Friday, November 17, 2017

Liturgy w/communion for November 26, 2017 (Christ the King/Reign of Christ - A)

Texts:  Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24; Psalm 100; Ephesians 1:15-23; Matthew 25:31-46

Call to Worship
Our lives scattered on the floor of the world,
our limits pushed by stress and its best friend, impatience,
we come:
For here, God would gather us,
bringing us to the realm of peace.
Wondering if truth is fake or worth pursuing,
questioning whether anyone is worth following or believing,
we come:
For here, God would feed us with wisdom,
sending the One who would lead us to the realm of hope.
Questioning the motives of everyone in power,

doubting that justice can be found anywhere,
we come:
For here, God brings us to worship with our sisters and brothers,
scooping us up from every place we have strayed.

Prayer of the Day

We are lost and wonder
if anyone cares, and you come,
Master of the Universe,
to bring us home to you.
Our thoughts chase themselves
around and around our minds,
and you weave them together
into words of hope for the lonely.

Too often, we find ourselves
parched in the deserts of temptation,
feasting on those scraps
found on worry's table,
and wonder why we still
hunger and thirst.
So you come to find us,
hope's Word-carrier,
so we might be filled
with grace and life.

You take our brokenness,

Spirit of our hearts,
and make us whole.
You scatter our anger and fears,
so we might be gathered
into communities of love.
You set our feet back
on those paths of grace
which will lead us back to you.

You rescue us from every place we have gone,

God in Community, Holy in One,
and so we pray as Jesus has taught us, saying,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation

So accustomed to the world's shadows, we do not think of ourselves as being lost.  We are so confident of where we are going, we never ask for directions.  But as we confess the lives we truly lead, we discover how scattered we are.  So, let us pray together, as we discover the One who has been searching for us.

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   Gathering God, this week, we threw an extra can of (on sale) veggies in our overflowing grocery carts; we donated that old coat we haven't worn in a couple of years to the thrift store; we re-gifted a bouquet to a neighbor in the hospital.  Did you notice?  Or were you too busy cleaning the guest room for the immigrant couple; buying hats and gloves for all the kids in the school near your home; sitting by the bed of a hospice patient after the family left for the night.

   We spend so much time patting ourselves on the back, that we do not notice how you are constantly searching the ends of the earth for all your children, Merciful God, even going into the very grip of death to bring us all new life.  Give us the faith to live as your people, and the wisdom to let go of all that you have poured into our lives, even as did Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon

God feeds the hungry and gives hope to the parched.
That's us.
God brings healing to the sick and visits those imprisoned.
That's us.
God wraps warmth around the cold, and knits a sweater for the naked.
That's us.
God loves every person, forgives every person, cares for every person.
That's us.  Thanks be to God.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication and Offering
We may not be hungry, but there are those who are.
We may not be parched from thirst, but there are those who do.
We may not worry about health care, or have someone in prison, or have to wear clothes tossed aside by others, but many of our sisters and brothers find themselves in such lives.  But we have been blessed by you.  So may these gifts we offer be used to everyone might know that your community of compassion, of hope, of grace, of life is for everyone.  This we ask in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of all hope be with you.
And also with you.
Let us lift our hearts to our God.
The eyes of our hearts look to the One who is our God.
Let us worship our God with glad songs of praise.
We come into God's presence with thanksgiving.

You gathered up the scattered
fragments of chaos, God of wonder,
shaping them into the wonders
we call the gifts and beauty of creation:
   thunderstorms moving over meadows,
   snow swirling softly in the evenings,
   deer standing in the silence of forests.
All these things and so much more
you offered to those created in your image,
   but the eyes of our hearts looked
   at the seductions of sin and death,
   finding them more desirable then you.
Prophets came as seekers of the lost,
hoping to bring us our of our foolishness,
   yet we continued to ignore them
   as we did those we could have served
   with your gifts of healing and hope.
That is when you chose to become one of us,
your heart beating with ours,
your love seeking to save us.

So with those who have reached out to the needy,
and those who somehow never notice them,
we offer our songs of praise to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God of every heart.
All creation joins in offering thanks to you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes to reveal your realm.
Hosanna in the highest!

Your holiness is revealed
in your steadfast love, Searching God,
and your heart in Jesus, our Lord, our brother.
When we would heap temptation's
empty calories on our plates,
   he feeds us on hope;
when we would drink from
the fountains of grudges,
   he pours us a cup of grace;
when we find every door
slammed shut in our face,
   he invites us into your heart;
when we are struggling with
the burdens and bills of illness,
   he touches us with healing care;
when we are faced with eternity
in the dank cells of death,
   he took the doors
   off the hinges, so we
   could walk into your
   resurrection love.

As we remember his stories of your realm,
as we seek to care for him in our sisters and brothers,
we seek to live that mystery we call faith:

Jesus died, so we might know your justice;
Jesus was raised, so we might know your love;
Jesus will come, so we will be gathered to you at last.

You have searched for us, Steadfast Love,
and gathered us in the sacred space,
where your Spirit is poured out
upon the gifts of the bread and cup,
and on your children gathered
from every place where we strayed.
You feed us on the broken bread so,
that strengthened we would go
   to care for the hungry and needy,
   to welcome the stranger and straggler,
   to bring healing to the hurting.
You offer the cup of grace so,
nourished with your love, we would go
   to offer the parched your living waters,
   to visit those held captive by fear,
   to offer a warm heart to the lonely.

And when the moment at the end of time comes,
as you gather the forgotten and the fragile,
the strangers as well as our sisters and brothers,
we will join hands and hearts singing our praises,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Now, from where God has gathered us, let us go.
To discover that the stranger and homeless,
the prisoner and the hospice patient and everyone else
are our sisters and brothers.
Now, from where we have been fed, let us go.
To join Jesus in serving those who thirst for righteousness
as well as those who hunger for justice.
Now, from where we have been one, let us go.
To find those who have been tossed aside,
gathering them up to bring them
to the Spirit's goodness and peace.

(c) 2017 Thom M. Shuman