Saturday, April 29, 2017

Liturgy w/communion for May 7. 2017 (Easter 4 - A)

Texts:  Acts 2:42-47; Psalm 23;1 Peter 2:19-25; John 10:1-10

Call to Worship
In the laughter of children,
we hear the voice of the Gate of the Way,
and find our way home.
In the lap of a parent,
God's compassion cradles us
in the still waters of love.

The Shepherd of our lives
leads us through that door
into life with him forever.
We are baptized with living waters
which refresh us, restoring us
to follow Jesus all our days.

The Holy Spirit, Keeper of truth,
is the Light which guides us
through every shadowed moment.
The Breath of life stills our worries
and fears, as we are lead to that
peaceful place of God's heart.

Prayer of the Day

Buoyed by your living waters,
we are at peace in seas
of stress and success;

detoured onto those walkways
leading to your joy,
we find our way out of mazes
of meetings and deadlines;

nourished at your picnic
in that garden of grace,
our shredded souls
are anointed by your healing;

you slow us down just enough,
as we try to escape
the very lives we think we want,
so goodness and mercy
can catch up with us
and carry us into your heart.

God in Community, Holy in One,
may you always be with us on our journey,
as we pray as Jesus teaches us, saying,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
Day by day, God would lead us to the places of hope and healing, while moment by moment, we continue to follow sin down all the wrong paths.  Let us confess our lives, as we draw near to the One who would restore us to wholeness.  Join me as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     The wrong paths to foolish lives and repeated mistakes?  We know all to well where they are, Gate of our lives.  Stirring up the waters with trouble comes all too easy to us, we confess.  And locking the doors of our hearts so we don't have to love others is second nature to us.
     Forgive us, our Goodness and Mercy.  May our hearts overflow with hope for others, as you anoint us with healing oil.  May we share from our abundance with all who hunger for life.  May we follow Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, to the places of service and life with you forever.


Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Our Comforter leads us to that place where God's Table is spread with forgiveness and overflowing with grace.  Here, we are called to life and love.
We will live as God's people: forgiven to serve, blessed to share, loved so we might care.  Thanks be to God.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
As we offer our gifts this day, may we join Mercy and Goodness in being in the lives of all who long for rest, who hunger for hope, who thirst for living waters, and who ache to be part of your community of grace and peace.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of gates be with you!
And also with you!
God calls us to open our hearts to others,
for they are filled to overflowing with grace.
Every day, let us rejoice in the Restorer of our lives.
We sing glad songs to the One who leads us.

You watched over creation,
God of patience,
as it emerged out of nothingness:
     meadows where sheep could rest,
     still pools of water teeming with tadpoles,
     paths worn smooth by mountain goats.
You shaped us in your divine likeness,
anointing us with Spirit's breath of life,
so we could wander the garden by your side.
     But that thief, sin, and that bandit, death,
     climbed into Eden by another way,
     and we followed these strangers' voices.
Day by day, you sent prophets to us,
who challenged us to lead God-centered lives,
     but we devoted ourselves to that life
     which is empty and bitter.
So then you sent Jesus,
shaped in human likeness, to us,
so we would know you are with us.

With those who walk your paths,
with those who long to find their way,
we offer glad and generous hearts to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, Guardian of our souls.
All creation praises you day after day after day.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who trusted in you alone.

Hosanna in the highest!

You alone are holy, Gate of the Way,
and Jesus Christ,  your Child, is Shepherd of life.
He kept to the path of righteousness,
     so we might learn how
     to walk in his footsteps.
Knowing our voices, he followed us
     to the gate of death,
     where the keeper let him in,
     locking the gate behind him.
But you came another way
and, knowing your voice,
     Jesus followed you
     out of the tomb,
     receiving life, abundantly,
for all your children.

As we gather in prayer and worship,
as we seek to devote ourselves to following Jesus,
we sing of that mystery known as faith:

Christ bore our sins in his body on the cross;
Christ was raised by you out of death;
Christ will come, so we might live for righteousness.


You lead us to this Table
where we want for nothing,
for your Spirit transforms
everyday foods into a sacred feast.
Your bread and cup comfort us,
nourishing us so we might be together
in everything with our sisters and brothers.
The broken bread strengthens us
     to provide clean, still waters to all;
     to build shelter for those who sleep rough;
     to feed those who are hungry.
Your grace overflows into us so we may offer
     companionship to those who
          wander shadowed valleys;
     an open gate to those
          longing for a community;
     voices of compassion
          and hope to the oppressed.

When we follow goodness and mercy
to the end of time, we will find you
coming out of the kitchen,
setting dish upon dish of peace and hope
on that great table prepared for all your children,
and we will join our hearts and hands
as we sing praise and wonder to you,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Sending
Day by day, God will lead us:
to those pools of peace where we can
gather with our friends and strangers
.
Day by day, Jesus will call us:
to give ourselves in service,
to anoint others with hope.

Day by day, the Spirit shows us:
the people we might be,
the community we might become.


(c) 2017 Thom M. Shuman

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