Saturday, April 22, 2017

Liturgy w/communion for April 30, 2017 (Easter 3 - A)

Texts:  Acts 2:14a, 36-41; Psalm 116:1-4, 12-19; 1 Peter 1:17-23; Luke 24:13-35

Call to Worship
Lift your voices to God.
We call on the One who promises to hear us.
In life, in death, in every moment, God deals graciously with us.
We rejoice in the One who saves us.
We will break the Bread of life in thanksgiving to God.
We will lift up the Cup of salvation, drinking deeply from it.

Prayer of the Day

When every day seems the same,
with no one listening to our dreams,
our hopes, our fears and worries,
you pause, God our Baker,
turning your head
so you can read our lips.

When every road seems the same,
filled with despair's potholes,
littered with pain's detritus,
you come alongside us, God our Lover,
pointing out that side road
that will take us to Abba's Fine Eats.

When every step trips us up,
when every loss weighs us down,
when every grief breaks our heart,
you come, God our Keeper,
with your book of grace
filled with easy words
and lots of pictures
to teach us hope.

When every one ignores us,
when every thing disappoints us,
you walk with us, you talk with us,
you refuse to abandon us,
God in Community, Holy in One,
so hear us as we pray as we are taught,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
When we confess our lives, we are calling on God who promises, not only to hear us, but to heal us with forgiveness and hope.  Join me, as we pray together saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     We cut you to the heart, Loving God, with the silly choices we make.  We had hoped our lives would reflect your presence, but those around us can see how empty we are.  We had hoped our words might bring healing, but they end up hurting those we love the most.  We had hoped to find Jesus, but cannot see him in all those you send to us.
     Oh, how foolish we are to think we can go on without your mercy, Lord God.  Through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, you judge us impartially from the depths of your heart, so we may be born anew by your grace, to continue the journey into your future.


Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
This we know for certain - we are forgiven by our gracious God.  This good news never ceases to astound us!
This promise is passed on to us, so we may share it with everyone we meet.  Thanks be to God.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
As we offer our treasure and hearts to you, O God, may they be used to pass on the promise of hope, of peace, of life, of community to all in need of your gifts and presence in their lives.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving

May the God of Emmaus roads be with you.
And also with you.
Fellow pilgrims, give your hearts to God.
We offer our cold hearts to the One who will set them on fire.
Alleluia!  Sing songs of glad praise.
Alleluia!  We will sing of the risen Lord.

Before the foundation of creation
was poured out of your heart,
God of astounding imagination,
your Word whispered and
     elephants trumpeted in the veldt,
     whales sang in the ocean deeps,
     gases whirled and swirled into galaxies.
The Spirit moved upon those shaped
in your image, breathing life into us
so we might live within your grace,
     but we put out our hands,
     letting death handcuff us
     and lead us away from you.
Prophets came, interpreting your love
and hope for us with words and deeds,
     but we did not recognize them,
     going on our way without them.
So you sent Jesus to us,
to astound us with the news
that you would never give up on us.

With those who are far away,
with those who are right next to us,
we offer our thanksgivings to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God our listener.
All creation is made new by your Word.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the Bread of heaven who opens our eyes.
Hosanna in the highest!


Because you are holy, you are gracious,
God of our every moment,
and being Grace itself, your Child
was willing to become one of us.
He took on our humanity,
     so your love might be seen
     face-to-face.
He blessed us, when the rest
     of the world cursed us
     and tossed us aside.
He broke the power of sin
     by dying on the cross,
and he gave death its notice,
     as he walked out of the tomb
     from which you raised
     him to new life.

Baptized at the font as your beloved children,
sustained by the feast of the Lamb of life,
we speak of that faith which seems so familiar,
     yet is still a mystery:

Christ died, suffering those things for us;
Christ was raised by God, walking side by side;
Christ will come, and our eyes will be opened so we can recognize him.


We act as if we are going on,
but you urge us to stay,
inviting us to this Table
where your Spirit blesses
the bread and the cup,
and your children gathered together.
We take the bread you have blessed
and in its breaking, our eyes are opened
     to see the despair around us,
     to glimpse the grief of our friends,
     to witness to the suffering in our midst.
We take the cup you give us,
and as we drink from it, our hearts burn
     for the oppressed in our world,
     for those we walk past,
     for the hungry and homeless.

And at the same hour when all time ends,
we will return to your heart,
finding our sisters and brothers gathered
together around the Table of glory,
and join forever in singing your praises,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Sending
The stone has been rolled away!
We will go to share this good news!
Jesus walks with us on our journey.
We will go with him wherever the road takes us.
Jesus has opened our eyes.
We will go to serve everyone we see.

(c) 2017 Thom M. shuman

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Liturgy w/communion for April 23, 2017 (Easter 2 - A)

Texts:  Acts 2:14a, 22-32; Psalm 16; 1 Peter 1:3-9; John 20:19-31

Call to Worship
Alleluia!  Christ is risen!
The whole creation rejoices;
the birds sing from every tree.
Alleluia!  Christ is in our midst!
Babies babble with sounds of joy;
words cannot express our overflowing hearts.
Alleluia!  Christ is our light forever!
Breathing peace on us in these moments;
surrounding us with grace and hope.

Prayer of the Day
All that is good and beautiful
are the generous gifts
from your heart of love.
All the grace we will ever need
is held out to us
in your hands of hope.
We have nothing apart
from you, God of Easter.

By your living example,
we can set aside our fears
to live as God's faithful children.
By your compassion,
we can stand in the midst of the broken,
and share healing with them.
We can do nothing apart
from you, Brother of our souls.

You are the Breath which gives
us the gifts and lives
to pour out for others.
You are the composer
of songs of joy which echo
throughout the universe.
We are nothing apart
from you, Spirit of wonder.

God in Community, Holy in One,
may we never be apart from you,
even as we pray as we are taught,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
Afraid that God will find out how faithless we are, we try to lock up our hearts so God cannot see our foolish lives and failures.  Let us confess our sins to the One who offers us peace and healing, as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     Hear the echoes of our locked hearts, Path of Life.  We cross the borders into temptation and never seem to find our way back.  We multiply the sorrows of others by our hurtful words and the harmful deeds we do.  We see the ones you would give us to serve, but believe we do not have the abilities to care for them.
     Have mercy on us, God whose Breath gives us life.  Walk through the closed doors of our worries and doubts to stand in our midst, offering us that grace which can heal us, that hope which can enliven us, and that faith which enables us to follow Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
It is God's great mercy through the resurrection of Jesus which gives us that hope which lives within us.
Thanks be to God for this precious gift by which we are able to believe and rejoice in our inheritance.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
May the gifts we offer be used to open doors closed to strangers, hands shut tight against generous giving, and hearts frozen by fears of the unknown.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of mornings be with you.
May the God of evenings be with you.
Do not fear, but open your hearts to God.
We offer them to the One who is our living hope.
Rejoice!  The Lord of life is always with us.
We sing glad thanksgivings to our God.

In the evenings of creation,
Loving God, you looked and saw
all that was good and beautiful:
     loblolly pines reaching to the sky,
     lochs and glens brimming with life;
     chains of islands in the warm seas.
The Holy Spirit breathed upon us,
whispering, 'receive creation,' as your gifts
were entrusted to our care,
     but sin enticed us into its
     closed room of fears, turning
     the key of death in the lock.
Prophets came, standing among us,
speaking of your invitation to come home,
     but we refused to listen
     to what they had to say.
Determined never to abandon us,
you sent Jesus, to make known to us
the ways of life which your offer.

With those who saw and witnessed,
with those who have not seen, yet believe,
we sing with glad hearts to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God of our evenings.
All creation rejoices in the good news of Easter.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who stands among us.
Hosanna in the highest!

In the evenings, your holiness never rests,
and Jesus Christ, the risen One, is ever with us.
Into the closed rooms of our lives, he comes,
     breathing Spirit's peace;
using grace and hope, he picks
     the locked doors of our hearts
     that he might be with us;
showing us his hands and side, he reminds
     us that death can no more cling
     to us, than it did to him,
for you will never abandon us.

As we believe, though we have not seem;
as we rejoice in that living hope which is ours;
we speak of faith, that mystery more precious than gold:

Christ died, believing what he could not see;
Christ was raised, becoming our living hope;
Christ will come, bringing our inheritance kept for us.

In the evenings of our lives,
you send the Spirit to fill us with peace,
as the bread and the cup
are filled with the life and grace of Jesus.
Cradling the broken bread
in his nail-scarred hands,
Jesus shows us
     his grieving brothers,
     his hungry sisters,
           so we may go to serve them.
Handing us the cup of living hope,
we are invited to drink deeply
and then go into the world
     to offer peace to those wearied by war,
     to give freedom to all who are oppressed,
     to share grace with those who need it most.

And when the last evening comes, you will
gather us in that upper room called your heart,
where we will feast with all your children,
forever singing our praises to you,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Sending
Go forth in the love of God.
We will take this love into unlovely parts of our lives.
Go forth in the grace of Jesus Christ.
We will look for him in the faces of every person we meet.
Go forth in the peace of the Spirit.
We will share this hope with the brokenness all around us.

(c) 2017 Thom M. Shuman

Saturday, April 08, 2017

Liturgy w/communion for April 16, 2017 (Easter - A)

Texts:  Jeremiah 31:1-6; Psalm 118:1-2, 18-24; Colossians 3:1-4; John 20:1-18

Call to Worship
This is the day
hope tiptoes us awake;
light guides us through the shadows.
This is the day the Lord
plants joy in our winter hearts;
drowns out despair’s cries with laughter.
This is the day the Lord has made
the day grace does cartwheels in graveyards;
resurrection wonder outshines the brightest sun;
an empty tomb fills us with good news.
 
Prayer of the Day
Each morning,
we put on those
   comfortable garments
   of burdens and worries,
but now they are gone!
 
Each day,
we walk through life,
our good and faithful
friend, death, at our side,
   constantly whispering
   in our ears,
but now he has disappeared!
 
Each evening,
empty our fears
out of our pockets, leaving
   them on top of the dresser,
but now, they have been taken away!
 
We could continue to live
in the same old ways, the same old days,
but now, resurrection life is ours,
and we can sing, dance, and rejoice with you,
God in Community, Holy in One,
as we pray together, saying,
(The Lord’s Prayer)
 
Call to Reconciliation
We are Easter people, yet we also know how often we live in the shadows, afraid to follow the light.  We wander in the gardens of the world, looking for you, never noticing you at our side.  Let us confess how we have failed to be God’s people, as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   We come on this day, Dispeller of fears, walking through the shadows of our lives.  Too often, we believe our foolishness is hidden from you; too often, we stand before the open door of hope, wondering if we dare enter.  Uncertain of the good news offered to us, we would rather return to the comfort of our familiar ways rather than trusting in you.
   Yet you come, as persistent as Mary at the tomb,
   Joy of our hearts,
   to open the gates of hope,
      so we might walk in the gardens of hope;
   you come, to open the gates of grace,
      so we might plant peace in the wilderness of the world;
   you come, to open the gates of resurrection,
      so we might know our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
 
Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
This is the day of resurrection and new life.  This is the day God offers us steadfast hope and love which will never end.
We will sing and dance on this day!  We will rejoice and give thanks to the God who saves us.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
As we offer our gifts on this joyous morning, may the bring light to those in the shadows, laughter to all who mourn, and hope to those longing for life anew.  In Jesus’ name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May resurrection’s God be with you!
And also with you!
This is the day to offer yourselves to God.
We open our hearts to the One who fills them with grace.
Join in the glad songs of all creation this day.
Our voices praise the One who opens wide the gates of life.
 
When only emptiness stretched out,
you spoke at that time, Joyous God,
and goodness and beauty sprang forth:
   swallows darting in the skies,
   young rabbits scampering in the grass,
   hippos splashing in rivers.
All this wonder and joy was your gift
to your children created in your image,
   but we ran to play with death,
   when sin opened the gates of seduction.
Time after time after time,
you sent the prophets to remind us
of your never-ending love, but
   we chose to remain in sin’s tomb,
   the stone of our rebellion locking us away.
So you sent your Hopeful heart,
your grace made flesh so
we might not be given over to death.
 
With those who see and believe,
with those who stand and question,
we lift our Easter songs to you:
 
Holy, holy, holy are you, God who has made this day!
All creation celebrates your constant love.
Hosanna in the highest!
 
Blessed is the One who is revealed on this morning.
Hosanna in the highest!
 
When he could have clung to your glory,
God who alone is holy,
Jesus chose to become human at that time,
so we might be filled with your grace.
When we stood against the wall
wondering if anyone noticed us,
  he came to take us by the hand
   to teach us new dance steps.
When our lives crumble around us
and we lie scattered on the ground,
   he gathers us up, reshaping us
   into your beloved community.
When we were unable to break
the power of evil over us,
   he allowed sin to toss him
   aside like a pebble in a shoe,
   until he was raised from the tomb
   because you refuse to give us
   over to death.
 
As we stand before the empty tomb,
celebrating the great news of this day,
we would have that faith which is a mystery:
 
Christ died, so sin could not hold on to us;
Christ was raised, so death could not hold on to him;
Christ will come, to hold us in steadfast love and hope.
 
At this time, in this place,
pour out your Spirit upon your people
and on the gifts of the feast of the resurrection.
May the bread which is broken open like the tomb,
strengthen us so we may go
   to rebuild shattered hopes,
   to bind up the hurts of the world.
May the cup which is filled
with the fruits of your steadfast love,
nourish us to leave the shadows
of our fears and doubts
   to stand with the lonely and forgotten,
   to listen to the cries of the world.
 
And in that time to come,
when we will be gathered
with our sisters and brothers
of every place and of every moment,
we will sing your praises,
God in Community, Holy in One,
as you hold on to us forever.  Amen.
 
Sending
Let us go with God into the world.
We will offer healing and hope to all
who wander in the shadows of life.
Let us go with Jesus to serve others.
We will listen to the ignored;
we will speak out for the forgotten.
Let us go with the Spirit to share steadfast love.
We will hold on to the fallen;
we will rebuild shattered communities.
 
© 2017 Thom M. Shuman

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Two different liturgies for April 9, 2017 (Palm/Passion Sunday)

LITURGY OF THE PASSION

Texts:  Isaiah 50:4-9a; Psalm 31:9-16; Philippians 2:5-11; Matthew 26:14-27:66

Litany of the Passion
What shall we do with you, Jesus?
Glad songs sung at your birth will turn to jeers, taunts, and worse,
hurled at you from every side.
What shall we do with you, Jesus?
We will promise to stay,
     but run away;
we will sleep through
     the anguish of your heart.
What shall we do with you, Jesus?
The One who gave living waters to an outsider at a well,
the One baptized in the Jordan will thirst upon a tree.
What shall we do with you, Jesus?
Before this week runs its course,
the disciples, including even us, will fail you in force.

          Silence is kept

Lamb of God, you cry out in agony:
and the silent stars howl in grief.
Lamb of God, you breathe your last:
and the Spirit moves over the void in our  hearts.
Lamb of God, you are place in a cold tomb:
and creation trembles in the deep,
even as we pray as we are taught,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
What shall we do with our sins?  Shall we continue to try to hide them, or confess them - honestly and without reservation - to the One who comes to vindicate us?  Join me as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     We confess, Passionate God, how often we scheme against you.  In every moment, we look for chances to betray you, breaking your heart.  We turn our backs on those who reach out to us for help.  We hide our faces from those who are wasting away from hopelessness.
     Be gracious to us, Compassionate God, and stay with us in these moments.  Morning by morning, awaken us with your voice of mercy, and call us to humble ourselves in service to others, even as did Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
It is God who holds our lives, healing us when we are broken, forgiving us when we do wrong.
Our tongues have confessed, now let our hearts and lives reflect the One who humbled himself for us.  Amen.

Prayer  of Dedication/Offering
Your passion for justice for the most vulnerable, of hope for the despairing, and of life for every single one of us is the model we seek to live, as well as to offer with our gifts for others on this day.  In your name, we pray, Lamb of God.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of Holy Week be with you.
And also with you.
Join your hearts with the One whose heart breaks in pieces this week.
We offer them for healing and hope.
With songs too painful to sing, with sighs too deep to utter.
We lift our mournful souls to God.

When the hour was at hand,
you called forth creation, Holy God,
your Word teaching
     the birds what to sing,
     the butterflies where to flit,
     the grass how to grow,
     the trees how to stand straight and tall.
You did all this for us, your
children created in your image,
asking us to stay with you forever.
but we asked of sin and death
what they would give us to betray you,
     and went running off, our pockets
     filled with their 30 pieces of seduction.
Deeply grieved, you continued to call
through the prophets of every generation,
but they always found us sleeping,
     wearied by our foolish choices.
You sent Jesus to us, to awaken us
to his voice of gentleness and grace.

With those who have spent their lives in sorrow,
with those who bow their knees to you,
we offer our prayers to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God who is gracious to us.
All creation trusts in your promises.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who will not desert us.
Hosanna in the highest!

Your heart was broken, Vindicator of our lives,
by the pain and suffering of your Son, Jesus.
Of one mind with you, he came
     so we might rethink our foolish choices.
Leaving glory behind in the closet,
     he became human like us,
     so we might see you face-to-face.
Without the promise of any reward,
though he felt abandoned by you,
     he willingly went to the cross,
     his life poured out for those who
     mocked him, spat on him, betrayed him.
Yet, when sin thought Jesus
was safely sealed into the tomb,
swaddled in death's tight bands,
     you did not let him be put to shame,
     but called him forth into the morning,
     with Resurrection's kiss.

As we journey with him through this holiest of weeks,
as we betray him and abandon him,
we are sustained by that mystery called faith:

Christ died, the world having washed its hands of him;
Christ was raised, your hands breaking death's strong grip on him;
Christ will come, to take us by the hand and lead us to you.

Here in this place, we gather
for that meal which signifies
brokenness as well as healing,
heartbreak as well as hope.
What should we do with the Bread?
We will let its life strengthen us
to go forth to serve those
     whom the world has betrayed
     with broken promises and hollow words.
What shall we do with the Cup?
We will drink deeply of it
so we can empty ourselves
     for those who lives are
     spent from grief and fear.

And when we drink of the
fruit of the vine with our
sisters and brothers in glory,
we will bow our knees in worship,
extolling you forever and ever,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Sending
As you leave this place, go as God's children:
we will go to serve our sisters and brothers.
Go as followers of Christ:
we will find the broken around us and bring them healing.
Go as those strong in the Spirit:
we will be willing to humble ourselves for those wearied by life.

© Thom M. Shuman

LITURGY OF THE PALMS

Texts:  Isaiah 50:4-9a; Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29; Philippians 2:5-11; Matthew
21:1-11

Call to Worship (Matthew 21:1-11, NRSV)
One:  When they had come near Jerusalem
           and had reached Bethphage,
           at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples,
          saying to them,
Two:  "Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately
          you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie
          them and bring them to me.  If anyone says anything
          to you, just say this, 'The Lord needs them.' And he
          will send them immediately."
One:  This took place to fulfill what had been spoken
           through the prophet, saying,
Choir: "Tell the daughter of Zion, Look, your king is coming
            to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and
            on a colt, the foal of a donkey."
Two:    The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them;
            they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their
            cloaks on them, and he sat on them.
            A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road,
            and others cut branches from the trees and spread
            them on the road.
            The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed
            were shouting,
ALL:     "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who
            comes in the name of the Lord!
            Hosanna in the highest heaven!"
One:    When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in
            turmoil, asking, "Who is this?"
            The crowds were saying,
ALL:     "This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee."

Prayer of the Day
God of hopes and joys:
when our hearts ache from brokenness,
you nourish us with your love;
when the world's pain fatigues us,
you carry us in your arms;
when the loneliness of our souls
drains our very being,
you come and live with us.
You are our God.

Jesus Christ,
God's True Son:
you did not profit
from your oneness with God,
but emptied yourself
to become servant to all humanity.
You humbled yourself
to lift us out of sin's grave.
You are our Lord.

Holy Spirit,
Teacher from God:
humble us to be obedient,
even to the point of denying
all that keeps us from following Jesus;
teach us the words we need
to confess him as our Lord and Savior.
Your are our Helper.

God in Community, Holy in One,
we lift our prayer to you as Jesus
has taught us, saying,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
One day, we are crying to God, "save us," the next we are turning our backs on God and walking away.  Despite our fickle nature, God is steadfast in loving us and constant in forgiving us.  Let us confess to our God, as we pray,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   With joy in our hearts, we welcome your servant, O God, only to reject him when he picks up a cross instead of a crown.  Like cloaks laid on the ground before Jesus, we pick up our faith, dust it off and put it back in the closet until we need it.  We can be as stubborn and rebellious as the city which cheers your name.
   Save us, Redeeming God, save us!  May we lay our doubts, our fears, our worries, our weariness at your feet, trusting and believing that you will forgive what is sinful, make whole our brokenness, and welcome us as sisters and brothers of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Assurance of Pardon
Hosanna to David's Son!  Blessed is the One who comes in God's name, not to judge us, but to save us.
We humble ourselves in gratitude to God, and in service to others, even as Christ did.
    Hosanna in the highest.  Amen!

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
We could triumphantly claim that you came just for us, Holy One, but your gifts are poured out for all the broken, all the wandering, all the struggling.  So, may we be just like you, pouring out our lives and our treasures, so all might be blessed through you, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
The Lord of parades be with you.
And also with you.
People of God, open your hearts to the One who comes with hope.
We would receive the joy and grace the prophet from Nazareth brings us.
Give thanks to God, for God's love endures forever!
God is our God, the One who comes to make us whole.

Joy is indeed the highest praise
we can offer to you,
Steadfast Love.
On that first morning,
you woke creation
     from its slumbering sleep,
     to give light to chaos' shadows.
Morning by morning,
you shaped your dreams
     into everything that is true,
     turning hopes into your justice.
You asked simply that we rejoice
in your gifts and glory,
     but we chose to sing the choruses
     of sin and rebellion,
          following death as it paraded
          through the world.
Prophets struggled to awaken
our dulled ears
with whispers of peace,
     but we laughed at their ideas
     that we should return to you.
When you could have set your face like flint,
when you could have hardened your resolve,
you sent your Child, your Joy,

Therefore, we join our voices in thanksgiving,
with those who shouted "Hosanna"
and with those who ran away from you,
with those in every moment, and in this moment,
singing with all creation to your glory:

Holy, holy, holy are you, Opener of our ears.
All creation proclaims, "God's steadfast love endures forever."
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who opens the gates of righteousness.
Hosanna in the highest!

You are holy, God our Creator,
and blessed is Jesus Christ,
who comes in your grace.
When he could have filled your heart,
     he poured himself out for us;
when he could have remained by your side,
     he came to be a servant, raising us to glory;
when he could have watched from heaven,
     he came down to show us your heart;

when he could have taken the easy way,
     he chose to be faithful to you,
     even to the point of shameful death.
As he gathered up our brokenness
to make us whole,
you raised him to new life,
     and he stands with us in eternity,
     glorifying you forever.

As we remember the joy and excitement of the parade,
as we remember the gentle words he taught,
as we remember the spirit with which he died,
we proclaim the One who is the Bread of Life:

Christ died, emptying his life for us;
Christ was raised, defeating our old adversaries sin and death;
Christ will come, to fulfill what has been promised.

Here, at this Table,
we would receive the gifts
of the bread and the cup,
and your Spirit which anoints us with peace.
Nourish us with the Bread of hope,
     that we might go into
     the brokenness of our world;
fill us with the cup of grace,
     so the weary would discover us
     standing by their side;
fill us with the overflowing joy
of the good news,
     so we might sing forever
     of your heart's desire
     for justice and peace for all people.

Then, on that final morning,
when we gather for the Feast of the Lamb,
when we are seated with those
who shouted their hosannas,
as well as those who yelled for death,
we will join our voices in eternity's anthem,
giving our thanks to you forever and ever,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

Sending
The One wounded by the nails in our hearts, sends us forth,
to bring healing with God's love.
The One who continues on the journey invites us to follow,
cradling the broken hearts of the world as we go.
The One whose Spirit is in the Kingdom Bearer fills us with hope,
if we but trust in the promises of this day.

© Thom M. Shuman

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Liturgy w/communion for April 2, 2017 (Lent 5 - A)

Texts:  Ezekiel 37:1-14; Psalm 130; Romans 8:6-11; John 11:1-45

Litany for Lent
In the buds on the trees eager to burst;
in the flowers poking their heads out of the dirt;
in the children chalking spring on the sidewalks:
we see how you love us, God of steadfast love.
In the tears of a worried father over his son's illness;
in the weariness of a mother facing a long shift at work;
in the woman who anoints her grandbaby with talcum powder:
we see how you love us, our Resurrection and our Life.
In the touch of a wife on her husband's papery skin;
in the birds which rush into the sky before spiraling down;
in the words we are given to offer to the empty-hearted:
we see how you love us, Breath of our souls.

Silence is kept

Creator of life:
bring us light, we pray.
Mourner of the dead:
take away our grief, we pray.
Refresher of dry lives:
bind us to God forever, we pray, as we say together,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
If it is true that God has recorded our failings, we hope it will never be published.  But in truth, if the book was opened, every page would be blank, for God forgives us of everything we have done, or failed to do.  So, let us wait for God's mercy and grace, as we come with our prayers for forgiveness, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     We are set free by your saving grace, Generous God, yet we must confess how we are still bound by our pride and arrogance.  We seem unable to throw off the grave clothes of our habitual sin, finding them too comfortable to wear.  We cling to our fears, for they are so familiar and make such good companions.
     Yet, there in every corner of our lives, in every shadow we fear, into the cold embrace of death itself, you come, Steadfast Love.  You break the bonds of sin and terror, giving us new strength and hope for the journey, and calling us to new life through the love and sacrifice of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
You can put your hope in God, dear friends, for God offers us that love which never fades, that life which never ends.
We wait for God, and God does not fail us.  God's hope, God's love, and God's grace are forever.  Thanks be to God.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
For all left by the side of society, for all whose strength has vanished, for all whose bones are brittle with despair, may our gifts bring hope and healing, peace and plenty, in your name and in your love.  This we pray in Jesus' name.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of tears be with you.
And also with you.
Offer your hearts to the One who calls us out of death into life.
Unbound, we bring our hearts to our God of new mornings.
People of God, sing songs to the One in whom we hope.
We rejoice in God, who dwells in our souls.

In that first moment, God of wonder,
you cried out, 'Unbind creation and let her go!'
      and flowers grew in the cracks of chaos,
     blustery winds played talk through the forests,
     lambs leapfrogged one another in the meadows.
Your hand came upon the dry dust of earth,
and your Spirit breathed life into us.
You longed for us to be with you,
     but we allowed sin and death
     to lead us around by the nose.
You called to women and men,
'Prophesy!' urging them to call us back.
     but we did not believe their words.
So you sent a certain man named Jesus,
to cause new life to come upon us.

With those who have stood beside graves,
and those who wait for signs of hope,
we sing our praises to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God of our shadowed valleys.
All creation hopes in you and waits.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who calls us to new life.
Hosanna in the highest!

You are holy, Caresser of our souls,
and Jesus is our Child, our Friend.
Seeing that those he loved were sick,
     he brought us healing.
Finding us wandering in despair,
     he showed us that our hope
     need never turn to dust.
Believing that you loved him,
     he went to the cross, for us.
And when he was in death's cold arms,
you stood at the door of the tomb,
crying out, 'unbind him, and let him go!'
and our Resurrection and our Life
came forth for us.

Believing that he is the One who calls us to new life,
trusting that, by his tears, he takes away our pain,
we proclaim that mystery we call faith:

Christ died, taking away the sins of the world;
Christ was raised, taking away the power of sin and death;
Christ will return, taking us by the hand to lead us home.

In the bread and the cup,
you give life to us,
as the Spirit comes to dwell
in every room of our souls.
You bless the bread, breaking it,
so it might heal and strengthen us
so we can say
     to the barren, 'here is your life;'
     to the despairing, 'here is your hope!'
As the grace-filled cup nourishes us
we would go into the world
     to visit those who are sick,
     to wait with the expectant,
     to share tears with the broken.

And when you call of us to your side,
we will join Lazarus, Mary, Martha,
and all our sisters and brothers
in forever singing your praises,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Sending
Now go forth with God's hope!
We have put flesh on our faith and will go to serve others.
Now go forth to fill others with Christ's Light!
We will go to call others to new life, wiping away their tears.
Now go forth with the steadfast love of the Spirit!
We will go to share that hope for which all people long.

(c) 2017 Thom M. Shuman

Friday, March 17, 2017

Liturgy w/communion for March 26, 2017 (Lent 4 - A)

Texts: 1 Samuel 16:1-13; Psalm 23; Ephesians 5:8-14; John 9:1-41

Call to Worship
Early each morning, God waits to greet us with joy and wonder.
We awake to find ourselves enveloped in grace.
During the day, Jesus comes to invite us to serve.
We rise from our work and leisure to bring healing and hope to others.
In the shadowed evenings of our fears and worries, the Spirit is with us.
The Light of life is shines on us in every moment of every day.

Prayer of the Day
One thing we know,
Listener to our hearts:
     you are the One
     who sends us on journeys
     and waits for us at
     the final destination.

One thing we know,
Healer of our lives:
     when we find ourselves
     in valleys veiled in shadows,
     you are walking alongside us
     even though we may never notice.

One thing we know,
Comforter of our souls:
     when we are weakened
     by the burdens of our lives,
     you come to us, to rest
     your strengthening peace upon us.

One thing we know,
God in Community, Holy in One:
once we could not see you in every moment,
but now our eyes are opened wide,
and so we pray together, saying,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
God longs for us to sit by the still waters of love, but we are too busy stirring up trouble with our actions, with our words, with our inability to be God's children.  Let us bring our prayers to the One who will restore us with goodness and mercy, as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     Like Cinderella, Loving God, we sit in the ashes of our hopes, but you see us as your beloved children.  We pay strict attention to all who break the rules, but ignore the grace which is poured out upon us.  We try to box you in with boundaries we can manage, but you continue to burst forth to bring newness into the world.
     Have mercy on us, God of forgiveness, and open our eyes to your presence among us.  As you look at our hearts, may we see others in a different way, not as enemies or strangers, but sisters and brothers of the same family, kin to Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
The Spirit of the Lord has come upon us, bringing hope, life, and forgiveness for each person.
Now we will go forth as God's children, sent to bring the good news to everyone we meet.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
With you as our shepherd and by sharing our gifts, we can indeed anoint others with grace, prepare feasts for the hungry, welcome the stranger, and love those we consider to be our enemies.  Bless these gifts, and use our lives for others, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of still waters be with you.
And also with you.
Lift your hearts to the One who gives you rest.
We open ourselves to God, who restores us.
Join together in glad songs of praise to God.
We rejoice in the One who is our comfort and hope.

You prepared a feast of wonder
for us, Imagination beyond power,
when creation burst forth:
     green pastures radiant with sunflowers;
     cool, still pools for rest and renewal;
     paths formed by antelopes up mountainsides.
Your heart overflowed with love
as you showed us what to do
that we might live with you in peace.
     But looking at sin and death,
     we said, 'surely these are the
     ones we should follow,' and
     trailed after them.
You would not reject us,
but sent prophets to pursue us,
calling us to return to you.
     But we did not know
     where they came from
     and so ignored them.
Then you sent Jesus to us,
providing a Savior for yourself,
and for those who wander death's valleys,
so we might be brought home to you.

With all who once lived in the shadows,
but now walk in the light of grace,
we sing glad thanksgivings to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God our Shepherd.
All that is good and right and true sings your praises.
Hosanna in the highest!

 Blessed is the One who prepares this Table for us.
 Hosanna in the highest!

You are goodness, God of pastures and pools,
and Jesus Christ, your Son, is our mercy.
He came peacefully,
     so our differences might be reconciled.
As he walked along,
     he brought light to those
     who could not see the way.
Seeing the foolish choices we made,
     he decided to look at our hearts,
     so we might be drawn closer to you.
Your anointed One,
     he went into death's deepest valley,
     coming forth as the Risen One,
     bathed in resurrection's life.

Once we were children of the shadows,
but now we are heirs of the Light of Christ,
and so we speak of that faith we know as a mystery:

Christ died, his spirit broken on the cross;
Christ was raised, the Spirit of God coming upon him with joy;
Christ will come, the Spirit shining upon us.

Here is the Table prepared for us,
God of still waters and deep love,
your Spirit transforming the simple gifts
of the bread and the cup into
that goodness and mercy which is always with us.
We take the bread, broken for our healing,
and share it with one another
so we may go forth and do all
that makes your heart race with joy:
     bringing hope to those who suffer,
     listening to the voices of the hopeless.
We take the cup which overflows with grace,
and take it to pour out on
     all who have lost their way,
     all who long for community.

And when our journeys have ended
around the Table prepared for us in glory,
we will join our hearts and voices
with those from every age and time
and forever sing your praises,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Sending
Now go to take the love of God into the world.
We will show others the way to God's fields of grace.
Now go to take grace of Jesus into the world.
We will seek to bring others to the still waters of peace.
Now go to take the community of the Spirit into the world.
We will work to restore the lives of all whom we meet.

(c) 2017 Thom M. Shuman

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Liturgy w/communion for March 19, 2017 (Lent 3 - A)

Texts:  Exodus 17:1-7; Psalm 95; Romans 5:1-11; John 4:5-42

Call to Worship
Come and see the ambassador of God's friendship for us.
We will find Jesus waiting to meet us:
in classrooms, at a shopping center,
in all the common places and moments.
Come and hear the One who speaks of God's joy in us.
We will listen to Jesus, whose words of grace and peace
raise the rafters of our hope.
Come and know how much God loves you.
We will discover Jesus, who offers us the gift of reconciliation.

Prayer of the Day
When we were determined
to remain at war with you,
you sent the Prince of Peace.
When our relationship with you
was laying in pieces on the floor,
you offered the broken Bread
to restore us to wholeness.
When petty pride
stiffens our necks so much
we cannot bow down
in your holy presence,
you massage our souls
with grace's tender touch.
We worship you in joy,
God, our God.

When our ears become stuffed
with our selves,
you open them with songs
of grateful praise.
When our mouths overflow
with rich, sweet whine,
you wash them out
with living waters of hope.
When all we can say
is 'Give me! Give me!'
you challenge us
to submit to servanthood.
We worship you in sprit,
Jesus, Water Giver.

When our souls are empty,
you fill them with living water.
When we are reluctant
to follow Jesus,
you steer us in the right direction.
When we are tempted to boast,
your whispers of grace silence us.
We worship you in truth,
Comforter of our hearts.

God in Community, Holy in One,
our joy, our truth, our spirit,
we worship you, as we pray, saying,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
Walking the dog, reading a bedtime story, recycling newspapers - in every moment, in every place, God is there.  Let us confess how often we do not see God in our lives, especially in how we live them.  Join me, as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   God of eternity, you know how often we travel down the rocky roads of doubt and fear.  We pester others with our worries; we hurl bitter words at those we love.  We have chances to offer ourselves in service, but only give our contempt to those in need.  We could share the living waters with the world, but want to store it in jars for safe-keeping.
   Fountain of Grace, you turn towards us, to meet us wherever we are.  You break open our rock-hard sin, so we might be made whole.  In Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, our thirst for hope and joy is quenched.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
God does not disappoint us.  Our sins are forgiven, our lives are made whole, we are sent forth to serve.
In Jesus Christ, living water breaks through the roof of our hearts, in such abundance that we don't have enough buckets to hold it all.  Thanks be to God.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
We pray, Gracious God, that our gifts may provide nourishment to those who thirst for justice, strength to those who hunger for hope, a community to those living in loneliness.  This we pray in Jesus' name.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
The God of wilderness and wells be with you!
And also with you!
Lift your hearts to the One who comes bringing life.
We offer them to our God of hope.
Make a joyful noise to Salvation's Rock.
We will sing songs of praise each day.

With the Spirit,
you struck stony chaos,
and creation gushed forth,
to fill the hollows of heavens,
to seed the mountains
you cradled in your wisdom.
You longed to sit by Eden's well,
telling us stories of the world
you were shaping for us.
But we tested you
with our quarreling ways.
Hearing the boasts of sin and death,
we bowed down and
worshiped at their altars.
Prophets came to lead us
through despair's desert
back home to you,
but our ears were clogged
with temptations seductive songs.
Finally, you sent Jesus
to meet us in our brokenness,
to save us by your grace.

Therefore, we join our voices
with saints and sinners,
with testers and pesterers,
who forever sing your praises:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God our Rock.
All creation sings glad songs to you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes to ease our thirst
        for salvation.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, Grace-giving God,
and blessed is Jesus Christ,
the Fountain of our hope.
When we were too weak to resist,
Christ came to take on sin and death.
When we are unfaithful,
Christ shows us your constant love.
When our fears and failures
stain our souls,
Christ cleanses us.
When our hopes for life had faded,
Christ died that we might live forever.

As we remember his gentle touch,
as we recall his words of hope and grace,
we speak of that mystery called faith:

Christ died, pouring himself out for us;
Christ was raised, pouring God's love into us;
Christ will come, pouring hope into us.

Pour out your Spirit
upon your children
gathered in this place,
and on the gifts
of the Bread and the Cup.
May they be the grace
which nourishes and sustains us.
As we come to reconciliation's table,
may our broken relationships
be made whole again.
As we see you in these gifts,
may we go and proclaim the good news.
As we open our hearts
to your never-ending love,
may we offer our selves
to everyone we meet.

And when all time is ended.
when hunger and thirst is no more
as we are fed at the Lamb's feast,
we will join our hands and hearts,
bowing down to worship you forever:
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Sending
Let us go now, to meet all thirsting for God.
We will share the living water with everyone we meet.
Let us go now, to listen as Jesus does with us.
We will hear the stories and hearts of all
who are considered voiceless by our world.
Let us go now, to bring the Spirit's wholeness to others.
We will bring peace and healing to the broken and lonely,
even as they offer us hope and grace by their lives.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Liturgy w/communion for March 12, 2017 (Lent 2 - A)

Texts:  Genesis 12:1-4a; Psalm 121; Romans 4:1-5, 13-17; John 3:1-17

Litany for Lent
Christ of the comfortable,
you would call us
from our security and sameness,
down that unknown path
which leads to God's heart:
with trust, we would place
our hands in yours, and follow.

Companion of our sleepless nights,
you would beckon us
out of the shadows of our fears,
calling us to bring our doubts
and questioning hearts along:
with humility, we would listen
to those answers we do not
expect, or even understand.

Word which creates out of nothingness,
you would fill us with life
where we see only emptiness,
you would keep your promises
when all ours lie littered on the ground:
we would let your grace transform
us into faithful disciples.


Silence is kept

Keeper of every moment,
walk with us, we pray.
Watcher in the night:
stay with us, we pray.
Spirit of new life:
be in us, as we pray together saying,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
When we least expect it, even when we are not ready, God comes to us, calling us to trust, calling us to follow, calling us to set aside our foolish lives, for the grace-full ones which are offered to us.  Let us confess how often we choose not to follow, as we pray together saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     We are all too human, Faithful God, and so think we have nothing to learn from others, and thus discount ancestors in the faith like Nicodemus or Sarah.  We look for an answers online, convinced that we can trust whatever we find.  We close tight the shutters of our souls, so the Spirit can only rattle us, but not get in to transform our lives.
     Yet you continue to keep watch of us, Promise Giver, whether it is when we swagger through the sunshine of our lives, or in those shadowed moments of uncertainty in the night.  You will not stumble as you continue to come to us, to lead us into your kingdom.  You will always be our help, whether or not we recognize it or accept it, even as you remained faithful to Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.


Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Our hope, our help, our peace, our joy?  All come from God, the One who loved us, and the world so much, that Jesus came to bring us salvation.
Keeper of our souls, be with us;
Watcher of our days, lead us;
Salvation of our lives, have mercy on us.  Amen.


Prayer of Dedication/Offering
You trust us enough to place your blessings in us, so may we be as faithful in offering them back to you, so others might be kept in their loneliness, might be fed in their emptiness, might receive hope in their despair.  This we ask in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving

May the God of great adventures be with you!
And also with you!
It is God who is able to keep our hearts filled with hope and peace.
We will offer our hearts to the One who is our Keeper.
Trust in the promises whose fulfillment we cannot see.
We lift our songs to the One who is always with us.

You went into the shadows of nothingness,
bearing your Light of creation, Keeper of all,
so that life might burst forth where there was none:
     white sands at the edge of blue green seas,
     shale formed under the crust of the earth,
     warm mornings and frigid nights to mark the seasons.
You blessed your children with creation's gifts
so we might prove to be a blessing to others,
     but we watched the comings and goings
     of sin and death, allowing ourselves
     to be blown about by them.
Prophets responded to your call to them,
daring to bring us those words we did not want to hear,
calling us back to a way of life we had abandoned,
     but we knew that we preferred life
     in the absence of your presence.
For this reason, you sent Jesus into the world,
so that we, along with all creation, might be saved.

With those who toss and turn in the night,
with those who have responded to your call,
we lift our thanksgivings to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, Who neither slumbers nor sleeps.
All creation blesses your glorious name.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes to answer our questions.
Hosanna in the highest!


Holy One, you are the God of blessings,
and Jesus Christ is your Faithful One.
The One who could truly boast,
     he humbled himself to become like us.
The One who was truly righteous,
     he emptied himself to fill us with grace.
The One who had spoken life into existence,
     he embraced death on the cross,
     so that we might be justified
     through your grace and wonder.

As we continue on the journey to Jerusalem,
as we seek to leave our comfortable lives to follow,
we would talk about that mystery we call faith:

Christ died, faithful to the end;
Christ was raised, so all creation might be saved;
Christ will come, to bring us to that home he will show us.


What then are we to say, Keeper of our lives?
It is your Spirit poured out upon us
and upon the gifts of the Table
which brings us new life.
It is the brokenness of the bread
which gives us life, that life
     poured out for those who have no hope,
    for those who wander in the shadows.
It is the grace of the cup
which overflows with your gifts,
     so we might go to be a blessing
     to all forsaken by the world.

And when our journey has ended
and we find ourselves in that land
which you have prepared for us,
we will sing our glad songs to you forever,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Sending
Now go with the Spirit, from the comfort of this place,
so we may go to bring hope to the world.
Now carry the Light of Christ with you,
we will go into the shadows with this gift.
Now trust in God who is always with you,
we will follow that life called discipleship.

(c) 2017 Thom M. Shuman

Friday, February 24, 2017

Liturgy w/communion for March 5, 2017 (Lent 1 - A)

Texts:  Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7; Psalm 32; Romans 5:12-19; Matthew 4:1-11

Litany for Lent
Jesus of the temptations,
you enter the wilderness
   of our hungers,
   our lust for power,
   our eagerness to test God:
be with us on our journey to Jerusalem, we pray.
Jesus of hopes,
you set aside your glory,
choosing to cradle us
in your scarred hands:
hold us in your tender embrace, we pray.
Jesus of the Feast,
you are broken
   so we might be healed,
you pour our your self
   so we might be drenched in your grace:
feed us from the simple gifts of creation, we pray.

Silence is kept

Lamb of God:
have mercy.
Servant to the poor:
have mercy on us.
Free gift of our righteousness:
have mercy on us, even as we pray, saying,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
We are easily seduced by the temptations all around us.  But if we are willing to trust God and offer our confessions, God is quick to forgive us and fill us with hope.  Join me, as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   Led by the crafter of lies, Lord God, we wander into the wasteland of wrong-doing.  We hunger for more and more, and feel emptier and emptier.  We seek power, especially over others, only to do harm.  By our choices, we worship the false gods of success, wealth, and spectacle.
   Have mercy on us, God of love, and forgive us for the power we give to temptation in our lives.  Help us to become as vulnerable as Jesus, for in that vulnerability, we find the humility to trust you in all things; in that trust, we discover the grace which sets us free from the grasp of the shrewd one; in that freedom, we can leave our badlands behind, in order to follow Jesus in this life, and into the next.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Be glad and rejoice! Give thanks with shouts of joy!  Grace abounds for everyone.
With glad cries of deliverance, we offer our thanks to God who loves us and forgives us.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
Too often, we give into the temptation to keep everything for ourselves.  But you would have us notice those how hunger for hope, as well as bread; those who are caught in the injustices of the world; those who struggle to find themselves.  And in noticing, we become generous and loving, even as we have been graced by our Brother and Savior, Jesus, in whose name we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of discipleship be with you.
And also with you.
Let us begin our Lenten journey with open hearts.
We offer them to the One who walks with us.
Let our voices resound with thanksgiving to the One who shows us faithful care.
We rejoice in our God of hope and love.

You held nothing back,
Gardener of grace,
as the Spirit led creation
into the hinterlands of nothingness:
     spreading rich soil in the valleys,
     planting seedlings and flower bulbs,
     making mountains from river clay,
     sprinkling water over everything.
Mornings came in Eden's beauty,
all that wonder and goodness
given for your children,
     but we listened to evil's whispers,
     believing those lies so easily told.
Like a crew launching in boat
to rescue those who are adrift,
prophets came, counseling us
to let go of our stubbornness
and return to your side,
     but with our eyes wide open,
     we followed that path which
     took us away from the middle of the garden.
So you sent Jesus to us,
that free gift of grace for all.

With the faithful who have gone before us,
with companions through this journey today,
we offer glad songs of deliverance:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God of steadfast love.
Creation sings your praises as on that first morning.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who brings grace to us.
Hosanna in the highest!

You alone are holy, Hope of our lives,
and Jesus Christ is your blessed righteousness.
When we got what we wanted
in knowing both good and evil,
     he came, so we might receive
     what we need most - your grace.
When we left the garden
to enter the deserts of temptation,
     he came , to show us
     the path back to your heart.
When we had given control
of our lives to sin and death,
     he came, to break their hold on us
     as he was resurrected from the grave.

As we begin to follow him to Jerusalem,
as we would choose to embrace his suffering,
we speak of that free gift called faith:

Christ died, going into the wilderness of the grave;
Christ was raised, shattering the grip of sin and death;
Christ will come, so we might follow him to the New Jerusalem.

You hold nothing back from us
as the Spirit comes to rest
on the gifts of the bread and the cup,
so that those gathered might be fed.
Like your heart, the bread is broken,
so we might be made whole and,
     by our healing, go forth
     to bring hope to those around us.
Like your Child, the cup is poured out,
so we might be filled with your grace, and
     go out into the world
     to empty ourselves for others.

And when our journeys in and out
of the wildernesses of the world are ended,
you will gather us around the
great Feast of the Lamb,
where we will sing glad songs of joy to you,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Sending
May God lead us to all who are afraid.
We will follow God into the barren spots of our world.
May Jesus lead us to all who look for a friend, a companion in this life.
We will follow Jesus into all the places where the lonely live.
May the Spirit lead us to all who are tossed aside by the world.
We will follow the Spirit to the neighborhoods filled with injustice, to bring hope.

(c) 2017 Thom M. Shuman