Sunday, January 27, 2013

Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany - C

Texts:  Jeremiah 1:4-10; Psalm 71:1-6; 1 Corinthians 13:1-13; Luke 4:21-30

Call to Worship
Today, the words of God come to us, in love,
inviting us to not be afraid, but to place our faith in God.
Today, the word of God comes to us, in faith,
inviting us to trust in the One who knows us,
to place our hope in the One who saves us.
Today, the Word of God comes to us, in hope,
inviting us to be gracious in our love and in our service to others.

Prayer of the Day
Rescuing God:
your wall of hope
     surrounds us in our despair;
your haven of faith
     welcomes us in our unbelief;
your citadel of love
     protects us from our anger.

Gracious Word:
you reach out to those
     we would dare not touch;
you greet those
     we ignore on a daily basis;
you welcome those
     we would close our hearts to.
Holy Spirit:
rest gently upon us,
     so we might become kinder people;
caress us with your humility,
     so we could let go of our pride;
show us your Way,
     so we would not demand ours.

God in Community, Holy in One,
our hope, our faith, our love,
hear us as we pray as Jesus teaches us,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation
We hide them deep in the closets of our hearts, but God knows our secret failings. We sit in the shadows of our lives, but God sees the possibility we can become. We mumble our words, but God bends down to listen, and whisper grace and hope to us. Let us confess our sins to the One who loves us, as we pray together,

Unison Prayer of Confession
     God of incredible patience, we must confess that our love is not always what we might hope it would be. We focus so much on ourselves, the needs of others pale in significance. Too often, we find ourselves rejoicing in the miseries of others, believing they must have done something to deserve what comes their way. We continually push our families and friends away from us, simply by insisting that everything be done our way.
     Faithful Deliverer of our foolish lives, forgive us and have mercy on us. As you rescue us from ourselves, may we become your people. As you touch us with faith, may we be witnesses to the world of your dreams. As you pour out hope upon us, may we be your compassion to those who hurt. As you drench us with your love which comes to us in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, may we be made whole.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
God's love never ends! With this good news, we know we are forgiven; with this blessing, we know that we are healed.
Now, we can bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, endure all things. Thanks be to God! Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May God be with you!
And also with you!
Beloved of God, lift up your hearts.
We open them to the One who knows us and who loves us.
Children of God, give thanks to the One who is our hope.
Our praise will always be offered to our Love, our Trust, our God.
When there was nothing but your love,
     you shaped all that is beautiful and good;
when there was nothing but your faith,
     you formed us from the dust,
          and breathed Spirit into our lungs;
when there was nothing but your hope,
     you called us to be your people,
               Creator of all.
But when we looked in the mirror
which the world held before us,
     we saw only ourselves,
     our desires, our wisdom.
We turned away from you,
insisting on our own way,
     growing irritable and rebellious
     when you would not give in to us.
Yet you did not leave us
in the grasp of sin and death,
trusting that if we met you face to face,
we would turn to you in joy.
So today, believing that your Word
has been fulfilled in Jesus Christ,
we join our voices with those
who now know you fully,
offering our songs of grateful praise:
Holy, holy, holy, Refuge and hope of the world.
All creation resounds with your praise.
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is the One who comes with words of grace.
Hosanna in the highest!
Holy are you, Anchorage of our hearts,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, graced Word of joy.
The Fullness of your hope came
     so the famine of our spirits might be fed;
the faithful son of Joseph knew rejection,
     so we might find refuge in your kingdom;
the epitome of your love endured hate and terror
     that we need not fear death and sin.

While we can only dimly understand
the mysteries of your faith, hope, and love,
we celebrate the One who came to reveal them to us.
Christ died, so we might have faith;
Christ rose, so we might see hope;
Christ will come again, so we will be with you in love.
Holy Spirit,
may the bread which is broken
     become the means of our healing;
may the cup which is poured
     become the fountain of our servanthood.
Touch us with faith,
that we might believe
     your justice and peace
     are to be shared with all people.
Fill us with hope,
     so we could dare to bear
     the burdens of those around us.
Grace us with love,
     so we could be that healing
     which the hurting and lonely need.
And when we are rescued from the bonds of time,
when we find refuge with our sisters and brothers
around the feast prepared for us in glory,
we will join our voices in singing to you
our faith, our hope, our love forever,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Third Sunday after the Epiphany - C

Texts:  Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10; Psalm 19;  1 Corinthians 12:12-31a; Luke 4:14-21

Call to Worship
On this day, which is holy, we gather,
not alone, but as Christ's Body;

as ones who would suffer together, we gather.
On this day of wonder and hope, we gather,
not in isolation, but in community;

as those who would care for one another, we gather.
On this day of prayer and praise, of silence and song, we gather,
not with empty hands, or emptier hearts;

as those baptized in grace's tears, we gather.

Prayer of the Day
Holy God, Word-Giver:
in soft falling snow,
     we hear your joy;
in the whisper of the wind,
     we hear your dreams for us;
in the silence of a winter's night,
     we eavesdrop on your grace;
in the cries of the poor,
     we hear your call to lives of compassion.

Jesus Christ, Word made Perfect:
as you overcome our obsession
with our selves, our desires,
     gift us to serve others;
as you simplify our souls
with the grace of your good news,
     make us wise enough to live it;
as you enchant our hopes
with the wonder of your love,
     break our hearts so we might
     weep with those around us.

Holy Spirit, Cup of Living Water:
if we are to suffer together,
     may we drink deeply
     from your tender tears;
if we are to rejoice together,
     may we taste the strength
     of your hope and peace;
if we are to pray together,
     may we feast on your love;
if we are to worship together,
     may we join in listening to that Word
     which will transform us forever.

God in Community, Holy in One,
in these moments, in every moment,
be with us, even as we pray as we are taught,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation
We are baptized as individuals, yet are called to live and serve together. We know, and need to confess, how we have sought to live for ourselves, not reaching out to others, or seeing them as parts of Christ's Body.  Please join me as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer of Confession
     Rock of our salvation, we know the faults we try to hide from you and those around us. We have not cared for people in the same way. We do think some are more gifted, or better, or lovelier. We would much rather celebrate with someone, than to bear the suffering of another. We are really not that sure that prisoners should be set free, or the poor given hope, or the outcast a seat at the table.
   Redeemer of all people, including us, grant us your mercy.  Anoint us with the power of your Spirit, so that our eyes might be opened to see how others truly live. Enlarge our hearts with the gentleness of your touch, so we might embrace the opportunities we will have to serve. Open our ears so we can listen to what Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, teaches us about your love and grace for our lives.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
God's Spirit is upon us: that Spirit of forgiveness, that Spirit of grace, that Spirit of unity with all people.
Today, and in all the days to come, God's Spirit is with us. Thanks be to the One who is our joy, our strength, our hope. Praise God! We are forgiven! Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving

May the Spirit of the Lord be upon you!

And also upon you!
Offer your hearts to the One who proclaims God’s grace.
Our hearts are open to God, who brings us good news.
Join in declaring the glory of God to all the world.
Day to day, our lips proclaim the wonders of our God.
On that first day, Word-Speaker,
the heavens sang of your glory:
     valleys reverberated with the bass line,
     soaring mountains sang the high notes,
     cicadas and crickets thrummed the melody.
Your voice whispered, and the dust
was shaped in your holy image,
     a garden of wonder for our home.
But we gather in seduction's square,
listening as temptation reads to us
     of all the wonders we might discover
     if we only obeyed sin and death.
You sent prophets, speaking simple words,
to shatter our false wisdom,
but we turned a hard heart to them.
So, you sent Jesus to live among us,
to live out the words we only read,
to be our strength and salvation.

So, with those who stood before the Water Gate,
and those who wander far from the living waters,
we would sing our songs of thanksgiving to you:

Holy, holy, holy, God of glory and grace.
The voice of all creation runs through the heavens and earth,   

     singing your praise.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes filled with the Spirit.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holiness is who you are, God of wonder,
and salvation is the gift in Christ Jesus, our Brother.
He came,
     in the moments of our deepest despair,
          so that each day might be made holy
          in your grace and wonder.
He came,
     so that we would no longer be spare parts,
          but knit together as the Body, which is his.
He came,
     going into the cold temple of death
     on the day of crucifixion,
          so he might fulfill the promises
          of new life and hope for all your children.

We gather as one, though we are many,
opening our hearts to the resurrection which is ours,
and proclaiming that mystery we call faith:

Christ died, that we might be cleared of our sins;
Christ is risen, that we might have the gift of the Spirit;
Christ will come again, so we might be set free forever.

As we gather together before your Table,
pour out your Spirit upon these gifts
of the bread and the cup,
and all who have come to be fed.
Just as the bread is broken into many parts,
so your grace makes us into one people,
our hearts open to serve all in need,
our lives offered so that others might be healed.
Just as the cup is filled to overflowing
with the sweet taste of hope,
so our gifts are emptied so that all might be blessed,
our joy shared with the despairing of our word.

And when you gather us together at the Feast to come,
when we sit down at the Table with our sisters and brothers,
we will bow our heads and worship you forever,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Second Sundary after the Epiphany - C

Texts:  Isaiah 62:1-5; Psalm 36:5-10; 1 Corinthians 12:1-11; John 2:1-11

Call to Worship
When we are lonely, feeling forsaken,
there is One who knows how we feel:
our God who gathers us up,
pulling us close to the heart of love.
When we sit at the table of despair,
when we nibble at life's stale crusts,
there is One who throws a party for us:
our God who loves to celebrate,
who fills our lives with goodness.

When we are mired in the muck of life,
when every day seems the same as yesterday,
there is One who comes to us:
our God who changes our names,
our God who transforms our lives.

Prayer of the Day
When we stand at the edge of desolation,

staring down into our emptiness,
     you reach out to keep us from falling.
When we fumble and stumble
throw the shadows of our world,
     you offer us a little light,
          which is all we need until our eyes
          grow accustomed to the bright dawn
          of your grace and wonder.
When we are worn down
by the rough edges of life,
     you polish us until we gleam with hope.
When we feel deserted,
     you adopt us as your very own.
When the world files a bill
of divorce against us, turning its back,

     you slip the ring
     of joy on our finger,
     clasping our hands in yours,
          as you whisper vows of love
          which will remain longer
          than the stars will burn.

God in Community, Holy in One,
we give you praise for your presence,
even as we pray as we are taught,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation
We plead ignorance, but we know. We know the hurt we have caused, the names we have called other people, the love we hold back from family and friends. Let us confess our shadowed lives, so the light of God's mercy might illumine us. Please join me as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer of Confession
     If we are to have any hope, Transforming God, we must face the reality of our lives, putting a name to our failings. You hand us a bouquet of gifts, but we let them wither by not placing them in your living water. You call us to speak out for those who live in the corners and cupboards of our world, but we believe our silence is the best way to help them. We listen to those who tell us that to trust in you is a sign of weakness, rather than listening to your invitation to hope in your always.
     You will not rest until we are one with you, God of Peace, so forgive us and fill us with your mercy. Gift us, so we may respond to those opportunities to serve your people. May your Spirit teach us the new language of faith, so we might confess Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
This is the good news: you are God's delight, you are God's joy, you are God's beloved. God will not remain silent, but will call you by name.
From the farthest corners of heaven to this very place, from God's heart to ours - we are forgiven.  Thanks be to God! Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving

May the God of all gifts be with you!
And also with you!
People of God, come to the Wedding Feast prepared for you!
We come, our hearts dancing in delight to the Table.
God’s beloved community, do not keep silent in this moment.
We will sing songs of wonder and praise
    to the One who rejoices over us.

On the first day of creation,
your steadfast love spanned the heavens,
Upright Heart of Wonder.
Mountains capped with righteousness
     dipped their toes in the fountain of glory;
faithfulness stretched its arms to the stars,
     reaching beyond all limitations.
Created in your loving image,
we were gifted beyond measure,
but enticed by sin's sparkle,
     we were led astray, following
     the pied piper of temptation.
For our sake, you did not keep silent,
filling the prophets' hearts with hope,
     using their words to call us home.
When we were rigid in our rebellion,
you saved the best for last,
sending Jesus to draw us back to you.

So, with the forsaken of every age,
and with the delighted of every place,
we join our voices, praising you:

Holy, holy, holy, God of constant love.
All creation drinks from the rivers of delight.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes to change our bitter tears

     into the wine of hope.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, God who gathers us home,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, your true Joy.
When silence would not save us,
     he came, calling our names out loud,
     inviting us to feast at the wedding.
When our name suffered a desolate death,
     he came, renaming us as your delight.
When the best and brightest of our hopes
had been carried into sin's exile,
     he came, to gather us up and bring us home
     from the borders of death.

As we remember that his time had come,
as we celebrate his salvation which brightens our hopes,
we proclaim that mystery we know as faith:

Christ died, so we would no longer be forsaken;
Christ rose, so we would no longer live in desolation's desert;
Christ will come, so we will become God's delight,

     drawn into the circle of love, peace, hope, joy.

Pour out your Spirit
upon the gifts of remembrance
and the people who come from the four corners of life.
Every time we eat the bread,
we are strengthened to take
the gifts from your garden of plenty,
     to share with all who hunger.
Every time we take a sip of the wine of hope,
our eyes are opened and we see
the marginalized in the shadows
     and go out to gather them up
     and bring them to your table.

And on the last day of time,
when we gather with our sisters and brothers
around the feast which never ends,
we will lift our voices in praise and delight to you,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

(c) Thom M. Shuman