Sunday, December 25, 2016

First Sunday after Christmas - A

Texts:  Isaiah 63:7-9; Psalm 148; Hebrews 2:10-18; Matthew 2:13-23

Call to Worship
All creation, all people: praise the Lord!
stars shooting across the sky,
sing glad songs to our God!
Snow clouds approaching, birds sitting on a branch:
praise the Lord!
Sleeping cats and barking dogs,
sing new choruses of praise!
Rich and poor, leaders and followers:
praise the Lord!
Old and young, families and singles,
we will lift our joy to our God!

Prayer of the Day
On that not so silent night,
you came to us, Mothering God,
     like a night nurse
     on the pediatric floor,
     to gather us in your arms
     and swaddle us in your hope.

On that not so silent night,
you came to us, Child of humanity,
     to be cradled with the lost,
     to share a stable with outsiders,
     to confront the bullies who
          threaten our children.

On that not so silent night,
you came to us, Spirit of joy,
     to lift us up and carry us to salvation,
     to help us persist in praising God,
     to share our lives with us.

Be with us in all the nights and days to come,
God in Community, Holy in One,
even as we pray as you taught us, saying,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
We know all that God has done for us, as well as all we could have done for others.  Let us confess to God our failures and foibles, as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   We could proclaim your name, God of this holy season, but we spend too much time talking about celebrities.  We could tell others about all your gracious deeds, but are comparing notes about the exploits of our favorite athletes.  We could let your Word guide our lives, but instead we do what the politicians think is best.
   Why?  Because we forget who we are called to be.  But you remember, Faithful God.  You
remember that we put our trust in others, not you; you remember how we chase after idols,
not follow you; you remember to save us in our distress, which is why you sent Jesus to
us, our Lord, our Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
In the silence, in the dreams, in the wonder, in the words, God comes to save us and have mercy on us.
It is fitting that we offer our thanks and praise to the One who forgives us.  Thanks be to God!  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offertory
As we offer our gifts to you, Holy One, may they join all creation in blessing and serving your people.  Called to be your people, may we notice those who are forgotten and offer our lives and hearts to them.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of Christmas be with you!
And also with you!
Put your trust in the One who has come.
We offer our hearts willingly to our God.
Join all creation in praising God.
We join in the chorus of glad songs to God.

In that not so silent
moment, you spoke to creation,
God of our dreams and hopes,
     and birds warbled in the morning,
     thunder rumbled over the waters,
     cows lowed in the meadows.
For us, those shaped in your image,
were these gifts imagined and formed,
     but we took up after death,
     getting up to follow sin.
Prophets came to praise your name,
and to bring us back to you,
     but we thought they were
     trying to trick us.
Then you sent Jesus, Pioneer of salvation,
to proclaim your name to us.

With those who are shy and silent,
with those who persist in glorifying you,
we offer our thanksgiving songs:

Holy, holy, holy are you, ever-loving God.
All creation praises your name.
Hosanna in the highest!
 
Blessed is the One who put his trust in you.
Hosanna in the highest!

In the silence of the night,
your holiness became human, our God,
and you blessed us with Jesus, Child of grace.
When he could have stayed with you,
     he came to offer us help.
When he could have remained in Nazareth,
     he got up to bring us the good news.
When he could have played it safe,
     he shared his flesh and blood on the cross,
     so we might have life through the resurrection.

As we celebrate the gift of his life,
as we remember his death and rising to new life,
we proclaim that mystery called faith:

Christ died, putting his trust in you;
Christ rose, taking on the resurrection life;
Christ will come, to carry us home to you.

Into these moments of silence
and sacrament, send your Spirit
upon those gathered in this place,
and on the gifts of the Bread and Cup.
As we eat of the Bread,
send us out to serve
     the hungry and the homeless,
     the lost and forgotten,
     the broken and battered -
all whose hopes have disappeared.
As we drink from the Cup,
may we see the
     lonely and forsaken,
     the hurting and ridiculed,
     the oppressed and imprisoned -
all whose dreams have become nightmares.

And when we are gathered to your side,
we will proclaim your glory to
our sisters and brothers around the Table,
our praises being offered to you,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Sending
Praising God is not enough.
And so we will go to offer practical help to our sisters and brothers.
Joyful noises do not feed those around us.
And so we will go with Jesus to the food pantries and shelters,
to care for those forgotten by our society.
Songs of thanksgiving do not replace service.
And so we will go to share the peace of the Spirit
with a broken, yet hopeful world.

(c) 2016 Thom M. Shuman

New Years Day - ABC

Texts: Ecclesiastes 3:1-13; Psalm 8; Revelation 21:1-6a; Matthew 25:31-46

Call to Worship
We wake up in the morning
and see the sunrise:
how majestic is Your name in all the earth!
We are warmed by the sun;
the rain cleanses all creation:
how majestic is Your name in all the earth!
We watch the moon light up the night,
we fall asleep to the lullabies of the stars:
how majestic is Your name in all the earth!

Prayer of the Day
You call us
     to be Your children;
You gift us
     to serve all people;
You send us to proclaim
     Your good news to all:
Glory to You,
Creator of all that is new!

When you are lonely,
     we have a chance to visit you;
when you are hungry,
     we can share our food with you;
when you are naked,
     we can give you
          the clothes off our backs;
when you are sick,
     we can nurse you back to health:
Glory to You,
Savior of the world!
 
You whisper in our ears,
     so we may praise You;
You fill our souls,
     so we may serve You;
You lead us into the kingdom,
     so we may live with You:
Glory to You,
Spirit of Gentleness!
 
Glory to You,
God in Community, Holy in One!
Hear us as we pray as Jesus teaches us,
(The Lord's Prayer)
Call to Reconciliation
Will this year be a time of new life, new ways for us - or will we continue to live the same old way? Let us confess to our God our failures, as well as our hopes, as we begin this year.

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
    
We admit that we always find the time to fill our stomachs, God of every moment, but not our souls. We spend hours watching television, but not the wonders of Your creation. We arrange outings with our friends, yet ignore Your invitation to sit and talk. We make resolutions to change every aspect of our lives, except for that which pertains to You.
    
Forgive us, God of Glory, and make us new. In the moments to come this year, remind us that if there is a time for everything, than we do have those moments for grace, for hope, for joy, for a relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
It's over - last year is gone. Our words, our thoughts, our deeds are in the past. Today, we begin anew. Today, and every day, God offers us life and hope.
Here, now, forever - we are forgiven and healed. This year, let us live as such people. Thanks be to God. Amen.
Prayer of Dedication/Offering
May we not keep our blessings, but give them away, so that others might learn new dance steps, so children might be fed, so bridges might be built, and so grace may flow to all in Your world.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of new beginnings be with you.
And also with you.
People of God, lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the One who makes all things, including us, new.
Children of God, sing praises to the One who gives you new life.
We praise the One who continues to surprise us with hope and grace.
 
Before there was time,
Hope of Eternity,
You took a moment
     to bring creation out of chaos.
You took time to create mountains,
     and carve deep canyons;
You made the time to fill the oceans
     and to plant food for all creatures;
You found the time to plow rivers
     to water a Garden,
     and to shape us in Your image.
But we did not have time for You,
          preferring to spend our days chasing sin,
     and our nights seeking death.
You always made time for us,
speaking of Your hopes
     through the prophets,
sharing Your dreams
     through the angels.
Then, one day You decided
to do a new thing,
becoming one of us
as Jesus become human
to bring hope and grace to us.
 
So we join with the saints in heaven,
and our sisters and brothers on earth,
who sing of Your glory:
 
Holy, holy, holy, God of every time and space.
All creation sings of Your majesty and glory.
Hosanna in the highest!
 
Blessed is the One who gives us the water of life.
Hosanna in the highest!
 
Holy are You, Keeper of our days,
and blessed is Jesus Christ,
who is with us in every season of life.
He comes, not to judge us,
     but to forgive us;
He comes, not to cast us out,
     but to gather us into
     the new Jerusalem;
He comes, not to watch us suffer,
     but to die on the cross,
           that we might live with You.
 
As we give thanks for his life,
and remember his death and resurrection,
we would talk of that mystery which is our faith:
 
Christ died, so sin would have no more power over us;
Christ rose, destroying death's grip on us;
when the new heaven and new earth come,
     Christ will make all things, including us, new.

In these sacred moments,
send Your Spirit
to sanctify the bread and the cup,
and to open the hearts
of those who approach the Table.
As the Bread of life touches our lips,
     may we be strengthened to serve
     those whom the world has forgotten.
As the Cup of salvation quenches our thirst for You,
     may we be enabled to bring relief
     to those who wander
     the desert wastes of our society.
 
And when all time ends,
and all people are gathered
around Your Table in Heaven,
we will rejoice in Your presence,
and sing your praises forever:
One God, Father, Son, and
Holy Spirit, now and forever.  Amen.

Sending
Let us go from this time of silence and song, to be God's voice,
to speak out for the oppressed of our communities and world.
Let us go from this time of community, to be Jesus' faithful,
to feed the hungry, to visit the sick, to be a friend to the prisoner.
Let us go from this sacred space, to share the peace of the Spirit,
to work for reconciliation in our neighborhoods,
to put an end to violence and death as solutions for fear.

(c) 2015 Thom M. Shuman

Holy Name of Jesus - ABC

Texts: Numbers 6:22-27; Psalm 8; Philippians 2:5-11; Luke 2:15-21

Call to Worship
We come, in need of blessings;
we come, seeking closeness with God.
Let us go, to find our God.
We come, from the shadows of our lives,
seeking light and hope.
Hurry, let us go to find the One we have heard about.
We come to God, seeking peace
for our lives, for our world.
Come, let us go, believing the Word we have seen.
 
Prayer of the Day
Majestic God,
we cannot begin to imagine you,
     yet you have made us in your image;
we wonder why you notice us,
     when we are surrounded by creation's glory;
we have been made stewards of life,
      and you choose to share your own with us.
 
Name above all names:
you call us 'sister' and 'brother'
     claiming us to share in your work;
exalted above all creation,
     you humbled yourself for our sake;
able to do all things,
     you choose to work through us.
 
Spirit of Grace:
when we look for majesty,
     you bring us to a manger;
when we yearn for glory,
     you hand us a mop;
when we want to exalt ourselves,
     you point us to the Cross.
 
God in Community, Holy in One,
we pray to you as Jesus has taught us,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
We've been to the stable, and met the Babe.  But tomorrow, when we go back to work, or school - will others know where we have been?  Let us admit to God our reluctance to reflect transformed lives.

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
God of Bethlehem:
you bless us richly,
    
forgive our reluctance to share;
you hold us close to your heart,
    
forgive us for keeping others at arm's length;
you shine in the shadows of our soul,
    
forgive us for not sharing the Light;
you lift us from where we have fallen,
    
forgive us for not offering a helping hand;
you grace us with Joy,
    
forgive us when we worship fear.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
If we believe the songs of the angels, and have seen the Child in the manger, we must go out and tell others this good news.
We will go: glorifying God, praising the Lord, and confessing to everyone we meet how God has richly blessed us. Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
As we offer our gifts to you, Namer of Jesus, may we empty ourselves in service to all who are lonely, all who are hungry and homeless, all whose names have been forgotten by a world which no longer cares for them.  We pray this in the holy 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 our God.
Sisters and brothers of Christ, give thanks to our God.
We lift our songs of praise to the One who loves us.
 
We will indeed sing your praises,
God of Blessings,
creator of heaven and earth.
You brought forth all that is good and beautiful,
     so chaos could not keep hold of us.
You lifted up the dust of creation,
shaping it into your likeness,
     breathing your life into our lungs.
When we fell into sin,
you did not turn away from us,
     but kept your promises.
You sent prophets to remind us
of our covenant with you,
     but we continued to bow down
          to death's idols.
Finally, you sent your Beloved,
Jesus, the Babe of Bethlehem,
to become one of us,
so we could be made one with you.

So, we join our voices
with the angels in heaven and the beasts in the field,
with those who have gone before us,
and those who will follow,
glorifying you forever:
 
Holy, holy, holy are you, God of blessings.
All creation glorifies and praises you.
Hosanna in the highest!
 
Blessed is the One who comes to redeem us.
Hosanna in the highest!
 
Holy are you, Shining God,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, your Son.
Emptying himself of glory,
     we are filled with grace;
reviled and cursed by coarse humanity,
     he is given the Name above all names;
dying a criminal's death
and cast into death's cold arms,
     he is lifted to your Heart
          to rule over all creation.
 
As we come to this Table,
we speak of that mystery
we cannot explain:
 
Christ was obedient to God, even to death;
Christ was exalted by God, raised to new life;
Christ will be proclaimed by all as Lord and Savior.
 
Come, Spirit of Blessing
upon these gifts of the bread and cup,
and those who come to receive them.
As we bow to receive the Bread of Heaven,
     we would stoop to lift up the fallen;
as we bend to take the Cup,
     we would kneel to comfort your children;
as we worship you,
     we would serve your people.
 
Then, when all are gathered for your Feast in heaven,
we will sing our glory to you:
God in Community, Holy and One,
now and forever. Amen.
 
Sending
The One who blesses you will keep you close:
we will go,
not keeping the blessing for ourselves, but to share it with others.
The One who is gracious to you, shines the Spirit upon you:
we will go,
to reflect the Light of Christ in gracious words and deeds.
The One who turns towards you gives you peace:
we will go, turning to everyone we meet, saying,
"The peace of God be with you."

(c) 2015 Thom M. Shuman

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Liturgy w/communion for Christmas Day - A

Texts:  Isaiah 62:6-12; Psalm 97; Titus 3:4-7; Luke 2:1-20

Call to Worship
In snow-capped churches,
and on sand-strewn beaches,
God’s people gather in joy
to celebrate a birth.
With hopes littering our hearts
like wrapping paper under a tree,
We offer our thanks and praise
for the gift of grace swaddled in love.
With eyes wide open like little children,
with hearts full of wonder and laughter,
We join our lives with Mary and Joseph,
with the shepherds who ran to tell the good news.

Christmas Morning Prayer
Grace dawned this morning,
   streaking our bleary eyes
   with bright shafts
   of beauty and goodness.

Joy sang us awake
with carols of wonder
   written by the shepherds,
   the tunes composed by children
      who could not sleep.
 
Hope was fixing breakfast
for us while we slept,
   toasting the Bread and
   slathering it with jam,
      pouring us a cuppa
      steaming grace.
 
We rejoice and give thanks
God in Community, Holy in One,
our Grace, our Joy, our Hope,
even as we pray as your Child taught us,
(The Lord’s Prayer)
 
Call to Reconciliation
On this morning of love and joy, of laughter and families, we must remember and confess how we dampen the spirits of others, speak hurtful words to those we love, turn our backs on those in need.  Join me, as we pray together saying,

 Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   Manger-dwelling God,
      we heard the songs of the angels,
         yet we easily tune-out the cries of the needy;
      we feel the breath of our children on our faces,
         yet remain untouched by your Spirit of peace;
      we are surrounded by gifts as precious as those
      brought by the Wise Ones,
         yet have trouble sharing with those
         who are from other countries, other faiths.
 
   Forgive us, Grace swaddled in mystery.
      We believe in Christmas,
         help us to believe in you even more;
      we hunger for happiness,
         feed us on your peace;
      we long for community and acceptance,
         surround us with our brothers and sisters
         we find in all those, of every age and every place,
         who follow and serve alongside our Lord and Savior,
         Jesus Christ, whose birth we celebrate this day.  Amen.

Silence is kept
 
Assurance of Pardon
Born that day was grace – for the broken and bereft;
born that day was hope – for the vulnerable and forgotten;
born that day was love – for all of us!
Thanks be to God, we are forgiven!  We will go to tell others of all we have seen, heard, experienced, and know.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
May the gifts we share be from the heart, just as yours was that day, God of Bethlehem.  ay they serve those who look for welcome,
those who struggle with loss and grief,
those who need to be blessed by hope
This we pray in the name of your Child, Jesus.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
Now, may Bethlehem’s Child bless you!
And also bless you!
Now, may the children of God open their hearts.
We offer them to the One who loves us each and every morning.
Now, may we join in the songs of the angels.
We join our voices with those of every time and place.
 
In the silenced night of chaos,
creation rejoiced with the carols of wonders
you had composed, God of surprises:
   as joy sparkled in the sky,
   as rivers swarmed with fish,
   as turtles plodded through meadows.
The Word gently gathered up earth’s dust
and the Spirit breathed life into those
shaped in your image, so we might
be at peace and be with you in joy.
   But we were tempted by sin’s decorations
   and death’s commercials of life without you. 
Time and again, you sent folks to call us home.
Miriam and Micah, Ruth and Habakkuk
spoke of your hopes for of us,
   yet we found rebellion the better
   road to take in our journey through the years.
Finally, you chose to offer yourself
in that Child born into poverty,
that little One who would strengthen all.
 
With those who gathered on that first morning,
with all who have celebrated with songs and service,
we sing carols of praise to you:
 
Holy, holy, holy are you, God of all turned away by the world.
Creation joins the angels in praising you.
Hosanna in the highest!
 
Blessed is the One who clears the Way for us to walk.
Hosanna in the highest!
 
In the silence of the night, God of holiness,
your Child crept in among us,
so small no one would notice,
so poor no one would care.
But those who are forgotten by the world,
   like shepherds and the disabled,
   come to worship, and to tell us the good news.
Those who have no money to their name,
   gift us with their hopes and love,
   even as he did so long ago.
Those children who are overlooked by culture,
   sing to us of the One given to us,
      so we might find our way home;
   of the One who gives himself to death,
   so resurrection love might destroy sin’s power,
      and we might be swaddled in grace.
 
On this morning when we celebrate his birth,
in the days to come when we follow him to Jerusalem,
we sing carols of that mystery we call faith:
 
Christ was born, so we might have life;
Christ died, so we might have forgiveness;
Christ was raised, so we might have resurrection;
Christ will be born again, to gather us together with him.
 
In the silence of these holy moments,
pour out your Spirit upon
those gathered on this morning
and on the gifts of the Feast of Joy.
As we are welcomed here,
   may we remember and include
   all rejected by the world.
As we are fed by the bread,
   may we be strengthened
   to go and bring tangible hope
   to all who are famished by despair.
As we drink from grace’s cup,
   nourish us, so we may go
   to overflow with love and peace
   for everyone we meet in every season.
 
And when all history and time ends in silence,
and we are gathered with our sisters and brothers
around the feast of the lamb,
we will join the angels in singing carols to your forever,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.              
 
Sending
Let us go,
to join the angels in singing
of God’s glory and grace.
Let us go to share the good news,
that Jesus, the brother
of the vulnerable and forgotten
is in our midst still.
Let us go to offer
peace and goodwill to everyone,
joining the Spirit in telling
of all we have seen and heard.
 
© 2016 Thom M. Shuman

Friday, December 16, 2016

Liturgy w/communion for Christmas Eve - A

Texts: Isaiah 9:2-7; Psalm 96; Titus 2:11-14; Luke 2:1-20

Call to Worship
With eyes wide open
and our ears on edge,
we look for shepherds
and listen for the songs of angels.
In the light of winter’s moon,
with the Southern Cross lighting the way,
we gather outside the door of a mystery,
wondering if we dare go enter.
With folks and friends we love,
with strangers we have just met,
we gather, becoming the holy family
for this time and in this place.
 
Christmas Eve Prayer
Now in the silence,
   whisper of joy which comes
   into every life.
Now in the comfort of carols,
   sing of hope which
   takes away the despair
   which envelops us.
Now in familiar words heard anew,
   speak to us of grace
   which is born into barren lives,
      of peace which is birthed
      in war’s shadowed fears.
Now leaning next to those
who have always been a part of us,
and those from whom we have been apart,
   remind us of your heart
   which always accepts us,
   always welcomes us.
Now in the love which is ours forever,
   draw us closer to your heart,
   so we can be surprised by wonder,
                         swaddled in serenity,
                         embraced by tenderness.
 
Now touch us once again with Christmas,
God in Community, Holy in One,
as we join in praying as we are taught,
(The Lord’s Prayer)
 
Call to Reconciliation
This is the night we are reminded that God loves to be with us.  Yet all too often – by our choices, our words, our silence – we choose not to be with Go.  Join me as we pray on this holy night to the One who was born to gift us with mercy and hope.

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   This was going to be the year, God of silent nights, when we were going to give away more than we spent, but we didn’t.  This was going to be the season when we spent more time with others, but we filled our calendars with meetings.  This was going to be the Christmas when we wrote personal letters to friends and family, but spent too much energy filling out our to-do lists.  This was going to be a truly holy season, but it just got to harried and hurried.
   Forgive us, Love Gifter, and draw us closer to the Baby born not into wealth and power, but into poverty and weakness; to the One who loves unconditionally and welcomes all; to the Child who gathers other children to him, to bless them and serve them; to the One who drew near to us, so we might be drawn to your heart – Jesus Christ, our Brother, our Lord.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Into the valleys of our death, Jesus comes with life;
into the shadows of our world, Jesus brings light;
into the brokenness of our lives, Jesus brings forgiveness and peace.
Thanks be to God for the gift of the Baby of Bethlehem, who brings joy and peace to us in these moments of forgiveness and in all the days to come.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
Now, on this night of giftedness, remind us of those who struggle to put food on the table, to buy a single gift for their child, to wrap a warm blanket around a grandparent, so we might realize how blessed we are and share from our abundance.  In Jesus’ name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of silent nights be with you!
May the God of herald angels be with you!
Open your hearts to the One born in the little town of Bethlehem.
May Emmanuel come to abide in our hearts.
Join all believers in singing of our joy this night.
May our voices blend with those of the angels and shepherds.
 
You crept into chaos so long ago,
Star-shaper,
so creation might be born:
   sheep gathering on hillsides,
   stars glittering in the night skies,
   sea horses frolicking in warm waters.
Silently, you gathered up the dust,
shaping us in your image
as the Spirit breathed life into us.
All the gifts of your heart were for us,
   but we slammed the door of our hearts,
   saying there was no room for you in our lives.
Prophets came time and again,
scattering your clues throughout the Story,
   but we were too busy enjoying
   the sleights of hand done by sin and death.
When you saw we could not
understand the Mystery on our own,
you sent Jesus, to reveal everything to us.
 
As we gather with children dressed in bathrobes,
as we join with the voices around us,
we sing praises to you this Christmas night:
 
We will not be afraid,
   for great joy is ours this night;
we will look for the signs of your presence,
   grace swaddled in hope,
   love wrapped around broken hearts.
 
Glory to you, God in the highest heavens!
May peace fill the lives of all your children!
 
Leaving your side, God of holiness,
your Child came to walk with us
through the cold streets of our lives.
Born in poverty’s shadows,
   he is the light which illumines
   your heart for us.
Unwrapped from glory’s embrace,
   he gathers us from all the corners
   of our confused choices to make us one with you.
Placed in a rude feeding trough
layered with our fears and doubts,
   he breathes in your hopes
   and lives your will, until
      he is placed in death’s cold embrace,
      waiting in the silence,
   where he breathes in resurrection’s breath,
   and brings forth life for all who follow.
 
On this night, when we sing of the baby in the manger,
as the shadow of the cross is cast by the stars,
we proclaim that mystery called incarnation:
 
Christ is our light,
   and we will join the angels in singing the good news;
Christ is our life,
   and we will join the disciples in telling the Story;
Christ is our promise,
   and we wait for the joy of his return.
 
Here in the silence and the singing,
with children, carols, and candlelight,
we gather around the Table of joy,
as you pour out your Spirit upon
the most precious gifts of bread and cup.
As we feast upon the bread,
we remember a young pregnant girl,
   and would serve those who are expecting,
      those who cannot have a child,
      those who have lost children.
As we drink from the cup,
we think of a worried father,
   and would be with those who assemble toys this night,
       as well as those who will work this night
       to pay for food and medicine for their families.
As we are surrounded by family and friends,
we would care for
   those whose closest companion is loneliness,
   those separated from loved ones,
   those who hear no music, joy, or hope in their lives.
 
And when all time and history becomes silence,
we will be gathered with our sisters and brothers
from Bethlehem and Belfast, from Cairo and Chicago,
from Capetown and Istanbul, from Sydney and Shanghai,
from every corner and moment of every universe,
to join the angel choirs in forever singing your praises
as we dance to the Table of wonder and grace,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.      
 
Sending
Let us go to be the gift another needs,
sharing God’s blessings of love and grace,
running to tell the Story we heard from the shepherds.
Let us go to be the comfort which can swaddle others,
sharing Jesus’ compassion with the poor and needy,
welcoming the holiness offered by the most vulnerable we meet.
Let us go to enkindle the lives around us,
sharing the Spirit’s peace with all the broken,
learning the language of hope from the children in our midst.
 
© 2016 Thom M. Shuman