Sunday, March 30, 2014

Liturgy w/communion for April 6, 2014 (Lent 5 - A)

Texts:  Ezekiel 37:1-14; Psalm 130; Romans 8-11; John 11:1-45

Litany for Lent
L:  In the buds on the trees eager to burst;
     in the flowers poking their heads out of the dirt;
     in the children chalking spring on the sidewalks:
P:  we see how you love us,
     God of steadfast love.
L:  In the tears of a worried father over his son's illness;
     in the weariness of a mother facing a long shift at work;
     in the woman who anoints her grandbaby with talcum powder:
P:  we see how you love us,
     our Resurrection and our Life.
L:  In the touch of a wife on her husband's papery skin;
     in the birds which rush into the sky before spiraling down;
    in the words we are given to offer to the empty-hearted:
P:  we see how you love us,
     Breath of our souls.
                                      Silence is kept
L:  Creator of life:
P:  bring us light, we pray.
L:  Mourner of the dead:
P:  take away our grief, we pray.
L:  Refresher of dry lives:
P:  bind us to God forever, we pray, as we say together,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
If it is true that God has recorded our failings, we hope it
will never be published.  But in truth, if the book was
opened, every page would be blank, for God forgives us
of everything we have done, or failed to do.  So, let us
wait for God's mercy and grace, as we come with our
prayers for forgiveness, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     We are set free by your saving grace, Generous God,
yet we must confess how we are still bound by our pride
and arrogance.  We seem unable to throw of the grave
clothes of our habitual sin.  We cling to our fears, for they
are so familiar and comfortable.
     Yet, there in every corner of our lives, in every shadow
we fear, into the cold embrace of death itself, you come,
Steadfast Love.  You break the bonds of sin and death, calling
us to new life through the love and sacrifice of your Son,
Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
L:  You can put your hope in God, dear friends, for God offers
us that love which never fades, that life which never ends.
P:  We wait for God, and God does not fail us.  God's hope,
God's love, and God's grace are forever.  Thanks be to God.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
L:  May the God of tears be with you.
P:  And also with you.
L:  Offer your hearts to the One who calls us out of death into life.
P:  Unbound, we bring our hearts to our God of new mornings.
L:  People of God, sing songs to the One in whom we hope.
P:  We rejoice in God, who dwells in our souls.

In that first moment, God of wonder,
you cried out, 'Unbind creation and let her go!'
      and flowers grew in the cracks of chaos,
     blustery winds played talk through the forests,
     lambs leapfrogged one another in the meadows.
Your hand came upon the dry dust of earth,
and your Spirit breathed life into us.
You longed for us to be with you,
     but we allowed sin and death
     to lead us around by the nose.
You called to women and men,
'Prophesy!' urging them to call us back.
     but we did not believe their words.
So you sent a certain man named Jesus,
to cause new life to come upon us.

With those who have stood beside graves,
and those who wait for signs of hope,
we sing our praises to you:

P:  Holy, holy, holy are you, God of our shadowed valleys.
     All creation hopes in you and waits.
     Hosanna in the highest!

     Blessed is the One who calls us to new life.
     Hosanna in the highest!

You are holy, Caresser of our souls,
and Jesus is our Child, our Friend.
Seeing that those he loved were sick,
     he brought us healing.
Finding us wandering in despair,
     he showed us that our hope
     need never turn to dust.
Believing that you loved him,
     he went to the cross, for us.
And when he was in death's cold arms,
you stood at the door of the tomb,
crying out, 'unbind him, and let him go!'
and our Resurrection and our Life
came forth for us.

Believing that he is the One who calls us to new life,
trusting that, by his tears, he takes away our pain,
we proclaim that mystery we call faith:

P:  Christ died, taking away the sins of the world;
     Christ rose, taking away the power of sin and death;
     Christ will return, taking us by the hand to lead us home.

In the bread and the cup,
you give life to us,
as the Spirit comes to dwell
in every room of our souls.
You bless the bread, breaking it,
so it might heal and strengthen us
so we can say
     to the barren, 'here is your life;'
     to the despairing, 'here is your hope!'
As the grace-filled cup nourishes us
we would go into the world
     to visit those who are sick,
     to wait with the expectant,
     to share tears with the broken.

And when you call of us to your side,
we will join Lazarus, Mary, Martha,
and all our sisters and brothers
in forever singing your praises,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

L:  Now go forth with God's hope!
P:  We have put flesh on our faith
     and will go to serve others.
L:  Now go forth to fill others with Christ's Light!
P:  We will go to call others to new life,
     wiping away their tears.
L:  Now go forth with the steadfast love of the Spirit!
P:  We will go to share that hope
     for which all people long.

© 2014  Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Liturgy w/communion for March 30, 2014 (Lent 4 - A)

Texts: 1 Samuel 16:1-13; Psalm 23; Ephesians 5:8-14; John 9:1-41

Call to Worship
L:  Early each morning, God waits
     to greet us with joy and wonder.
P:  We awake to find ourselves
     enveloped in grace.
L:  During the day, Jesus comes
     to invite us to serve.
P:  We rise from our work and leisure
     to bring healing and hope to others.
L:   In the shadowed evenings of our fears
      and worries, the Spirit is with us.
P:   The Light of life is shines on us
      in every moment of every day.

Prayer of the Day
One thing we know,
Listener to our hearts:
     you are the One
     who sends us on journeys
     and waits for us at
     the final destination.

One thing we know,
Healer of our lives:
     when we find ourselves
     in valleys veiled in shadows,
     you are walking alongside us
     even though we may never notice.

One thing we know,
Comforter of our souls:
     when we are weakened
     by the burdens of our lives,
     you come to us, to rest
     your strengthening peace upon us.

One thing we know,
God in Community, Holy in One:
once we could not see you in every moment,
but now our eyes are opened wide,
and so we pray together, saying,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
God longs for us to sit by the still waters of
love, but we are too busy stirring up trouble
with our actions, with our words, with our
inability to be God's children.  Let us bring our
prayers to the One who will restore us with
goodness and mercy, as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     Like Cinderella, Loving God, we sit in the
ashes of our hopes, but you see us as your
beloved children.  We pay strict attention to
all who break the rules, but ignore the grace
which is poured out upon us.  We try to box
you in with boundaries we can manage, but
you continue to burst forth to bring newness
into the world.
     Have mercy on us, God of forgiveness, and
open our eyes to your presence among us.  As
you look at our hearts, may we see others in a
different way, not as enemies or strangers, but
sisters and brothers of the same family, kin to
Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
L:  The Spirit of the Lord has come upon us,
bringing hope, life, and forgiveness for each person.
P:  Now we will go forth as God's children, sent to
bring the good news to everyone we meet.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
L:  May the God of still waters be with you.
P:  And also with you.
L:  Lift your hearts to the One who gives you rest.
P:  We open ourselves to God, who restores us.
L:  Join together in glad songs of praise to God.
P:  We rejoice in the One who is our comfort and hope.

You prepared a feast of wonder
for us, Imagination beyond power,
when creation burst forth:
     green pastures radiant with sunflowers;
     cool, still pools for rest and renewal;
     paths formed by antelopes up mountainsides.
Your heart overflowed with love
as you showed us what to do
that we might live with you in peace.
     But looking at sin and death,
     we said, 'surely these are the
     ones we should follow,' and
     trailed after them.
You would not reject us,
but sent prophets to pursue us,
calling us to return to you.
     But we did not know
     where they came from
     and so ignored them.
Then you sent Jesus to us,
providing a Savior for yourself,
and for those who wander death's valleys,
so we might be brought home to you.

With all who once lived in the shadows,
but now walk in the light of grace,
we sing glad thanksgivings to you:

P:  Holy, holy, holy are you, God our Shepherd.
     All that is good and right and true sings your praises.
     Hosanna in the highest!

     Blessed is the One who prepares this Table for us.
     Hosanna in the highest!

You are goodness, God of pastures and pools,
and Jesus Christ, your Son, is our mercy.
He came peacefully,
     so our differences might be reconciled.
As he walked along,
     he brought light to those
     who could not see the way.
Seeing the foolish choices we made,
     he decided to look at our hearts,
     so we might be drawn closer to you.
Your anointed One,
     he went into death's deepest valley,
     coming forth as the Risen One,
     bathed in resurrection's life.

Once we were children of the shadows,
but now we are heirs of the Light of Christ,
and so we speak of that faith we know as a mystery:

P:  Christ died, his spirit broken on the cross;
     Christ rose, the Spirit of God coming upon him with joy;
     Christ will come, the Spirit shining upon us.

Here is the Table prepared for us,
God of still waters and deep love,
your Spirit transforming the simple gifts
of the bread and the cup into
that goodness and mercy which is always with us.
We take the bread, broken for our healing,
and share it with one another
so we may go forth and do all
that makes your heart race with joy:
     bringing hope to those who suffer,
     listening to the voices of the hopeless.
We take the cup which overflows with grace,
and take it to pour out on
     all who have lost their way,
     all who long for community.

And when our journeys have ended
around the Table prepared for us in glory,
we will join our hearts and voices
with those from every age and time
and forever sing your praises,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

L:  Now go to take the love of God into the world.
P:  We will show others the way to God's fields of grace.
L:  Now go to take grace of Jesus into the world.
P:  We will seek to bring others to the still waters of peace.
L:  Now go to take the community of the Spirit into the world.
P:  We will work to restore the lives of all whom we meet.

© 2014  Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Liturgy for March 23, 2014 (Lent 3-A)

Texts:  Exodus 17:1-7; Psalm 95; Romans 5:1-11; John 4:5-42

Call to Worship
L:    Come and see the ambassador
        of God's friendship for us.
P:    We will find Jesus waiting to meet us:
        in classrooms, at a shopping center,
        in all the common places and moments.
L:    Come and hear the One who speaks
        of God's joy in us.
P:    We will listen to Jesus,
        whose words of grace and peace
        raise the rafters of our hope.
L:    Come and know how much
        God loves you.
P:    We will discover Jesus,
        who offers us the gift
        of reconciliation.

Prayer of the Day
When we were determined
to remain at war with you,
you sent the Prince of Peace.
When our relationship with you
was laying in pieces on the floor,
you offered the broken Bread
to restore us to wholeness.
When petty pride
stiffens our necks so much
we cannot bow down
in your holy presence,
you massage our souls
with grace's tender touch.
We worship you in joy,
God, our God.

When our ears become stuffed
with our selves,
you open them with songs
of grateful praise.
When our mouths overflow
with rich, sweet whine,
you wash them out
with living waters of hope.
When all we can say
is 'Give me! Give me!'
you challenge us
to submit to servanthood.
We worship you in sprit,
Jesus, Water Giver.

When our souls are empty,
you fill them with living water.
When we are reluctant
to follow Jesus,
you steer us in the right direction.
When we are tempted to boast,
your whispers of grace silence us.
We worship you in truth,
Comforter of our hearts.

God in Community, Holy in One,
our joy, our truth, our spirit,
we worship you, as we pray, saying,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation
Walking the dog, reading a bedtime
story, recycling newspapers - in every
moment, in every place, God is there.
Let us confess how often we do not
see God in our lives, especially in
how we live them.

Unison Prayer of Confession
   God of eternity, you know how often we
travel down the rocky roads of doubt and
fear.  We pester others with our worries;
we hurl bitter words at those we love.
We have chances to offer ourselves in
service, but only give our contempt to
those in need.  We could share the living
waters with the world, but want to store
it in jars for safe-keeping.
   Fountain of Grace, you turn towards us,
to meet us wherever we are.  You break
open our rock-hard sin, so we might be
made whole.  In Jesus Christ, our Lord
and Savior, our thirst for hope and joy
is quenched.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
L:    God does not disappoint us.  Our sins
        are forgiven, our lives are made whole,
        we are sent forth to serve.
P:    In Jesus Christ, living water breaks through
        the roof of our hearts, in such abundance
        that we don't have enough buckets to
        hold it all.  Thanks be to God.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
L:  The God of wilderness and wells be with you!
P:  And also with you!
L:  Lift your hearts to the One who comes bringing life.
P:  We offer them to our God of hope.
L:  Make a joyful noise to Salvation's Rock.
P:  We will sing songs of praise each day.

With the Spirit,
you struck stony chaos,
and creation gushed forth,
to fill the hollows of heavens,
to seed the mountains
you cradled in your wisdom.
You longed to sit by Eden's well,
telling us stories of the world
you were shaping for us.
But we tested you
with our quarreling ways.
Hearing the boasts of sin and death,
we bowed down and
worshiped at their altars.
Prophets came to lead us
through despair's desert
back home to you,
but our ears were clogged
with temptations seductive songs.
Finally, you sent Jesus
to meet us in our brokenness,
to save us by your grace.
Therefore, we join our voices
with saints and sinners,
with testers and pesterers,
who forever sing your praises:

P:  Holy, holy, holy are you, God our Rock.
     All creation sings glad songs to you.
     Hosanna in the highest!

     Blessed is the One who comes to ease our thirst
              for salvation.
     Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, Grace-giving God,
and blessed is Jesus Christ,
the Fountain of our hope.
When we were too weak to resist,
Christ came to take on sin and death.
When we are unfaithful,
Christ shows us your constant love.
When our fears and failures
stain our souls,
Christ cleanses us.
When our hopes for life had faded,
Christ died that we might live forever.

As we remember his gentle touch,
as we recall his words of hope and grace,
we speak of that mystery called faith:

P:  Christ died, pouring himself out for us;
     Christ rose, pouring God's love into us;
     Christ will come, pouring hope into us.

Pour out your Spirit
upon your children
gathered in this place,
and on the gifts
of the Bread and the Cup.
May they be the grace
which nourishes and sustains us.
As we come to reconciliation's table,
may our broken relationships
be made whole again.
As we see you in these gifts,
may we go and proclaim the good news.
As we open our hearts
to your never-ending love,
may we offer our selves
to everyone we meet.

And when all time is ended.
when hunger and thirst is no more
as we are fed at the Lamb's feast,
we will join our hands and hearts,
bowing down to worship you forever:
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

© Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Liturgy for March 16, 2014 (Lent 2 - A)

Texts:  Genesis 12:1-4a; Psalm 121; Romans 4:1-5, 13-17; John 3:1-17

Litany for Lent
Christ of the comfortable,
you would call us
from our security and sameness,
down that unknown path
which leads to God's heart:
with trust, we would place
our hands in yours, and follow.

Companion of our sleepless nights,
you would beckon us
out of the shadows of our fears,
calling us to bring our doubts
and questioning hearts along:
with humility, we would listen
to those answers we do not
expect, or even understand.

Word which creates out of nothingness,
you would fill us with life
where we see only emptiness,
you would keep your promises
when all ours lie littered on the ground:
we would let your grace transform
us into faithful disciples.

Silence is kept

Keeper of every moment,
walk with us, we pray.
Watcher in the night:
stay with us, we pray.
Spirit of new life:
be in us, as we pray together saying,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
When we least expect it, even when we are not ready, God comes to us, calling us to trust, calling us to follow, calling us to set aside our foolish lives, for the grace-full ones which are offered to us.  Let us confess how often we choose not to follow, as we pray together saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     We are all too human, Faithful God, and so think we have nothing to learn from others, and thus discount ancestors in the faith like Nicodemus or Sarah.  We look for an answers online, convinced that we can trust whatever we find.  We close tight the shutters of our souls, so the Spirit can only rattle us, but not get in to transform our lives.
     Yet you continue to keep watch of us, Promise Giver, whether it is when we swagger through the sunshine of our lives, or in those shadowed moments of uncertainty in the night.  You will not stumble as you continue to come to us, to lead us into your kingdom.  You will always be our help, whether or not we recognize it or accept it, even as you remained faithful to Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Our hope, our help, our peace, our joy?  All come from God, the One who loved us, and the world so much, that Jesus came to bring us salvation.
Keeper of our souls, be with us;
Watcher of our days, lead us;
Salvation of our lives, have mercy on us.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving

May the God of great adventures be with you!
And also with you!
It is God who is able to keep our hearts filled with hope and peace.
We will offer our hearts to the One who is our Keeper.
Trust in the promises whose fulfillment we cannot see.
We lift our songs to the One who is always with us.

You went into the shadows of nothingness,
bearing your Light of creation, Keeper of all,
so that life might burst forth where there was none:
     white sands at the edge of blue green seas,
     shale formed under the crust of the earth,
     warm mornings and frigid nights to mark the seasons.
You blessed your children with creation's gifts
so we might prove to be a blessing to others,
     but we watched the comings and goings
     of sin and death, allowing ourselves
     to be blown about by them.
Prophets responded to your call to them,
daring to bring us those words we did not want to hear,
calling us back to a way of life we had abandoned,
     but we knew that we preferred life
     in the absence of your presence.
For this reason, you sent Jesus into the world,
so that we, along with all creation, might be saved.

With those who toss and turn in the night,
with those who have responded to your call,
we lift our thanksgivings to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, Who neither slumbers nor sleeps.
All creation blesses your glorious name.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes to answer our questions.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy One, you are the God of blessings,
and Jesus Christ is your Faithful One.
The One who could truly boast,
     he humbled himself to become like us.
The One who was truly righteous,
     he emptied himself to fill us with grace.
The One who had spoken life into existence,
     he embraced death on the cross,
     so that we might be justified
     through your grace and wonder.

As we continue on the journey to Jerusalem,
as we seek to leave our comfortable lives to follow,
we would talk about that mystery we call faith:

Christ died, faithful to the end;
Christ rose, so all creation might be saved;
Christ will come, to bring us to that home he will show us.

What then are we to say, Keeper of our lives?
It is your Spirit poured out upon us
and upon the gifts of the Table
which brings us new life.
It is the brokenness of the bread
which gives us life, that life
     poured out for those who have no hope,
    for those who wander in the shadows.
It is the grace of the cup
which overflows with your gifts,
     so we might go to be a blessing
     to all forsaken by the world.

And when our journey has ended
and we find ourselves in that land
which you have prepared for us,
we will sing our glad songs to you forever,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Now go with the Spirit, from the comfort of this place,
so we may go to bring hope to the world.
Now carry the Light of Christ with you,
we will go into the shadows with this gift.
Now trust in God who is always with you,
we will follow that life called discipleship.

© 2014 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Liturgy for March 9, 2014 (Lent 1-A)

Texts:  Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7; Psalm 32; Romans 5:12-19; Matthew 4:1-11

Litany for Lent
L:  Jesus of the temptations,
     you enter the wilderness
     of our hungers,
     our lust for power,
     our eagerness to test God:
P:     be with us on our
        journey to Jerusalem, we pray.
L:  Jesus of hopes,
     you set aside your glory,
     choosing to cradle us
     in your scarred hands:
P:     hold us in your
        tender embrace, we pray.
L:  Jesus of the Feast,
     you are broken
     so we might be healed,
     you pour our your self
     so we might be drenched
     in your grace:
P:    feed us from the simple
       gifts of creation, we pray.

Silence is kept

L:  Lamb of God:
P:     have mercy.
L:  Servant to the poor:
P:     have mercy on us.
L:  Free gift of our righteousness:
P:     have mercy on us,
        even as we pray, saying,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
We are easily seduced by the temptations all
around us.  But if we are willing to trust God
and offer our confessions, God is quick to forgive
us and fill us with hope.  Join me, as we pray
together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
Led by the crafter of lies, Lord God, we
wander into the wasteland of wrong-doing.
We hunger for more and more, and feel
emptier and emptier.  We seek power, especially
over others, only to do harm.  By our choices, we
worship the false gods of success, wealth, and

Have mercy on us, God of love, and forgive us
for the power we give to temptation in our lives.
Help us to become as vulnerable as Jesus, for in
that vulnerability, we find the humility to trust
you in all things; in that trust, we discover the
grace which sets us free from the grasp of the
shrewd one; in that freedom, we can leave our
badlands behind, in order to follow Jesus in this
life, and into the next.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
L:  Be glad and rejoice! Give thanks with shouts
of joy!  Grace abounds for everyone.
P:  With glad cries of deliverance, we offer our
thanks to God who loves us and forgives us.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
L:  May the God of discipleship be with you.
P:  And also with you.
L:  Let us begin our Lenten journey with open hearts.
P:  We offer them to the One who walks with us.
L:  Let our voices resound with thanksgiving to
     the One who shows us faithful care.
P:  We rejoice in our God of hope and love.

You held nothing back,
Gardener of grace,
as the Spirit led creation
into the hinterlands of nothingness:
     spreading rich soil in the valleys,
     planting seedlings and flower bulbs,
     making mountains from river clay,
     sprinkling water over everything.
Mornings came in Eden's beauty,
all that wonder and goodness
given for your children,
     but we listened to evil's whispers,
     believing those lies so easily told.
Like a crew launching in boat
to rescue those who are adrift,
prophets came, counseling us
to let go of our stubbornness
and return to your side,
     but with our eyes wide open,
     we followed that path which
     took us away from the middle of the garden.
So you sent Jesus to us,
that free gift of grace for all.

With the faithful who have gone before us,
with companions through this journey today,
we offer glad songs of deliverance:

P:  Holy, holy, holy are you, God of steadfast love.
     Creation sings your praises as on that first morning.
     Hosanna in the highest!

     Blessed is the One who brings grace to us.
     Hosanna in the highest!

You alone are holy, Hope of our lives,
and Jesus Christ is your blessed righteousness.
When we got what we wanted
in knowing both good and evil,
     he came, so we might receive
     what we need most - your grace.
When we left the garden
to enter the deserts of temptation,
     he came , to show us
     the path back to your heart.
When we had given control
of our lives to sin and death,
     he came, to break their hold on us
     as he was resurrected from the grave.

As we begin to follow him to Jerusalem,
as we would choose to embrace his suffering,
we speak of that free gift called faith:

P:  Christ died, going into the wilderness of the grave;
     Christ rose, shattering the grip of sin and death;
     Christ will come, so we might follow him
          to the New Jerusalem.

You hold nothing back from us
as the Spirit comes to rest
on the gifts of the bread and the cup,
so that those gathered might be fed.
Like your heart, the bread is broken,
so we might be made whole and,
     by our healing, go forth
     to bring hope to those around us.
Like your Child, the cup is poured out,
so we might be filled with your grace, and
     go out into the world
     to empty ourselves for others.

And when our journeys in and out
of the wildernesses of the world are ended,
you will gather us around the
great Feast of the Lamb,
where we will sing glad songs of joy to you,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

L:  May God lead us to all who are afraid.
P:  We will follow God into the barren
      spots of our world.
L:  May Jesus lead us to all who look
     for a friend, a companion in this life.
P:  We will follow Jesus into all the
     places where the lonely live.
L:  May the Spirit lead us to all
     who are tossed aside by the world.
P:  We will follow the Spirit to the
      neighborhoods filled with injustice,
      to bring hope.

© 2014  Thom M. Shuman