Sunday, January 20, 2013

Third Sunday after the Epiphany - C

Texts:  Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10; Psalm 19;  1 Corinthians 12:12-31a; Luke 4:14-21

Call to Worship
On this day, which is holy, we gather,
not alone, but as Christ's Body;

as ones who would suffer together, we gather.
On this day of wonder and hope, we gather,
not in isolation, but in community;

as those who would care for one another, we gather.
On this day of prayer and praise, of silence and song, we gather,
not with empty hands, or emptier hearts;

as those baptized in grace's tears, we gather.

Prayer of the Day
Holy God, Word-Giver:
in soft falling snow,
     we hear your joy;
in the whisper of the wind,
     we hear your dreams for us;
in the silence of a winter's night,
     we eavesdrop on your grace;
in the cries of the poor,
     we hear your call to lives of compassion.

Jesus Christ, Word made Perfect:
as you overcome our obsession
with our selves, our desires,
     gift us to serve others;
as you simplify our souls
with the grace of your good news,
     make us wise enough to live it;
as you enchant our hopes
with the wonder of your love,
     break our hearts so we might
     weep with those around us.

Holy Spirit, Cup of Living Water:
if we are to suffer together,
     may we drink deeply
     from your tender tears;
if we are to rejoice together,
     may we taste the strength
     of your hope and peace;
if we are to pray together,
     may we feast on your love;
if we are to worship together,
     may we join in listening to that Word
     which will transform us forever.

God in Community, Holy in One,
in these moments, in every moment,
be with us, even as we pray as we are taught,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation
We are baptized as individuals, yet are called to live and serve together. We know, and need to confess, how we have sought to live for ourselves, not reaching out to others, or seeing them as parts of Christ's Body.  Please join me as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer of Confession
     Rock of our salvation, we know the faults we try to hide from you and those around us. We have not cared for people in the same way. We do think some are more gifted, or better, or lovelier. We would much rather celebrate with someone, than to bear the suffering of another. We are really not that sure that prisoners should be set free, or the poor given hope, or the outcast a seat at the table.
   Redeemer of all people, including us, grant us your mercy.  Anoint us with the power of your Spirit, so that our eyes might be opened to see how others truly live. Enlarge our hearts with the gentleness of your touch, so we might embrace the opportunities we will have to serve. Open our ears so we can listen to what Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, teaches us about your love and grace for our lives.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
God's Spirit is upon us: that Spirit of forgiveness, that Spirit of grace, that Spirit of unity with all people.
Today, and in all the days to come, God's Spirit is with us. Thanks be to the One who is our joy, our strength, our hope. Praise God! We are forgiven! Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving

May the Spirit of the Lord be upon you!

And also upon you!
Offer your hearts to the One who proclaims God’s grace.
Our hearts are open to God, who brings us good news.
Join in declaring the glory of God to all the world.
Day to day, our lips proclaim the wonders of our God.
On that first day, Word-Speaker,
the heavens sang of your glory:
     valleys reverberated with the bass line,
     soaring mountains sang the high notes,
     cicadas and crickets thrummed the melody.
Your voice whispered, and the dust
was shaped in your holy image,
     a garden of wonder for our home.
But we gather in seduction's square,
listening as temptation reads to us
     of all the wonders we might discover
     if we only obeyed sin and death.
You sent prophets, speaking simple words,
to shatter our false wisdom,
but we turned a hard heart to them.
So, you sent Jesus to live among us,
to live out the words we only read,
to be our strength and salvation.

So, with those who stood before the Water Gate,
and those who wander far from the living waters,
we would sing our songs of thanksgiving to you:

Holy, holy, holy, God of glory and grace.
The voice of all creation runs through the heavens and earth,   

     singing your praise.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes filled with the Spirit.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holiness is who you are, God of wonder,
and salvation is the gift in Christ Jesus, our Brother.
He came,
     in the moments of our deepest despair,
          so that each day might be made holy
          in your grace and wonder.
He came,
     so that we would no longer be spare parts,
          but knit together as the Body, which is his.
He came,
     going into the cold temple of death
     on the day of crucifixion,
          so he might fulfill the promises
          of new life and hope for all your children.

We gather as one, though we are many,
opening our hearts to the resurrection which is ours,
and proclaiming that mystery we call faith:

Christ died, that we might be cleared of our sins;
Christ is risen, that we might have the gift of the Spirit;
Christ will come again, so we might be set free forever.

As we gather together before your Table,
pour out your Spirit upon these gifts
of the bread and the cup,
and all who have come to be fed.
Just as the bread is broken into many parts,
so your grace makes us into one people,
our hearts open to serve all in need,
our lives offered so that others might be healed.
Just as the cup is filled to overflowing
with the sweet taste of hope,
so our gifts are emptied so that all might be blessed,
our joy shared with the despairing of our word.

And when you gather us together at the Feast to come,
when we sit down at the Table with our sisters and brothers,
we will bow our heads and worship you forever,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

(c) Thom M. Shuman