Sunday, January 01, 2017

Liturgy w/communion for January 8, 2017 (Baptism of the Lord - A)

Texts:  Isaiah 42:1-9; Psalm 29; Acts 10:34-43; Matthew 3:13-17

Call to Worship

Baptized to begin lives of faith,
we would witness to all you do
in our communities, in our midst, in our world.

Baptized to serve,
we would speak up for the voiceless,
we would bring justice to those who have none.

Baptized to speak,
we would heal, and not hurt;
we would bless, and not curse.

Baptized to do what is right,
we would not play favorites,
but treat each as your Beloved.

Prayer of the Day

Your voice thunders in the night,
     and sings love songs
     in the morning.
Your voice tumbles raging rapids,
     and ripples pools of peace.
Your voice snaps trees in two,
     and can mend broken hearts
     with a sigh.
We give glory to your name,
God of our lives.

Guided by grace,
     you became the champion
     of justice.
Beloved of the sightless,
     you release those
     we would shackle.
Broken for our sake,
     you shape our souls
     into silhouettes hanging
     in the Hall of Servants.
We give glory to your grace,
Child of the waters.

You cup your hands
around our flickering faith,
     breathing us to new life.
You call us to work for justice,
     teaching us intentional
     acts of service.
You immerse us in courage,
     daring us to speak
     words of hope.
We give glory to your love,
Spirit of wonder.

We give you the glory now and always,
God in Community, Holy in One,
even as we pray as we are taught, saying,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation

Can you imagine a God who would rather forgive us than punish us, who calls us 'my delight,' rather than chiding us for being so foolish and wayward?  This is why Jesus came, so we might know of God's tender mercy toward us.  Let us confess our lives to the One who fills us with hope, as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     We try to stop Jesus from coming into our lives, Patient God, for we know how disruptive he can be.  He wants us to preach the gospel with our lives, but we prefer to complain how hard that is to do.  He wants us to do what is right, yet wrong-doing comes so easily for us.  He would like us not to give up until justice is done, but we just don't seem to have the time.
     We confess because we know we need to be forgiven by you, Glory and Grace.  Bathe us in the life giving waters of your mercy so we can come up from the water, ready to do good for others, to give you all the praise, to learn justice, grace, and hope from your Servant, Jesus Christ.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
You are God's Beloved.  You delight God's heart. Believe this good news, my friends!
The Spirit of God rests upon us, anointing us with mercy and peace.  Thanks be to God!  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
We leave the waters of baptism to offer grace to others;
we give from our abundance to bless others with hope and healing;
we offer our lives to you and others in serving with love and mercy. 
In Jesus' name, we pray you will bless these gifts and us.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving

May the impartial God be with you!
And also with you!

Lift your hearts to the One who anoints you with the Spirit.
We come to God, our hearts' true delight.

Sing praise to God, who calls you to the waters of life.
Songs of thanksgiving are lifted to the One who prepared this Table for us.

In a wild whisper
you spoke to chaos,
God of the waters of life,
and your Spirit raced forth,
playing tag with the Word,
     mountains shook with thunder,
     whales whispered in the oceans,
     hawks floated lazily in the skies,
     and kittens chased butterflies in fields.
You created us from the dusty earth,
placing us in your garden on wonders
so we might delight in you, and in each other.
But we wandered away from you,
     as sin and death took us by the hand,
     teaching us to do all that is wrong.
Prophets came in every age
to testify about your hopes,
     but we did not want to be
     set free from our captivity.
So Jesus was sent, your future
coming over the horizon to us
to be baptized as your Beloved.

With those who bend but do not break,
with those who long to do what is right,
we lift our thanksgiving songs to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God of impartial love.
All creation gives you the glory
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who is your heart's true delight.
Hosanna in the highest!

We glorify your name, Holy God,
and bless Jesus, your Child, our Savior.
Lord of all,
     he came, not with shock and awe,
     but with gentleness and patience.
Light of the world,
     he came to fan the spark of justice
     until it ignites throughout the world.
Bearer of our sins,
     he died on the cross,
     snared in death's embrace
     until the tomb opened up
     and the Spirit came down,
     lifting him up, as you proclaimed,
'here is my Son, the Resurrected One.'

As we remember our baptism
into the life and death of Jesus,
we speak of our faith as a mystery:

Christ came, to show us God's love;
Christ was baptized, inviting us into the waters of life;
Christ died, to fulfill all righteousness;
Christ was raised, to set us free from death;
Christ will come to take us by the hand
     and never let go.

You spread the Table before us,
the Spirit anointing the bread and the cup
and those gathered in this place
of water and of the Word.
We take the broken bread,
it's healing grace strengthening us
     to open eyes blinded by hate,
     to free all imprisoned by fear,
     to feed those who hunger for justice.
We share the Cup of salvation,
it's tender love nourishing us
     to offer balm to the hurting,
     to bring light to those who lose their way,
     to not give up on the oppressed
          until justice is served.

Then, when all righteousness is fulfilled
and we are gathered with our sisters and brothers
from all times and from every place,
we will join our voices to give you the glory,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Baptized, let us go to live in faith.
We will bring healing to the broken
and offer God's joy to those who grieve.
Baptized, let us go to serve.
At the side of Jesus, we will serve the hungry,
we will give shelter to the homeless.
Baptized, let us go to be a voice.
We will echo the Spirit of calling for peace,
we will never stop speaking against injustice.
Baptized, let us go to do what is right.
Finding you, God in Community, Holy in One,
waiting for us to join you beside all your Beloved children.

(c) 2016 Thom M. Shuman