Sunday, April 27, 2014

Liturgy for May 4, 2014 (Easter 3 - A)

Texts:  Acts 2:14a, 36-41; Psalm 116:1-4, 12-19; 1 Peter 1:17-23; Luke 24:13-35

Call to Worship
Lift your voices to God.
We call on the One who promises to hear us.
In life, in death, in every moment, God deals graciously with us.
We rejoice in the One who saves us.
We will break the Bread of life in thanksgiving to God.
We will lift up the Cup of salvation, drinking deeply from it.

Prayer of the Day

When every day seems the same,
with no one listening to our dreams,
our hopes, our fears and worries,
you pause, God our Baker,
turning your head
so you can read our lips.

When every road seems the same,
filled with despair's potholes,
littered with pain's detritus,
you come alongside us, God our Lover,
pointing out that side road
that will take us to Abba's Fine Eats.

When every step trips us up,
when every loss weighs us down,
when every grief breaks our heart,
you come, God our Keeper,
with your book of grace
filled with easy words
and lots of pictures
to teach us hope.

When every one ignores us,
when every thing disappoints us,
you walk with us, you talk with us,
you refuse to abandon us,
God in Community, Holy in One,
so hear us as we pray as we are taught,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
When we confess our lives, we are calling on God who promises, not only to hear us, but to heal us with forgiveness and hope.  Join me, as we pray together saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     We cut you to the heart, Loving God, with the silly choices we make.  We had hoped our lives would reflect your presence, but those around us can see how empty we are.  We had hoped our words might bring healing, but they end up hurting those we love the most.  We had hoped to find Jesus, but cannot see him in all those you send to us.
     Oh, how foolish we are to think we can go on without your mercy, Lord God.  Through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, you judge us impartially from the depths of your heart, so we may be born anew by your grace, to continue the journey into your future.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
This we know for certain - we are forgiven by our gracious God.  This good news never ceases to astound us!
This promise is passed on to us, so we may share it with everyone we meet.  Thanks be to God.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving

May the God of Emmaus roads be with you.
And also with you.
Fellow pilgrims, give your hearts to God.
We offer our cold hearts to the One who will set them on fire.
Alleluia!  Sing songs of glad praise.
Alleluia!  We will sing of the risen Lord.

Before the foundation of creation
was poured out of your heart,
God of astounding imagination,
your Word whispered and
     elephants trumpeted in the veldt,
     whales sang in the ocean deeps,
     gases whirled and swirled into galaxies.
The Spirit moved upon those shaped
in your image, breathing life into us
so we might live within your grace,
     but we put out our hands,
     letting death handcuff us
     and lead us away from you.
Prophets came, interpreting your love
and hope for us with words and deeds,
     but we did not recognize them,
     going on our way without them.
So you sent Jesus to us,
to astound us with the news
that you would never give up on us.

With those who are far away,
with those who are right next to us,
we offer our thanksgivings to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God our listener.
All creation is made new by your Word.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the Bread of heaven who opens our eyes.
Hosanna in the highest!

Because you are holy, you are gracious,
God of our every moment,
and being Grace itself, your Child
was willing to become one of us.
He took on our humanity,
     so your love might be seen
He blessed us, when the rest
     of the world cursed us
     and tossed us aside.
He broke the power of sin
     by dying on the cross,
and he gave death its notice,
     as he walked out of the tomb
     from which you raised
     him to new life.

Baptized at the font as your beloved children,
sustained by the feast of the Lamb of life,
we speak of that faith which seems so familiar,
     yet is still a mystery:

Christ died, suffering those things for us;
Christ was raised by God, walking side by side;
Christ will come, and our eyes will be opened so we can recognize him.

We act as if we are going on,
but you urge us to stay,
inviting us to this Table
where your Spirit blesses
the bread and the cup,
and your children gathered together.
We take the bread you have blessed
and in its breaking, our eyes are opened
     to see the despair around us,
     to glimpse the grief of our friends,
     to witness to the suffering in our midst.
We take the cup you give us,
and as we drink from it, our hearts burn
     for the oppressed in our world,
     for those we walk past,
     for the hungry and homeless.

And at the same hour when all time ends,
we will return to your heart,
finding our sisters and brothers gathered
together around the Table of glory,
and join forever in singing your praises,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

The stone has been rolled away!
We will go to share this good news!
Jesus walks with us on our journey.
We will go with him wherever the road takes us.
Jesus has opened our eyes.
We will go to serve everyone we see.
© 2014 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Liturgy for April 27, 2014 (Easter 2 - A)

Texts:  Acts 2:14a, 22-32; Psalm 16; 1 Peter 1:3-9; John 20:19-31

Call to Worship
L:  Alleluia!  Christ is risen!
P:  The whole creation rejoices;
     the birds sing from every tree.
L:  Alleluia!  Christ is in our midst!
P:  Babies babble with sounds of joy;
     words cannot express our overflowing hearts.
L:  Alleluia!  Christ is our light forever!
P:  Breathing peace on us in these moments;
     surrounding us with grace and hope.

Prayer of the Day
All that is good and beautiful
are the generous gifts
from your heart of love.
All the grace we will ever need
is held out to us
in your hands of hope.
We have nothing apart
from you, God of Easter.

By your living example,
we can set aside our fears
to live as God's faithful children.
By your compassion,
we can stand in the midst of the broken,
and share healing with them.
We can do nothing apart
from you, Brother of our souls.

You are the Breath which gives
us the gifts and lives
to pour out for others.
You are the composer
of songs of joy which echo
throughout the universe.
We are nothing apart
from you, Spirit of wonder.

God in Community, Holy in One,
may we never be apart from you,
even as we pray as we are taught,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
Afraid that God will find out how faithless
we are, we try to lock up our hearts so God
cannot see our foolish lives and failures.
Let us confess our sins to the One who offers
us peace and healing, as we pray together,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     Hear the echoes of our locked hearts, Path
of Life.  We cross the borders into temptation
and never seem to find our way back.  We multiply
the sorrows of others by our hurtful words and
the harmful deeds we do.  We see the ones you
would give us to serve, but believe we do not have
the abilities to care for them.
     Have mercy on us, God whose Breath gives us
life.  Walk through the closed doors of our worries
and doubts to stand in our midst, offering us that
grace which can heal us, that hope which can enliven
us, and that faith which enables us to follow Jesus
Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
L:  It is God's great mercy through the resurrection
of Jesus which gives us that hope which lives within us.
P:  Thanks be to God for this precious gift by which
we are able to believe and rejoice in our inheritance.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
L:  May the God of mornings be with you.
P:  May the God of evenings be with you.
L:  Do not fear, but open your hearts to God.
P:  We offer them to the One who is our living hope.
L:  Rejoice!  The Lord of life is always with us.
P:  We sing glad thanksgivings to our God.

In the evenings of creation,
Loving God, you looked and saw
all that was good and beautiful:
     loblolly pines reaching to the sky,
     lochs and glens brimming with life;
     chains of islands in the warm seas.
The Holy Spirit breathed upon us,
whispering, 'receive creation,' as your gifts
were entrusted to our care,
     but sin enticed us into its
     closed room of fears, turning
     the key of death in the lock.
Prophets came, standing among us,
speaking of your invitation to come home,
     but we refused to listen
     to what they had to say.
Determined never to abandon us,
you sent Jesus, to make known to us
the ways of life which your offer.

With those who saw and witnessed,
with those who have not seen, yet believe,
we sing with glad hearts to you:

P:  Holy, holy, holy are you, God of are evenings.
     All creation rejoices in the good news of Easter.
     Hosanna in the highest!

     Blessed is the One who stands among us.
     Hosanna in the highest!

In the evenings, your holiness never rests,
and Jesus Christ, the risen One, is ever with us.
Into the closed rooms of our lives, he comes,
     breathing Spirit's peace;
using grace and hope, he picks
     the locked doors of our hearts
     that he might be with us;
showing us his hands and side, he reminds
     us that death can no more cling
     to us, than it did to him,
for you will never abandon us.

As we believe, though we have not seem;
as we rejoice in that living hope which is ours;
we speak of faith, that mystery more precious than gold:

P:  Christ died, believing what he could not see;
     Christ was raised, becoming our living hope;
     Christ will come, bringing our inheritance kept for us.

In the evenings of our lives,
you send the Spirit to fill us with peace,
as the bread and the cup
are filled with the life and grace of Jesus.
Cradling the broken bread
in his nail-scarred hands,
Jesus shows us
     his grieving brothers,
     his hungry sisters,
           so we may go to serve them.
Handing us the cup of living hope,
we are invited to drink deeply
and then go into the world
     to offer peace to those wearied by war,
     to give freedom to all who are oppressed,
     to share grace with those who need it most.

And when the last evening comes, you will
gather us in that upper room called your heart,
where we will feast with all your children,
forever singing our praises to you,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

L:  Go forth in the love of God.
P:  We will take this love into
     unlovely parts of our lives.
L:  Go forth in the grace of Jesus Christ.
P:  We will look for him in the faces
     of every person we meet.
L:  Go forth in the peace of the Spirit.
P:  We will share this hope
     with our broken world.

© 2014 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Two liturgies for April 13, 2014 (Passion/Palm Sunday - A)


Texts:  Isaiah 50:4-9a; Psalm 31:9-16; Philippians 2:5-11; Matthew 26:14-27:66

Litany of the Passion
L:  What shall we do with you, Jesus?
P:  Glad songs sung at your birth
     will turn to jeers, taunts, and worse,
     hurled at you from every side.
L:  What shall we do with you, Jesus?
P:  We will promise to stay,
     but run away;
     we will sleep through
     the anguish of your heart.
L:  What shall we do with you, Jesus?
P:  The One who gave living waters
     to an outsider at a well,
     the One baptized in the Jordan
     will thirst upon a tree.
L:  What shall we do with you, Jesus?
P:  Before this week runs its course,
     the disciples, including even us,
     will fail you in force.

          Silence is kept

L:  Lamb of God, you cry out in agony:
P:  and the silent stars howl in grief.
L:  Lamb of God, you breathe your last:
P:  and the Spirit moves over the void in our  hearts.
L:  Lamb of God, you are place in a cold tomb:
P:  and creation trembles in the deep.

Call to Reconciliation
What shall we do with our sins?  Shall we continue
to try to hide them, or confess them - honestly and
without reservation - to the One who comes to
vindicate us?  Join me as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     We confess, Passionate God, how often we scheme
against you.  In every moment, we look for chances
to betray you, breaking your heart.  We turn our backs
those who reach out to us for help.  We hide our faces
from those who are wasting away from hopelessness.
     Be gracious to us, Compassionate God, and stay
with us in these moments.  Morning by morning,
awaken us with your voice of mercy, and call us to
humble ourselves in service to others, even as did
Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
L;  It is God who holds our lives, healing us when we
are broken, forgiving us when we do wrong.
P:  Our tongues have confessed, now let our hearts
and lives reflect the One who humbled himself for
us.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
L:  May the God of Holy Week be with you.
P:  And also with you.
L:  Join your hearts with the One whose heart
         breaks in pieces this week.
P:  We offer them for healing and hope.
L:  With songs too painful to sing,
     with sighs too deep to utter.
P:  We lift our mournful souls to God.

When the hour was at hand,
you called forth creation, Holy God,
your Word teaching
     the birds what to sing,
     the butterflies where to flit,
     the grass how to grow,
     the trees how to stand straight and tall.
You did all this for us, your
children created in your image,
asking us to stay with you forever.
but we asked of sin and death
what they would give us to betray you,
     and went running off, our pockets
     filled with their 30 pieces of seduction.
Deeply grieved, you continued to call
through the prophets of every generation,
but they always found us sleeping,
     wearied by our foolish choices.
You sent Jesus to us, to awaken us
to his voice of gentleness and grace.

With those who have spent their lives in sorrow,
with those who bow their knees to you,
we offer our prayers to you:

P:  Holy, holy, holy are you, God who is gracious to us.
     All creation trusts in your promises.
     Hosanna in the highest!

     Blessed is the One who will not desert us.
     Hosanna in the highest!

You hearts was broken, Vindicator of our lives,
by the pain and suffering of your Son, Jesus.
Of one mind with you, he came
     so we might rethink our foolish choices.
Leaving glory behind in the closet,
     he became human like us,
     so we might see you face-to-face.
Without the promise of any reward,
though he felt abandoned by you,
     he willingly went to the cross,
     his life poured out for those who
     mocked him, spat on him, betrayed him.
Yet, when sin thought Jesus
was safely sealed into the tomb,
swaddled in death's tight bands,
     you did not let him be put to shame,
     but called him forth into the morning,
     with Resurrection's kiss.

As we journey with him through this holiest of weeks,
as we betray him and abandon him,
we are sustained by that mystery called faith:

P:  Christ died, the world having washed its hands of him;
     Christ rose, your hands breaking death's strong grip on him;
     Christ will come, to take us by the hand and lead us to you.

Here in this place, we gather
for that meal which signifies
brokenness as well as healing,
heartbreak as well as hope.
What should we do with the Bread?
We will let its life strengthen us
to go forth to serve those
     whom the world has betrayed
     with broken promises and hollow words.
What shall we do with the Cup?
We will drink deeply of it
so we can empty ourselves
     for those who lives are
     spent from grief and fear.

And when we drink of the
fruit of the vine with our
sisters and brothers in glory,
we will bow our knees in worship,
extolling you forever and ever,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

L:  As you leave this place, go as God's children:
P:  we will go to serve our sisters and brothers.
L:  Go as followers of Christ:
P:  we will find the broken around us
     and bring them healing.
L:  Go as those strong in the Spirit:
P:  we will be willing to humble ourselves
     for those wearied by life.

© 2014 Thom M. Shuman


Texts:  Isaiah 50:4-9a; Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29; Philippians 2:5-11; Matthew

Call to Worship (Matthew 21:1-11, NRSV)
One:  When they had come near Jerusalem
           and had reached Bethphage,
           at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples,
          saying to them,
Two:  "Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately
          you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie
          them and bring them to me.  If anyone says anything
          to you, just say this, 'The Lord needs them.' And he
          will send them immediately."
One:  This took place to fulfill what had been spoken
           through the prophet, saying,
Choir: "Tell the daughter of Zion, Look, your king is coming
            to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and
            on a colt, the foal of a donkey."
Two:    The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them;
            they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their
            cloaks on them, and he sat on them.
            A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road,
            and others cut branches from the trees and spread
            them on the road.
            The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed
            were shouting,
ALL:     "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who
            comes in the name of the Lord!
            Hosanna in the highest heaven!"
One:    When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in
            turmoil, asking, "Who is this?"
            The crowds were saying,
ALL:     "This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee."

Prayer of the Day
God of hopes and joys:
when our hearts ache from brokenness,
you nourish us with your love;
when the world's pain fatigues us,
you carry us in your arms;
when the loneliness of our souls
drains our very being,
you come and live with us.
You are our God.

Jesus Christ,
God's True Son:
you did not profit
from your oneness with God,
but emptied yourself
to become servant to all humanity.
You humbled yourself
to lift us out of sin's grave.
You are our Lord.

Holy Spirit,
Teacher from God:
humble us to be obedient,
even to the point of denying
all that keeps us from following Jesus;
teach us the words we need
to confess him as our Lord and Savior.
Your are our Helper.

God in Community, Holy in One,
we lift our prayer to you as Jesus
has taught us, saying,
   Our Father,

Call to Reconciliation
   One day, we are crying to God, "save us,"
the next we are turning our backs on God
and walking away.  Despite our fickle
nature, God is steadfast in loving us and
constant in forgiving us.  Let us confess
to our God, as we pray,

Unison Prayer of Confession
   With joy in our hearts, we welcome your
servant, O God, only to reject him when he
picks up a cross instead of a crown.  Like cloaks
laid on the ground before Jesus, we pick up our
faith, dust it off and put it back in the closet
until we need it.  We can be as stubborn and
rebellious as the city which cheers your name.
   Save us, Redeeming God, save us!  May we
lay our doubts, our fears, our worries, our
weariness at your feet, trusting and believing
that you will forgive what is sinful, make whole
our brokenness, and welcome us as sisters and
brothers of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Assurance of Pardon
L:    Hosanna to David's Son!  Blessed is the One
    who comes in God's name, not to judge us,
    but to save us.
P:    We humble ourselves in gratitude to God,
    and in service to others, even as Christ did.
    Hosanna in the highest.  Amen!

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
L:  The Lord of parades be with you.
P:  And also with you.
L:  People of God, open your hearts to the One who comes with hope.
P:  We would receive the joy and grace
          the prophet from Nazareth brings us.
L:  Give thanks to God, for God's love endures forever!
P:  God is our God, the One who comes to make us whole.

Joy is indeed the highest praise
we can offer to you,
Steadfast Love.
On that first morning,
you woke creation
     from its slumbering sleep,
     to give light to chaos' shadows.
Morning by morning,
you shaped your dreams
     into everything that is true,
     turning hopes into your justice.
You asked simply that we rejoice
in your gifts and glory,
     but we chose to sing the choruses
     of sin and rebellion,
          following death as it paraded
          through the world.
Prophets struggled to awaken
our dulled ears
with whispers of peace,
     but we laughed at their ideas
     that we should return to you.
When you could have set your face like flint,
when you could have hardened your resolve,
you sent your Child, your Joy,

Therefore, we join our voices in thanksgiving,
with those who shouted "Hosanna"
and with those who ran away from you,
with those in every moment, and in this moment,
singing with all creation to your glory:

P:  Holy, holy, holy are you, Opener of our ears.
     All creation proclaims, "God's steadfast love endures forever."
     Hosanna in the highest!

     Blessed is the One who opens the gates of righteousness.
     Hosanna in the highest!

You are holy, God our Creator,
and blessed is Jesus Christ,
who comes in your grace.
When he could have filled your heart,
     he poured himself out for us;
when he could have remained by your side,
     he came to be a servant, raising us to glory;
when he could have watched from heaven,
     he came down to show us your heart;

when he could have taken the easy way,
     he chose to be faithful to you,
     even to the point of shameful death.
As he gathered up our brokenness
to make us whole,
you raised him to new life,
     and he stands with us in eternity,
     glorifying you forever.

As we remember the joy and excitement of the parade,
as we remember the gentle words he taught,
as we remember the spirit with which he died,
we proclaim the One who is the Bread of Life:

P:  Christ died, emptying his life for us;
     Christ rose, defeating our old adversaries sin and death;
     Christ will come, to fulfill what has been promised.

Here, at this Table,
we would receive the gifts
of the bread and the cup,
and your Spirit which anoints us with peace.
Nourish us with the Bread of hope,
     that we might go into
     the brokenness of our world;
fill us with the cup of grace,
     so the weary would discover us
     standing by their side;
fill us with the overflowing joy
of the good news,
     so we might sing forever
     of your heart's desire
     for justice and peace for all people.

Then, on that final morning,
when we gather for the Feast of the Lamb,
when we are seated with those
who shouted their hosannas,
as well as those who yelled for death,
we will join our voices in eternity's anthem,
giving our thanks to you forever and ever,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

L:  The One wounded by the nails in our hearts,
     sends us forth,
P:  to bring healing with God's love.
L:  The One who continues on the journey
     invites us to follow,
P:  cradling the broken hearts of the world
     as we go.
L:  The One whose Spirit is in the Kingdom Bearer
     fills us with hope,
P:  if we but trust in the promises of this day.

© Thom M. Shuman