Thursday, July 26, 2007

18th Sunday in Ordinary Time/Proper 13 - Year C

Call to Worship
God of the past,
who whispered in the prophets' ears;
who rescued us from sin's slavery:
we are here to thank you.
God of the future,
who is tearing down the old world,
and building your kingdom in our midst:
we are here because we trust you.
God of the present,
who, in the giftedness of our diversity,
creates us to be one people:
we are here to praise you.
God of life that surprises us
when we find it within us:
we celebrate your grace.

Prayer of the Day
Steadfast Love:
like a child
running down the sidewalk
to play with her best friend
on a summer's day,
you eagerly come towards us.

Child of God:
with the anxious heart of a mother
waiting at midnight,
you long for us
to come home,
your arms aching to hold us.

Fullness of Grace:
when all others
have turned away from us,
you throw open
the gates of the kingdom,
inviting us in to share
at the Table of hope
prepared just for us.

God in Community, Holy in One,
hear us as we pray as Jesus taught us,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation
When we could be revived by God's grace, we find ourselves fearing God's judgment, doubting God's joy in us, fearing God has turned away from us. Let us come to the One who heals us and calls each of us by name. Please join me as we pray,

Unison Prayer of Confession
You hold nothing back from us, Amazing God, yet we are determined to cling to what we have accumulated. We spend so much time eating out, we cannot feel the deep ache our hunger for you causes. You invite us to set aside our old ways, and walk with you, but unknown paths fill us with fear.

Have mercy on us, Bread of Heaven. We come to the Table of grace and hope,
not for our personal satisfaction, but for the joy of recognizing the One who calls us to new life, and for the grace to share this joy with everyone we meet. This we pray in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Do not be afraid. More than anything else, God would rather turn fetid swamps into pools of crystal clear water; bonds of sin into cords of compassion; sinners into servants.
God loves us. God forgives us. God lifts us to new life. Thanks be to God. Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May God be with you.
May God also be with you.
People of God, open up your hearts.
We open them to God and one another.
People of God, give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give thanks to the One
who offers us lives filled with grace.

When we were children
running footloose through grace,
you loved us, Tender God:
dappling the night skies
with the bright stars of morning,
teaching us to walk
the paths of that first dawn,
telling us of your dreams
for all you created.
When, in our hurry to greet you,
we fell, skinning our knees,
you lifted us up in your arms,
holding us to your cheeks
wet with joy.
When we missed your calling
us to wash up for dinner,
you came and found us,
taking us by the hand
to feed us from Eden's abundance.

But when we grew up,
we knew more than you,
turning to the idols of wealth and power,
who promised to serve us
even as they shackled us;
giving ourselves over
to anxiety's sweet caress.
Yet you are God,
not a foolish human.
You remain in our midst,
not to punish or destroy,
but to reach out
and bring us home to your heart.

Therefore, we joyfully lift our voices,
with those who have gone before us,
and those who stand beside us,
singing our praise for your great love;


Holy are you, God of infinite tenderness,
and blessed is Jesus Christ,
your Son, our Lord and Savior.
Breaking the enslaving bonds of sin,
he binds our wounds
with cords of compassion;
walking with us
when we had lost our way,
he shows us the paths
to the kingdom;
stripping himself of glory and honor,
he clothes us in the new life of faith;
leaving aside his equality with you,
he became one of us,
so we might be one with you.

Remembering that you did not give up on us
or hand us over to sin and death
but showered us with your mercy
in Christ Jesus,
we take the bread of life
and the cup of grace
and joyfully celebrate that mystery
we call faith:

Memorial Acclamation

Compassionate God,
pour out your gracious Spirit on us,
and on these, your simple gifts.
Fill us with the broken bread
that we might be made whole;
touch our parched lips
with the cup of salvation,
so we might proclaim your gospel.
Then send us forth:
our hearts recoiling
at the oppression suffered
by our sisters and brothers;
our hands willing to build shelter
for those cast out by the world;
our arms surrounding
the lost and the least,
in the embrace of common humanity.

Through Christ, with Christ, in Christ,
in unity with the Holy Spirit,
all glory and honor are yours,
God of love, now and forever. Amen.

(c) 2007 Thom M. Shuman

Friday, July 20, 2007

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time/Proper 12 - C

Call to Worship
It is in this place of holiness
that we can come with our fears,
our doubts, all the questions of our hearts.
We come to this place, to hear
the words of peace, of hope, of joy
God speaks to us.
It is in this place of discovery
that we can come searching.
We come to this place, to find
the One who has been looking for us.

It is in this place of openness
that we can come knocking.
We come to this place, to be embraced
by the One whose heart is never locked.

Prayer of the Day
Loving God of heaven and earth:
the morning breezes
whisper your holy name,
the trees clap their hands
in time to creation's songs of joy.
You build your community in our midst,
despite our best efforts to tear it down.
Your simple gifts of love and peace
are of more value than all
the world promises us.

Jesus Christ, Teacher of our hearts:
you walk with us
through the streets of fear and failure,
holding our hands
so we have no need
to reach out for the Evil One.
You give us words to speak
when the worries of our lives
turn us speechless.

Spirit of Grace and Hope:
your river of mercy
tumbles through us
washing our hearts of all
we cannot release,
so we may reach out and embrace
all who have hurt us.
Your peace defends the weak,
your glory shines in the oppressed,
your justice embraces all people.

God in Community, Holy in One,
we lift our prayers to you.

Call to Reconciliation

We are invited to pray - all who have hurt someone else, and all who have been hurt by another. We are called to pray: for hope, for healing, for mercy. We pray to the One who seeks to make us whole; whose will is to restore us to new life. Join me as we pray, saying,

Unison Prayer of Confession
We do not find it easy to speak of how we do not live as your people, but you invite us to share our weaknesses and failures with you, Inviting God. Tempted to think your salvation is for a select few, we put up barriers for others. Clinging to all you give to us, we are reluctant to share with those in need. Surrounded by evil
and violence, we find it easier to close ranks with those just like us, rather than seeking peace and reconciliation for our world.

Forgive us, Salvation's God. Open our eyes to our sisters and brothers all around us. Open our ears to the word of hope you speak to us. Open our spirits to the presence of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, who flings wide the open doors of your kingdom, that all might find life with you.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Here is the good news, my friends: Christ came searching for us, calling us by name, leading us
into God's kingdom.
In Christ, we become new people: broken, we are made whole; lost, we are found; forsaken, we are restored to new life. Thanks be to God. Amen.

Responsive Pastoral Prayer
Our Father who art in heaven:
remind us this day
that you are not only creation's Architect,
but your are the Babe who cried for food,
the teenager who knew loneliness,
the adult who felt the rejection of loved ones.
Hallowed by Thy name:
yours is the name spun by the stars;
yours is the name whispered by the dying;
yours is the name written on our hearts.
Thy Kingdom come:
may it be a kingdom of peace, not prejudice;
may it be a kingdom of sharing, not grasping;
may it be a kingdom of hope, not hurting.

Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven:
may your Word be more than print on a page;
may your justice be more than a wish in our hearts;
may your will become our deepest desire.
Give us this day our daily bread:
let us taste it in the kisses of loved ones;
let it fill us in the empty moments of our lives;
let it slip out of our hands to mend the brokenness of our world.
And forgive us our debts as we forgive others:
may those who have hurt us find a welcome in our hearts,
even as we have found our home in yours.

And lead us not into temptation:
turn our hearts from the seductions of our world;
and the simple pleasures that turn us from you.

Keep us from thinking we are so important
that we ignore those around us.
Help us to always bring others to you in prayer,
before we bring ourselves,
as we do in these moments:

Prayers are lifted for others

But deliver us from evil:
not just great evils of war and hunger,
but from ingratitude, self-love, pride,
all those little evils that do such great harm.

For thine is the kingdom:
our heart's true longing;
and the power:
which you set aside to serve us in weakness;
and the glory:
which we would mirror in our lives,
our bodies, our minds, our souls,
this day and every day.
forever and ever.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of grace be with you.
And also with you.
People of God, lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the One
who share good gifts with us.

Children of the living God,
give thanks to the One who loves us.
We sing our praises to the One
who embraces us with righteousness
and showers us with kisses of peace.

Our greatest joy is to sing
our songs of thanksgiving
to you, Lord of all eternity.
When you first spoke,
creation was conceived and brought forth
birds to swoop through the clear blue skies
and butterflies to flit about
in the gardens of Eden.
We were offered the chance
to run free in your good universe,
but we immersed ourselves
in the petty philosophies of pride,
and were enticed
by the empty lies of the world.
You sent the prophets
to knock at our hardened hearts,
asking us to turn to you,
but we continued to dance
in the arms of sin and death.
That is when you sent Jesus,
to put on flesh's body,
so we might throw off
the chains of our captivity.

Therefore, we join with those
in every time and place,
who have searched, and found you,
who have asked, and been answered,
who have knocked and been welcomed
in your all-forgiving grace and love,
singing our praises forever:


Holy are you, God of restored lives,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, your Son.
In him,
you turned away from your anger,
so we might turn to you
to receive forgiveness.
In him, you set down your indignation,
to hand us the Bread of Life.
In him,
death and sin were defeated
so we could be revived to life.
So, as we gather at this Talve,
remembering how he not only lived and died,
but was raised to life by your love,
we proclaim that mystery called faith;

Memorial Acclamation

Pour your Spirit of peace and hope
upon these good gifts
of the bread and the cup
and upon those who have gathered here
at your gracious invitation.
May the Bread which is broken
make us whole,
so we may go forth
to speak peace to a world
which has been fed violence and death.
May the Cup which is shared
open our hearts to the pain
of those around us,
so we may bring healing and hope.
And when we leave this Feast,
may we follow your righteousness
into the streets of the world,
taking all we meet by the hand
to show them the path
to your heart.

And when our wills have been
subsumed into yours,
and when your kingdom has come
in its glory and grace,
we will gather with our sisters and brothers
from every time and place,
embracing and kissing
all children of the living God,
sitting down at the great Feast of the Lamb,
singing your glory through all time and space,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

(c) 2007 Thom M. Shuman

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time/Proper 11 - Year C

Call to Worship
God has called us to this place.
What do you see?
We see people who model for us
God's joyous embrace of all people.
God has brought us to this place.
What do you hear?
We hear God's hope
that we are able to see each person
as our sister or brother.
God has challenged us
to open our lives and hearts to others.
What will you do?
We will do only one thing:
welcome everyone in God's name!

Prayer of the Day
You open our eyes
to a world
which would sell the poor
for the price of an SUV,
or trade the needy
for a pair of Guccis,
or haul the weak
into Judge Judy's court.
So come,
God of Justice,
to make us
as vocal as Amos.

You watch us
as we fill our days
with endless work;
as we keep a list
of all our worries,
never marking any off;
as we get easily distracted
by others' inactions.
So come,
Creation's Oldest Child,
to make us
as still as Mary.

You take notice
of how quickly
we can overlook
those who hunger
for their empty hearts
to be filled;
those who long
for a family
to welcome them;
those who thirst
for that relationship
which will revive
their souls.
So come,
Reconciling Love,
to make us
as welcoming as Martha.

God in Community, Holy in One,
come to make us your people,
even as we pray as Jesus has taught us,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation

They are there in the Bible: men and women who are as weak, as foolish, as prone to sin as we are. Every page, every story reveals to us our brokenness. Yet every page, every story tells us of One who longs to make us whole. Let us confess our sins, and clear the way for God's reconciling love to work within us. Please join me, as we pray,

Unison Prayer of Confession
In the mirror we call scripture, Revealing God, we see ourselves for who we are and are not. We whine about those who are not doing what we think they should and ignore our failings. We speak words which nibble away at the life in our family and friends. We step over the poor on our way to get more and more, ignoring their needs.

Forgive us, Reconciling Love. Sit us down at Jesus' feet, so we may learn the balanced life you intend for us. Then, and only then, we can set aside our grudges, to offer our gifts to our neighbors; we can stop licking at our hurts, to bring healing to others; we can reach out and welcome our sisters and brothers, even as we have been welcomed into your heart through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept.

Assurance of Pardon
Christ Jesus comes to reconcile us to God, so we can be reconciled to one another. Recreated in God's image, we are made whole.
When we are in Christ, everything becomes new. Our past is just that - our past!
Do you really believe this - that your past is done, and you are a new person? If so, go out and reflect it in your life.
Thanks be to God! We will go forth and live as reconciled people. Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God who embraces us be with you.
And also with you.
Children of God, lift your hearts to the One
who makes you welcome in every moment.
We lift them to the Lord our God
who is our host at this meal.

People of God, offer your praise
and thanksgiving to the One
who comes bringing new life to us.
The sad dirges of our lives
become praise songs for the One
who makes us whole.

We will thank you forever,
God of Reconciliation.
Through your imaginative Word,
all things were created:
summer fruit to tingle our taste buds,
and winter's ice sculptures to delight us;
spring's breezes to disturb our complacency,
and autumn's rainbow leaves
to dance across our lawns.
Offered life in your garden of joy,
we took refuge in the world's shadows;
invited to build a home in your love,
we grasped the blocks of betrayal
to build our false lives on;
chosen to make known your grace for all,
we proclaimed the lies of the Evil One.
Yet, you would not let us wander
from sin to sin,
but sent the prophets to speak
in the presence of the unfaithful,
of your forgiveness and hope.
And when our sharp tongues
slashed their words to ribbons,
you sent the fullness of your life,
Jesus the Messiah,
to bring us back to you.

And so, we join our voices
with all who have gone before us
and all who will come after us,
singing your praises forever:


Holiness is who you are, Reconciling God,
and salvation is the blessing we receive
through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord.
He came to bear the stain of our lives,
so we could be made squeaky clean;
he walked the streets of the world,
so we no longer needed to shuffle our feet
in the dust of our failed dreams;
in his life, death, and resurrection
he revealed the mystery
of your glorious hope for us,
before we had finished
reading the story.

As we would welcome your loving embrace,
we would proclaim that faith we long for:

Memorial Acclamation

Send your Holy Spirit
upon the gifts of the bread and the cup,
and upon those
who will receive these gifts.
May the bread which is broken
make us one with each other;
may the cup which is shared
be the healing we need.
Then, when we be nourished by your grace,
send us forth to be your servants:
setting aside our worries
to welcome the weak and forsaken;
letting go of our grudges,
so we may receive
the grace the stranger brings to us,
releasing our fears and doubts
so we may embrace
your steadfast love.

Then when all time comes to an end,
and we are brought together at your Table
through him who reconciled us to you,
and who holds us together in his grace,
we will sing our praises through all eternity:
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

(c) 2007 Thom M. Shuman

Monday, July 09, 2007

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time/Proper 10 - C

Call to Worship
Blessed is God, who created us
and loves us beyond measure.
Blessed is God, who calls us
to stop measuring out our love.
Blessed is God, who speaks
and tells us stories about ourselves.
Blessed is God, who reveals to us
who we are and who we could be.
Blessed is God, whose compassion
is poured out on every single person.
Blessed is God, who gives us compassion
to share with every single person,
even people we do not know or care about.

Prayer of the Day

Eternal God,
Rescuer of the weak:
given every reason to judge us,
you seek justice for us.
You stand with the poor
in the ditches
where we have discarded them.
You plant your Word of truth
in the One who gives us
unexpected answers.

Jesus Christ,
Word of Truth:
you will not pass us by,
but stoop to lift us up
and carry us out of our pain.
You love the faithful enough
to tell us stories
which will shatter our complacency
and send us forth
to carry mercy to others.

Holy Spirit,
Giver of mercy:
you carry hope in your mouth
and breathe it into our souls.
You take us by the hand,
leading us out of the ditches
we have dug for ourselves,
into the brightly lit streets of the kingdom.
You pray for us in every moment,
especially when we are unable
to pray for ourselves.

God in Community, Holy in One,
hear us as we pray as Jesus taught us, saying,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation
Are you in love with God? Do you show it in your words, your thoughts, your actions? Are you in love with your neighbor? Do they know this by your presence, your grace, your friendship? Or are you so obsessed with your self, that you have no time, no room, no pity for others, or for God? Let us confess the limits we place on our love, so we might be filled with God's limitless mercy.

Unison Prayer of Confession
They may not be beaten down or lying by the road,
but there are people we pass by, Watching God.
Some are family and friends
we take so much for granted
we cannot see how we have stripped
them of our love and compassion.
Others are neighbors:
who have been left half-dead by crushing work;
who have fallen into the hands of despair;
who have been abandoned by all those
who walked on by them.
Many are strangers, people we don't know,
but quickly judge:
they are weak,
or poor,
or the enemy
or because they remind us of who
we once were, or could become.

Rescue us from the power of our sins,
Righteous One of all generations.
Pour out your justice on us,
rather than your judgement,
that we would be moved with pity,
and spurred to action;
that we would hear of the hope that is ours,
and share it with our sisters and brothers;
that we would shower mercy on all we meet,
even as we have received forgiveness for our sins
through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silent Prayers may be offered

Assurance of Pardon
Children of the Most High: you are forgiven
and brought into the kingdom. Be filled with
spiritual wisdom, lead lives worthy of your
inheritance, bear fruit in all you say and do
and think.
God has rescued us and redeemed us from
our sins, setting aside judgment to shower
us with mercy. We will go and do likewise.
Thanks be to God. Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving

We would not cease singing
our songs of thanksgiving to you,
Innovative Creator.
You imagine a sky
as wide as eternity,
and fluff it with billowy clouds.
You shape mountains
and top them with snow.
You notice our uncertainty of the dark,
and shower us with fireflies
to twinkle our fears away.
All this, you thought and did, for us.
You would teach us your ways
of kindness, peace and compassion,
but we filled our minds
with the empty words of a wayward world.
You sent the prophets
to retell your story of hope,
but we urged them to go
and preach to someone else.
But when the world turned its back on us,
when others pass by our pain,
you sent Jesus to come and find us
and to carry us into your heart.

Therefore, we lift our songs of joy to you,
joining our voices with those in heaven and on earth,
who forever praise your name:


Holy are you, God of Wonder,
and blessed is Jesus Christ your Son.
Your heart, your soul, your mind, your strength,
he was willing to love you enough
to become one of us;
loving us as much as he loved himself,
he endured the battering of the world,
and stripped of his glory and grace,
he was left by the side of the world
by the gang of sin, evil, and death.
Moved by his love and sacrifice,
you came and found him,
alone and forsaken in the tomb.
Anointing him with the waters of baptism
and the oil of hope's gladness,
you brought him into the new life
of your resurrection love.

As we remember his life of great love,
we praise you,
that as we break the bread of life,
and drink from the cup of grace,
we know the risen Christ is among us:

Memorial Acclamation

We come to this Table
looking for answers to our questions
and for healing for our brokenness.
So, pour out your Spirit upon your children,
and upon the gifts of the bread and the cup,
that nourished and fed by you,
we might we strenthened
to serve our sisters and brothers around us.
As we get up from our seats at your Table,
may we stand up
for the rights of the lowly.
As you pour out your grace
upon us,
may we wrap it around the orphans and weak;
as you whisper your dreams for us,
may we speak out
on behalf of the poor;
as you offer us
the bread and the cup
from your hands,
may we reach down
and lift up those
who have fallen through
the cracks of our society.

Then, when all time has come to an end,
and there is only life forever with you,
we will join hands with all your children,
singing our joy and thanks to you,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

(c) 2007 Thom M. Shuman