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