Monday, March 27, 2023

Liturgy w/communion for April 9, 2023 (Easter - A)

 Texts:  Jeremiah 31:1-6; Psalm 118:1-2, 18-24; Colossians 3:1-4; John 20:1-18

Call to Worship
This is the day
hope tiptoes us awake;
light guides us through the shadows.
This is the day the Lord
plants joy in our winter hearts;
drowns out despair’s cries with laughter.
This is the day the Lord has made
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
Each morning,
we put on those
   comfortable garments
   of burdens and worries,
but now they are gone!

Each day,
we walk through life,
our good and faithful
friend, death, at our side,
   constantly whispering
   in our ears,
but now he has disappeared!

Each evening,
empty our fears
out of our pockets, leaving
   them on top of the dresser,
but now, they have been taken away!

We could continue to live
in the same old ways, the same old days,
but now, resurrection life is ours,
and we can sing, dance, and rejoice with you,
God in Community, Holy in One,
as we pray together, saying,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
We are Easter people, yet we also know how often we live in the shadows, afraid to follow the light.  We wander in the gardens of the world, looking for you, never noticing you at our side.  Let us confess how we have failed to be God’s people, as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   We come on this day, Dispeller of fears, walking through the shadows of our lives.  Too often, we believe our foolishness is hidden from you; too often, we stand before the open door of hope, wondering if we dare enter.  Uncertain of the good news offered to us, we would rather return to the comfort of our familiar ways rather than trusting in you.
   Yet you come, as persistent as Mary at the tomb,
   Joy of our hearts,
   to open the gates of hope,
      so we might walk in the gardens of hope;
   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.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
This is the day of resurrection and new life.  This is the day God offers us steadfast hope and love which will never end.
We will sing and dance on this day!  We will rejoice and give thanks to the God who saves us.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
As we offer our gifts on this joyous morning, may the bring light to those in the shadows, laughter to all who mourn, and hope to those longing for life anew.  In Jesus’ name, we pray.  Amen.

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

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:

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!

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:

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.

At this time, in this place,
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 all our siblings
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.

Let us go with God into the world.
We will offer healing and hope to all
who wander in the shadows of life.
Let us go with Jesus to serve others.
We will listen to the ignored;
we will speak out for the forgotten.
Let us go with the Spirit to share steadfast love.
We will hold on to the fallen;
we will rebuild shattered communities.

© Thom M. Shuman

Liturgy w/communion for April 2, 2023 (Palm Sunday - A)

Texts: Isaiah 50:4-9a; Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29; Philippians 2:5-11; Matthew 21:1-11

Call to Worship
L: Here in this place, with these people,
we begin that week we call Holy.
P: We crane our necks to see the parade,
we will bow our heads as the funeral
procession winds through the streets.
L: We have been with Jesus on this journey;
we long for courage to go to the end.
P: In one hand, we clutch the palm branches;
in the other, we cradle our broken hearts.
L: As children dance excitedly around him,
Jesus humbly enters our lives.
P: Hosanna! We welcome the kingdom
bearer into our midst. Hosanna!

Prayer of the Day
Our hearts are wounded
by the nails we carry in them,
yet you would heal us
with your love.
We are worn to the quick
by the struggles of our lives,
yet you carry us in your heart.
Our souls are emptied
by the loneliness of our lives,
yet you would fill us
with our siblings.
Blessed are you,
who comes to live with us!

You could have remained
in Nazareth, caring for your family,
but you journeyed through our lives
to bring us home.
You could have stayed
at home in glory,
but you vacated God's heart,
to serve us with grace.
You could have come
clutching unbearable power,
but you filled your pockets
with humility's wealth
to share it with us.
Blessed are you,
who comes to save us!

When we would puff up with pride,
deflate us with your gentleness.
When we would go home,
after the parade has ended,
walk us to the foot of the cross.
When we would put
our "Hosannas" away
for another year,
teach us to sing
our gratitude for new life.
Blessed are you,
who comes to help us.

God in Community, Holy in One
we bless you, as we lift our prayer, saying,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation

We sing, we wave our branches, we shout 'Hosanna.' Then, we turn away, to go back to our old ways, our old lives, our old sins. But God is in the business of granting forgiveness and filling us with new life. Let us confess to the One who comes to fill us with grace,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   With eager hearts and open hands, Holy One, we welcome Jesus, until he refuses the power we offer him, choosing to become our servant.  We pick up the faith we had laid on the ground before him, and put it back on the shelf where it belongs. Our pride keeps us from being able to follow him all the way to Calvary.
   Hosanna, Steadfast God, save us! Help us to let our fears, our doubts, our faithlessness slip from our lives to fall at your feet, so we may stand with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who comes in your name, in your glory, in your grace to save us.  Amen. 

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon

L: Tell the daughters of despair, proclaim it to the
sons of sadness: Christ has come to save us!
P: Hosanna! We will give our thanks to God,
who comes to bring us grace, hope, life.
Hosanna in the highest. Amen!


Prayer of Dedication/Offering
We are pretty sure we have nothing to offer to others, but when we begin to think like Jesus, we see the blessings we have, and the opportunities we are given to be your grace, your hope, your love in the lives of those around us, as we care for all your children in these days. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
L: The Lord of parades be with you.
P: And also with you.
L: People of God, open your hearts
to the One who comes with hope.
P: We would receive the joy and grace
the prophet from Nazareth brings us.
L: Give thanks to God,
for God's love endures forever!
P: God is our God, the One who comes
to make us whole.

Joy is indeed the highest praise
we can offer to you,
Steadfast Love.
On that first morning,
you woke creation
from its slumbering sleep,
to give light to chaos' shadows.
Morning by morning,
you shaped your dreams
into everything that is true,
turning hopes into your justice.
You asked simply that we rejoice
in your gifts and glory,
but we chose to sing the choruses
of sin and rebellion,
following death as it paraded
through the world.
Prophets struggled to awaken
our dulled ears
with whispers of peace,
but we laughed at their ideas
that we should return to you.
When you could have set your face like flint,
when you could have hardened your resolve,
you sent your Child, your Joy,

Therefore, we join our voices in thanksgiving,
with those who shouted "Hosanna"
and with those who ran away from you,
with those in every moment, and in this moment,
singing with all creation to your glory:

P: Holy, holy, holy are you, Opener of our ears.
All creation proclaims, "God's steadfast love endures forever."
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who opens the gates of righteousness.
Hosanna in the highest!

You are holy, God our Creator,
and blessed is Jesus Christ,
who comes in your grace.
When he could have filled your heart,
he poured himself out for us;
when he could have remained by your side,
he came to be a servant,
raising us to glory;
when he could have watched from heaven,
he came down to show us your heart;
when he could have taken the easy way,
he chose to be faithful to you,
even to the point of shameful death.
As he gathered up our brokenness
to make us whole,
you raised him to new life,
and he stands with us in eternity,
glorifying you forever.

As we remember the joy and excitement of the parade,
as we remember the gentle words he taught,
as we remember the spirit with which he died,
we proclaim the One who is the Bread of Life:

P: Christ died, emptying his life for us;
Christ was raised, defeating our old adversaries sin and death;
Christ will come, to fulfill what has been promised.

Here, at this Table,
we would receive the gifts
of the bread and the cup,
and your Spirit which anoints us with peace.
Nourish us with the Bread of hope,
that we might go into
the brokenness of our world;
fill us with the cup of grace,
so the weary would discover us
standing by their side;
fill us with the overflowing joy
of the good news,
so we might sing forever
of your heart's desire
for justice and peace for all people.

Then, on that final morning,
when we gather for the Feast of the Lamb,
when we are seated with those
who shouted their hosannas,
as well as those who yelled for death,
we will join our voices in eternity's anthem,
giving our thanks to you forever and ever,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

L: Now we will set aside our palm branches,
P: to go and serve at God’s side
in a broken and fearful world.
L: Now we will pick up our cloaks
and follow Jesus wherever he leads,
P: to learn from those the world ignores,
to be touched by the grace within them.
L: Now we will sing songs of wonder,
P: as we work alongside the Spirit,
sustaining the weary with peace and hope.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Liturgy w/communion for March 26, 2023 (Lent 5 - A)

 Texts:  Ezekiel 37:1-14; Psalm 130; Romans 8:6-11; John 11:1-45

Litany for Lent
In the buds on the trees eager to burst;
in the flowers poking their heads out of the dirt;
in the children chalking spring on the sidewalks:
we see how you love us, God of steadfast love.
In the tears of a worried father over his son's illness;
in the weariness of a mother facing a long shift at work;
in the woman who anoints her grandbaby with talcum powder:
we see how you love us, our Resurrection and our Life.
In the touch of a wife on her husband's papery skin;
in the birds which rush into the sky before spiraling down;
in the words we are given to offer to the empty-hearted:
we see how you love us, Breath of our souls.

Silence is kept

Creator of life:
bring us light, we pray.
Mourner of the dead:
take away our grief, we pray.
Refresher of dry lives:
bind us to God forever, we pray, as we say together,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
If it is true that God has recorded our failings, we hope it will never be published.  But in truth, if the book was opened, every page would be blank, for God forgives us of everything we have done, or failed to do.  So, let us wait for God's mercy and grace, as we come with our prayers for forgiveness, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     We are set free by your saving grace, Generous God, yet we must confess how we are still bound by our pride and arrogance.  We seem unable to throw off the grave clothes of our habitual sin, finding them too comfortable to wear.  We cling to our fears, for they are so familiar and make such good companions.
     Yet, there in every corner of our lives, in every shadow we fear, into the cold embrace of death itself, you come, Steadfast Love.  You break the bonds of sin and terror, giving us new strength and hope for the journey, and calling us to new life through the love and sacrifice of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
You can put your hope in God, dear friends, for God offers us that love which never fades, that life which never ends.
We wait for God, and God does not fail us.  God's hope, God's love, and God's grace are forever.  Thanks be to God.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
For all left by the side of society, for all whose strength has vanished, for all whose bones are brittle with despair, may our gifts bring hope and healing, peace and plenty, in your name and in your love.  This we pray in Jesus' name.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of tears be with you.
And also with you.
Offer your hearts to the One who calls us out of death into life.
Unbound, we bring our hearts to our God of new mornings.
People of God, sing songs to the One in whom we hope.
We rejoice in God, who dwells in our souls.

In that first moment, God of wonder,
you cried out, 'Unbind creation and let her go!'
      and flowers grew in the cracks of chaos,
     blustery winds played talk through the forests,
     lambs leapfrogged one another in the meadows.
Your hand came upon the dry dust of earth,
and your Spirit breathed life into us.
You longed for us to be with you,
     but we allowed sin and death
     to lead us around by the nose.
You called to women and men,
'Prophesy!' urging them to call us back.
     but we did not believe their words.
So you sent a certain man named Jesus,
to cause new life to come upon us.

With those who have stood beside graves,
and those who wait for signs of hope,
we sing our praises to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God of our shadowed valleys.
All creation hopes in you and waits.
Hosanna in the highest!

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

You are holy, Caresser of our souls,
and Jesus is our Child, our Friend.
Seeing that those he loved were sick,
     he brought us healing.
Finding us wandering in despair,
     he showed us that our hope
     need never turn to dust.
Believing that you loved him,
     he went to the cross, for us.
And when he was in death's cold arms,
you stood at the door of the tomb,
crying out, 'unbind him, and let him go!'
and our Resurrection and our Life
came forth for us.

Believing that he is the One who calls us to new life,
trusting that, by his tears, he takes away our pain,
we proclaim that mystery we call faith:

Christ died, taking away the sins of the world;
Christ was raised, taking away the power of sin and death;
Christ will return, taking us by the hand to lead us home.

In the bread and the cup,
you give life to us,
as the Spirit comes to dwell
in every room of our souls.
You bless the bread, breaking it,
so it might heal and strengthen us
so we can say
     to the barren, 'here is your life;'
     to the despairing, 'here is your hope!'
As the grace-filled cup nourishes us
we would go into the world
     to visit those who are sick,
     to wait with the expectant,
     to share tears with the broken.

And when you call of us to your side,
we will join Lazarus, Mary, Martha,
and all our siblings
in forever singing your praises,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Now go forth with God's hope!
We have put flesh on our faith and will go to serve others.
Now go forth to fill others with Christ's Light!
We will go to call others to new life, wiping away their tears.
Now go forth with the steadfast love of the Spirit!
We will go to share that hope for which all people long.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Liturgy w/communion for March 19, 2023 (Lent 4 - A)

 Texts: 1 Samuel 16:1-13; Psalm 23; Ephesians 5:8-14; John 9:1-41

Call to Worship
Early each morning, God waits to greet us with joy and wonder.
We awake to find ourselves enveloped in grace.
During the day, Jesus comes to invite us to serve.
We rise from our work and leisure to bring healing and hope to others.
In the shadowed evenings of our fears and worries, the Spirit is with us.
The Light of life is shines on us in every moment of every day.

Prayer of the Day
One thing we know,
Listener to our hearts:
     you are the One
     who sends us on journeys
     and waits for us at
     the final destination.

One thing we know,
Healer of our lives:
     when we find ourselves
     in valleys veiled in shadows,
     you are walking alongside us
     even though we may never notice.

One thing we know,
Comforter of our souls:
     when we are weakened
     by the burdens of our lives,
     you come to us, to rest
     your strengthening peace upon us.

One thing we know,
God in Community, Holy in One:
once we could not see you in every moment,
but now our eyes are opened wide,
and so we pray together, saying,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
God longs for us to sit by the still waters of love, but we are too busy stirring up trouble with our actions, with our words, with our inability to be God's children.  Let us bring our prayers to the One who will restore us with goodness and mercy, as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     Like Cinderella, Loving God, we sit in the ashes of our hopes, but you see us as your beloved children.  We pay strict attention to all who break the rules, but ignore the grace which is poured out upon us.  We try to box you in with boundaries we can manage, but you continue to burst forth to bring newness into the world.
     Have mercy on us, God of forgiveness, and open our eyes to your presence among us.  As you look at our hearts, may we see others in a different way, not as enemies or strangers, but sisters and brothers of the same family, kin to Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
The Spirit of the Lord has come upon us, bringing hope, life, and forgiveness for each person.
Now we will go forth as God's children, sent to bring the good news to everyone we meet.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
With you as our shepherd and by sharing our gifts, we can indeed anoint others with grace, prepare feasts for the hungry, welcome the stranger, and love those we consider to be our enemies.  Bless these gifts, and use our lives for others, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of still waters be with you.
And also with you.
Lift your hearts to the One who gives you rest.
We open ourselves to God, who restores us.
Join together in glad songs of praise to God.
We rejoice in the One who is our comfort and hope.

You prepared a feast of wonder
for us, Imagination beyond power,
when creation burst forth:
     green pastures radiant with sunflowers;
     cool, still pools for rest and renewal;
     paths formed by antelopes up mountainsides.
Your heart overflowed with love
as you showed us what to do
that we might live with you in peace.
     But looking at sin and death,
     we said, 'surely these are the
     ones we should follow,' and
     trailed after them.
You would not reject us,
but sent prophets to pursue us,
calling us to return to you.
     But we did not know
     where they came from
     and so ignored them.
Then you sent Jesus to us,
providing a Savior for yourself,
and for those who wander death's valleys,
so we might be brought home to you.

With all who once lived in the shadows,
but now walk in the light of grace,
we sing glad thanksgivings to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God our Shepherd.
All that is good and right and true sings your praises.
Hosanna in the highest!

 Blessed is the One who prepares this Table for us.
 Hosanna in the highest!

You are goodness, God of pastures and pools,
and Jesus Christ, your Son, is our mercy.
He came peacefully,
     so our differences might be reconciled.
As he walked along,
     he brought light to those
     who could not see the way.
Seeing the foolish choices we made,
     he decided to look at our hearts,
     so we might be drawn closer to you.
Your anointed One,
     he went into death's deepest valley,
     coming forth as the Risen One,
     bathed in resurrection's life.

Once we were children of the shadows,
but now we are heirs of the Light of Christ,
and so we speak of that faith we know as a mystery:

Christ died, his spirit broken on the cross;
Christ was raised, the Spirit of God coming upon him with joy;
Christ will come, the Spirit shining upon us.

Here is the Table prepared for us,
God of still waters and deep love,
your Spirit transforming the simple gifts
of the bread and the cup into
that goodness and mercy which is always with us.
We take the bread, broken for our healing,
and share it with one another
so we may go forth and do all
that makes your heart race with joy:
     bringing hope to those who suffer,
     listening to the voices of the hopeless.
We take the cup which overflows with grace,
and take it to pour out on
     all who have lost their way,
     all who long for community.

And when our journeys have ended
around the Table prepared for us in glory,
we will join our hearts and voices
with those from every age and time
and forever sing your praises,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Now go to take the love of God into the world.
We will show others the way to God's fields of grace.
Now go to take grace of Jesus into the world.
We will seek to bring others to the still waters of peace.
Now go to take the community of the Spirit into the world.
We will work to restore the lives of all whom we meet.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Monday, March 06, 2023

Liturgy w/communion for March 12, 2023 (Lent 3 - A)

 Texts:  Exodus 17:1-7; Psalm 95; Romans 5:1-11; John 4:5-42

Call to Worship
Come and see the ambassador of God's friendship for us.
We will find Jesus waiting to meet us:
in classrooms, at a shopping center,
in all the common places and moments.
Come and hear the One who speaks of God's joy in us.
We will listen to Jesus, whose words of grace and peace
raise the rafters of our hope.
Come and know how much God loves you.
We will discover Jesus, who offers us the gift of reconciliation.

Prayer of the Day
When we were determined
to remain at war with you,
you sent the Prince of Peace.
When our relationship with you
was laying in pieces on the floor,
you offered the broken Bread
to restore us to wholeness.
When petty pride
stiffens our necks so much
we cannot bow down
in your holy presence,
you massage our souls
with grace's tender touch.
We worship you in joy,
God, our God.

When our ears become stuffed
with our selves,
you open them with songs
of grateful praise.
When our mouths overflow
with rich, sweet whine,
you wash them out
with living waters of hope.
When all we can say
is 'Give me! Give me!'
you challenge us
to submit to servanthood.
We worship you in sprit,
Jesus, Water Giver.

When our souls are empty,
you fill them with living water.
When we are reluctant
to follow Jesus,
you steer us in the right direction.
When we are tempted to boast,
your whispers of grace silence us.
We worship you in truth,
Comforter of our hearts.

God in Community, Holy in One,
our joy, our truth, our spirit,
we worship you, as we pray, saying,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
Walking the dog, reading a bedtime story, recycling newspapers - in every moment, in every place, God is there.  Let us confess how often we do not see God in our lives, especially in how we live them.  Join me, as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   God of eternity, you know how often we travel down the rocky roads of doubt and fear.  We pester others with our worries; we hurl bitter words at those we love.  We have chances to offer ourselves in service, but only give our contempt to those in need.  We could share the living waters with the world, but want to store it in jars for safe-keeping.
   Fountain of Grace, you turn towards us, to meet us wherever we are.  You break open our rock-hard sin, so we might be made whole.  In Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, our thirst for hope and joy is quenched.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
God does not disappoint us.  Our sins are forgiven, our lives are made whole, we are sent forth to serve.
In Jesus Christ, living water breaks through the roof of our hearts, in such abundance that we don't have enough buckets to hold it all.  Thanks be to God.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
We pray, Gracious God, that our gifts may provide nourishment to those who thirst for justice, strength to those who hunger for hope, a community to those living in loneliness.  This we pray in Jesus' name.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
The God of wilderness and wells be with you!
And also with you!
Lift your hearts to the One who comes bringing life.
We offer them to our God of hope.
Make a joyful noise to Salvation's Rock.
We will sing songs of praise each day.

With the Spirit,
you struck stony chaos,
and creation gushed forth,
to fill the hollows of heavens,
to seed the mountains
you cradled in your wisdom.
You longed to sit by Eden's well,
telling us stories of the world
you were shaping for us.
But we tested you
with our quarreling ways.
Hearing the boasts of sin and death,
we bowed down and
worshiped at their altars.
Prophets came to lead us
through despair's desert
back home to you,
but our ears were clogged
with temptations seductive songs.
Finally, you sent Jesus
to meet us in our brokenness,
to save us by your grace.

Therefore, we join our voices
with saints and sinners,
with testers and pesterers,
who forever sing your praises:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God our Rock.
All creation sings glad songs to you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes to ease our thirst
        for salvation.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, Grace-giving God,
and blessed is Jesus Christ,
the Fountain of our hope.
When we were too weak to resist,
Christ came to take on sin and death.
When we are unfaithful,
Christ shows us your constant love.
When our fears and failures
stain our souls,
Christ cleanses us.
When our hopes for life had faded,
Christ died that we might live forever.

As we remember his gentle touch,
as we recall his words of hope and grace,
we speak of that mystery called faith:

Christ died, pouring himself out for us;
Christ was raised, pouring God's love into us;
Christ will come, pouring hope into us.

Pour out your Spirit
upon your children
gathered in this place,
and on the gifts
of the Bread and the Cup.
May they be the grace
which nourishes and sustains us.
As we come to reconciliation's table,
may our broken relationships
be made whole again.
As we see you in these gifts,
may we go and proclaim the good news.
As we open our hearts
to your never-ending love,
may we offer our selves
to everyone we meet.

And when all time is ended.
when hunger and thirst is no more
as we are fed at the Lamb's feast,
we will join our hands and hearts,
bowing down to worship you forever:
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Let us go now, to meet all thirsting for God.
We will share the living water with everyone we meet.
Let us go now, to listen as Jesus does with us.
We will hear the stories and hearts of all
who are considered voiceless by our world.
Let us go now, to bring the Spirit's wholeness to others.
We will bring peace and healing to the broken and lonely,
even as they offer us hope and grace by their lives.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Liturgy w/communion for March 5, 2023 (Lent 2 - A)

 Texts:  Genesis 12:1-4a; Psalm 121; Romans 4:1-5, 13-17; John 3:1-17

Litany for Lent
Christ of the comfortable,
you would call us
from our security and sameness,
down that unknown path
which leads to God's heart:
with trust, we would place
our hands in yours, and follow.

Companion of our sleepless nights,
you would beckon us
out of the shadows of our fears,
calling us to bring our doubts
and questioning hearts along:
with humility, we would listen
to those answers we do not
expect, or even understand.

Word which creates out of nothingness,
you would fill us with life
where we see only emptiness,
you would keep your promises
when all ours lie littered on the ground:
we would let your grace transform
us into faithful disciples.

Silence is kept

Keeper of every moment,
walk with us, we pray.
Watcher in the night:
stay with us, we pray.
Spirit of new life:
be in us, as we pray together saying,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
When we least expect it, even when we are not ready, God comes to us, calling us to trust, calling us to follow, calling us to set aside our foolish lives, for the grace-full ones which are offered to us.  Let us confess how often we choose not to follow, as we pray together saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     We are all too human, Faithful God, and so think we have nothing to learn from others, and thus discount ancestors in the faith like Nicodemus or Sarah.  We look for an answers online, convinced that we can trust whatever we find.  We close tight the shutters of our souls, so the Spirit can only rattle us, but not get in to transform our lives.
     Yet you continue to keep watch of us, Promise Giver, whether it is when we swagger through the sunshine of our lives, or in those shadowed moments of uncertainty in the night.  You will not stumble as you continue to come to us, to lead us into your kingdom.  You will always be our help, whether or not we recognize it or accept it, even as you remained faithful to Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Our hope, our help, our peace, our joy?  All come from God, the One who loved us, and the world so much, that Jesus came to bring us salvation.
Keeper of our souls, be with us;
Watcher of our days, lead us;
Salvation of our lives, have mercy on us.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
You trust us enough to place your blessings in us, so may we be as faithful in offering them back to you, so others might be kept in their loneliness, might be fed in their emptiness, might receive hope in their despair.  This we ask in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving

May the God of great adventures be with you!
And also with you!
It is God who is able to keep our hearts filled with hope and peace.
We will offer our hearts to the One who is our Keeper.
Trust in the promises whose fulfillment we cannot see.
We lift our songs to the One who is always with us.

You went into the shadows of nothingness,
bearing your Light of creation, Keeper of all,
so that life might burst forth where there was none:
     white sands at the edge of blue green seas,
     shale formed under the crust of the earth,
     warm mornings and frigid nights to mark the seasons.
You blessed your children with creation's gifts
so we might prove to be a blessing to others,
     but we watched the comings and goings
     of sin and death, allowing ourselves
     to be blown about by them.
Prophets responded to your call to them,
daring to bring us those words we did not want to hear,
calling us back to a way of life we had abandoned,
     but we knew that we preferred life
     in the absence of your presence.
For this reason, you sent Jesus into the world,
so that we, along with all creation, might be saved.

With those who toss and turn in the night,
with those who have responded to your call,
we lift our thanksgivings to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, Who neither slumbers nor sleeps.
All creation blesses your glorious name.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes to answer our questions.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy One, you are the God of blessings,
and Jesus Christ is your Faithful One.
The One who could truly boast,
     he humbled himself to become like us.
The One who was truly righteous,
     he emptied himself to fill us with grace.
The One who had spoken life into existence,
     he embraced death on the cross,
     so that we might be justified
     through your grace and wonder.

As we continue on the journey to Jerusalem,
as we seek to leave our comfortable lives to follow,
we would talk about that mystery we call faith:

Christ died, faithful to the end;
Christ was raised, so all creation might be saved;
Christ will come, to bring us to that home he will show us.

What then are we to say, Keeper of our lives?
It is your Spirit poured out upon us
and upon the gifts of the Table
which brings us new life.
It is the brokenness of the bread
which gives us life, that life
     poured out for those who have no hope,
    for those who wander in the shadows.
It is the grace of the cup
which overflows with your gifts,
     so we might go to be a blessing
     to all forsaken by the world.

And when our journey has ended
and we find ourselves in that land
which you have prepared for us,
we will sing our glad songs to you forever,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Now go with the Spirit, from the comfort of this place,
so we may go to bring hope to the world.
Now carry the Light of Christ with you,
we will go into the shadows with this gift.
Now trust in God who is always with you,
we will follow that life called discipleship.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Liturgy w/communion for February 26, 2023 (Lent 1 - A)

Texts: Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7; Psalm 32; Romans 5:12-19; Matthew 4:1-11

Litany for Lent
L: O Christ,
led by the Spirit
to wander temptation's wilderness,
you show us how
to turn our backs
on the wrong ways of the world,
so we can follow you faithfully:
P: Walk with us, Lord Jesus.
L: O Christ,
Wellspring of wonder,
you let go of your glory,
so you might hold
our shattered hearts.
P: Cradle us, Lord Jesus.
L: O Christ,
grace-full and truth-full,
you empty yourself
to fill us with the bread
which makes us whole,
with the living waters
which burst the banks
of our faded dreams.
P: Fill us, Lord Jesus.
L: O Christ,
Shatterer of sin's deathgrip,
into our despair, you bring hope;
in our fear, you come with peace;
in our loneliness, you become our sibling.
P: Save us, Lord Jesus.
L: Jesus Christ, Lamb of God
P: have mercy on us.
L: Lamb of God, who takes awa
the sins of the world:
P: pour our your grace upon us
L: Jesus Christ, gift of salvation:
P: grant us your peace.

Silence is kept

L: You hold nothing, nothing!
back from us, Gardener of Grace.
Your very self came to us,
your very heart was broken for us,
your life was poured out for us,
in Jesus, our Brother, our Savior.

We seek to do your will,
to share your truth,
to sing of your faithfulness,
to proclaim the good news,
as we follow Jesus
into the wonder of your kingdom,
praying as he taught us, saying,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
Like a parent, God seeks to set boundaries for the children of God. And, like children, we are stubborn enough to want to do things our own way. So, we become easy prey for the evil one. But Jesus, our Sibling, shows us how to find the will, the strength, to resist and to know the mercy of God. Together, let us confess our sins, so God might fill us with hope and joy.

Unison Prayer for Forgivness
   God of Eden's morning, we know that Lent is a hard time for us. In a culture which showcases  success, you call us to sacrifice ourselves for others. In a world which promotes power, you invite us to deny ourselves. In a society which encourages us to 'feel good,' you point us to the struggles of siblings, the burdens others bear.
   By your mercy, forgive us, Hope of our lives. Remind us that as we journey with Jesus, we learn 
the steps of discipleship. As we listen to his call to obedience, may we learn how to say 'no' to all 
that tempts us. As we see his suffering, may we live out the good news which has come to us through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon

L: By ourselves, we would be easily controlled
by sin and temptation. But God has given us
the free gift of grace, and so we are set free
to live as disciples.
P: This is the gift which brings us hope;
this is the gift which brings us joy;
this is the gift which brings us life.
Thanks be to God, we are forgiven! Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
May the privileged always share with the forgotten, may the powerful learn the grace of humility, and may our generosity reveal our gratitude for all the blessings we have been given so we can share them with others.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
L: The Lamb of God be with you!
P: and also with you!
L: All who search for God, lift your hearts.
P: We offer them to the One who comes searching for us in the
wilderness of life.
L: People of God, sing praises to the Lord.
P: We worship our God, and will serve God alone.

You tilled the barrenness
of chaos, Gardener of Genesis,
freely giving life to all
that is good and beautiful.
Shade trees with ripe fruity,
flowing streams, and creeping things,
skies bright with your joy,
clouds scudding across your hopes -
all were formed for our safe keeping.
But what was a delight in your eyes,
was a disappointment in ours,
and so we looked to the world,
finding the bread which
cannot fill our emptiness,
drinking from temptation's cup,
which only increases our thirst.
You sent the prophets
to lead us out of our wilderness,
but we clung to the rocks
which gave us no foundation.
Then you sent Jesus,
to carry the free gift of grace
into our hearts.

Therefore, with all those
who have journeyed with you
in every time and place,
we lift our glad cries of deliverance:

Sung: Creator of the stars of night,
Your people's everlasting light,
O Christ, Redeemer of us all,
We pray you hear us when we call.

Holy are you, God of goodness and glory,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, your Holy Child.
Fluent in the language of grace,
he speaks to us of
your steadfast love for us;
passing every test and temptation
offered to him,
he teaches us
obedience and faithfulness;
willing to be the one
to carry the sins of others,
he went to the cross,
faithfully serving only you,
even into suffering and death.

Risen in glory from the grave,
he welcomes us to this Table,
even as we sing of that mystery called faith:

Sung: At your great name, O Jesus, now
All knees must bend, all hearts must bow:
All things on earth with one accord,
Like those in heaven, shall call you Lord.

Pour out your Spirit
upon the bread and the cup,
and upon your children
gathered around this Table.
As we turn towards Jerusalem,
may we reject the temptation
to focus only on ourselves,
but engage in
radical acts of obedience:
feeding the hungry around us,
nurturing the children left behind,
comforting the lonely and ignored,
picking up the brokenness
and restoring our world
with your peace and reconciliation.

Then, when our journey has ended,
and we are surrounding your Table in glory,
we will welcome our family and friends,
as we share peace with our enemies,
singing through all eternity
of the One who has brought us home:

Sung: To God the Father, God the Son,
And God the Spirit, Three in One,
Praise, honor, might, and glory be
From age to age eternally. Amen.

(sung responses are from a Latin hymn
dating back to the 9th century "Creator
of the Stars of Night")

L: with the bread which is broken,
P: we will go forth to bring healing to the brokenness of our world.
L: with the cup of grace poured into us,
P: we will go out to share hope and justice with our siblings.
L: with the life which is planted in us,
P: we will go forth to serve all the forgotten of our communities.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Monday, February 13, 2023

Liturgy w/communion for February 19, 2023 (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, siblings 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 people 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 siblings 
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