Monday, September 26, 2016

World Communion Sunday (October 2, 2016)

Texts: Lamentations 1:1-6; Lamentations 3:19-26; 2 Timothy 1:1-14; Luke 17:5-10

Call to Worship
In cities like Charlotte and Tulsa,
where lives are lost and voices are not heard,
we call to mind that faith which is passed on to us,
that justice will speak out for all people.
In cities like Aleppo and New York,
where explosions destroy families and scatter neighbors,
we call to mind that hope which is passed on to us,
that peace and reconciliation will rebuild communities.
In neighborhoods not known, in places never mentioned,
where bitter tears are shed and the lonely walk the streets,
we call to mind that love which we can pass on
to those forgotten by the world, including us.

Prayer of the Day

It is not in the hollowness
of our fears,
   but there in the depths
   of your heart, Singer of Songs,
that the notes are written
that can reshape our lives,
that the melody of hope is composed.

Seed Planter,
you only did
what you ought to have done:
traveling our lonely cities,

     listening to
         the weeping of parents;

      reaching out to
         share our burdens.

You enter our hearts

   to heal them,
Spirit of love;
      you enter our fears
         to open us to possibilities;
      you enter our communities
         to create families;
      you empty yourself,
         so we may share the good
         treasure of hope with all

God in Community, Holy in One,
we lift our prayers as Jesus taught us,

(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
Faith, hope, love have all been passed on to us, not so we can hoard these gifts for ourselves, but so we might share them with others.  Let us lift our prayers to the One who is always ready to place forgiveness in our hearts, as we tell how we have not done this in our lives.

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     We think if we turn off the media, we will not need to listen to the voices of our neighbors, God of all the world.  We are blessed with family and friends, and so do not know the lonely.  We are at ease in a world which is troubled, and so do not notice the bitter tears of others.  Because we are people of affluence and privilege, we cannot understand those who are broken by the anger and brutality of the world.

   Yet, you know, God of the sufferers.  You hear the cries of those living in oppression, and call us to listen.  Your tears mingle with those whose children lie mangled or dead in war zones, and would have us be peacemakers.  Your faithfulness is great, when ours seems so futile, yet you would have us serve the world alongside your Child, Jesus, even as he served us with his life and gifts.  Amen.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Call this to mind: God is ever faithful; hope is the gift passed on to us, love is the gift we can share with others; God’s mercies never come to an end.

Great is God’s faithfulness to all people, in all places. Thanks be to God, who has given us the promise of life in Christ Jesus our Lord! Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
We are here, because of those who passed on their faith to us.  We are generous, because God has blessed us with gifts beyond imagination.  We would pass on these gifts, as well as hope and love, as we offer them to our God, in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May God be with you.
And also with you.
People of God, lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the One who cradles our hearts in loving hands.
People of God, let us give thanks to the God who sets a Table for us.
We praise the Lord our God who welcomes us with open arms.

How lonely was chaos, Gardener of the Universe,
until you spoke a Word, and your Spirit created:
   leaves that burnish gold and red in autumn,
   snow that drifts lazily in winter skies,
   frozen brooks that burst in spring,
   ponds splashing with children in summer.
You planted the seeds of joy in our ancestors
hoping they would pass them onto us,
   but they walked sin’s lonely streets
   and drank the bitter tears death offered.
Though the prophets came
to remind us of your great faithfulness,
   we continued to feast on the
   wormwood and gall offered by the world.    
But you would not forget us,

and so sent Jesus to bring us home to you.

Therefore we join our voices,
as we sing of your mercies
made fresh in every moment

Sung: (tune: Bunessan
God of Creation, Lord of all beauty,
All creatures join in singing your love;
Holy Compassion, Joy of our mornings,
Fill us with grace which comes from above.

You alone are holy, heart Speaker,
and we are blessed through Jesus, life’s Promise.
When we would wander the lonely streets of the world,
   he would take us by the hand,
   to lead us into your joy.
When others would pass on

bitterness and hate to us,
   he fills us with the gifts
   of hope and love.
Splashing in sin's puddles,
    he washed our feet
    and dried them with his love,
         leading us into the kingdom.
Daughters of despair, sons of sadness,
orphans of woe -
     he gathers us all up
     in his arms of mercy
          wiping out death,
     and sits us down
          at the family Table.

As we remember his grace and love,
as we dare not forget his sacrifice for us,
we sing of that mystery we call faith:

Sung: Christ of the outcast, Comfort of mourners,
Neighbor to strangers, Love without end;
Bearer of burdens, Grace ever with us,
Blessing our children, Brother and Friend.

Holy Spirit,
as we offer the gifts
of the bread and the cup
for your blessing,
so we present ourselves:
     our accomplishments, our failings,
     our hopes, our realities.
Make us weak,
     so we might rely
          on your strength.
As we have heard the Word,
     may we listen
          to the cries of the poor.
As we are family
with those sitting beside us today,
     may we love our sisters and brothers
          in every corner of creation.
As you hold out
the bread and the cup to us,
     may we reach out to enemies
          to clasp hands as friends.

God in Community, Holy in One,
all honor and glory are yours,
as we sing our praises through all eternity:

Sung: Spirit of kindness, Breath of forgiveness,
Faithful Companion, just as Christ said;
God's little children gathered together,
Drink of salvation, feast on your Bread.

God would send you forth into the loneliness of the world.
we would call this to mind,
as we go to embrace all the rejected and forgotten.
Jesus would send you forth into the bitterness around us,
we would call this to mind,
as we seek to have all voices heard, all grief comforted.
The Spirit would send you forth into the brokenness of others,
we would call this to mind,
as we carry peace and love to neighbors and strangers.
© 2016 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Liturgy w/communion for September 25, 2016 (Pentecost 19/Trinity 18/Proper 21/Ordinary 26 - C)

Texts: Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15; Psalm 91:1-6, 14-16; 1 Timothy 6:6-19; Luke 16:19-31

 Call to Worship
The word has come for us from God:
who promises to shelter us under the wings of hope and grace.
The word has come to us from Jesus:
who encourages us to remember the good news we have received.

The word flows to us from the Spirit:
who reminds us to place our hope and trust in God.

Prayer of the Day
When we fall into the traps
of groundless fears,
     you deliver us.
When an epidemic of worry
threatens to overcome us,
     you protect us.
When harmful words
are flung at us,
     you answer our cries for help.

Gracious God,
we worship you.

When our lives crumble,
     you urge us to buy hope's fields.
When we are tempted by wealth,
     you point us to those
           who have nothing but share everything.
When we are eager
to grasp senseless lies,
     you wrap our hands
          around God's promises.
Servant of the poor,
we follow you.

When the world silences our hope,
     you give us the words to make
          the good confession of faith.
When we have lost our way
and can no longer endure
the emptiness of our lives,
     you satisfy us from the abundance
          of God's grace and joy.
Sheltering Spirit,
we seek your peace.

God in Community, Holy in One,
our Refuge, our Trust, our Hope,
we lift our prayer to you
as Jesus has taught us, saying,

(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
In God's presence, our lives are exposed, our words are shown for their hollowness, our need is revealed.  Let us confess who we are, as we ask God to embrace us with grace and hope.

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     We need to confess, God of Abraham and Lazarus, how often we are not content with the simple gifts and lives you offer. Tempted by everything, we can become insensitive to those who have nothing. Encouraged by the world to accumulate more, we may miss the chance to gather your goodness and godliness. Chasing after all which has no value, we may not have the energy to pursue the faith, the love, the gentleness you have for us. 

    Forgive us, God of Reversals. You have sent the One who speaks the words we need to listen to in order to have life.  Help us to remember how you have redeemed us, and in remembering, may we make that good confession that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior, now and forever.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
This is the good news that comes from God: I will hear your prayers, I will answer with hope and peace, I will deliver you from your sins.
God has covered us with grace; under God's hope we will find shelter. Thanks be to God. Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
May our gifts this day go to serve those who need healing, those who are hungry, those who need a friend or community, and those who are on the other side of that chasm we call indifference.  We may not always notice them, but you do, and so we pray that they might be touched by your grace and hope. In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May God our refuge be with you!

And also with you!
Open your hearts to the One who watches over you.
We lift our hearts to God, who covers us with grace.
Sing to the One whose faithfulness wraps around you like a warm shawl.
Our voices unite in praise to God, in whom we trust.

In your presence, life-shaping God,
your heart besieged chaos,
     planting hope and joy
          where there was only despair,
     bringing forth fields of flowers
          where there was only emptiness.
You created us in your image,
signing the deed for all creation,
and sealing it for us, the Word
and Spirit witnesses to your generosity.
     But we sought shelter in sin,
          choosing to live in the shadow of death.
You called to us through the prophets,
but we did not answer.
Determined to rescue us,
you sent Jesus to us,
bring hope and grace and mercy
to us once again.

So, with those who have trusted you
in every time and place, we join
our voices with our sisters and brothers,

singing your glad praises:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God of faithfulness.
All creation takes hold of your life.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who dwells in unapproachable light.
Hosanna in the highest!

King of Kings,
Jesus humbled himself as our servant,
     bringing everything we need into our world.
Lord of Lords,
he set aside eternal glory with you,
     to take on our fleeting life.
Brother to the poor,
he turned from the riches of heaven,
     to offer the wealth of your mercy to all.
Bearer of your good news,
he bore witness to Pilate
and all who rejected him,
     of your grace which is stronger than death,
     your love with defeats evil,
     your redemption that gives new life.

As we remember Jesus' faithfulness in life,
as we celebrate his victory over death,
we would speak of that mystery we know as faith:

Christ died, enduring the cross;
Christ was raised, taking hold of eternal life;
Christ will come, giving new life to all things.

Here, in the shelter of your grace,
surrounded by the gifts of the bread and the cup;
here, in the shadow of your love
which stretches through all creation
and touches your children everywhere,
we pray that you would pour out
your Spirit of peace, of hope, of joy.
As we are strengthened by the life
shared with us by the Broken One,
     we would go forth to live out our faith,
     satisfying the hunger of the world
          for reconciliation and for freedom.

As we take hold of the Cup of life,
we will not fear the terrors that besiege us,
     but journey on in trust and obedience,
          pursuing righteousness and justice for all.

And when all life has ended and your Word calls to us,
at that time we will gather with our sisters and brothers
around the Table of wonder and mercy you have prepared,
forever singing our praises to you,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

God sends us from this place with a word of hope.
We will offer the shelter of grace to all in need.
Jesus sends us out with the word of life.
We will seek to share community with those we will meet.
The Spirit sends us into a world which longs for justice.
We will trust that God's freedom will be offered to all people.

(c) 2016 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Liturgy w/communion for September 18, 2016 (Pentecost 18/Trinity 17/Proper 20/Ordinary 25 - C)

Texts: Jeremiah 8:18 – 9:1; Psalm 79:1-9; 1 Timothy 2:1-7; Luke 16:1-13

Call to Worship
We gather together to celebrate the joy in our lives.
God's love fills our hearts to overflowing with laughter. We gather, in God's presence, to find comfort and hope for our pain.
God's grace wipes away our tears

and knits us together as one people. We gather together, in God's presence, to worship God in faith and truth.
Alleluia! Amen!

Prayer of the Day

Healing God,
when dismay
is our daily companion,
     you come to touch us
          with your healing hope.
When grief falls on us
like a wall of bricks,
     you rebuild our joy
          with your comfort and love.

Jesus Christ,
Faithful Spirit,
when bullies pick on us,
     you stand by our side.
When neighbors taunt us
for choosing to be faithful,
     you commend us
          for our wisdom.

Teaching Spirit,
when we are heart-sick
over the brokenness of our lives,
     your compassion races
          to bring your gentle balm.
When our joy is gone
and we are stained
by the world's cruelty,
     you bathe us in the tears
          flowing from God's broken heart.

God in Community, Holy in One,
hear us as we pray as Jesus has taught us,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
Before we speak, God knows our needs, yet our words open our hearts to God's grace. Let us prepare ourselves for God's healing as, in words and silence, we tell of all that separates us from God and one another. Please join me as we pray,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     First of all, Everlasting God, we must confess how we have not lived as your people. We serve many masters - work, wealth, power, addictions - yet find no hope in them. We hear the cries of the poor, and shut the doors of our hearts to them. We ridicule those who expose their hopes and dreams to us.
     Forgive us, Compassion's Heart, and heal us of our brokenness. Make us well, so that by our healing, we might be the hope and love others need in their lives, even as Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, brought these gifts to us, calling us to be faithful with the grace, peace, and joy entrusted to us.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Now that we have let go of the pain, the bitterness, the anger of our lives, let us be kind, tender-hearted, and gentle towards each other, forgiving as God has forgiven us.
We are God's beloved children, and will model God's grace and love in our hearts. Thanks be to God! We are forgiven! Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
We could taunt our neighbors, or treat them to a warm welcome; we would mock those who are different or affirm them as family; we could withhold our inheritance from others, so help us to joyously and lovingly pour out our gifts and lives for others.  This we pray in Jesus' name.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the one God be with you!

And also with you!
Lift your hearts to the One who heals them.
We offer our hearts to be filled with the balm of Gilead.
Sing praises to our God who would fill us with springs of joy.
Glad songs of thanksgiving are proclaimed to the One
who delivers us to new life.

We praise you for our inheritance,
God of wonder and delight:

     springs of water trickling into mighty rivers,
     birds of the air cart wheeling in the morning mist,
     tall trees dancing with the wind.
As your children, we were blessed
with abundant gifts beyond measure,
     but we squandered this bounty, choosing
     to buy property in sin and death's community.
Heartsick, you sent the prophets to us,
who indicted us for ruining ourselves,
but we were not strong enough
to pull up our roots and return to you.
So you sent Jesus, faithful in all,
to restore us to full health.

As we join our voices with all
who seek to serve you, far and wide,
we lift our songs of praise to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, Author of grace and goodness.
All creation affirms the depths of your love.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is your Child of Compassion who sprints to us.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, God of our salvation,
and everlasting is the salvation brought
to us by Jesus Christ, our Mediator.
When we were too weak to dig
our way out of the mess we were in,
     he came to show us the way out.
When we were too proud to ask for help,
     he humbled himself, to become our brother.
When we could not account for our lives,
     he balanced the books for us.
When we were faithless in so much,
     he determined to go to the cross for us,
so that we might know of your longing
for everyone to be saved.

As we remember his faithful life in every thing he did,
as we celebrate his spirit of sacrifice,
we speak of that truth we call faith:

Christ died, paying the price we could not;
Christ was raised, becoming our means of new life;
Christ will come, leading us to that quiet, peaceable life with you.

In these moments, in this holy place,
upon these gifts with offer hope and life,
upon these people who seek to be faithful,
pour out your Spirit of compassion and peace.
As we eat of the bread, tasting its grace,
may we move swiftly in service,
     carrying compassion to the lost,
     the hurting, the hungry, the homeless.
As we drink from the cup of love,
may the tears of our eyes
     at the brokenness of the world,
     become the healing balm for your children.

And when all time is gone, when eternity is upon us,
we will join our sisters and brothers from far and wide,
in singing forever your glory and wonder,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

God has filled us with joy and wonder.
We will go to let it overflow in the lives of others.
Jesus has filled us with comfort and hope.
We will go to wipe away the tears of those around us.
The Spirit sends us forward in faith to share the truth of God's presence in our lives.
Alleluia!  We will live everyday as God's own.  Amen.

(c) 2016 Thom M. Shuman


Sunday, September 04, 2016

Liturgy w/communion for September 11, 2016 (Pentecost 17/Trinity 16/Proper 19/Ordinary 24 - C)

Texts: Jeremiah 4:11-12, 22-28; Psalm 14; 1 Timothy 1:12-17; Luke 15:1-10

Call to Worship
The foolish say, 'there is no God.'
We come, trusting in Jesus, the face, the voice,
the presence of the God who loves us.
The scoffers of our age ask, 'why do you seek after God?'
We come, in this time,
because God's grace has spilled over in our lives.
The hopeless around us think, 'no one cares about me.'
We come, in this time, to this place,
because Jesus has found us and brought us home.

Prayer of the Day
When we are short-sighted
and think we can't see you,
     you show us a mother
          cradling her sick child.
When we are anxious,
certain you don't care about us,
     you are confident enough
          to trust us with your grace.
When we are cynical,
sure that nothing matters,
     you are optimistic enough
          to become one of us.
God, you are our Hope.
You sweep the streets
of the world,
     to uncover the people
          we consider to be trash.
You shine your grace
into sin's shadows
     to find us when
          we have lost our way.
You would leave us
     to go find the sister
          we left behind.
Jesus, you are our Joy.

When we walk
the dusty desert of desolation,
     you refresh us
          with showers of grace.
When our lives
lie in ruined rubble,
     you come and build
     a foundation for us
          out of love and faith.
Spirit, you are our Life.
God in Community, Holy in One,
our Hope, our Joy, our Life,
hear us as we pray as Jesus teaches,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
Which of us has not hurt someone this week? Which of us has not spoken (or thought) ill of a sister or brother in Christ? Which of us has failed to do good when given the chance? Which of us? All of us and each of us! But Christ came to save people just like us, so I invite you to join me as we offer our prayers to God, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     Although we believe we are experts at faithfulness, Holy God, we must confess we are unskilled workers at doing good for others. Too often, we turn a deaf ear to the cries of people we have judged to be fools. We easily scoff at those we believe have nothing to teach us or share with us.
     How foolish, Searching God, how foolish we are! Forgive us, and restore us to your goodness. Then, send us forth to search for all who sit in the shadowed corners of our world, yearning for someone to come and find them, even as Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, came to find us.

Silence is kept 

Assurance of Pardon
Our actions sometimes show we do not know God. Our words and lives show we do not understand God's hopes for us. But with utmost patience, God sets aside our foolishness, and fills us with mercy.
Mingled with faith and love, grace is poured into our sin-parched souls, giving us new life, restoring us as God's children. Thanks be to God. Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
When we could not find our way, you came searching for us.  So may our gifts be used to bring hope to those cast aside by the world, peace to those whose lives are troubled, and grace to all who are alone.  This we pray in Jesus' name.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of the lost be with you.
And also with you.
People of God, lift up your hearts to the One who searches for you.
We lift them to our God, whom we find dwelling
in our deepest being.
God's precious treasure, offer your thanksgiving to God.
We glorify our God, who does not give up on us,
but rescues us when we have wandered away.
When only the hot wind of chaos
blew, and there was no light,
you spoke, Immortal, Invisible God,
     your Word bringing forth fruit-filled lands,
     your Spirit moving the hills to and fro
          until they stood silent over the valleys.
In your wisdom, you shaped us
in your image, your grace freely offered.
     Foolishly, we chased after temptation's dreams,
          becoming skilled workers in constructing
          evil out of your good and wonderful gifts.
You showed the upmost patience towards us,
sending prophets with challenging words
to remind us of your promises to all,
but we were too foolish to listen.
So, you sent Jesus to us who,
like a friend who has lost touch
with those dearest to his heart,
reaches out to reconnect with them.
So, with the company of the saints in glory,
with the sinners and losers of this world,
we sing our praises to you:
Holy, holy, holy are you, God whose heart overflows with faith and love.
Joy echoes down the corridors of creation.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is the One who comes searching for the lost.
Hosanna in the highest.
The wise seek after you, God of Grace and glory,
for you sent Jesus, our Lord to us.
Like a woman searching the shadows
for a lost coin, he comes,
     to find your greatest treasure.
Like a brother who has lost
touch with his siblings, he comes,
     to reconcile us as your family.
Like a sister who would stay awake
while the younger children sleep, he comes,
     to be our true friend
          in every moment, in every place.
Like a shepherd who would face
danger in rescuing his sheep, he goes,
     to the cross, experiencing our death,
so he can carry us into
the resurrected life.
As we gather at his feast,
as we know we have been completely accepted,
we proclaim that mystery we call faith:
Christ died, relentless in trusting God;
Christ was raised, as God purposed;
Christ will come, to rejoice with us in glory.
As we come to your Table at this time,
pour out your Holy Spirit upon
this company of sinners
who long to be right-living people,
and on the gifts you have prepared.
As we eat of the Bread of Life,
strengthen our hearts and spirits,
     so we may search for the lost.
As we drink from the Cup of Grace,
may we be found to be faithful,
     as you appoint us to serve the oppressed.
And at that time when we will be with you,
gathered around the Table of the Lamb
with all who were lost, and like us, were found,
we will join our voices in singing your praises,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

We have been found by our God,
so now we will go to search for those forgotten by the world.
We have been welcomed by Jesus,
so now we will go to embrace the ones people look down their noses at.
We have been gathered as a community by the Spirit,
so now we will go to be a family to the people who long to draw near to hope.

(c) 2016 Thom M. Shuman