Sunday, February 24, 2013

Third Sunday in lent - C

Texts:  Isaiah 55:1-9; Psalm 63:1-8; 1 Corinthians 10:1-13; Luke 13:1-9

Call to Worship
When our pockets are empty, God allows us to purchase what we need,
     charging it to grace's account.
God thinks differently than we do.
When our souls are parched, God hands us a glass of living water.
God's ways are different from ours.
When we grow weary of searching, God takes our hand and leads us home.
God's love is different from ours.

Prayer of the Day
God of Grace:
we would max out every credit card
and empty our bank accounts
if we thought we could buy
that peace, that hope,
that mercy, that joy
which always seem to elude us.
     Yet you wrap them up and hand them to us,
     with no price tag attached.

We hold our empty lives
out to the world,
begging to be filled to the brim
with all that will only disappoint us.
     Yet you would grace us with living waters,
     which never run dry.
We lie awake at night
from the insomnia of our stress,
whispering of our fears.
     Yet you would lullaby us
     with your love which never ends.

We would lift our hearts to you,
God in Community, Holy in One,
trusting that you will listen to us,
even as we pray as Jesus has taught us,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation
Gifted beyond measure, we grumble that we don't have enough. Seeking to get our own way, we do not see the ways God wants to forgive us and restore us to new life. In this season of reflection and repentance, let us turn to the One who waits for us with hope.

Unison Prayer of Confession
   We continue to be tempted, Faithful God.  We are blessed with gifts to use for others, but we want to keep them for ourselves. We easily notice the mistakes of those around us, but do not want to look in the mirror at our lives. We turn our desires into idols, so we do not have to recognize how they can damage us.
   Forgive us, Steadfast God. Fill the poverty of our spirits with the richness of your grace; feed our selfish hunger with the bread of compassion for the world; pour the living waters of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, into our hearts until they overflow with love.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
God is faithful. God's love is an eternal bargain which will not be broken, God's grace is the gift which will not be taken back.
Such abundant mercy, such extravagant grace!  Thanks be to God, we are forgiven. Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving

May the God of everlasting covenants be with you!
And also with you!
Lift up your thirsty hearts to God.
We long for the waters of grace to fill us.
Sing praises to the One who feeds us with wonder.
Our mouths praise God with joy on our lips.

Your ways were not the ways of chaos,
God of Wonder and Delight,
and so with thoughts beyond understanding
you spoke,

     and waters rushed through weary lands;
you listened,
     and songbirds composed anthems for you.
You crafted humanity in your image,
     your steadfast love a promise to us for all time,
but we did not listen carefully to all you spoke,
and so spent your blessings on those temptations
which never could keep us satisfied.
So we would not be unaware
of your continued love for us,
     prophets came, calling us to stop
     and to listen to your longing heart.
When we would not forsake our foolish ways,
Jesus came, your eternal covenant of salvation.

So, we join our voices with all those
who seek you in every time and place,
calling upon you with hope and joy.

Holy, holy, holy, God our God.
Heaven and earth behold your glory.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who provides the way out of sin and death.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, O God, our God,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, your song of joy.
When we had lost our way
in the weary land of sin,
     he came to lead us to the waters of hope.
When we could not hear your voice
amid the jumbled thoughts of temptation,
     he came to witness of the good news
          first sung in the broken places of your heart.
When our ways, fertilized by fear and doubt,
were unable to produce any life for us,
     he dug up the roots of death,
          that resurrection might be planted
          deep within us, blooming forever.

As we draw closer to that week we call Holy,
as we remember the One we call Savior,
we speak of that mystery we call faith:

Christ died, witnessing to the world;
Christ rose, destroying the destroyer;

Christ will come, blessing us forever.

From the generosity of your heart you provide
the gifts of the bread and the cup,
charging us nothing, as your Spirit
pours out love and grace on all
who gather at the feast of remembrance.
Here, we are fed with that which
is not bread, but the very life we need,
     so we con go forth to serve your people.
Here, our thirsty souls are refreshed
by the taste of peace and hope,
     so we might speak out for all
     who are ignored by the world.

And when we know no thoughts but yours,
when we are gathered with our sisters and brothers
in that place which you have prepared,
we will sing for joy in the shelter of your heart,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

(c) 2013

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Second Sunday in Lent - C

Texts:  Genesis 15:1-12, 17-19; Psalm 27; Philippians 3:17 – 4:1; Luke 13:31-35

Call to Worship
How are we to know we are loved by God, as deeply as Sarah and Abraham were?
At the center of the covenant is God's promise, as well as God's honor.

How are we to know that when we cry out to God, that we will be heard?
At the center of our relationship with God is love and trust.

How are we to trust that what people like Paul and Jesus tell us is true?
At the center of Scripture we find God, full of grace and wonder.

Prayer of the Day
One thing we ask of you,
Sheltering God:
that when we are afraid
     you would bring us into your heart;
that when we lose our way,
     you would give us gentle guides;
that when we cry out to you,
     you would grace us with your presence.

One thing we ask of you,
Mothering Christ:
that you gather up our doubts
     and transform them into confidence;
that you surround our fears
     and transform them into faithfulness;
that you pick up our broken lives
     and transform us into your body.

One thing we ask of you,
Spirit of Light:
that you hold so fast to us,
     we can stand firm in the Lord;
that you stick by us
     so we can wait for the Lord
     through the long hours of life;
that you fill us with your gifts,
     so we can see the goodness
     of the One who comes.

One thing we ask of you,
God in Community, Holy in One,
that you hear us as we pray, as we are taught,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation

In the moments when no one else will look at us, God's face is turned towards us full of love and hope.  God does not recoil in horror from our words or actions but, with forgiveness and grace, gathers us up as beloved children, touching us with healing power, so we might turn to face all we have hurt.  Let us trust such a God as we offer our prayers of confession, saying together,

Unison Prayer of Confession
   Refuge of our hearts, we must admit that all too often you are not the center of our lives.  We find shelter in all the false securities the world offers, rather than grounding ourselves in your promises. Our emotions drive our fears, and so we end up making foolish choices,
rather than being guided by your word and heart. We turn to the politicians, the celebrities, the commentators to give us guidelines for living, rather than following the One who comes in your name.
   We ask one thing of you, our God, that you not hide your face from us, but turn to us with forgiveness and hope. Be gracious to us, so we might share such grace with those around us. Fill our emptiness with your love, so we might become more loving. Open
our hearts, as well as our eyes, to see the One who comes to gather us up and lead us into your kingdom, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
The good news is that at the very moment we discover that the temptations of the world provide no true home for us, we find God sheltering us with love, with grace, with joy.
Gathered up in God's grace, we become forgiven and whole. We can lift glad songs of joy to the One who makes us new. Thanks be to God! Amen.

The Great Prayer of Thanksgiving

May God be with you.
And also with you.

Beloved of God, lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the One who knows us and loves us.

Beloved of God, give thanks to our God.
It is right to give both thanks and praise.

It is indeed right to give you praise,
Star Maker.
From the depths of the terror of chaos,
you created all that is beautiful and good.
Our grandparents in the faith
could have contemplated the heavens,
     but gazed instead into
     the shadowed corners of the world,
     choosing rebellion, sin and death.
You sent prophets to call us back
into your glory and grace,
     but we ignored their witness,
     scoffing at their words.
Yet you would not let us remain broken,
but sent the Bread which could make us whole.

Therefore we gladly join our voices
with the songs of your people
in both heaven and on earth:

Holy, holy, holy, God our Light, our Salvation.
All creation beholds your glory and beauty.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, God of Grace,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord.
Choosing to leave the shelter of heaven,
     he comes to gather us into your kingdom.
sharing our life in every way,
     he knows our struggles and our doubts;
taking the weight of sin upon his shoulders,
     he carries us into the joy of your grace;
broken and dying for our sake,
     he delivers us from sin and death,
          creating the new covenant of your heart.

As we remember his life, his death, his rising,
we would proclaim that mystery we call faith:

Dying, Christ believed God's word;
rising, Christ finished his work;
returning, Christ will gather us together in glory.

God of mystery:
pour out your Holy Spirit upon us
and on the bread we break
and the cup we share.
Make us one with the Risen Christ
and send us forth to be
     sisters and brothers to the world.
Calm the worries and fears of our hearts,
     so we might be bearers of your peace;
fill our emptiness with the Bread of life,
     so we might feed the hungry around us;
cool our thirst with the cup of grace,
     so we might reach out to all
     who travel through the desert of life;
walk with us through the streets of the kingdom,
     until we reach our journey's end,
seated around the Table you have prepared
for the redeemed of every time and place.

Then we will merge our shouts of joy
with those who have modeled for us
trust and obedience in you,
singing our praise to you, God of the Covenant,
through Jesus Christ, our joy and crown,
and in the oneness of the Holy Sprit,
now and forever. Amen.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, February 10, 2013

1st Sunday in Lent - C

Texts: Deuteronomy 26:1-11; Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16; Romans 10:8b-13; Luke 4:1-13

Call to Worship
Led by the Holy Spirit, we come to this place.
God has given us this haven where we may bring
our hopes, our fears, our doubts, our wonder.
Led by the Holy Spirit, we will gather at the Table.
Jesus has come to be with us in our lives,

to feed us with grace and peace.
Led by the Holy Spirit, we will go to serve God's people.
There is no distinction between 'us' and 'them,'

between Presbyterians* and other believers;
we are sisters and brothers in God's family.

Prayer of the Day
Holy God,
Refuge of desert wanderers:
as the seeds of grace
you have planted within us
bear an abundant harvest,
     we would offer the first fruits
     in thanksgiving to you
          and in service to others.

Jesus Christ, Companion of Lenten pilgrims:
you understood
that God alone feeds us,
     and so became the broken Bread;
you knew that the power
to transform our lives
comes from God alone,
     and so became our Servant;
you did not ignore
the warning not to test God,
     and so became our Hope.

Holy Spirit, Leader of Christ's apprentices:
you fill the hungry
     with the Bread of hope;
you fill the arrogant
     with the Servant's humility;
you fill the hopeless
     with that trust which endures.

God in Community, Holy in One,
in our hearts, and on our lips,
we pray as Jesus taught us, saying,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation
Too many times, what is found on our lips are words of hurt and anger. Too often, what is found in our hearts is bitterness and fear. And so we end up testing God with our foolish lives, rather than trusting God to lead us in the way we long to go. Let us bring our words of confession, as well as our brokenness, to the One who hears us and makes us whole. Please join me as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer of Confession
   God of our ancestors, we confess that we can become so obsessed with all that is new, we ignore the past which is filled with wisdom. We prefer to wander down streets to all the places we know so well, yet are reluctant to be led by your Spirit into unfamiliar neighborhoods.  We sometimes are in such a hurry to get our heart's desires, we stumble past the grace you are longing to give us.
   Hear our hearts and see our brokenness, God of our days, and forgive us. May we grow in our trust of you, rather than continuing to test you. Gather us up and bring us into the presence of Jesus Christ, our Servant, our Savior, that we might follow him to Jerusalem, and beyond - into that place of hope and peace you are giving to us.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
This is our good news: hearing our prayers and our silence, God forgives us! God is giving to us a marvelous inheritance - hope and grace, peace and joy.
On our lips are cries of gratitude, in our hearts is the trust in the One who loves us. Thanks be to God, we are forgiven! Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God who shelters us be with you!

And also with you!
People of God’s inheritance, lift up your hearts.
Our hearts filled with hope are offered to our God.
Those whom God has brought to this place, offer your gratitude to God.
With glad songs, we celebrate the bounty of this Table God provides for us.

Full of the Holy Spirit,
you spoke, God our strength,
and with signs of light and water,
with the wonders of earth blossoming,
     you gave the first fruits of creation
     to our ancestors long ago.
But refusing to dwell in the shadows
of your love and grace,
     we stumbled after sin, trampling underfoot
     your dreams and hopes for us.
You sent psalmists and prophets,
your word on their lips and in their hearts
to call us back to you,
     but we chose to live by sin alone.

You sent your Child to us,
so we might celebrate the bounty
of your love and salvation.

As we gather in this place given to us,
as we draw near to your Table prepared for us,
we join our voices with all our ancestors
in faith from every time and place:

Holy, holy, holy, God of signs and wonders.
All creation flows with your love and joy.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes to share your inheritance.
Hosanna in the Highest!

Holy are you, God our Refuge and Hope,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, Sign and Wonder of your love.
Led by the Holy Spirit,
he came to the wilderness of our lives
     so we might be brought to
     your kingdom of peace and joy.
Hearing our cries of loneliness,
he came to bring us
     our inheritance of life with you.
Seeing how harshly sin and death
treated us, he opened his scarred hands
     to show us our salvation.

As we follow him to Jerusalem,
as we come to the Table he has prepared,
we proclaim that mystery of faith:

Christ died, salvation for all.
Christ is risen, generous to all.
Christ will come again, Lord of all.

Pour out your Holy Spirit
upon those who have gathered in this place
and upon the bread and the cup
which you are giving to us.
In the broken bread, may we find
that word of faith

     we can proclaim with our lips.
In the cup of grace poured for us,
may we find that life of faith
     we can proclaim with our actions.
And filled with the Holy Spirit,
may we be led into the world,
     to be a refuge for the searching,
     to be hope for the despairing,
     to be with those in trouble,
      to be a friend to the lonely.

And when these days are over
and we are gathered in that
inheritance you are giving to us,
we will join with our sisters and brothers
in proclaiming with our lips and our hearts
that you are indeed, forever and ever,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

* Feel free to substitute your denomination for 'Presbyterian'

(c) Thom M. Shuman