Sunday, December 23, 2012

1st Sunday after Christmas - C

Texts: 1st Samuel 2:18-20; Psalm 148; Colossians 3:12-17; Luke 2:41-52

Call to Worship
L: Praise God! Praise the Lord, all creation!
P: Stars glittering with grace, humpback whales singing of hope:
all praise our God!
L: Praise God! Praise the Lord, all you people!
P: 12-year-olds, and 80 plus, wise and those learning to walk:
all praise our God!
L: Praise God! Praise the Lord, in every moment, in every place!
P: In church, or relaxing at home; in a class and at the doctor's office:
we will praise our God!

Prayer of the Day
Wonder of wonders,
God of creation:
you choose us
to be your people,
continuing to clothe
us in holiness,
even when we drag
the garment through
the mud of our lives;
you call us 'Beloved',
even while
we speak words about others
that would make
the Evil One blush.

Wonder of wonders,
Humble Jesus:
you ask questions
about our so-called wisdom,
revealing how foolish we are;
you wear your heart
on your sleeve
as you reach out
to embrace us
with your compassion.

Wonder of wonders,
Spirit of the old and the new:
every year
you take the old, stained clothes
of our silly lives,
and dress us in
kindness, humility,
patience, and meekness,
that we might be grow
in your love and grace.

May everything we do,
and everything we say,
be in your name,
God in Community, Holy in One,
even as we pray as we have been taught,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation
We like to think we are wise beyond our years, but when we look at our lives
as God's people, we discover we still act too often like little children.
Let us confess how we always want our way, rather than following God's.

Unison Prayer of Confession
You set boundaries for us, Holy God, yet we continue to cross over them
into sin. Believing we are wiser than you, we are amazed that you would
question our actions and lives. Offering us the warm sweater of love, we
would rather slip our lives into the sleeves of bitterness and anger.
Challenging us to carry one another's burdens, we complain about how heave
and uncomfortable they are.
Forgive us, Searching God, and clothe us with your gifts of compassion,
humility, patience, and hope. Then, dressed as your grateful people, may we
go forth to live as sisters and brothers of Jesus Christ, our Lord and

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
L: The good news is simple: God loves us so much, we are forgiven and
granted new life.
P: Praise God! As forgiven people, we will go to forgive others, and share
God's grace with them. Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
L: May the Babe who grew up be with you.
P: And also with you.
L: Followers of the Child, lift your hearts to God.
P: Searchers and questioners, those comfortable with the answers,
we all offer our hearts to God.
L: Let us join with all creation in praising God!
P: Our glad songs echo through the mountains and valleys,
the rivers and trees.

All creation sings your praises,
God of stunning imagination:
ice-laden trees bowing in wonder,
cattle and sheep lowing a carol of joy,
stars glittering in the bright, brittle night.
You created us in your image:
young men and women alike,
old and young together have life from you.
But we choose to wander from you,
following sin and death
into the temples of temptation.
Your prophets came to minister to us,
their searching eyes, their longing words
calling us back to you;
but we refused to listen.
So, you came searching for us,
sending Jesus among us,
that the peace of Christ
might rule in our hearts.

So, with all God's chosen ones,
the holy and the hungry,
the peaceful and the persistent,
we join our voices in praise to you:

P: Holy, holy, holy, Lord of wonder and glory.
All creation praises you with song.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who came to astonish us.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, Creator of peace and beauty,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, Joyous Love.
He came, to listen to our hearts,
so we might see your broken one;
he came, asking those questions
which reveal our true longings.
Clothed in compassion and humility,
he was stripped, beaten, crucified, buried.
He went down into death,
so we might have life,
so we could be swaddled
in God's bands of grace and peace.

As we remember the wonder of his birth,
as we celebrate the astonishing surprise of resurrection,
we praise that mystery we call faith:

P: Christ was born, so we might grow in love;
Christ died, so we might grow in life;
Christ will come, so we might be with God forever.

Here in this place
with family and friends,
beside strangers and neighbors,
we gather at your banquet,
God whose glory is above earth and heaven.
As your Spirit enlivens the Bread,
as we break and share it,
may your Spirit flow into us,
strengthening and growing our resolve
to feed the hungry,
to heal your creation,
to shelter the homeless,
to live humble, gentle lives.
And when time has grown into your eternity,
when we gather with our sisters and brothers
in that perfect harmony found only in you,
we will praise your name, which alone is exalted:
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

© Thom M. Shuman

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Reformation Day

Texts:  Jeremiah 31:31-34; Psalm 46; Romans 3:19-28; John 8:31-36

Call to worship
L:  Be still!
P:  We come to quiet ourselves in this haven of holiness.
L:  Be still and know . . .
P:  we come to discern the Word which can set us free.
L:  Be still and know that God is
P:  our Hope, our Help, our Refuge, and our Redeemer.

Prayer of the Day
You break the cycle of wars,
   so we can be enriched by your peace;
you shatter the grip of violence,
   so we may be freed from our fears;
you plant your words deep within us,
carving on our hearts:
   you are mine.
You give us the Word we need,
so we might live in your grace,
God of creation.

You freely became one of us,
   so we would be liberated
   from our addiction to sin;
you take us by the hand
   to lead us out of our doubts;
you give us the words we need,
   so we can continue to share
    your good news of life,
Friend of the needy.

You pull us to safety
   when sin's waters swirl around our feet;
you surround us with serenity
   when doubts rattle our souls;
you give us words we need,
   whenever we wander onto the paths of trouble,
Spirit of holiness.

God in Community, Holy in One,
you give us the words we need,
to pray as Jesus has taught us, saying,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation
We can no longer flatter ourselves about how good
we are.  Wee do not need to make grandstand plays
to get God's attention.  We only need to confess
our lives, as God makes good on the promises of
grace and mercy.  Join me as we ask God to reform
us into God's children, praying together,

Unison Prayer of Confession
   Heart of the Covenant: we have know your hopes
for us, and have disappointed every on of them. 
We have heard your words of faithfulness, and
forgotten every one of them.  We have seen your
dreams for us, and turned them into nightmares.
   Forgive us, Hope's Heart.  Silence every
blustering word, so we may hear your mercy.
Still every feeble attempt to justify ourselves,
so we may be made right with you.  Melt every
frozen heart, so we might be drenched in your
river of joy.  May Jesus Christ continue to live
in us, so we might be free to live forever with

Silence is kept

Assurance of pardon
L:  Be still and know the good news:  god has not forsaken
nor forgotten us, but redeems us.
P:  Why should we be afraid?  God is in our midst -
forgiving, restoring, sending.  Thanks be to God.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
L:  May God our refuge be with you!
P:  And also with you.
L:  People of God, lift your hearts to the One who created you.
P:  We offer them to God, who writes words of hope upon our hearts.
L:  God's children, come to the Table of grace.
P;  We will feast on the wonders of the God who loves us.

You took creation by the hand,
leading it out of chaos,
as the first morning dawned,
   mountains trembling in the mist,
   running rivers which gladdened your heart,
God of our hearts.
You created all this for us,
giving us peace and righteousness
to be our playmates in the fields of grace.
   But when we beheld the works
   of temptation, sin, and death,
   we became their slaves,
   writing their lies on our hearts.
Longing to be our God,
you sent the prophets
to call us to be your people,
but we refused to listen.
Finally, Jesus came, the bearer
of truth and freedom for all.

With those whose hearts are broken,
and those who long for your days of peace,
we sing our thanksgiving to you:

P:  Holy, holy, holy are you, God who forms our hearts.
    All creation finds refuge in your tender care.
    Hosanna in the highest!

    Blessed is the One who sets us free by your truth!
    Hosanna in the highest!

You are our strength, God of holiness,
and Jesus Christ is your Son, our Savior.
When our lives are filled with despair,
   he is our Hope;
when we are lost and cannot find our way,
   he is our Help;
when the world closes its doors and heart to us,
   he is our Refuge;
when sin and death hunger for us,
   he is our Redeemer,
present with us in this life
and in the one to come.

As we remember his life, death, and resurrection,
as he continues to re-form us into your people,
we proclaim that mystery called faith:

P:  Christ died, his heart broken for us;
    Christ is risen, resurrection written upon his heart;
    Christ is ever with us, in every moment, until your days come.

Pour out your Spirit
upon the gifts of this Table,
and upon the gathered people
who seek to be your faithful people.
The bread symbolizes that Life, though given,
which can reshape our brokenness into
   the peace which a warring world needs,
   the hope which can bring healing to others.
The cup which is filled with your grace
can strenthen us to be new people,
   who go forth to speak truth to power,
   who bring freedom to all the oppressed.

And when your days of eternity finally come,
when we gather as your children around
the Table of wonder and life,
we will sing your praises forever and ever,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

(c) 2012 Thom M. Shuman