purify us of our grasping greediness.
P: Come, Advocate of selfless living!
L: Silence our gossiping tongues.
P: Come, Harmony of God's Heart!
L: Wind of God, blow through us;
Fire of God, burn within us;
Tongue of God, speak to us
on this day of renewal and birth,
even as we pray as Jesus teaches us,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation
Feel the Spirit of God moving in your soul. Listen
to the Spirit speaking to you of hope and wholeness.
Trust the promises God has made that new life is
our inheritance. Join me as we open ourselves to
God's healing Spirit, as we pray, saying,

Unison Prayer of Confession
Spirit of God:
you come, aflame with new life,
but our apathy threatens to douse your passion;
you come, on fire with love,
yet we limit our affections to a select few;
you come, surging with new dreams and new hopes,
but we still cling to the old ways of living;
you come, glowing with the vision of the kingdom,
yet we close our eyes to your future.

Forgive us, Spirit of Truth, forgive us.
Come to us, anew, this day:
to shatter our hardened hearts with your tenderness;
to set our souls on fire with your love;
to send us into a world which aches
for the new joy, the new hope, the new life
offered in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silent Prayers may be offered

Assurance of Pardon

L: With a gentle breeze God enflames our spirits;
with a strong wind, God reminds us of our
need to forgive and be forgiven. Like a cleansing
storm, God takes away our past, revealing the
fresh, new life which is ours.
P: Awakened, refreshed, renewed, made whole:
now we can dance with the wind, singing our
praises to the One who gives life to all.
Thanks be to God. Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
L: May the God of Pentecost be with you.
P: And also with you.
L: People of Pentecost, open your hearts to the Spirit
moving in our midst.
P: We open them to the Breath of God which fills us
with hope and grace.
L: Daughters and sons of the Most Holy,
offer your joy to our God.
P: We sing the song of Pentecost in the language of every heart -
praise and thanksgiving to our God!

In the shadows of chaos
you breathed, Creator God,
your Spirit moving over the waters of life.
You opened your hands,
filling all creation with goodness and beauty.
You gathered up earth's dust,
shaping us in your image,
filling our lungs with Spirit's life.
But drunk on the new wine
of human arrogance and desire,
we listened to the competing voices
of evil, sin, and death,
believing they spoke the truth.
With sighs too deep for words,
you continued to call us home,
speaking through teachers and prophets.
When we hid our faces from you,
you looked upon us in compassion,
and sent Jesus Christ
to restore us to life with you.

And so, with your people here on earth,
and with the company of heaven,
in every language, and in every heart,
we glorify your name, singing:

P: Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of spirit and truth.
All creation is made new by your grace.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes, in hope, to save us.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, God of beginnings and endings,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, our Lord.
At his baptism,
the Spirit named him your Beloved;
in the wilderness,
the Spirit strengthened him
to withstand the seductions of the Evil One;
Spirit-anointed for ministry,
Jesus sang good news to the poor,
set free those imprisoned by despair,
gave sight to the blind
and fed the hungry,
blessed little children,
and ate with sinners.
When his service of tender mercies
was finished,
he went to the Cross,
suffering and dying for all humanity,
and was raised to new life,
as a promise to all your children.

As we come to this Table,
we remember his promise to always be with us.
Baptized by the Holy Spirit,
and purified in the fire of obedience,
we sing of that faith which is ours:

P: The Spirit testifies that Christ died for us.
The Spirit bears witness that Christ was raised.
The Spirit proclaims that Christ will come again.

As Christ promised,
you have poured out your Holy Spirit
upon your people
and upon the gifts of the bread and the cup.
As we offer our thanks to you
for the gift of the Spirit
in our lives and in the world,
may the flames of Pentecost
kindle compassion in our hearts;
may the tongues of fire
ignite our calls for justice for all people;
may the good news
spoken in every tongue and every place,
unite us in service to others
and in faith in you.

Then, when the groaning of creation
is turned to hymns of praise,
and all people gather around your Table
on that great and glorious Day,
we will sing our joy to you
through all eternity:
God in Community, Holy in One.

L: God's glory has filled our hearts!
P: We will go to empty ourselves for others.
L: Christ has given himself for us!
P: We will go to give ourselves to everyone in need.
L: The Spirit gifts us with new life!
P: We go to be a blessing to everyone we meet.

© Thom M. Shuman

Monday, May 14, 2012

Seventh Sunday in Easter - B

Texts: Acts 1:15-17, 21-26; Psalm 1; 1 John 5:9-13; John 17:6-19

Call to Worship
L: From the comfort of our homes,
with the discomfort of discipleship:
P: we gather in this place
created by God for community.
L: In our gardens battling weeds,
with our neighbors serving needs:
P: we are enveloped in that gift
offered by Christ called grace.
L: Through the witness of the little known,
through the words of a children's song:
P: we learn the truth passed on to us
by the wisdom of the Holy Spirit.

Prayer of the Day
In the silence,
which can call us
to pay attention;
in those holy moments
which open our eyes
to your Word;
in the ability to grasp
your grace and never let go:
in all these ways, you give testimony
to your faithfulness to us,
Creative God.

In the gentleness
of a father's touch
which can calm our fears;
in the passion
of a mother's belief
which endures through all our years;
in words, spoken and silent,
which can guide our feet
every stop of the way:
through all these gifts, you vouch for
the gracious goodness of Abba,
our Brother and Friend.

In common sense
of the teacher
who dared us to dream;
in the innate wisdom
of the co-worker
who never got past 6th grade;
in those seeds placed
deep within our hearts,
which bear fruit in odd moments:
with all these wonders, you affirm
the One who completes our joy.

We are one with you,
God in Community, Holy in One,
so we lift our prayer to you, saying,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation
Christ has promised to be with us, yet we live
as if we have been left all alone, on our own.
Let us confess our rootlessness, as we pray,

Unison Prayer of Confession
You call to us, God of mercy, but we are too
busy listening to the whispers of those who would
draw us away from you. Rather than follow Jesus
as you hope, we are filling in the potholes on sin's
streets for a more comfortable journey. You
promise to keep watch over us, but we hope you
will close your eyes to how we treat others.
Forgive us, Author of life. Forgive our wavering
commitment and plant our feet firmly on the paths
to the kingdom. Forgive our low expectations of
discipleship and give us opportunities to serve your
people. Forgive our faltering faith and fill us with
the delight and joy we find as your children, sisters
and brothers of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
L: In forgiveness, God plants us deep in the rich
soil of mercy and grace, our lives watered by
hope, our joy made complete in Jesus Christ.
P: The fruit we bear - hope, love, peace - is not
our doing, but comes from the seeds God has
placed within us. Thanks be to God. Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
L: May the Lord of Easter be with you!
P: And also with you!
L: People of Easter, God sends us forth to serve the world.
P: We open our hearts to be filled with the gifts
we are to share with all of God's children.
L: Children of God, let us sing to the One who feeds us at
the Table of grace and wonder.
P: We lift glad songs to the One who nourishes us
with streams of hope and peace.

In that deep, rich gift we call creation,
you planted seeds, Imaginative God.
Some blossomed into spring flowers,
while others filled the world
with your grace and hope.
Some grew sturdy and tall,
strong roots drinking deeply
from your streams of joy,
while others feed the creatures
of your imagination with life.
All these gifts were yours, yet in love,
you shared them with us.
When we listened to
the hollow words of sin,
you sent the prophets
to make us sit up and take note;
when we chose death as our guide
through the ways of the world,
you sent Jesus to put our feet back
on the right paths to your heart.

So we join our voices
with all from every time and place,
singing the great song of thanksgiving
echoed in heaven and earth:

P: Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of glory and grace.
All creation sings of the One who gives eternal life.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes to make your name known.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, God of all life,
and blessed is Jesus, our Brother, our Friend.
When he could have chosen
to stay by your side in glory,
he came to be our companion
in this journey we call life.
When he could have pointed to himself,
he spoke those words
which made you known to us.
When he could have taken a safe seat,
he carried his cross to Calvary,
where sin, death, and evil
cast lots for him.
When you could have kept silent,
you spoke that Word
which raised him to new life.

As we set aside our wisdom to learn your heart,
as we empty ourselves so you can fill us with hope,
we speak of that mystery we call faith:

P: Christ died, so sin would have no power over us;
Christ was risen, so death would lose its sting;
Christ will come again, to guide us to God.

We open our hands
so we may receive
the gift of the Bread,
touched by your Spirit of life,
so we might be strengthened
to go forth into the world,
to bring healing to the broken,
to offer hope to the desperate.
We open our souls
so we might be nourished
by the Cup, filled to overflowing
by your Spirit of compassion,
so we may serve as your heart
in all those places where the lonely live,
so we might become a community
welcoming the lost, the last, the little, the least.

And when all time has come to an end,
when, by your wisdom, we are gathered
with our sisters and brothers around your Table,
we will sing our songs of joy forever and ever,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

(c) 2012 Thom M. Shuman

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