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