Saturday, October 12, 2019

Liturgy with communion for October 20, 2019 (Pentecost 19/Trinity 18/Proper 24/Ordinary 29 - C

Texts: Jeremiah 31:27-34; Psalm 119:97-104; 2 Timothy 3:14-4:5; Luke 18:1-8

Call to Worship
We have gathered in God's holy presence,
the One who etches grace on our hearts.

This is the place where God
will transform us into disciples.

We glorify our God, who yearns for justice,
not just for a favored few, but for the least of our world.
This is the place where God
will write compassion on our souls.

We give thanks to God for unceasing grace;
we remember God's persistence in saving us.
This is the place where God
will breathe the Word into our lives.


Prayer of the Day
Holy God:
with the precious jewel
of holy scripture,
     you share with us
     the treasure of your heart.
Engrave your covenant -
     your hopes, your dreams,
     your vision, your peace -
     upon our hearts,
that they might beat
as one with yours.

Holy Word:
ever clear,
     you keep us from wandering
     down the wrong paths;
ever longed for,
     you make us persistent
     in bringing justice
           to the lost and to the least;
ever practical,
     you show us how
     not to misplace our hearts.

Holy Wisdom:
as you breathe the Word
into our hearts,
     tutor us in faithfulness
so we are trained
     in using the tools
     of justice and hope;
so we are equipped
     to share the good news with all;
so we become skilled
     in compassion and grace.

God in Community, Holy in One,
we lift our hearts to you
as we pray as Jesus teaches us, saying,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
Seeking to follow Jesus, we often wander down the wrong roads. Impatient with God's schedule, we rush off to do things our way. Let us confess our foolishness, that we might receive God's hope for our lives.

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     Your words are given to us, Author of Life, so we might be reformed, but we are intent on changing others.  Your words are offered to us so we might be transformed, but we are focused on conforming to our culture. Your words are spoken to lead us into new life, but we hold our old ways tight to our chests.
     Forgive us, God of Wonder. Do not remember our sins, but continue to touch us with your steadfast mercy. Show us how to be persistent in living out our faith, even as you were so tenacious in offering us your grace and life in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Jesus reminds us that we are to be resolute in our lives of faithfulness and service.  The good news is that God is steadfast in filling us with love and grace.
We are forgiven people. May we live as sisters and brothers in Christ, God's children in word and deed, in hope and joy. Thanks be to God. Amen.


Prayer of Dedication/Offering
Like your words, O God, the tangible gifts with which we are blessed are not to be hoarded or hidden away for rainy days.  Rather we offer them so they might bring healing, hope, grace, and peace to all around us, your children.  In Jesus’ name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving

May the God of this day and all the days to come be with you!
May God be with you as well!
Children of the new covenant, offer your hearts to God.
We open them to the One who writes the good news on them.
People of God, join in praising the One whose Word is within you.
Glad songs are sung to the One we know in our deepest souls.

'The days are surely coming,'
you announced to chaos, God of power,
dividing it into morning and night,

     sowing seeds of humanity and other life
     into the rich loam of your creation.
You took us by the hand to show us
the place where we might have life,
     ever feasting on your bounty of love.
But we drank deeply of sin's sour wine,
     our teeth set on edge by the sound of death
     scraping its fingernails across our souls.
You sent the prophets to us,
your hopes written on their hearts,
     but since we did not fear you,
     we had no respect for them.
So you took Jesus by the hand,
asking him to proclaim the good news
that you would forget our sins,
you would forgive our foolishness.

With all who have wandered from your path,
with all who have the new covenant on their hearts,
we sing our songs of praise to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God of incredible patience.
All creation cries out for your justice.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes to teach your ways.
Hosanna in the highest!


He did not shrink from your command, God of hope,
but obediently, Jesus became one of us
so we might know you face-to-face.
When the law no longer
wanted to be seen with us,
     he became our constant companion.
Wiser than our enemies, sin and death,
     he defeated them at the cross,
          the empty tomb the sign of his victory.

As we remember his persistence in offering grace to us,
as we celebrate the joy of life with him,
we speak of the mystery we know as faith:

Christ died, for all our sins;
Christ was raised, for all our sakes;
Christ comes, to take us by the hand to lead us into your presence.


As for us, we pray you
to send your Holy Spirit to us,
to bless the gifts of your love
and to transform your gathered people.
What we know, what we believe,
     we have learned at your knee,
     gathered up into your lap,
your call to wholeness a taste so wondrous
       we share it with all who are broken;
your cup of grace sweeter
     than the honey of our hopes.

And when we are gathered together
into the kingdom you have built in eternity,
we will join our voices with our sisters and brothers,
crying out to you day and night forever,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.


Sending
Here in this place, God transforms us into disciples,
so we may share the grace etched upon our hearts.
Here with these people, compassion is written on our hearts,
so we may join Jesus in bringing justice to all.
Now, in these moments, the Spirit is breathed into us,
so we can be as persistent as God in bringing hope to the world.

©  Thom M. Shuman

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Liturgy with communion for October 13, 2019 (Pentecost 18/Trinity 17/Proper 23/Ordinary 28 - C)

Texts: Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7; Psalm 66:1-12; 2 Timothy 2:8-15; Luke 17:11-19              
                 

Call to Worship
Whether we live in an apartment or a house;
if we reside in the suburbs or the city:

God tells us to pray for the places where we live.
Whether we are exiles or prisoners for the gospel;
if we are young, old, insider, outcast:

God says, 'when you search for me, you will find me.'
Whether we have been wandering and lost;
or if we have lived in the same place all our lives:
God says, 'I will gather you from all your places
and bring you home.'

Prayer of the Day

Awesome Creator:
you bring us together in this sanctuary,
calling us from all those places
where we live and work and play,
so we can recognize you
     in faces lined with wisdom;
so we can hear you
    in the questions of the smallest child;
so we can sit up and notice
     all that you do in our midst.

Cradler of Grace:
you speak your words,
     so we might hear the sighs
     of the outsiders of our world.

You walk the borderlands
of our joys and sorrows,
     so we might embrace your healing.
You enter our hearts,
     despite our best efforts
          to close them to your presence.

Enduring Spirit:
when we are tempted
to imprison the good news
     with our politics, our fears,
      our prejudices, our doubts -
whisper that Word
     which shatters all chains,
     and sets us free to be God's people.

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

Call to Reconciliation
Despite our foolish and angry words, God continues to speak of mercy to us. Despite our best efforts to be faithless in our living, God remains faithful in keeping the promise to forgive us and restore us to wholeness.  Let us confess our sins to God, so that God's hope and grace might endure in our brokenness.

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     
God beyond borders, we know that on our way to worship, we may not have noticed the exiles in our neighborhoods. We admit how easy it is for us to wander down the streets of temptation, pausing at the corner of easy choices. We fall silent in the presence of those who speak words of anger and hate. We tolerate a culture that suspects all who are different from us.
     Have mercy on us, O God, for surely you take the side of justice. Open our hearts to all the wonders you are performing in our lives. You gift us with those of other cultures, that our lives might be blessed.  You send us friends out of places we least expect, that our community might be enriched. You call us to be generous with our blessings, so others might be graces with the gift of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.


Silence is kept


Assurance of Pardon
God challenges us, God encourages us. God confronts us, and God accepts us. God works wonders in our midst and gives us the eyes, the hearts, the souls to see such miracles.
God forgives us, God guides us through the wilderness of the world, God leads us home.  Thanks be to God. Amen.


Prayer of Dedication/Offering
May our gratitude be offered with these gifts in these moments, praying that what we share with others will bring them healing, hope, grace, and peace.  We pray this in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving


May the God of joy be with you.
And also with you.
People of God, open your hearts to the One who does wonders for you.
We offer our hearts to God, who plants gardens of peace within us.
Children of God, sing praises to the One who leads us to this place.
We join all creation in singing our thanks God, our Creator.

On that first glad morning, Architect of glory,
you built the house of creation
     for us to dwell in with peace as our neighbor;
you planted gardens in the valleys and meadows
     that we might be fed by your goodness.
But we chose to live in death's dim exile,
believing sin would provide a better home.
You sent the prophets to us,
carrying words of promise and hope,
     but we refused to return to you.
So, seeking the welfare of all creation,
and longing to restore us to wholeness,
you sent Jesus of your heart to us.

With all the earth that worships you,
with all brought to spacious places,
we sing your glory forever:


Holy, holy, holy are you, God of wondrous acts.
All creation rejoices in you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who remains faithful to you.
Hosanna in the highest!



Holy are you, God of peace and hope,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, our Healer.
Your Word sent from glory,
    he came that we might see
     what you are doing for us.

Your Freedom for all your people,
     he set free the gospel which
     shatters the chains of our oppression.
Your Hope from the foundation of creation,
     he went through the regions
     of sin and death that we might
          enter the wonders of your kingdom,
singing praises to you as we travel your Way.

As we celebrate our redemption,
as we remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead,
we sing that mystery we call faith:

Christ died, his faith making us well;
Christ was raised, that we might live with him;
Christ will come again, to present us before God.


On this glad morning, Loving God,
pour out your Spirit on the gifts of the Table,
and on those who gather at your feast.
As we are strengthened by the Bread of life,
     send us forth to plant gardens,
          sharing the harvest with those who hunger.
As we are nourished by the Cup of hope,
     give us the tools to build homes
          for those who live in poverty's grip.
As we are filled with the Spirit of service,
     may we have the courage
     to use our hearts and voices
          to break the chains of those
          who live in oppression's exile.

And when that glad morning of resurrection comes,
when we gather with the exiles of every time and place,
our sisters and brothers who were ever faithful,
we will rejoice in you forever,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.


Sending
Having prayed for the places where we live, we go forth.
God sends us into the apartments and homes,
into the streets and playgrounds to bring hope.
Having gathered with God's people of every age, we go forth.
We will join Jesus in serving folks whose birthdays are celebrated in decades,
and newborns who are facing poverty and fear.
Having shared prayers and songs with friends and strangers, we go forth.
We will welcome those who the world forgets but who God loves,
as surely as we have been embraced by the Spirit.

(c)  Thom M. Shuman

Wednesday, October 02, 2019

World Communion Sunday liturgy for October 6, 2019

Texts: Lamentations 1:1-6; Lamentations 3:19-26; 2 Timothy 1:1-14; Luke 17:5-10

Call to Worship
In cities like Dallas and London,
where lives are lost and voices are not heard,
we call to mind that faith which is passed on to us,
that justice will speak out for all people.
In border towns and communities walled in by poverty ,
where fears destroy families and scatter neighbors,
we call to mind that hope which is passed on to us,
that peace and reconciliation will rebuild communities.
In neighborhoods not known, in places never mentioned,
where bitter tears are shed and the lonely walk the streets,
we call to mind that love which we can pass on
to those forgotten by the world, including us.

Prayer of the Day

It is not in the hollowness
of our fears,
   but there in the depths
   of your heart, Singer of Songs,
that the notes are written
that can reshape our lives,
that the melody of hope is composed.
Seed Planter,
you only did
what you ought to have done:
traveling our lonely cities,

     listening to
         the weeping of parents;

      reaching out to
         share our burdens.

You enter our hearts

   to heal them,
Spirit of love;
      you enter our fears
         to open us to possibilities;
      you enter our communities
         to create families;
      you empty yourself,
         so we may share the good
         treasure of hope with all
God in Community, Holy in One,
we lift our prayers as Jesus taught us,

(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
Faith, hope, love have all been passed on to us, not so we can hoard these gifts for ourselves, but so we might share them with others.  Let us lift our prayers to the One who is always ready to place forgiveness in our hearts, as we tell how we have not done this in our lives.

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     We think if we turn off the media, we will not need to listen to the voices of our neighbors, God of all the world.  We are blessed with family and friends, and so do not know the lonely.  We are at ease in a world which is troubled, and so do not notice the bitter tears of others.  Because we are people of affluence and privilege, we cannot understand those who are broken by the anger and brutality of the world.

   Yet, you know, God of the sufferers.  You hear the cries of those living in oppression, and call us to listen.  Your tears mingle with those whose children lie mangled or dead in war zones, and would have us be peacemakers.  Your faithfulness is great, when ours seems so futile, yet you would have us serve the world alongside your Child, Jesus, even as he served us with his life and gifts.  Amen.
Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Call this to mind: God is ever faithful; hope is the gift passed on to us, love is the gift we can share with others; God’s mercies never come to an end.

Great is God’s faithfulness to all people, in all places. Thanks be to God, who has given us the promise of life in Christ Jesus our Lord! Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
We are here, because of those who passed on their faith to us.  We are generous, because God has blessed us with gifts beyond imagination.  We would pass on these gifts, as well as hope and love, as we offer them to our God, in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May God be with you.
And also with you.
People of God, lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the One who cradles our hearts in loving hands.People of God, let us give thanks to the God who sets a Table for us.
We praise the Lord our God who welcomes us with open arms.
How lonely was chaos, Gardener of the Universe,
until you spoke a Word, and your Spirit created:
   leaves that burnish gold and red in autumn,
   snow that drifts lazily in winter skies,
   frozen brooks that burst in spring,
   ponds splashing with children in summer.
You planted the seeds of joy in our ancestors
hoping they would pass them onto us,
   but they walked sin’s lonely streets
   and drank the bitter tears death offered.
Though the prophets came
to remind us of your great faithfulness,
   we continued to feast on the
   wormwood and gall offered by the world.     
But you would not forget us,

and so sent Jesus to bring us home to you.

Therefore we join our voices,
as we sing of your mercies
made fresh in every moment

Sung: (tune: Bunessan 5.5.5.4D)
God of Creation, Lord of all beauty,
All creatures join in singing your love;
Holy Compassion, Joy of our mornings,
Fill us with grace which comes from above.


You alone are holy, heart Speaker,
and we are blessed through Jesus, life’s Promise.
When we would wander the lonely streets of the world,
   he would take us by the hand,
   to lead us into your joy.
When others would pass on

bitterness and hate to us,
   he fills us with the gifts
   of hope and love.
Splashing in sin's puddles,
    he washed our feet
    and dried them with his love,
         leading us into the kingdom.
Daughters of despair, sons of sadness,
orphans of woe -
     he gathers us all up
     in his arms of mercy
          wiping out death,
     and sits us down
          at the family Table.

As we remember his grace and love,
as we dare not forget his sacrifice for us,
we sing of that mystery we call faith:

Sung: Christ of the outcast, Comfort of mourners,
Neighbor to strangers, Love without end;
Bearer of burdens, Grace ever with us,
Blessing our children, Brother and Friend.

Holy Spirit,
as we offer the gifts
of the bread and the cup
for your blessing,
so we present ourselves:
     our accomplishments, our failings,
     our hopes, our realities.
Make us weak,
     so we might rely
          on your strength.
As we have heard the Word,
     may we listen
          to the cries of the poor.
As we are family
with those sitting beside us today,
     may we love our sisters and brothers
          in every corner of creation.
As you hold out
the bread and the cup to us,
     may we reach out to enemies
          to clasp hands as friends.

God in Community, Holy in One,
all honor and glory are yours,
as we sing our praises through all eternity:

Sung: Spirit of kindness, Breath of forgiveness,
Faithful Companion, just as Christ said;
God's little children gathered together,
Drink of salvation, feast on your Bread.


Sending
God would send you forth into the loneliness of the world.
we would call this to mind,
as we go to embrace all the rejected and forgotten.
Jesus would send you forth into the bitterness around us,
we would call this to mind,
as we seek to have all voices heard, all grief comforted.
The Spirit would send you forth into the brokenness of others,
we would call this to mind,
as we carry peace and love to neighbors and strangers.

©  Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Liturgy with communion for September 22, 2019 (Pentecost 15/Trinity 14/Proper 20/Ordinary 25 - C)

Texts: Jeremiah 8:18 – 9:1; Psalm 79:1-9; 1 Timothy 2:1-7; Luke 16:1-13


Call to Worship
We gather together to celebrate the joy in our lives.

God's love fills our hearts to overflowing with laughter.
We gather, in God's presence, to find comfort and hope for our pain.
God's grace wipes away our tears
and knits us together as one people. 
We gather together, in God's presence, to worship God in faith and truth.
Alleluia! Amen!

Prayer of the Day

Healing God,
when dismay
is our daily companion,
     you come to touch us
          with your healing hope.
When grief falls on us
like a wall of bricks,
     you rebuild our joy
          with your comfort and love.

Jesus Christ,
Faithful Spirit,
when bullies pick on us,
     you stand by our side.
When neighbors taunt us
for choosing to be faithful,
     you commend us
          for our wisdom.

Teaching Spirit,
when we are heart-sick
over the brokenness of our lives,
     your compassion races
          to bring your gentle balm.
When our joy is gone
and we are stained
by the world's cruelty,
     you bathe us in the tears
          flowing from God's broken heart.

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

Call to Reconciliation
Before we speak, God knows our needs, yet our words open our hearts to God's grace. Let us prepare ourselves for God's healing as, in words and silence, we tell of all that separates us from God and one another. Please join me as we pray,


Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     First of all, Everlasting God, we must confess how we have not lived as your people. We serve many masters - work, wealth, power, addictions - yet find no hope in them. We hear the cries of the poor, and shut the doors of our hearts to them. We ridicule those who expose their hopes and dreams to us.
     Forgive us, Compassion's Heart, and heal us of our brokenness. Make us well, so that by our healing, we might be the hope and love others need in their lives, even as Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, brought these gifts to us, calling us to be faithful with the grace, peace, and joy entrusted to us.
 


Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Now that we have let go of the pain, the bitterness, the anger of our lives, let us be kind, tender-hearted, and gentle towards each other, forgiving as God has forgiven us.
We are God's beloved children, and will model God's grace and love in our hearts. Thanks be to God! We are forgiven! Amen.


Prayer of Dedication/Offering
We could taunt our neighbors, or treat them to a warm welcome; we would mock those who are different or affirm them as family; we could withhold our inheritance from others, so help us to joyously and lovingly pour out our gifts and lives for others.  This we pray in Jesus' name.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the one God be with you!

And also with you!
Lift your hearts to the One who heals them.
We offer our hearts to be filled with the balm of Gilead.
Sing praises to our God who would fill us with springs of joy.
Glad songs of thanksgiving are proclaimed to the One
who delivers us to new life.

We praise you for our inheritance,
God of wonder and delight:

     springs of water trickling into mighty rivers,
     birds of the air cart wheeling in the morning mist,
     tall trees dancing with the wind.
As your children, we were blessed
with abundant gifts beyond measure,
     but we squandered this bounty, choosing
     to buy property in sin and death's community.
Heartsick, you sent the prophets to us,
who indicted us for ruining ourselves,
but we were not strong enough
to pull up our roots and return to you.
So you sent Jesus, faithful in all,
to restore us to full health.

As we join our voices with all
who seek to serve you, far and wide,
we lift our songs of praise to you:


Holy, holy, holy are you, Author of grace and goodness.
All creation affirms the depths of your love.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is your Child of Compassion who sprints to us.
Hosanna in the highest!


Holy are you, God of our salvation,
and everlasting is the salvation brought
to us by Jesus Christ, our Mediator.
When we were too weak to dig
our way out of the mess we were in,
     he came to show us the way out.
When we were too proud to ask for help,
     he humbled himself, to become our brother.
When we could not account for our lives,
     he balanced the books for us.
When we were faithless in so much,
     he determined to go to the cross for us,
so that we might know of your longing
for everyone to be saved.

As we remember his faithful life in every thing he did,
as we celebrate his spirit of sacrifice,
we speak of that truth we call faith:


Christ died, paying the price we could not;
Christ was raised, becoming our means of new life;
Christ will come, leading us to that quiet, peaceable life with you.


In these moments, in this holy place,
upon these gifts with offer hope and life,
upon these people who seek to be faithful,
pour out your Spirit of compassion and peace.
As we eat of the bread, tasting its grace,
may we move swiftly in service,
     carrying compassion to the lost,
     the hurting, the hungry, the homeless.
As we drink from the cup of love,
may the tears of our eyes
     at the brokenness of the world,
     become the healing balm for your children.

And when all time is gone, when eternity is upon us,
we will join our sisters and brothers from far and wide,
in singing forever your glory and wonder,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.


Sending
God has filled us with joy and wonder.
We will go to let it overflow in the lives of others.
Jesus has filled us with comfort and hope.
We will go to wipe away the tears of those around us.
The Spirit sends us forward in faith to share the truth of God's presence in our lives.
Alleluia!  We will live everyday as God's own.  Amen.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Saturday, September 07, 2019

Liturgy with communion for September 15, 2019 (Pentecost 14/Trinity 13/Proper 19/Ordinary 24 - C)

Texts: Jeremiah 4:11-12, 22-28; Psalm 14; 1 Timothy 1:12-17; Luke 15:1-10


Call to Worship
The foolish say, 'there is no God.'
We come, trusting in Jesus, the face, the voice,
the presence of the God who loves us.
The scoffers of our age ask, 'why do you seek after God?'
We come, in this time,
because God's grace has spilled over in our lives.
The hopeless around us think, 'no one cares about me.'
We come, in this time, to this place,
because Jesus has found us and brought us home.


Prayer of the Day
When we are short-sighted
and think we can't see you,
     you show us a mother
          cradling her sick child.
When we are anxious,
certain you don't care about us,
     you are confident enough
          to trust us with your grace.
When we are cynical,
sure that nothing matters,
     you are optimistic enough
          to become one of us.
God, you are our Hope.

You sweep the streets
of the world,
     to uncover the people
          we consider to be trash.
You shine your grace
into sin's shadows
     to find us when
          we have lost our way.
You would leave us
     to go find the sister
          we left behind.
Jesus, you are our Joy.


When we walk
the dusty desert of desolation,
     you refresh us
          with showers of grace.
When our lives
lie in ruined rubble,
     you come and build
     a foundation for us
          out of love and faith.
Spirit, you are our Life.

God in Community, Holy in One,
our Hope, our Joy, our Life,
hear us as we pray as Jesus teaches,
(The Lord's Prayer)


Call to Reconciliation
Which of us has not hurt someone this week? Which of us has not spoken (or thought) ill of a sister or brother in Christ? Which of us has failed to do good when given the chance? Which of us? All of us and each of us! But Christ came to save people just like us, so I invite you to join me as we offer our prayers to God, saying,


Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     Although we believe we are experts at faithfulness, Holy God, we must confess we are unskilled workers at doing good for others. Too often, we turn a deaf ear to the cries of people we have judged to be fools. We easily scoff at those we believe have nothing to teach us or share with us.
     How foolish, Searching God, how foolish we are! Forgive us, and restore us to your goodness. Then, send us forth to search for all who sit in the shadowed corners of our world, yearning for someone to come and find them, even as Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, came to find us.


Silence is kept 


Assurance of Pardon
Our actions sometimes show we do not know God. Our words and lives show we do not understand God's hopes for us. But with utmost patience, God sets aside our foolishness, and fills us with mercy.
Mingled with faith and love, grace is poured into our sin-parched souls, giving us new life, restoring us as God's children. Thanks be to God. Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
When we could not find our way, you came searching for us.  So may our gifts be used to bring hope to those cast aside by the world, peace to those whose lives are troubled, and grace to all who are alone.  This we pray in Jesus' name.  Amen.


Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of the lost be with you.
And also with you.
People of God, lift up your hearts to the One who searches for you.
We lift them to our God, whom we find dwelling
in our deepest being.
God's precious treasure, offer your thanksgiving to God.
We glorify our God, who does not give up on us,
but rescues us when we have wandered away.

When only the hot wind of chaos
blew, and there was no light,
you spoke, Immortal, Invisible God,
     your Word bringing forth fruit-filled lands,
     your Spirit moving the hills to and fro
          until they stood silent over the valleys.
In your wisdom, you shaped us
in your image, your grace freely offered.
     Foolishly, we chased after temptation's dreams,
          becoming skilled workers in constructing
          evil out of your good and wonderful gifts.
You showed the upmost patience towards us,
sending prophets with challenging words
to remind us of your promises to all,
but we were too foolish to listen.
So, you sent Jesus to us who,
like a friend who has lost touch
with those dearest to his heart,
reaches out to reconnect with them.

So, with the company of the saints in glory,
with the sinners and losers of this world,
we sing our praises to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God whose heart overflows with faith and love.
Joy echoes down the corridors of creation.
Hosanna in the highest.

Blessed is the One who comes searching for the lost.
Hosanna in the highest.

The wise seek after you, God of Grace and glory,
for you sent Jesus, our Lord to us.
Like a woman searching the shadows
for a lost coin, he comes,
     to find your greatest treasure.
Like a brother who has lost
touch with his siblings, he comes,
     to reconcile us as your family.
Like a sister who would stay awake
while the younger children sleep, he comes,
     to be our true friend
          in every moment, in every place.
Like a shepherd who would face
danger in rescuing his sheep, he goes,
     to the cross, experiencing our death,
so he can carry us into
the resurrected life.

As we gather at his feast,
as we know we have been completely accepted,
we proclaim that mystery we call faith:

Christ died, relentless in trusting God;
Christ was raised, as God purposed;
Christ will come, to rejoice with us in glory.

As we come to your Table at this time,
pour out your Holy Spirit upon
this company of sinners
who long to be right-living people,
and on the gifts you have prepared.
As we eat of the Bread of Life,
strengthen our hearts and spirits,
     so we may search for the lost.
As we drink from the Cup of Grace,
may we be found to be faithful,
     as you appoint us to serve the oppressed.

And at that time when we will be with you,
gathered around the Table of the Lamb
with all who were lost, and like us, were found,
we will join our voices in singing your praises,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

Sending
We have been found by our God,
so now we will go to search for those forgotten by the world.
We have been welcomed by Jesus,
so now we will go to embrace the ones people look down their noses at.
We have been gathered as a community by the Spirit,
so now we will go to be a family to the people who long to draw near to hope.

(c) Thom M. Shuman