Call to Worship
We are people who have been called
to follow where God leads us.
By faith we can obey,
even when asked to walk into
an unknown future.
We are people who have been challenged
to tell God's story to others.
By faith we have the ability
to share the good news.
We are God's children who are invited
to feast at the Table of grace.
By faith we will embrace
our sisters and brothers in Christ.
Prayer of the Day
Creator of the light:
when our sins
stain our lives,
you dissolve them
with your mercy;
when our souls become calloused
by the hardness of our hearts,
your grace makes them as soft
as a cashmere sweater,
so we can be dressed
to serve others.
when you had enough
of our hollow words
and empty promises,
you came to listen
to the echoes of your hope
deep within our hearts.
When you became bored
with our endless meetings
and petty squabbles,
you took delight
in our willingness
to follow you.
Breath of Creation:
when we could be sitting
at home watching television,
you encourage us
to rest in stillness with the grieving.
When we could be out shopping,
you nudge us to share our abundance
with the poor and needy.
When we could be relaxing
in our achievements,
you sit us down next to a child,
struggling to read.
God in Community, Holy in One,
as we seek to grow in our faith,
hear us as we pray as Jesus has taught us,
(The Lord’s Prayer)
Call to Reconciliation
We would like to keep our sins hidden and our failures a secret. But God would not have us keep silent, but speak our confessions out loud, so we may be blessed with God's mercy and grace. I invite you to pray with me, saying,
Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
You have a vision of all people as your beloved children, Imaginative God, but we see folks whose language, dress, and skin make them different. You have a vision of a universe filled with goodness and beauty, and we damage it with litter, with violence, with poor choices. You have a vision of a Table where we can feast on your grace and hope, but we line up at the fast food counters of sin and greed.
Forgive us, Visionary of Mercy, as we confess that we are not "insiders" but immigrants searching for our true home. By faith, may we be willing to be as gracious, as compassionate, and as hopeful as you are. You love us enough to want us to be with you forever, so may we take the hand of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who leads us into your kingdom.
Silence is kept
Assurance of Pardon
There is nothing to fear. God's hope is more tenacious than our despair; God's joy is more resilient than our grief; God's love is more compelling than our hate.
By grace, we are gathered to God. By faith, we rest in God's promises of forgiveness and restoration. Thanks be to God! Amen.
Prayer of Dedication/Offering
It is by faith that you bless us, hopeful God. So, it is by faith that we offer back to you a portion of what we have and who we are, trusting that you will take these gifts and use them in the work of that kingdom of justice and hope, of grace and wonder, which is yours. This we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May God be with you.
And also with you.
Open your hearts to God, followers of Jesus.
We open them, so the Light of Love shines through us.
People of God, give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is our greatest joy and honor to offer thanksgiving to God.
You called the heavens and the earth
out of the deep emptiness of chaos:
soft breezes caressing our cheeks,
songbirds caroling your glory,
children tap dancing through mud puddles -
all that we see, hear, and feel
have sprung from your imagination,
All that you thought, dreamed, and wondered
was shaped for us
that we might live with you in peace and hope.
But we wondered what we would do with your glory and power;
we dreamed of being divine and thought we were your equal.
So we reached out for wealth and power,
those false idols who enticed us
even as they ensnared us with their lies.
You sent the prophets
to remind us of your vision for us,
and to assure us of your hope for us.
But we took no delight in their words.
Then, your Word took on flesh
and came to us as Jesus the Christ,
to summon us out of the empty lives
we had created for ourselves.
Therefore, we gather with your faithful ones,
in this time and in this place,
joining our voices with the heavenly choirs
who sing of your justice and grace:
Holy, holy, holy are you, God the Creator!
The mountains sing your praises,
the valleys echo your glory.
We welcome the One who comes in your name,
who comes to call us to life.
Holy are you, God of infinite imagination,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, your Son,
our Hope, our Lord and Savior.
He should have been clothed
in royal robes of purple and gold,
but put on the uniform
of a condemned prisoner,
so we could be clothed in your grace.
He should have been given
every honor the world has,
but was cursed
so we might receive your blessings.
He should have had a long and healthy life,
but was put to death at an early age,
so we might live forever with you.
Remembering that is not our words which save us,
but your imaginative Word of beauty and love;
remembering that it is not our achievements,
but our hope in Jesus Christ which assures us of your love,
we celebrate that mystery we call faith:
Lord Jesus, you call us:
open our eyes that we may see you,
open our souls that we may long for your presence,
open our hearts so we may follow you.
God of Gentleness:
pour out your Spirit of grace and peace
upon these, your simple gifts,
which become the Bread of Heaven
and the Cup of Salvation for us.
As we taste the goodness of Christ,
and let his brokenness heal us,
may our eyes be opened
to the oppression and injustices
the world would keep us from seeing.
As the rich wine of hope and joy
refreshes our hearts and souls,
may we be ready
to share all we have been given,
to speak up for the voiceless,
to gather the lost into our family.
And when all time has stopped moving
and all the faithful have been gathered,
when we sit down at the feast prepared for all,
we will join hands to sing
the eternal anthem of your vision
of hope and peace for all creation,
proclaiming forever and ever your glory:
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.
By faith, let us go out as God’s people.
We will gather others around us and dance into God’s kingdom.
By faith, let us go to follow Jesus to serve with compassion and grace.
We will share the good news of hope and peace with everyone we meet.
By faith, let us go to join the Holy Spirit in welcoming all of God’s children.
We will add as many chairs as are needed, so all may feast on God’s love.
© 2016 Thom M. Shuman