with life more crowded than the stores,
God welcomes us to a feast of faithfulness,
where we may sit in peace and gentleness.
In these times of rancorous rants and snide remarks,
with people too busy to offer words of compassion,
Jesus whispers of hope for broken hearts,
sings carols of justice for all the outsiders.
In these days of more and more time spent with devices,
and fewer moments with those who could touch us with joy,
the Spirit embraces us with peace that comforts,
loves us with a passion beyond 140 characters.
when conservatives will share
a garden with liberals;
when people of all faiths and none
will offer safety to each other.
will serve side by side at the shelter;
when little ones will show grownups
the paths we have forgotten to follow.
May these be the days
when justice will put on the tool belt
filled with faithfulness, peace, and healing;
when the most vulnerable around us
will shower us with a harvest of hope.
when we will discover how near is your kingdom,
even as we pray as Jesus taught us,
(The Lord’s Prayer)
Call to Reconciliation
All too often, we believe God’s vision of justice and peace is only for us, not those around us. We are sure others need to be cleansed and forgiven, but not us. Let us seek to live as if, indeed, the kingdom is coming near, as we offer our prayers to the One who calls us to Advent living, as we pray together, saying,
Forgive us, God of this holy season, and help us to be as willing to draw near to others, so we might heal their brokenness, touch their loneliness, embrace their grief, and love them as you did when you came to us so long ago, as well as in these moments, in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.
Assurance of Pardon
Here is the good news:
speak with the whispers of hope until it silences despair;
sing the carols of compassion until all join in the chorus;
shower others with wonder and delight and join in God’s dance of grace.
Thanks be to God. We are forgiven! So, let us welcome others with open arms, just as we have been embraced in God’s love and laughter. Amen.
May God grant you peace.
Let us lift our hearts to God who offers righteousness to all.
We open our hearts to the One who loves justice.
Children of God, rejoice in the One who call us to live in harmony with everyone.
Amen and Amen! We give our thanks to God!
In those days when chaos reigned,
creation appeared, Coming God,
as you spoke the Word
which caused snow to cap mountains;
as you breathed the Spirit
which give life to sheep and shepherds;
as your steadfast loved shaped
all that is good and beautiful and good.
All this was intended for those clothed
in your image of grace and hope,
but we insisted on putting on sin’s coat,
cinching death’s belt around our ways.
Through the prophets of every age,
we heard your words of encouragement,
but chose to keep looking for life
in the seductions offered to us by sin.
So, in that moment we least expected,
Jesus came, to baptize us with
the Holy Spirit’s peace and hope.
With those who have trouble playing nice,
with those who seek to bear fruit,
together with one voice, we glorify you:
Holy, holy, holy are you, God who gives hope to all.
All creation gathers your harvest of peace.
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is the One who stands side-by-side
with the most vulnerable.
Hosanna in the highest!
In your holiness, God who approaches,
we find righteousness and justice;
in your Child, Jesus, we discover
our salvation and hope.
When the world dumps buckets
of muddy meanness over us,
he baptizes us in the
Spirit’s cleansing waters.
When those around us throw
stones of bitterness and fear,
he takes them to build
homes of hope.
When people would try to divide us,
he builds a park where enemies
push each other in swings,
and sit side-by-side on the grass
for the Lamb’s picnic.
As we inch closer to Bethlehem,
as we wait for the kingdom to draw near,
we sing of that mystery which comes as faith:
This is the One who died, blessing those who feared him;
this is the One who was raised, the Spirit of resurrection resting on him;
this is the One who will come, to give justice to everyone.
Now in these days, as we gather
around the table gifted with
the bread and the cup,
may your Spirit of wisdom rest on us,
so we may recognize the vulnerable
and welcome their gifts in our lives;
may your Spirit of might rest upon us,
so we may stand up
to injustices around us;
may your Spirit of unity rest upon us,
so we may resist all people,
all words, which seek to divide us;
may your Spirit of compassion rest upon us,
so we may remember, and serve,
the hungry, the homeless, the lonely,
in this holiest of seasons.
And when your harvest of peace
comes at the end of all time,
and we are gathered with our sisters
and brothers around your feast,
we will sing and glorify you forever,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.
As God has welcomed us in these moments,
let us go to embrace each person we meet.
As Jesus has been our servant of hope and grace,
let us go to serve the most vulnerable around us.
As the Spirit of hope has filled us,
let us go to empty ourselves of joy and peace for all.
© 2016 Thom M. Shuman