Monday, April 27, 2015

Liturgy w/communion for May 3, 2015 (Easter 5 - B)

Texts:  Acts 8:26-40; Psalm 22:25-31; 1 John 4:7-21; John 15:1-8

Call to Worship
Here in this place of worship,
with the congregation of the faithful,
we lay down our fears,
to boldly sing God’s praise.
Here in the vineyard of the Lord,
with our sisters and brothers in Christ,
grandparents tell stories of faith
to little ones sitting on their laps.
Here where God waits to serve us at the Table:
we shall be so filled with love
that we will run to serve others.
Prayer of the Day

Teach us to love one another
with that passion which comes
from your overflowing heart, Vine Grower,
so those around us will recognize
us as sisters and brothers,
bound together by your love
not divided by our fears.
Teach us to serve one another
with that compassion which comes
from our broken heart, Vine of our lives,
for the hungry are our brothers,
the immigrants are our sisters,
the homeless are our families.
Teach us include others
with that embracing welcome which comes
from your inviting heart, Fruit-bearing Spirit,
offering forgiveness to those who hurt us,
peace to all filled with hate,
hope to those burdened by despair.
Teach us to understand all we read and hear,
God in Community, Holy in One,
as we pray as Jesus has taught us, saying,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation

The seeds of grace, hope, joy, and love are planted deep with us, so they can bear fruit in our lives.  But we resist staying connected to the Vine, thinking we can flourish on our own.  Let us confess our sins, so we can once more feel God abiding deep within us.  Please join me as we pray, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
Mother of Compassion:
   called to be one body,
      we fragment ourselves into a million selfish pieces;
   your children of love,
      we insist on the right to despise our sisters and brothers;
   though your Perfect Love was broken for us,
      we are afraid to give of ourselves to the world.
Abide in us, Vine Grower.
Forgive us of our sins,
   so we may live boldly,
   love fearlessly,
   and proclaim unceasingly that Jesus Christ
      is our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon

Do you feel it – there, deep down in your hearts?  God’s love is alive, beating, breathing – in you!
Because God abides in us, we can live for others, allowing God’s love to bear fruit in us.  Thanks be to God, we are forgiven!  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offertory
From you comes every gift we need, every blessing we have.  May we not hoard them for ourselves, but offer them back to you, that the poor might be fed, the lonely befriended, and the despairing be filled with hope.  This we pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.

The Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of searches be with you.

And also with you.
Bring your hearts to the One who loves you.
We offer them so God may plant fruit-bearing seeds in them.
Lift songs of praise to our God.
We will join our hearts and voices in proclaiming,
“God has done it!”

“Get up,” you cried to your Word and Spirit,
“and go down the wilderness road to chaos.”
And so they went,
   calling forth life out of nothingness,
   planting seeds that branched into vines,
   pouring clear water into earth’s hollows,
   crafting us in your imaginative image.
You showed all of this to us, with delight in your heart,
but we did not understand what we were seeing,
   and so chose death and sin
   to be our guides in this life.
Though we loved you last, you loved us first,
sending your prophets to declare all you had done,
   but we continued to abide
   in the tangled briars of temptation.
So you sent Jesus to us,
the One who would bear your fruit
of salvation and hope for all your children.
With those who seem to intuit your hearts,

with those seeking to understand your hopes,
we lift our songs of thanksgiving to you.

Holy, holy, holy are you, God of eunuchs and evangelists.
All creation bears fruit in glorifying you.
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is the One who comes to abide in us.
Hosanna in the highest!
Love is your language of holiness, Branch weaving God,
And Jesus Christ, our Savior is the true Vine of your heart.
When we were wandering lost and alone,
trying to understand what we were doing,
   he crossed over glory to join us
   in this journey we know as life.
When we could do nothing
to prevent our bondage to sin,
   he came to set us free.
When we could not learn
how to make things right with you,
   he went down the wilderness road
   into the cold tomb of death,
so, as your raised him to new life,
he might proclaim to us,
“God has done it!”

As we seek to abide in Jesus,
as we long to bear fruit in the kingdom,
we speak of the mystery known as faith:

Christ died, that we might live through him;
Christ was raised, that he might live through you;
Christ will come, that all might live through eternity with you.
Abide in us at this Table,
as you pour out your Spirit
on the gifts of the bread and cup,
and on your children gathered in this place.
The broken bread reminds us
that you loved us first so that,
as we eat of it, we might put the needs
   of the hungry, the searching,
   the hurting, the lonely before our own.
The cup of grace nourishes us
so we can go over and join
   the oppressed and the outcasts,
   intertwining our branches with theirs,
   so we all become part
   of the Vine of justice and of hope.
Then, when we no longer sleep in death,
but are gathered around your Table
with our sisters and brothers of all time and places,
we will join in singing with one voice and heart,
“You have done it, God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.”
Go now, in the love of our God.
We will live for others through our God.
Go now, in the grace of Jesus.
We will forgive others, just as we have been forgiven.
Go now, in the community of the Spirit.
We will serve others in every need, in every place, in every heart.

© 2015 Thom M. Shuman

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Liturgy w/communion for April 26, 2015 (Easter 4 - B)

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

Call to Worship
We gather in the presence of our God:
where grieving people and children with skinned knees
have their tears wiped away.
We gather as the little children of God:
to worship the One who provides what we need,
not what we want.
We gather around the Table of God:
to taste the goodness of God,
to drink deeply from God's mercy.

Prayer of the Day
Lead us, Creation's Architect,
into all those places
where we will discover your hope
waiting to nourish and restore
our famished souls.

Lead us, Shepherd of little children,
into all those places
where we may have the joy
of filling the emptiness of others
with your goodness.

Lead us, Spirit of Goodness,
into all those places
where deeds of kindness
and hands overflowing with mercy
speak louder than platitudes.

God in Community, Holy in One,
lead us into your kingdom
as we pray as Jesus has taught us, saying,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation

Knowing how easy it is to wander from the paths of right living; aware of all the shadowed valleys we wander; remembering how we have failed to place our trust in God - how can we not come to God with our confessions? Please join me as we pray, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   Comfort of your people:  we confess the emptiness of our souls which sends us searching for all those things which cannot nourish us.  Our restless longing for the goods of the world fill us with every lust and envy.  Our belief that still waters are stagnant causes us to thirst for whitewater thrills and adventures.  Our trust in the hollow promises of our culture turns us away from the shelter you offer to us.
   Forgive us, Goodness Incarnate.  Call us back from our wayward lives, so we may find rest in the stillness of your gentle heart; we may find healing from your scarred hands; we may find that life for which we yearn, together in you and through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
This is the good news:  God will walk with us in every moment, God will fill us with goodness and mercy, God will bring us home to live forever.
Anointed with grace and forgiveness, our lives overflow with love for all people.  Thanks be to God.  Amen.

 Prayer of Dedication/Offertory
As we offer our gifts to you, Gentle Shepherd, may we lay down our prejudices towards others, so they might find a welcome in our hearts; may we set aside our fears of the future, so you might lead us into your future, may we become the goodness and mercy for which others have been looking all their lives.  This we pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.

The Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of green pastures be with you.
And also with you.
Beloved, still your hearts before God.
We open them to the One who fills them with living water.
Children of God, give thanks for the sake of God’s name.
Our praise is continually offered to our Heart,
our Shepherd, and our Savior.

Imaginative Shepherd,

into the bitterness of chaos,
you poured pools of living water;
into the cracks of nothingness,
you filtered dirt, seeds, nutrients
so lush pastures of life might emerge;
you carved paths of beauty and wonder
for those who bear your name and image to walk,

     but we longed to follow sin and death
     all the days of our life, and so turned away from you.
You gave your rod and staff to prophets,
trusting that their words might anoint us with healing,
     yet we only found comfort in seduction’s
     all-too-false promises.
So, in the presence of these enemies
we did not recognize,
you sent Jesus, to be that grace and hope
which we needed, even if we didn’t want them.
With those assembled in this place and time,

with those whose love is shown in their actions,
we gather as your people,
singing your praise and our thanksgiving:

Holy, holy, holy are you, Good Shepherd of all peoples.
Still waters, green pastures, sparkling stars
   join all creation in praising you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comforts us.
Hosanna in the highest!

You are holy, yet compassionate, God of our hearts,
and your good shepherd, Jesus, comes to save us.
When we would wander the deserts of sin,
   he leads us to the green pastures of grace.
When we turn down the wrong road towards foolishness,
   he takes our hands to show us the right path.
When we are tossed about by life,
   he brings us to the still waters of your gentleness.
Walking through the darkest valley,
he surrendered to the cold embrace of death,
until you brought him out of the grave,
anointing him with the oil of resurrection.
As we would join goodness and mercy in following
the Good Shepherd all the days of our lives,
we celebrate that mystery we call faith:
Christ died, walking through death’s valley;

Christ was raised, the Good Shepherd for us all;
Christ will come, to bring all into the one flock of God.

You have prepared this table for us,

anointing the bread and the cup,
as well as all your people, with the Holy Spirit.
May this bread which is broken
be our healing and strength,
so we walk the shadows of our world,
   leading our sisters and brothers
   down the paths of healing and hope.
As we are anointed with the cup’s grace,
   may we bring comfort to the lonely,
   build homes for those who have none,
   fill the hungry with nourishing food,
   shower them with goodness and mercy.
And when there are no more shadows around us,
when your rod of reconciliation
and your staff of salvation gather us around
the Table prepared for us in eternity,
we will join all from every time and place,
singing your praises with glad voices,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Let us go to be bold before God.
We will speak up for all people
who long for healing and hope.
Let us go to shepherd Jesus’ sisters and brothers.
We will risk our lives for justice,
we will serve the outcast.
Let us go to anoint others with the Holy Spirit.
We will bring goodness and mercy
to all whose lives need restoring.

© 2015 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Liturgy w/communion for April 19, 2015 (Easter 3-B)

Texts: Acts 3:12-19; Psalm 4; 1 John 3:1-7; Luke 24:36b-48

Call to Worship
When fear and doubts stroll through our doors:
God stands beside us, whispering of peace.
When we toss and turn late at night:
God sits by our beds, singing lullabies of love.
When we stumble through the shadows of sin:
God illuminates the paths of goodness and joy.

Prayer of the Day
When we are blinded by anger,
you pour out your love
for all to see;
when we wonder
what tomorrow will bring,
you call us to trust in you;
when sadness fills our hearts,
you plant gladness in our hearts.
God of Easter:
touch us with your grace.

You show us your hands,
so we may reach out
to mend the broken;
you show us your feet,
so we may walk with
those the world passes by;
you show us your face,
so we may know who our
sisters and brothers look like.
Risen Christ:
touch us with your compassion.

You open our eyes,
so we may see God's love;
you open our minds,
so we may welcome God's Word;
you open our lips,
so we may be God's witnesses.
Spirit of Hope:
touch us with your peace.

God in Community, Holy in One,
open us to your presence,
as we pray as Jesus has taught us, saying,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
If our actions mirrored our words, if our hands were mentored by our hearts, if we walked the talk - we would be God's children.  But too often, it is our silence, our doubts, our fears which tell others who we truly are.  Let us confess to God how we have not been as faithful as we hope, as we pray, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   God of empty tombs: Peter speaks with power and clarity of his faith, while we remain silent.  The psalmist speaks of trusting in you, while our doubts overwhelm us.  Jesus is read to come and grace us with peace, but our fears keep our hearts shuttered and locked.
   God of full hearts: your love can change us from scared people to children of grace.  You can weed doubts from our hearts and plant seeds of joy in their place.  You can silence the panic of our souls with the peace Jesus offers to each of us.  Transform us into Easter people, through the power of Jesus Christ, our risen Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
What marvelous love, what wondrous grace, what abundant mercy God offers - to us!  We really are God's people - that is exactly who we are!
We are God's children - those whose lives have been changed by the One who loves us and forgives us.  Thanks be to God!  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
What will be done with the gifts we offer in these moments has not been revealed to us, Holy God, but knowing you through Jesus, and trusting in you by the power of the Holy Spirit, we do know they will be used to bring hope, to bring healing, to bring justice to all those people and places who long for these blessings.  And so we offer these gifts with gratitude to you, in Jesus' name.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of mornings be with you!
May the God of evenings be with your!
See what love God has for us, as we open our hearts to Easter's joy.
Our hearts overflow with peace and grace.
Let us sing praises to God, Children of Easter.
We join our voices in songs of gladness and wonder.

     Birds building nests in fresh-blooming branches,
     snow glistening on mountain ridges,
     little children splashing in autumn's leaf piles,
     sipping hot tea in front of a roaring fire:
we see what love you have for us, Ingenious God,
for you reached into the hollows of chaos
and brought forth goodness, beauty, and wonder.
All these gifts were shaped and given to those
who were created in your image, so we might trust in you,
     but we were frightened of your gentleness
     and doubted your graciousness, and so
     acted in ignorance as we chased after sin's lies.
Through the voices and hopes of the prophets,
you continued to offer us your heart as a guest room,
     but we did not fear their words
     and continued to make our beds in death.
So your sent Jesus to us, to stand among us
and to offer your peace to our discordant natures.

With those children who trust in your promises,
with those who have known your joy in shadowed moments,
with our sisters and brothers in this place,
we offer our songs of praise to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God who hears our deep longings.
Creation joins in glad songs of resurrection joy.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who stands in our midst offering peace.
Hosanna in the highest!

We see what love you have for us, God of Holiness,
in your Child, Jesus, who reveals you as you are.
He could have stared at our foolish lives
shaking his head in disbelief at our choices,
     but opened our eyes so we might see
     your hopes for us in his gentleness.
He could have turned a deaf ear
to our angry voices and hurtful words
hurled at our friends and families,
     but heard the unspoken cries of our hearts
     for forgiveness and healing.
He could have wondered if it was worth it,
the struggle, the pain, the death, the grave,
but as your resurrection love reached out
and brought him from death's grasp,
     gladness filled his heart as he rejoiced
     in all that you had done for us.

As we have this hope made known at the Table,
as we seek to trust you in all moments,
we proclaim that mystery we call faith:

Walking to his death, Christ entrusted his life to you;
raised from the grave, Christ glorified in your love for him;
standing in our midst at the end, Christ will gather us at your Table.

See what love God has for us
as we are gathered around this Table of grace,
and the Spirit of joy is poured out upon us
and the gifts of the bread and the cup.
As we come to the feast of reconciliation,
we stand among our sisters and brothers,
seeking to live out this hope that
we are indeed God's children.
As we take the broken bread and share it,
we would go to be with the oppressed around us,
seeking to make justice our sacrifice
as we offer our trust in God to them.
As we pass the cup of community to one another,
we would go to stand beside the lonely and the longing,
to pour God's gladness into their hearts.

And when all is revealed to us, as we are gathered
with our sisters and brothers with the One
whom we will be like for all time to come,
we  will sing our songs of thanksgiving to you,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Go now, to be God's children in the world.
We will open our minds to understand the needs around us.
Go now, to be Christ's servants in the world.
We will open our hands to share our blessings with all.
Go now, to be the Spirit's hope for the world.
We will open our hearts to welcome those who have no one to care for them.

(c) 2015 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Liturgy w/communion for April 12, 2015 (Easter 2 - B)

Texts: Acts 4:32-35; Psalm 133; 1 John 1:1 – 2:2; John 20:19-31
Call to Worship
The Word of life spoke:
so we could hear the 'Alleluias!' of the angels.
The Word of life reached out:
so we could touch the hope which heals us.
The Word of life walked out of death's dread tomb:
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,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

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 for Forgiveness
   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.

Silence is kept

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

Prayer of Dedication
As we offer our gifts to you, Loving God, remove any doubts about how they might be used, as you offer food to the hungry, hope to the despairing, joy to the grieving, and peace to the broken.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

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

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

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 will join our hearts and voices in singing
your praises throughout all eternity,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

Go now to walk in God's light.
We will tell of what we have seen in the glory of creation
and in the goodness of those who love us.
Go now to serve in Christ's light.
We will share what we have heard in the parables about grace
and in the laughter of little children.
Go now to live in the Spirit's light.
We will touch the broken places with healing,
we will stare down injustice until it changes its ways.

(c) 2015 Thom M. Shuman