Tuesday, May 04, 2021

Liturgy with communion for May 9, 2021 (Easter 6 - B)

 Texts:  Acts 10:44-48; Psalm 98; 1 John 5:1-6; John 15:9-17


Call to Worship
We gather to worship the One
who crafted creation out of chaos,
our cries of joy join the anthems of the universe.
We gather to lift our praise
to the God who gives us voice,
we bring the songs which have echoed
in our hearts all week long.
We gather as the children of God,
our joy unbroken in God's love.
young and old, tone deaf and perfect-pitched
lift the new, new songs of faith.

Prayer of the Day
You raise your hand
and gently begin
the concerto of creation:
birds carry the melody
while stars keep the beat;
mountains dance in merriment
and little children clap
their hands with joy.
Love's Composer,
our new songs are lifted to you.

The old, old song
is made new in our hearts:
Christ is Risen!
Sing Alleluia!
You invite us to sing to a world
deafened by despair
and haunted by the tunes of fear.
Lord of the Dance,
our new songs are lifted to you.

Believing we cannot
carry a tune,
we hesitate to join in
the chorus of praise
sung by all creation.
So, you softly and gently
hum the melody in our hearts
until they burst with you,
raising a rousing chorus
of Amazing Grace.
Music-making Spirit,
our new songs are lifted to you.

Every song, old and new, is offered to you,
God in Community, Holy in One,
even as we lift the prayer Jesus teaches,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
Beautiful music, every note perfect, joining together in graceful harmony - this is what we imagine our lives to be. Yet our love is flat, our anger often sharp. Let us confess how we struggle to keep the measured beat of God's life-giving melody in our lives, even as we pray together saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     Joy-giving God, we know who we are: people who hear the harmony of your grace and love in our souls, but sing off-key so often. We want to learn new songs, but those haunting tunes of our past mistakes run through our heads. We long to make a joyful noise to you, but the hurts inflicted on us, and the pain we have caused others, silence our voices.
     Sing to us, Conductor of Grace: sing of your forgiveness, your hope, your love for us. Strike a chord of humility in our hearts so our eyes could see all you have done for us; and in seeing, we might believe how much you love us; and in believing, we would echo that new song of hope and life composed through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Listen to the melody of the good news: Christ is risen, bringing joy into the world. The One who was dead now lives, and wraps us in the delight of life forever with our God.
Now, our dirges have turned to joy;
our requiem has been rearranged as a hymn of hope;
our laments are lost in a cantata of praise.
Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed! Amen.
 
Prayer of Dedication/Offertory
Take our gifts, Composing God, and weave a song of healing for the broken, of nourishment for the hungry, of hope for those who despair, and peace for those torn by violence.  We sing our praises, as we offer our treasures, as well as our hearts, in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of creation choruses be with you!
And also with you!
God sings of hope and grace to your hearts, people of God!
We open them to be filled with the wonder of love.
God welcomes your songs of praise and joy.
We lift our hearts and voices in thanksgiving to the composer of all!
 
Maestro of the Universe:
the song began low and quiet,
barely disturbing chaos,
but then it slowly grew in tempo
as you beat out the rhythm of creation,
light, sharp and clear,
like the blast of a trumpet;
the hills and valleys bursting forth
like the beat of the tympani;
water running clear and free
like arpeggios on a piano.
You composed all this, and more,
for those created in your image,
and filled with the music of your heart.
We thought your tunes burdensome,
and turned our ears to the discords
of sin, temptation, and death.
You wrote new tunes,
to the same words of hope and promise,
sending the prophets to play them
in the streets where we wandered,
but we continued to dance
to the music only we could hear.
So you sent Jesus to us,
loving us enough to send us
the very One who could bring us home.

So, with those who have sung the song
of grace and hope in every time and place,
and with all who are just learning the words,
we lift our voices in praise to you:
 
Holy, holy, holy are you, God of beauty and joy.
All the ends of the earth sing praises to you.
Hosanna in the highest!
 
Blessed is the One who comes to sing a new song.
Hosanna in the highest!
 
Holiness is the melody of who you are, Gentle God,
and blessed is the Song of your heart, Jesus Christ.
As he loved you, so he loved us:
keeping your word close in his heart,
he came singing of your gracious love;
abiding in your promises of hope,
he came bringing the harmony
of peace for our fragmented lives;
coming to judge the world with righteousness,
he laid down his life for his friends,
trusting and believing that the funeral dirges
they sang on that sad Friday,
would be rearranged as Easter cantatas
on that first morning of the new creation.
 
As we remember his life, death and resurrection,
as we seek to follow his command to love,
we sing of that mystery we call faith:
 
The Singer was not silenced by death;
the Singer was raised to new life;
the Singer will come to lead us home to God.
 
Pour out your joyful Spirit
upon the gifts of the bread and the cup
and on your children gathered at your feast.
We would open our hearts
to receive the bread of life,
not with silenced gratitude,
but with glad songs of joy.
We would empty ourselves
to be filled with the cup's compassion,
not with speechless thanks
but with shouts of praise.
As we learn the new song
of sacrifice on behalf of others,
we would go to serve the brokenhearted;
as we are given the instruments of praise,
we would turn them into the means
to transform the lives of the hungry,
the homeless, the forgotten, the outcast.
 
And when our music has ended,
and there is only the plainsong of life forever
in the tender embrace of your peace,
we will gather at the Table once again,
hands and hearts, brothers and sisters,
joining in the never-ending praise to you,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.
 
Sending
As God has loved us,
so we will go to love those despised by the world.
As Jesus has forgiven us,
we will go to forgive everyone who has hurt us
and to bring healing into their brokenness.
As the Spirit calls us ‘friends,’
so we will go to befriend the outcasts,
the lonely, and the lost of our society.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Monday, April 26, 2021

Liturgy with communion for May 2, 2021 (Easter 5-B)

 Texts:  Acts 8:26-40; Psalm 22:25-31; 1 John 4:7-21; John 15:1-8


Call to Worship
Here in this place of worship,
with the congregation of the faithful,
we lay down our fears,
to boldly sing God’s praise.
Here in the vineyard of the Lord,
with our sisters and brothers in Christ,
grandparents tell stories of faith
to little ones sitting on their laps.
Here where God waits to serve us at the Table:
we shall be so filled with love
that we will run to serve others.
 
Prayer of the Day

Teach us to love one another
with that passion which comes
from your overflowing heart, Vine Grower,
so those around us will recognize
us as sisters and brothers,
bound together by your love
not divided by our fears.

Teach us to serve one another
with that compassion which comes
from our broken heart, Vine of our lives,
for the hungry are our brothers,
the immigrants are our sisters,
the homeless are our families.

Teach us include others
with that embracing welcome which comes
from your inviting heart, Fruit-bearing Spirit,
offering forgiveness to those who hurt us,
peace to all filled with hate,
hope to those burdened by despair.

Teach us to understand all we read and hear,
God in Community, Holy in One,
as we pray as Jesus has taught us, saying,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation

The seeds of grace, hope, joy, and love are planted deep with us, so they can bear fruit in our lives.  But we resist staying connected to the Vine, thinking we can flourish on our own.  Let us confess our sins, so we can once more feel God abiding deep within us.  Please join me as we pray, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
Mother of Compassion:
   called to be one body,
      we fragment ourselves into a million selfish pieces;
   your children of love,
      we insist on the right to despise our sisters and brothers;
   though your Perfect Love was broken for us,
      we are afraid to give of ourselves to the world.

Abide in us, Vine Grower.
Forgive us of our sins,
   so we may live boldly,
   love fearlessly,
   and proclaim unceasingly that Jesus Christ
      is our Lord and Savior.Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon

Do you feel it – there, deep down in your hearts?  God’s love is alive, beating, breathing – in you!
Because God abides in us, we can live for others, allowing God’s love to bear fruit in us.  Thanks be to God, we are forgiven!  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offertory
From you comes every gift we need, every blessing we have.  May we not hoard them for ourselves, but offer them back to you, that the poor might be fed, the lonely befriended, and the despairing be filled with hope.  This we pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.

The Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of searches be with you.

And also with you.
Bring your hearts to the One who loves you.
We offer them so God may plant fruit-bearing seeds in them.
Lift songs of praise to our God.
We will join our hearts and voices in proclaiming,
“God has done it!”

“Get up,” you cried to your Word and Spirit,
“and go down the wilderness road to chaos.”
And so they went,
   calling forth life out of nothingness,
   planting seeds that branched into vines,
   pouring clear water into earth’s hollows,
   crafting us in your imaginative image.
You showed all of this to us, with delight in your heart,
but we did not understand what we were seeing,
   and so chose death and sin
   to be our guides in this life.
Though we loved you last, you loved us first,
sending your prophets to declare all you had done,
   but we continued to abide
   in the tangled briars of temptation.
So you sent Jesus to us,
the One who would bear your fruit
of salvation and hope for all your children.
     
With those who seem to intuit your hearts,

with those seeking to understand your hopes,
we lift our songs of thanksgiving to you.

Holy, holy, holy are you, God of eunuchs and evangelists.
All creation bears fruit in glorifying you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes to abide in us.
Hosanna in the highest!

Love is your language of holiness, Branch weaving God,
And Jesus Christ, our Savior is the true Vine of your heart.
When we were wandering lost and alone,
trying to understand what we were doing,
   he crossed over glory to join us
   in this journey we know as life.
When we could do nothing
to prevent our bondage to sin,
   he came to set us free.
When we could not learn
how to make things right with you,
   he went down the wilderness road
   into the cold tomb of death,
so, as your raised him to new life,
he might proclaim to us,
“God has done it!”

As we seek to abide in Jesus,
as we long to bear fruit in the kingdom,
we speak of the mystery known as faith:

Christ died, that we might live through him;
Christ was raised, that he might live through you;
Christ will come, that all might live through eternity with you.

Abide in us at this Table,
as you pour out your Spirit
on the gifts of the bread and cup,
and on your children gathered in this place.
The broken bread reminds us
that you loved us first so that,
as we eat of it, we might put the needs
   of the hungry, the searching,
   the hurting, the lonely before our own.
The cup of grace nourishes us
so we can go over and join
   the oppressed and the outcasts,
   intertwining our branches with theirs,
   so we all become part
   of the Vine of justice and of hope.

Then, when we no longer sleep in death,
but are gathered around your Table
with our sisters and brothers of all time and places,
we will join in singing with one voice and heart,
“You have done it, God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.”

Sending
Go now, in the love of our God.
We will live for others through our God.
Go now, in the grace of Jesus.
We will forgive others, just as we have been forgiven.
Go now, in the community of the Spirit.
We will serve others in every need, in every place, in every heart.

© Thom M. Shuman

Monday, April 19, 2021

Liturgy w/communion for April 25, 2021 (Easter 4 - B)

 Texts:  Acts 4:5-12; Psalm 23; 1 John 3:16-24; John 10:11-18


Call to Worship
We gather in the presence of our God:
where grieving people and children with skinned knees
have their tears wiped away.

We gather as the little children of God:
to worship the One who provides what we need,
not what we want.

We gather around the Table of God:
to taste the goodness of God,
to drink deeply from God's mercy.

Prayer of the Day

Lead us, Creation's Architect,
into all those places
where we will discover your hope
waiting to nourish and restore
our famished souls.

Lead us, Shepherd of little children,
into all those places
where we may have the joy
of filling the emptiness of others
with your goodness.

Lead us, Spirit of Goodness,
into all those places
where deeds of kindness
and hands overflowing with mercy
speak louder than platitudes.

God in Community, Holy in One,
lead us into your kingdom
as we pray as Jesus has taught us, saying,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation

Knowing how easy it is to wander from the paths of right living; aware of all the shadowed valleys we wander; remembering how we have failed to place our trust in God - how can we not come to God with our confessions? Please join me as we pray, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   Comfort of your people:  we confess the emptiness of our souls which sends us searching for all those things which cannot nourish us.  Our restless longing for the goods of the world fill us with every lust and envy.  Our belief that still waters are stagnant causes us to thirst for whitewater thrills and adventures.  Our trust in the hollow promises of our culture turns us away from the shelter you offer to us.
   Forgive us, Goodness Incarnate.  Call us back from our wayward lives, so we may find rest in the stillness of your gentle heart; we may find healing from your scarred hands; we may find that life for which we yearn, together in you and through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
This is the good news:  God will walk with us in every moment, God will fill us with goodness and mercy, God will bring us home to live forever.
Anointed with grace and forgiveness, our lives overflow with love for all people.  Thanks be to God.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offertory
As we offer our gifts to you, Gentle Shepherd, may we lay down our prejudices towards others, so they might find a welcome in our hearts; may we set aside our fears of the future, so you might lead us into your future, may we become the goodness and mercy for which others have been looking all their lives.  This we pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.

The Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of green pastures be with you.
And also with you.
Beloved, still your hearts before God.
We open them to the One who fills them with living water.
Children of God, give thanks for the sake of God’s name.
Our praise is continually offered to our Heart, 
our Shepherd, and our Savior.
 

Imaginative Shepherd,
into the bitterness of chaos,
you poured pools of living water;
into the cracks of nothingness,
you filtered dirt, seeds, nutrients
so lush pastures of life might emerge;
you carved paths of beauty and wonder
for those who bear your name and image to walk,

     but we longed to follow sin and death
     all the days of our life, and so turned away from you.
You gave your rod and staff to prophets,
trusting that their words might anoint us with healing,
     yet we only found comfort in seduction’s
     all-too-false promises.
So, in the presence of these enemies
we did not recognize,
you sent Jesus, to be that grace and hope
which we needed, even if we didn’t want them.
   
With those assembled in this place and time,

with those whose love is shown in their actions,
we gather as your people,
singing your praise and our thanksgiving:


Holy, holy, holy are you, Good Shepherd of all peoples.
Still waters, green pastures, sparkling stars
   join all creation in praising you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comforts us.
Hosanna in the highest!

You are holy, yet compassionate, God of our hearts,
and your good shepherd, Jesus, comes to save us.
When we would wander the deserts of sin,
   he leads us to the green pastures of grace.
When we turn down the wrong road towards foolishness,
   he takes our hands to show us the right path.
When we are tossed about by life,
   he brings us to the still waters of your gentleness.
Walking through the darkest valley,
he surrendered to the cold embrace of death,
until you brought him out of the grave,
anointing him with the oil of resurrection.
 
As we would join goodness and mercy in following
the Good Shepherd all the days of our lives,
we celebrate that mystery we call faith:
   
Christ died, walking through death’s valley;

Christ was raised, the Good Shepherd for us all;
Christ will come, to bring all into the one flock of God.

You have prepared this table for us,

anointing the bread and the cup,
as well as all your people, with the Holy Spirit.
May this bread which is broken
be our healing and strength,
so we walk the shadows of our world,
   leading our sisters and brothers
   down the paths of healing and hope.
As we are anointed with the cup’s grace,
   may we bring comfort to the lonely,
   build homes for those who have none,
   fill the hungry with nourishing food,
   shower them with goodness and mercy.
 
And when there are no more shadows around us,
when your rod of reconciliation
and your staff of salvation gather us around
the Table prepared for us in eternity,
we will join all from every time and place,
singing your praises with glad voices,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Sending
Let us go to be bold before God.
We will speak up for all people
who long for healing and hope.
Let us go to shepherd Jesus’ sisters and brothers.
We will risk our lives for justice,
we will serve the outcast.
Let us go to anoint others with the Holy Spirit.
We will bring goodness and mercy
to all whose lives need restoring.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Liturgy w/communion for April 18, 2021 (Easter 3 - B)

 Texts: Acts 3:12-19; Psalm 4; 1 John 3:1-7; Luke 24:36b-48


Call to Worship
When fear and doubts stroll through our doors:
God stands beside us, whispering of peace.
When we toss and turn late at night:
God sits by our beds, singing lullabies of love.
When we stumble through the shadows of sin:
God illuminates the paths of goodness and joy.

Prayer of the Day
When we are blinded by anger,
you pour out your love
for all to see;
when we wonder
what tomorrow will bring,
you call us to trust in you;
when sadness fills our hearts,
you plant gladness in our hearts.
God of Easter:
touch us with your grace.

You show us your hands,
so we may reach out
to mend the broken;
you show us your feet,
so we may walk with
those the world passes by;
you show us your face,
so we may know who our
sisters and brothers look like.
Risen Christ:
touch us with your compassion.

You open our eyes,
so we may see God's love;
you open our minds,
so we may welcome God's Word;
you open our lips,
so we may be God's witnesses.
Spirit of Hope:
touch us with your peace.

God in Community, Holy in One,
open us to your presence,
as we pray as Jesus has taught us, saying,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
If our actions mirrored our words, if our hands were mentored by our hearts, if we walked the talk - we would be God's children.  But too often, it is our silence, our doubts, our fears which tell others who we truly are.  Let us confess to God how we have not been as faithful as we hope, as we pray, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   God of empty tombs: Peter speaks with power and clarity of his faith, while we remain silent.  The psalmist speaks of trusting in you, while our doubts overwhelm us.  Jesus is read to come and grace us with peace, but our fears keep our hearts shuttered and locked.
   God of full hearts: your love can change us from scared people to children of grace.  You can weed doubts from our hearts and plant seeds of joy in their place.  You can silence the panic of our souls with the peace Jesus offers to each of us.  Transform us into Easter people, through the power of Jesus Christ, our risen Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
What marvelous love, what wondrous grace, what abundant mercy God offers - to us!  We really are God's people - that is exactly who we are!
We are God's children - those whose lives have been changed by the One who loves us and forgives us.  Thanks be to God!  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
What will be done with the gifts we offer in these moments has not been revealed to us, Holy God, but knowing you through Jesus, and trusting in you by the power of the Holy Spirit, we do know they will be used to bring hope, to bring healing, to bring justice to all those people and places who long for these blessings.  And so we offer these gifts with gratitude to you, in Jesus' name.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of mornings be with you!
May the God of evenings be with your!
See what love God has for us, as we open our hearts to Easter's joy.
Our hearts overflow with peace and grace.
Let us sing praises to God, Children of Easter.
We join our voices in songs of gladness and wonder.

     Birds building nests in fresh-blooming branches,
     snow glistening on mountain ridges,
     little children splashing in autumn's leaf piles,
     sipping hot tea in front of a roaring fire:
we see what love you have for us, Ingenious God,
for you reached into the hollows of chaos
and brought forth goodness, beauty, and wonder.
All these gifts were shaped and given to those
who were created in your image, so we might trust in you,
     but we were frightened of your gentleness
     and doubted your graciousness, and so
     acted in ignorance as we chased after sin's lies.
Through the voices and hopes of the prophets,
you continued to offer us your heart as a guest room,
     but we did not fear their words
     and continued to make our beds in death.
So your sent Jesus to us, to stand among us
and to offer your peace to our discordant natures.

With those children who trust in your promises,
with those who have known your joy in shadowed moments,
with our sisters and brothers in this place,
we offer our songs of praise to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God who hears our deep longings.
Creation joins in glad songs of resurrection joy.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who stands in our midst offering peace.
Hosanna in the highest!

We see what love you have for us, God of Holiness,
in your Child, Jesus, who reveals you as you are.
He could have stared at our foolish lives
shaking his head in disbelief at our choices,
     but opened our eyes so we might see
     your hopes for us in his gentleness.
He could have turned a deaf ear
to our angry voices and hurtful words
hurled at our friends and families,
     but heard the unspoken cries of our hearts
     for forgiveness and healing.
He could have wondered if it was worth it,
the struggle, the pain, the death, the grave,
but as your resurrection love reached out
and brought him from death's grasp,
     gladness filled his heart as he rejoiced
     in all that you had done for us.

As we have this hope made known at the Table,
as we seek to trust you in all moments,
we proclaim that mystery we call faith:

Walking to his death, Christ entrusted his life to you;
raised from the grave, Christ glorified in your love for him;
standing in our midst at the end, Christ will gather us at your Table.

See what love God has for us
as we are gathered around this Table of grace,
and the Spirit of joy is poured out upon us
and the gifts of the bread and the cup.
As we come to the feast of reconciliation,
we stand among our sisters and brothers,
seeking to live out this hope that
we are indeed God's children.
As we take the broken bread and share it,
we would go to be with the oppressed around us,
seeking to make justice our sacrifice
as we offer our trust in God to them.
As we pass the cup of community to one another,
we would go to stand beside the lonely and the longing,
to pour God's gladness into their hearts.

And when all is revealed to us, as we are gathered
with our sisters and brothers with the One
whom we will be like for all time to come,
we  will sing our songs of thanksgiving to you,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Sending
Go now, to be God's children in the world.
We will open our minds to understand the needs around us.
Go now, to be Christ's servants in the world.
We will open our hands to share our blessings with all.
Go now, to be the Spirit's hope for the world.
We will open our hearts to welcome those who have no one to care for them.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Tuesday, April 06, 2021

Liturgy w/communion for Easter 2 - B in a time of pandemic (April 11, 2021)

Texts: Acts 4:32-35; Psalm 133; 1 John 1:1 – 2:2; John 20:19-31

Call to Worship
The Word of life spoke:
reminding us not to be afraid.
The Word of life reached out:
to touch us in moments we are
almost overwhelmed with uncertainty.

The Word of life walked out of death's dread tomb:
through the days in which we live.
so we might walk with hope

Prayer of the Day

Tomb Emptier:
just as you raised Jesus
out of the shadows and fears
of that lonely grave,
so you come to call us forth
from the fears which surround us,
to fling open the doors of our hearts
which have been locked by this pandemic.

Walker through doors;
you stood in the middle
of your friends in the very place
where they huddled in worry
on the first night of Easter.
as you stood in the middle
Come among us now,
wherever we find ourselves
on this day of celebration,
to remind us that death
no longer keeps us from
our life with you.

Breather of Peace:
come and strengthen
us with you gentle grace,
so we may go into
all the places to be
with all who are afraid,
to serve all who, today,
need grief-shattered hearts mended,
to breathe peace and life
into everyone we meet this day.
God in Community, Holy in One,
be with us, call us, hear us
as we pray as Jesus taught us, saying,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
We are reminded over and over of God's gracious forgiveness. But we still find it hard to believe, don't we? And however afraid we are to let go of our old ways, God continues to offer us new life. So, join me in confessing our fears and doubts, especially in these days, to the One who is eager to make us whole.

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   In the brain fog of these weary days, we not only have trouble finding words of hope and life, God of Grace, we have even more trouble turning words into actions. We continue to struggle to be one in heart and soul, as we choose sides, listen to conflicting voices, and turn our backs on those who are different. And with such great grace poured out on us, we tend to hoard it, rather than sharing it with those around us.
   Forgive us, God of love. Forgive us, that we would rather stay behind the locked doors of our fears, rather than go out into the light of the future you offer to us. Fill us with healing and grace as we offer our brokenness to you, that we might be made whole. This we pray, as we proclaim Jesus Christ as our Lord and our God.


Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
This is the good news of old, as well as fresh as today: God comes into our lives, to lead us out of fear's shadows into the life God offers to us.
This is the word we have heard; this is the voice we hear; this is the grace which is ours: God is faithful, forgiving us, and making us whole. Thanks be to God! Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering

There are so many in need, so many who are afraid, so many who are lonely - so may you take our gifts, Loving God, and use them to bring food to those who hunger, hope to those who struggle, comfort to those who mourn, and peace to all. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
Listen! The Risen Lord be with you!
Jesus is with you as well!
Easter People: open your hearts to God.
We offer them to the One who comes
and fills our locked hearts with life.

Children of God, sing with joy on this day of resurrection.
Songs of joy flow from our very being on this day.

Chaos huddled behind its locked doors,
listening to you fiddle with the lock,
until you burst in, breathing creation
into the shadows and emptiness,
God of peace and life.
laughter replaced lamenations
bright stars twinkled in the skies,
goodness raced down the mountainsides.
You created us in your image,
the sweet breath of the
Spirit filling us with life and hope,
but in the evening,
we chose instead to follow death
into its empty tomb, as it shut
the door tight so you could not find us.
Women and men came time and again,
speaking words of grace, trying to call us back,
but we stayed huddled with our fears.
Though we thought the doors were foolproof,
you sent Jesus with the lockpicks
of hope, life, and grace in his hands,
and songs of peace on his lips.

So, with those from every time and every place,
with whom we hold faith in common,
we sing your praises forever:

Holy, holy, holy, God of grace and hope.
All creation praises your glorious name.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes that our joy may be complete.
Hosanna in the highest!

You ordained blessings, Gracious God,
the most wonderful being your Child,
Jesus our Christ.
He comes, showing us his hands,
which hold onto us in uncertain times.
He lives, walking beside us,
to strengthen us against fears and worries.
He speaks, continuing to share
the good news of hope and wonder
to those who continue to struggle
to be faithful in endless days of challenge.
He points us to the open tomb,
where he huddled in the shadows,
until your love and light
brought him into resurrection glory.

Today, when we gather around this table,
as we celebrate the resurrection of hope,
we speak of that mystery we have heard and seen:

Christ went to the cross, stretching out his hands to embrace death;
Christ was brought out of the grave, reaching out his hands to embrace your love;
Christ will come, offering us his hands so we might go home with him.


In these days of continuing uncertainty,
come to us, Spirit of God, to breathe
peace and life upon the gifts of the Table
and those who gather wherever they are.
By grace, you take this simple bread
which is broken, to transform it
into the life which makes us whole.
You take this common cup,
and sanctify it with your peace,
so it quenches our thirst for hope.
And then, you breathe upon us,
so we may go to
open the doors slammed shut
by all the prejudices and injustices,
so all may be filled with hope,
all might have life breathed into them,
all may live as one in heart and soul.

And when we have come to the end of life,
may we gather with our sisters and brothers
around that feast of grace and peace you prepare,
so we can join our hearts and voices in singing
your praises throughout all eternity,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

Sending
Let us go forth, walking in the light of God.
We go to share the good news of life
to a world which struggles with a pandemic.

Let us go forth, serving in the light of Christ.
We go to unlock the doors of fear,
to bring hope to all in the shadows.

Let us go forth, living in the light of the Spirit.
We go to share healing with the broken,
to be a community to the lonely.


(c) 2021 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Liturgy w/communion for the Day of Resurrection in a season of pandemic (April 4, 2021)

 Texts:  Isaiah 25:6-9; Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24; 1 Corinthians 15:1-11; John 20:1-18
 
Call to Worship
L: Some are still staying home,
some are tiptoeing in quietly
not quite sure what they will find
in the place which has stood empty
for far too long,
but this is the day:
P: hope tiptoes us awake;
light guides us through the shadows.
L: Some are making sure to stay
more than the accepted distance away
from those they long to gather into their arms,
some are still stuck in that grave called lockdown,
but this is the day the Lord:
P: plants joy in our winter hearts;
drowns out despair’s cries with laughter.
L: We still see these days as filled
to overflowing with uncertainty,
hoping to get through today
without starting to worry about tomorrow,
but this is the day the Lord has made:
P: the day grace does cartwheels in graveyards;
resurrection wonder outshines the brightest sun;
an empty tomb fills us with good news.

Prayer of the Day
for far too long,
We have been wearing those
   Itchy hairshirts of
   burdens and worries,
but now you dress us
in joy and wonder, 
which we will wear every day!

for too many months,
we have been walking
timidly through life,
alone, apart, afraid,
that good and faithful
friend, death, always close by,
   whispering in the silence,
but now even the grave has lost its power,
for now, a new Friend walks with us!

there have been too many nights
when we have stood,
emptying our worries
out of our pockets,
dropping them, like pennies,
into that large jar,
   but now, we can go and
   cash them in for all
the love, the grace, the joy
you offer to us in these moments.

We could continue to relive
all the endless days, the empty, but
now we can sing, dance, and rejoice with you,
God in Community, Holy in One,
for resurrection life has been given to us,
and so we pray, saying,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
It is hard to step out of the shadows of these times, to try to embrace the light which is being cast upon us.  We have spent so much time searching, hoping, longing for things to change, and in the longing, the hoping, the searching, we forgot so many people, we ignored so much pain, we turned away from grief and loss, afraid it would embrace us.
Yet on this day, we are reminded that we are still Easter people, we will be Easter people again, and we are always Easter people!  Let us speak of pandemic fears which have tried to wipe away resurrection hope, as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   Whether we can gather as one today, or feel we need to stay apart; whether we continue to huddle in the shadows and take tentative steps into the light, on this day, we come to you, fear-removing God.  We would like to think we have been so distanced from you, that you have not noticed our foolishness.  During the last months, we have kept the door to hope shut so tight, afraid to open it.  So eager to go back to before this pandemic year began, we are hesitant to trust in the future you hold out to us.
   Yet, as persistent as Mary at the tomb,
   Joy of our hearts,
   you come, to open the gates of hope,
      so we might walk in the gardens of life;
   you come, to open the gates of grace,
      so we might plant peace in the wilderness of the world;
   you come, to open the gates of resurrection,
      so we might know our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
L: This is the day of resurrection and new life.  This is the day God offers us steadfast hope and love which will never end.
P: We will sing and dance on this day!  We are still, we will be again, we are always Easter people! We will rejoice and give thanks to the God who saves us.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
Together or alone, we continue to offer our gift to others – to those who hunger for hope in a time of uncertainty, to those who long for community to replace their loneliness, for those who seek faith instead of fears.  In Jesus’ name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
L: May resurrection’s God be with you!
P: And also with you!
L: This is the day to offer yourselves to God.
P: We open our hearts to the One who fills them with grace.
L: Join in the glad songs of all creation this day.
P: Our voices praise the One who opens wide the gates of life.

L: When only emptiness stretched out,
you spoke at that time, Joyous God,
and goodness and beauty sprang forth:
   swallows darting in the skies,
   young rabbits scampering in the grass,
   hippos splashing in rivers.
All this wonder and joy was your gift
to your children created in your image,
   but we ran to play with death,
   when sin opened the gates of seduction.
Time after time after time,
you sent the prophets to remind us
of your never-ending love, but
   we chose to remain in sin’s tomb,
   the stone of our rebellion locking us away.
So you sent your Hopeful heart,
your grace made flesh so
we might not be given over to death.

With those who see and believe,
with those who stand and question,
we lift our Easter songs to you:

P: Holy, holy, holy are you, God who has made this day!
All creation celebrates your constant love.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who is revealed on this morning.
Hosanna in the highest!

L: When he could have clung to your glory,
God who alone is holy,
Jesus chose to become human at that time,
so we might be filled with your grace.
When we stood against the wall
wondering if anyone noticed us,
  he came to take us by the hand
   to teach us new dance steps.
When our lives crumble around us
and we lie scattered on the ground,
   he gathers us up, reshaping us
   into your beloved community.
When we were unable to break
the power of evil over us,
   he allowed sin to toss him
   aside like a pebble in a shoe,
   until he was raised from the tomb
   because you refuse to give us
   over to death.

As we stand before the empty tomb,
celebrating the great news of this day,
we would have that faith which is a mystery:

P: Christ died, so sin could not hold on to us;
Christ was raised, so death could not hold on to him;
Christ will come, to hold us in steadfast love and hope.

L: At this time, wherever we find ourselves,
at home, in apartments, in care facilities,
or finally able to be back in sacred spaces,
pour out your Spirit upon your people
and on the gifts of the feast of the resurrection.
May the bread which is broken open like the tomb,
strengthen us so we may go
   to rebuild shattered hopes,
   to bind up the hurts of the world.
May the cup which is filled
with the fruits of your steadfast love,
nourish us to leave the shadows
of our fears and doubts
   to stand with the lonely and forgotten,
   to listen to the cries of the world.

And in that time to come,
when we will be gathered
with our sisters and brothers
of every place and of every moment,
we will sing your praises,
God in Community, Holy in One,
as you hold on to us forever.  Amen.

Sending
L: Scattered from one another, 
we can still go with God into the world.
P: We will offer healing and hope to all
who wander in the shadows of life.
L: Separated from one another,
we can still go with Jesus to serve others.
P: We will listen to the ignored;
we will speak out for the forgotten.
L: Together once again, after so long,
we can still join the Spirit in offering steadfast love.
P: We will hold on to the fallen;
we will rebuild shattered communities.
 
© 2021 Thom M. Shuman