we gather in this place built by God’s steadfast love.
Strugglers and stragglers, pilgrims almost at the end of the journey,
each of us is seeks to follow Jesus, the compassionate One.
Builders of bridges in fractured communities,
those who stand on either side of walls of fear,
the Spirit of faithfulness calls us to live as one people – God’s people!
God of aliens and strangers:
make the doors of this church
wide enough so that all find a welcome,
a home, a haven, a heart.
Christ of the near
and those who are far off:
make our hearts wide enough
so that all might find a place
in this household of faith.
of saints and sinners:
open our arms wide enough
so that all -
the guest, the neighbor,
the child, the widow,
the politician, the homeless,
the brother, the sister -
may be embraced
by your love and grace.
God in Community, Holy in One,
open your arms wide enough
to enfold us in your heart,
as we pray as Jesus has taught us, saying,
(Our Father . . .)
Call to Reconciliation
Do we really want God to dwell within us, or are we only willing to 'rent out' space for a brief visit? Our actions, our words, our silence, our fears all show the presence, or absence, of God in our lives. Let us empty ourselves of all which burdens us, and welcome the One who lives with us forever. Please join me as we pray,
Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
Steadfast God, we confess that we are so busy putting up walls between ourselves and others, we cannot see the home you are building for all of us. We spend so much time noting the differences between us and others, while you are embracing everyone as your child. We run to welcome those who look, talk, and act like us, and you throw open your doors to the stranger, the alien, in our midst.
Forgive us, Faithful Heart. By your grace, help us to see the household you are building for all people: there are no plastic protectors on the furniture; there are no rooms that are off-limits; and even the smallest child is welcome to sit at the big peoples' Table and be fed by your grace. We pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, our peace, our hope, our Lord, our Savior.
Silence is kept
Assurance of Pardon
Do you remember? At one time, you were without Christ; you were the stranger, the outsider, and the alien. But now, in Christ, you have been brought home, living in God's household of hope and peace.
God's covenant with us is everlasting; God's steadfast love is forever; God's forgiveness makes us new and whole. Thanks be to God. Amen.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts to the one who has reconciled us.
We offer them as enduring witnesses to God’s steadfast love.
Sing to the One who is our Strength and our Hope.
We offer glad songs to the One who is our God.
Now, when chaos has settled in,
you spoke to Word and Spirit,
“Go, do all that you and in mind,”
and creation burbled forth into being:
icy springs for hot summer days,
color-changing leaves for kids to play in,
grassy meadows just right for bare feet.
You appointed a place for us next to you
in your garden of wonders,
but we hurried after death,
begging sin to be our best friend.
Prophets came, hoping by their words
to draw us away from temptation’s playgrounds,
yet we continued to cross over
to seduction’s side every time.
You would not leave us without hope,
but having compassion for all your children,
sent Jesus to proclaim Jesus everywhere.
With those who have forsaken your grace,
with those who model your steadfast love,
we praise your name in these moments:
Holy, holy, holy are you, God who is always with us.
Creation calls out in joy to you, their God.
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is the One who has compassion for all.
Hosanna in the highest!
You are holy, God our salvation,
and your blessed Child could have stayed
in that lonely place called Glory,
but he recognized our troubles
and chose to come to us.
He could have secured the borders
of your kingdom to keep us immigrants out,
but tore down the barriers we built,
so we might cross more easily
over that bridge called Faithfulness.
Having compassion on us,
he crossed to that deserted place called death,
so we might recognize the Risen Lord
as he came to embrace us in your resurrection love.
As we remember Christ’s great compassion for us,
as we seek to live as those who have hope,
we speak of that mystery called faith:
Christ became our death, so we might live.
Christ became our live, so we might know peace.
Christ will come in peace, so we might have hope.
As we gather around this Table,
we would come, not as strangers
but those who are called into your family
of steadfast love and faithfulness.
You have poured out the Spirit of strength
upon the bread which is broken for us,
so we might go to tear down
all the walls which divide us,
to build bridges of reconciliation
to all with whom we are broken.
You pour the grace of the Spirit
into the cup which is passed to us,
so we might recognize those
who are our sisters and brothers,
not outsiders we need to fear.
As we feast on this meal of remembrance,
as we join hands and hearts with those around us,
may we recognize that
we are woven together with
the scarlet threads of steadfast love and faithfulness.
we will gather with all who have journeyed before and after us,
offering enduring witness to your hope, peace, and forgiveness,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.
Now go, to greet stranger and dear friend equally.
We will share God’s steadfast love as we seek to live in faithfulness.
Now go, to share Christ’s compassion with everyone.
We will tear down dividing walls and build bridges of hope.
Now go, to live as one as the Spirit gathers you with others.
We will build communities that welcome all, especially the outsiders.
© 2015 Thom M. Shuman