Sunday, February 16, 2020

Ash Wednesday Service with alternate texts

Texts:  Amos 5:8-15; Psalm 139:7-12; Romans 8:31-35; Luke 18:9-14

Call to Worship
We gather in the dimness of evening
to be with the God who brightens
the shadows of our lives.
We gather in the quiet of this place,
to be with Jesus, knowing that nothing
past, present, or future separates us.
We gather to be marked as disciples,
to be fed for the journey through Lent,
to be sealed by the Spirit as God’s own.

Evening Prayer
You wait on this evening,
Patient God, for us to come back:
to stop going away from you
   on our self-focused travels;
to set aside our empty fears;
to cease shaping you in our image,
   so we can discover you closer
   than we ever dare imagined.

You wait for us this night,
Companion of our hearts,
for us to follow once more:
leaving the shuttered corners
   of our lives;
refusing to go from one failed
   promise to another;
coming out of the panic rooms
   we have built in our souls,
so you can take us by the hand
to lead us to resurrection life.

You wait in scattered ashes of our lives,
Spirit of silence, for us to find you:
in the broken bread
   which strengthens us to serve;
in the cup of grace
   which fills our emptiness;
in our sisters and brothers
   who are willing to hold us up
   when we falter,
so you can embrace us
with joy and hope in every moment.

As you wait, and as we seek
to return to you in these moments,
we pray as we are taught,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Invitation to the Lenten life
Not for the first time, yet fresh once more,
we accompany Jesus to Jerusalem.
Because of his experience in the wilderness,
we discover how we might have the strength
to turn our back on evil, so we can choose good.
By his example of fasting and prayer
In the midst of serving and caring for others,
we can learn that rhythm of faithful living
which allows us to work for justice and hope,
as we draw strength from the timeless acts
of silence, feasting on the word, and prayer.
As we remember our baptism into faith,
as we gather at the feast of grace,
as we are marked as Christ’s own,
we prepare ourselves to come to God,
on this holy night.

Call to Reconciliation
On this night, we begin our journey to Easter.  Before we can take the first step, we must admit how we have not been faithful to our God.  Let us pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   We have trouble telling the truth, God of broken hearts, yet we must admit on this night how we have trouble being your people.  We may not trample the poor, but we sometimes walk right past them.  We don’t receive bribes, but we are more privileged than many around us.  We trust more in ourselves than in you, and spend far too much time patting ourselves on the back, rather than holding out a hand to others.
   Where can we go for forgiveness but to you, God of the ashes?  When we are greedy, you promise to be gracious.  When we have trouble confronting injustice, you stand at our side.  When we struggle to seek good, you point us to Jesus, our Brother, our Savior, who shows us how to turn our back on evil to follow him.  Amen.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
God refuses to stand far off, but comes close to us – to hear our prayers, to touch our hearts with forgiveness, and to walk with us during this holy season and beyond.
We have no need to go anyplace else, but into the comforting and restoring heart of the One who loves us.  Thanks be to God.  We are forgiven.  Amen.

Imposition of the ashes
Just yesterday it seems, the palms were
fresh and green, held tight in hands
as we reenacted Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem.
But then they dried, shriveled, became
almost too fragile to touch, until
we burned them into the ashes for tonight.
Yet, by the grace of our God,
with the Spirit resting upon them,
they are mixed with oil and placed
on our heads or hands,
the dust of life resting upon us
as a sign that by sharing the gifts
of peace, reconciliation, justice, and generosity,
we will live into the people we long to become.

As we are touched with this mark,
God of all moments,
remind us that just as you
shaped humanity from earth’s dust,
so, from the ashes of repentance and denial,
that grace which is gifted to us
through Jesus Christ, our Redeemer,
will shape us into faithful followers.  Amen.

(In the silence, those who wish may come to have the sign of the cross placed on their foreheads or back of their hands.  The ashes are from palm branches used in previous Palm Sunday services, mixed with oil)

Invitation to the Table

The Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of the ashes be with you.
And also with you.
On this night, let us offer our hearts to God.
We open then so we may be filled with the gifts of Lenten discipleship.
Let us lift glad thanksgiving to our God.
We offer praise to the One who gives us the strength for this journey.

There at the edge of the emptiness of chaos
you spoke, God of all graciousness,
   brightening the shadows with lights in the sky,
   pouring the waters into rivers and seas,  
   planting seeds to feed all creatures.
From the dust of creation, you shaped your children,
offering us all the goodness and beauty
which overflowed from your heart,
   but we trampled through your hopes,
   as we turned from your heart
   to chase after evil’s false promises.
But no matter where we went,
or how far we sought to flee from you,
you continued to meet us in all those places,
constantly inviting us to return to you
and be filled with your steadfast love.

Therefore, we join with our sisters and brothers,
in the silence and shadows of this evening,
to offer you songs of thanksgiving:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God who is at our side.
We join all creation in singing your praises.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who makes us right.
Hosanna in the highest!

Your constant love is the seal of your holiness,
and Jesus is the One who comes
so we will never be separated from you.
He endured every hardship we experience,
   so we receive the hope you offer to us;
he experienced the hunger of loneliness,
   so we might become members of your family;
he was willing to set aside his life,
   so death would have no power
   to keep us apart from you, but
   your resurrection power would give us
   the same life he received from you.

As we take our tentative first steps towards Jerusalem,
as we would be marked as his companions,
we remember that mystery known as faith:

Christ died, not withholding his heart;
Christ was raised, so that he might become our advocate;
Christ will come, to draw us to your side.

Here at this Table of life and longing,
pour out your Spirit on us,
and on the gifts offered to us.  
May the bread which is broken
strengthen us so nothing can separate us
   from those who struggle with life;
   from those who mourn a death;
   from those who have no power or voice.
May the cup which overflows with grace
nourish us so we pick up
   those who have been trampled by misery;
   those who are trapped by injustice;
   those who are pushed aside by the privileged.

And when neither death nor life,
neither time nor history
can keep us apart from you
as you gather us around your Table
with our sisters and brothers,
we will sing your glory and praise forever and ever,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Smudged this night with the ashes of penitence,
we will go out to share God’s forgiveness
with those we have hurt, with those who are forgotten.
Fed this night by the Host of the Feast of grace,
we will go out to bring healing to the broken,
to offer grace to those trampled by the powerful.
Called this night to journey through suffering to new life,
we will go out to stand with those experiencing injustice,
to share the Spirit’s peace and reconciliation with the world.

© 2017 Thom M. Shuman  

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Liturgy with communion for February 23, 2020 (Transfiguration - A)

Texts:  Exodus 24:12-18; Psalm 2; 2 Peter 1:16-21; Matthew 17:1-9

Call to Worship
It is good to be here in this sacred space,
in the shelter of God’s love and hope.
It is good to be here with folks we know well, as well as with new friends,
joining with all of God’s beloved, sisters and brothers of Jesus.
It is good to be here, where we can hear God’s voice,
calling us to be eyewitnesses to the Spirit’s presence.

Prayer of the Day
We could build grand edifices
crafted out of our opinions
of how you should act and be,
God of mountains,
   or we could gather up
   all the broken dreams
   of the most vulnerable
to build a more just world.

We could join the denigrating
chorus which ridicules all
who have been pushed aside
by those climbing to the top,
Dawn of Hope,
   or we could hear songs
   of reconciliation and hope
   in the lingua franca
   of all who seek peace.

We could avert our gaze
from those who have fingers
pointed at them because
of where they come from,
Spirit of love,
not who they are,
   or we could catch
   a glimpse of you
   coming down from the
   closet shelf where we put you
      so you can be with us.

When we could stay on the mountaintop,
take us by the hand to lead us into service,
God in Community, Holy in One,
even as we pray as we have been taught,
(The Lord’s Prayer)
Call to Reconciliation
We wait for God to show up, and while waiting, do not notice the words we might have spoken, the good we could have done.  Let us confess to our God, who waits to surround us with grace and hope, as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   Our judgment often becomes clouded by our foolishness, Sheltering God, and so we make all the wrong choices.  We let fancy philosophies draw us away from your grace.  The flowery words of politicians can lead us into valleys of worry and despair.  Our fears can convince us that those around us are conspiring against us.
   You can take all our foolishness, Creative God, and make us wise enough to see you among us.  You take the shards of our broken lives to recast us into a faithful people.  You speak gently to us, so we can listen to your dreams of our seeing each person as your beloved, even as Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, sees us through such eyes.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
On mountaintops and in valleys, in moments when our lives are shrouded and as well as when we reflect Christ’s light, God is with us, declaring we are the beloved!
In this moment, in every moment, may we glimpse the grace of God which comes and transfigures our lives.  Thanks be to God, we are forgiven!  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
Let us not keep our treasures stored in the mountaintops of our fears of how others might use them, but pour them out so they might be used to transform all those who find themselves in the valleys of hunger, of loss, of loneliness, and of injustice.  This we ask in the name of your Beloved.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of each dawn be with you.
And also with you.
Let us open our hearts to God who gathers us at this Table.
We delight in the grace which fills our lives.
May we offer our praise to the One who calls us the beloved.
We give thanks to our God of holiness.

You took the shards of chaos,
Repairer of all brokenness
and transfigured them into
   mountains where we could draw closer to you,
   valleys where we could serve your people,
   bright stars of each morning.
These gifts, and so many more, were offered
to the children of dust you call Beloved,
   but we joined death and sin
   in their conspiracy to make themselves
   more important than you in our lives.
You waited for us to return to you,
sending invitation after invitation
through men and women of every age,
   but we continued to plot,
   listening only to sin’s foolish words.
When you could no longer wait,
you sent Jesus to us,
so we might take shelter in you.

With those who have seen your glory,
with those who hunger for your grace,
we join in praising your name:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God who offers shelter.
We join all creation in glorifying you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the Morning Star of salvation.
Hosanna in the highest!

You alone are holy, God who laughs
at our foolish posturing,
and blessed is Jesus Christ,
who came to tell everyone of your love.
He could have remained seated in glory,
   but chose to walk with us
   down this path called life.
He could have remained on the mountaintop,
   but came down to minister
   to all in despair’s empty valley.
He could have simply told us
how we should live,
   but demonstrated genuine love
   by dying on the cross, so
      death’s power might be broken
      by the grace of the resurrection.

As we rejoice in your heart’s Beloved,
as we would listen to him with our souls,
we speak of that transfiguring mystery called faith:

Christ died, breaking sin’s power forever;
Christ was raised, as love conquered death;
Christ will return, to gather all the beloved to God.

Overshadow us with your grace, we pray,
as the Holy Spirit is poured out on us
and the gifts of this holy table.
As you give us the broken bread
to strengthen our service to others,
   may we offer hop to all
   surrounded by injustice.
As your cup of life nourishes us,
   may we see each person,
   not as a stranger or outsider,
   but part of your beloved family.

And when the waiting is ended,
when the stars of mornings and evenings
shine the way to your holy feast,
we will join our sisters and brothers
in forever singing your praises,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

God sends us from this experience of worship
to serve all those around us.
We will go to take the light of hope
into the shadowed corners in our midst.
Jesus, the Beloved, invites us to join him
in everyday life, in everyday service.
We will go to be blessed by all those
overlooked by the world.
Glory’s Spirit takes us by the hand
to lead us down path of humility.
We will enter into the mists of mistrust,
so we can offer hope to many.

© Thom M. Shuman

Saturday, February 08, 2020

Liturgy with communion for February 16, 2020 (Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany - A)

Texts:  Deuteronomy 30:15-20; Psalm 119:1-8; 1 Corinthians 3:1-9; Matthew 5:21-37

Call To Worship
As we offer a welcome to stranger and friend,
as we are embraced in their kindness,
we choose to be people of life and blessing.
As we serve others in God's name,
as we receive blessings from those we do not know,
we choose to walk in God's way.
As we forgive those who have hurt us,
as we reach out to those we have harmed,
we choose to be reconciled to our sisters and brothers.

Prayer of the Day
You do not stand there
with a ruler in your fist,
ready to smack our hands
whenever we do wrong,
but are that gentle Parent
who wants only the best
for your children always.

You do not look at us
through the lenses of judgment,
Servant of all,
but see us as your
sisters and brothers
who have wandered away,
and so you reach out
and take our hands so
we might walk together.

You do not hold anything back,
Spirit of goodness,
but you fill our empty lives
with the waters of grace and peace,
so we might overflow with
love, wonder, joy, and hope,
true blessings to the world.

God in Community, Holy in One,
may we choose always and in all ways
to be your people, even as we pray,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
With every choice we make, we show how faithful we are to God's hopes for us.  Yet, despite the mistakes we make, the missteps we take, God remains forgiving and gracious.  Let us come to our God, speaking honestly about our lives, as we pray, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     How often we make the wrong choices, God of our lives!  We look at others through the prism of lust, distorting who they really are.  We let our 'mad' feed us with bitterness and hurt.  We toss about harmful words like so many snowballs on a winter's day.  We would rather insult those around us, than to lift them up.
     Have mercy on us, God who is everywhere.  May we set aside our quarreling natures to be united in common worship, common service, and a common purpose, as we follow Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Christ came, so we might be healed by God's tender touch.  Christ came, so we might be reconciled to one another.
Thanks be to God!  As risky, as hard as it may be, we will choose to be God's people.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
When we could choose to be selfish, may we share from our abundance;
when we could choose to be hoarders, let us give away all we have;
when we could choose to be broken, let us be reconciled with those around us.
Bless our lives, as well as these gifts, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May our reconciling God be with you.
And also with you.
Come to the One who loves you always.
We choose to offer our hearts to God.
Come to the Table with glad hearts.
We will offer God praise in these moments.

Heaven and earth are witnesses
to your creation, God of forever,
as you chose to bring forth
life, goodness, and beauty
out of the empty canyons of chaos.
Soft winds rippled grains in meadows,
thunder and lightning echoed your praise,
insects chattered away in hidden places.
All these were blessings - for us, those
who have been crafted in your image,
     but we turned away from you,
     led astray by sin to worship false gods.
You commanded the prophets to speak,
your words inviting us back to you,
     but we chose not to listen.
You sent Jesus to us then,
the One who walked that path called Blameless,
so we might know the way.

So with those who are mature in the faith,
ad those who are just starting the journey,
we lift our songs of thanksgiving:

Holy, holy, holy, Lord God who is everywhere.
All creation offers praise to you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who reconciles us to you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Seeking to be obedient to you,
God of every good choice,
Jesus came,
     so we might walk
     in his footprints on
     that path to life.
He came,
     so we could pay
     attention to you,
          yet not neglect our
          sisters and brothers.
He come,
     choosing to confront sin
     and death on the cross,
so we might receive the
blessing of resurrected life.

As we seek to mirror his faithfulness,
as we would choose to follow him,
we proclaim that mystery called faith:

Though he did not wrong, Jesus died for us;
though we thought him dead, Jesus has risen;
though we have our doubts, Jesus will come again.

It used to be that we had no hope,
but now, at this Table of bread and cup,
your Spirit of grace and joy is poured out.
Filled with the bread which
symbolizes your brokenness,
     may we choose to be
     reconciled to one another,
     honoring all relationships.
As we are transformed by the cup,
     may we choose to work together,
     so all may be blessed
     by your love and peace.

And when you choose to end time,
gathering us together around your Table,
we will join with all those around us,
forever singing your praises,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Go now, with God's love,
we will choose to be a blessing to others.
Go now, with Christ's hope,
we will choose to serve all in need.
Go now, with the Spirit's peace,
we will choose to share life in every moment.

© Thom M. Shuman

Saturday, February 01, 2020

Liturgy with communion for February 9, 2020 (Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany - A)

Texts:  Isaiah 58:1-12; Psalm 112:1-10; 1 Corinthians 2:1-16; Matthew 5:13-20

Call to Worship
Called to be light,
we would carry God's hope into
the shadows of the world.

Called to be salt,
we would enhance the lives
of those around us, with joy.

Called to live in God's reality,
we would welcome everyone
as sisters and brothers in faith.

Prayer of the Day

When we see the hungry
     and refuse to pass them by;
when we humbly notice
     those walking shoeless
          in winter
     before we repair the holes
          in our souls,
we will worship you truly,
God of the Feast and the Fast.

When we think the line workers
     are as valuable as the CEOs;
when we give our
     in-law apartment
     to a homeless family,
we will follow you faithfully,
Servant of the oppressed.

When we mend fences
          with our siblings
     and build bridges
           to our enemies;
when our cries for justice
     are louder than a
we will proclaim your hopes,
Spirit of justice.

Then we will be like
a royal botanical garden
watered by that grace
which never runs dry,
God in Community, Holy in One,
even as we pray as we are taught,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
This is what God hopes for us - that we will speak of the mistakes we make, so we might be forgiven.  Relying on the Spirit for the right words, let us pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     It is true we break your commandments, God of our lives.  Much worse, we break your heart when we point the finger at those who are different from us; when we gossip about our friends and neighbors; when we think everything is all about us.
     Forgive us, Loving God, we pray.  We long to know your ways, so open our ears to hear those words we always ignore.  We search for you each day, so open our eyes to your wonders so we may see them anew.  We would believe in your promises, so fill our hearts with the presence of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
God will show us the way to God's realm. Gracious, merciful, and righteous is our God of salvation!
God rebuilds our lives, repairs our mistakes, fills our emptiness with hope and joy.  Thanks be to God, we are forgiven!  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
May the gifts we offer, Loving God, be used to fix breakfast for hungry children, to shower others with grace, and to patch the potholes poverty has created in the roadways of the kingdom.  This we ask in Jesus' name.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of the Table be with you.
And also with you.
This is the fast God chooses for us as we come to the Feast,
that we empty our hearts in service, so they may be filled again.
This is the way God offers to us,
We will sing our praises as we journey to the realm of hope and love.

When you came proclaiming creation,
God of wonder,
you brought forth what no eye had seen:
     snowflakes drifting in a meadow,
     hawks floating lazily in the sky.
You whispered what no ear had heard:
     whale songs in the deeps,
     a coyote caroling the moon.
You established what no heart believed:
     justice for the most vulnerable,
     healing for the broken.
Day by day, you called us to your side,
but when evening fell, we slipped
     into sin's enticing shadows,
     dashing your dreams for us.
You sent the prophets to us,
relying on the Spirit
to give them the right words,
     but we did not notice
     as we practiced hubris.
So you asked Jesus to come,
dashing the hopes of the wicked.

So with those who do not fear
the good news which he brought,
we lift our voices in glad shouts of joy:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God who shows the way.
Creation joins in praises to you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who knows your mind.
Hosanna in the highest!

He came proclaiming your salvation,
God of Holiness,
your Child of salt and light.
For those in the shadows
of mourning,
     he brought light.
For those whose lives
have crumbled around them,
     he rebuilds their hopes.
For those who are separated
by the chasms of fears,
     he stretches a bridge
     so they can meet each
     other in harmony.
For all who face death's
     he went into that unknown,
     coming forth to reassure us
that its power had been broken.

As we seek to seem him in our midst,
as we try to hear your Word of life,
we trust in that faith which is mysterious:

Christ died, showing us the way to death;
Christ was raised, showing us the way to new life;
Christ will come, to show us the way to your heart.

Here at the Table of grace,
the Holy Spirit proclaims life,
transforming these simple gifts
and the people gathered in this place.
As we taste the hope in the broken bread,
we would go to
     break the bonds of injustice,
     and free the oppressed.
As we are filled with the cup,
we would be light to the world,
     opening our pantry to the hungry,
     wrapping a naked child in our love.

And when God's time is fulfilled
and we are gathered together
with our sisters and brothers
in the kingdom of heaven,
we will not keep any thing bottled up,
but will shout our praises to you,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

To those huddled in the shadows of fear and worry,
God sends us to be light.
To those whose lives and hopes have lost all flavor,
Jesus sends us to be salt.
To a society where love is tossed aside as easily as a food wrapper,
Spirit sends us to be faithful carers of everyone we meet.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Liturgy with communion for February 2, 2020 (Fourth Sunday after Epiphany - A)

Texts: Micah 6:1-8; Psalm 15; 1 Corinthians 1:18-31; Matthew 5:1-12

Call to Worship
When we seek justice for the other,
when we love kindness more than ever,
we live as God asks us to live.
When we walk humbly through life,
when we offer mercy to those who hurt us,
we are the blessing God hopes we will be.
When we are willing to look foolish by following Jesus,
when we choose weakness rather than power,
we reflect the One who is in our midst.

Prayer of the Day

In the intricacies
of a spider's web,
   an OS designer is
   put to shame.
In the songs
of a meadowlark,
   talk show hosts are
   stunned to silence.
In the practical joke
played on Easter,
   is knocked off its
         lofty perch.
In the foolishness of your salvation,
God of tenderness,
you bring us new life.

In your execution
as a common criminal,
   rather than dying
   as a hero;
in sticking your foot out
to trip the wise,
   so the unaware can go
   to the front of the line;
in sharing your kingdom
with the outsiders,
   while the boasters
   fall strangely silent,
your foolishness in becoming human,
Servant of the Blesseds,
transforms our lives.

In those words
which offer hope
   to the despairing,
in the quiet whispers
which fill the emptiness
   of all who yearn for
in the gentle songs
which can comfort
   those whose hearts
   overflow with grief,
you are foolish enough
to teach us to speak,
Wisdom of God's Heart,
not with sophisticated logic,
but the simple language of

Continue to call us to foolishness,
God in Community, Holy in One,
even as we pray as we are taught,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation

If we want to truly live in God's presence, we must live as God's faithful people.  Let us begin by
confessing all the mistakes we have made, the wrongs we have done, the people we have hurt. Join me as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     What have we done to you, dear God?  We dishonor you every time we treat another with disrespect.  We shatter your heart when we find it easier to break our word, then to take the risk to keep it.  We fill your ears with the gossip, lies, and slander we speak about those around us.
     You are wise enough to forgive our foolishness;
     you are strong enough to overcome our weakness;
     you are loving enough to heal the hurt we cause to you and to others.  And so you give us new hope and new life in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
What has God done to us - shown mercy!  What has God done for us - forgiven us!  This is the good news for us.
We will not boast, for it is not our doing.  We will give thanks to God for such grace and hope. Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
May we always be foolish enough to offer our gifts to you, Generous God, for you use them to bring justice to the oppressed, to bring laughter to those who mourn, and to offer wonder to little children.  This we pray in Jesus' name.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving

May the God of foolishness be with you.
And also with you.
People of God, open your hearts.
We offer them to the God who transforms us.
Join in singing praises to our God.
With joy and wonder, we lift our voices.

You were foolish enough
to overcome chaos, Wise God,
   speaking to hills blanketed with snow,
   pleading your hopes before the mountains,
   spinning planets into the night sky -
creating all that is wonderful,
including us, people shaped in your image.
But we thought we knew better than you,
   running after death's false wisdom,
   chasing sin's silly teachings.
Miriam and Moses, Hannah and Micah
were among those your sent
to call us back to your heart,
   but we boasted of our exploits,
   drowning out their impassioned pleas.
So you sent Jesus to us,
the source of our life and hopes.

With those who wonder what to offer,
with all who seek to worship you,
we sing songs of praise to you:

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

Blessed is the One whose weakness is our strength.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holiness is your nature, God of our lives,
and Jesus Christ is your gift of salvation.
Foolishness enough to become one of us,
   his wisdom filled every word,
                                 every action.
He left your side in glory,
   so we might realize we could build
   our lives in your neighborhood.
Weakened by dying on the cross,
   he went into the grave,
   your resurrecting love strengthening him
   to defeat the power of sin and death.

As we seek to comprehend his life,
as we are transformed by his grace,
we speak of that mystery we call faith:

Christ died, humbling himself on the cross;
Christ was raised, filled with your righteousness;

Christ will come, so we may inherit your kingdom.

Here around the Table,
with our sisters and brothers beside us,
your Spirit comes, foolishly transforming
simple, everyday elements into sacred gifts.
We eat the Bread which is broken,
   so we can serve your children,
   refusing to harm neighbor or stranger,
   seeking to treat others fairly.
We drink from the Cup which is blessed,
   so we may be foolish enough
   to comfort all who mourn,
   to believe that peace can be a reality.

And when all human wisdom
is supplanted by the foolishness
of eternal life with you in your kingdom,
we will join with those of every time and place
in singing your glorious praise,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

We have been nourished by God's grace and hope,
and so we will go to those who hunger for justice,
as well as to those who thirst for reconciliation.
We are called to follow the One who is weak and powerless,
and so we will bring healing to the broken among us,
as well as comfort to those who grieve in every moment.
We learn what is right and good from the Holy Spirit,
and so we will go as fools to be blessings to the wise,
as well as to do not what is easy, but what is difficult.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Liturgy with communion for January 26, 2020 (Third Sunday after Epiphany - A

Texts: Isaiah 9:1-4; Psalm 27:1, 4-9; 1st Corinthians 1:10-18; Matthew 4:12-23

Call to Worship
Come out of the shadows and into God's light!
We will not play hide and seek,
but will make a pilgrimage to God's heart.

Lay down all which is a burden to you!
We will give our fears to God,
who is our help in every moment.

Follow the One who will lead you to new life!
We long to live in God's presence
every day of our lives.

Prayer of the Day

Your heart is the shelter
     for our weary souls.
You will not push us away,
     but clasp us tight in your embrace.
You refuse to abandon us,
     standing by our side all our lives.
Time Reaper,
you are our Hope!

When others try to tear us apart,
     you pick up the pieces,
     making us whole.
When we wonder what
the day might bring,
     you whisper, 'follow me,
     I will make you
          readers to little children,
          bandagers of bruised hearts,
          lovers of the forsaken,
          pilgrims who show the way
                    to others.'
Time Shaker,
you are our Dawn.

You appeal to us
to set aside all that divides us,
     so we might be one.
You send us to proclaim good news,
not with silver-tongued sophistication
     but with simple words:
     which bring light to the shadows.
Time Keeper,
you are our Joy.

From the former times to the latter,
we lift our prayers to you,
God in Community, Holy in One,
even as we offer the words Jesus taught us,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation

If we come to God with open hearts and honest words, we will not be pushed away, but wrapped in God's loving and forgiving embrace.  I invite you to join me as we confess our lives to God, praying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     We admit, God our Light, that we do indeed try to tear Christ apart - a piece of him here to support our politics, a part of him to undergird our economic views, the rest of him to bolster our fears of others.  We could leave immediately to follow him, but need to wait until we see where he might lead us.  We want you to look upon us with favor always, but have no trouble turning our backs on those around us.
     Hear us, God our Deliverer, as we speak of our failures!  Have mercy on us, we appeal to you, have mercy!  May your love become the core of our hearts, may your compassion become the words we speak, may your hope illuminate the ways in which we serve others, even as we seek to follow the One who calls us to new life, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
God is our help, so why should we be afraid?
God keeps us safe, there is nothing to dread!
This is good news for all of us.
Sheltered in God's gracious heart of mercy
and love, we raise shouts of joy: thanks be
to God, we are forgiven!  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
Use our gifts, Loving God, so others might not be scared by life; so they may be sheltered in the blanket of your grace; so they might find a home with us as their family.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving

May the God of all time be with you!
And also with you!
God asks one thing, that we offer our hearts.
We lift them to the One who does not abandon us.
Do not turn your backs upon the One who loves you.
We will join in glad songs of joy and wonder to our God.

In that former time, you brought
into creation all that existed
in your imagination, Dawn of Life.
The sun, moon, and stars
     illumined the shadows of chaos;
melting snow trickled into creeks
     which joined together to rush
     to the seas;
every living thing multiplied in wonder,
     increasing your joy.
You did this for us, those
shaped in your image and heart,
     but when we heard sin calling,
     we immediately left your side,
          following down death's dusty road.
Longing for us to return to you,
you sent the prophets to us,
proclaiming the hopes of your heart.
     Yet we did not listen,
     letting evil continue to tear us apart.
Then you sent Jesus to us,
proclaiming that your kingdom had come.

With those who are of the same mind,
with those who long for your presence,
we sing our songs of thanksgiving:

Holy, holy, holy are you, Keeper of our hearts.
All creation joins in shouts of joy to you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who calls us to follow.
Hosanna in the highest!

You are holy, Shelter of our lives,
and Jesus Christ is your blessed Child of grace.
When he heard your call,
     he immediately left glory's side,
     to make a pilgrimage to our lives.
When he could have played
hide and seek with us,
     he revealed himself as
     the Dawn of our salvation.
When he could have abandoned
us to the yoke of sin and death,
     he took it from our shoulders,
     breaking it over his knees,
     shaping it into the cross where
          he broke their power forever,
as he calls us to follow him
into resurrection's new light.

As we seek not to divide Christ,
as we long to have the same mind,
we proclaim the gospel which is often a mystery:

Christ died, taking our sins upon him;
Christ was raised, casting off the yoke of death;
Christ will come, so we may live in your presence forever.

We appeal to you, God of our lives,
to send your Spirit upon us,
and upon the gifts of the Table.
As we eat of the bread,
we ask but one thing,
     that we might go forth
     to proclaim your kingdom with our lives.
As we drink from the cup,
we would make a pilgrimage
     to the broken of the world,
     so they would know they
     have not been abandoned by us,
          or by you.

And when the last moments come,
and we are gathered around
that great feast of the Lamb,
our hearts will rejoice in you,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Let us take God's light into the world.
We will go to join others in pilgrimage of trust.
Let us go to gather the burdens of others.
We will take away their fears and offer them to Jesus,
who helps everyone in every moment.
Let us go to live in the Spirit's presence.
We will follow the Spirit into the peace
which is offered to all of God's people.

(c) Thom M. Shuman