Sunday, March 31, 2013

Second Sunday of Easter - C

Texts:  Acts 5:27-32; Psalm 150; Revelation 1:4-8; John 20:19-31

Call to Worship
Praise God with clapping hands;
praise God with hands comforting a child.
Praise God with silent hearts;
praise God with hearts broken for the world.
Praise God with electric guitars;
praise God with soft piano chords.
Praise God with be-bop and hip-hop;
praise God with rhythms that don't stop.
Praise God with a hallelujah chorus;
praise God with a Gregorian chant.
Praise God with dancing steps;
praise God with feet walking for justice.

Prayer of the Day
Holy God, Lover of your children:
the tomb has been opened,
     and we dance into your future.
Your life has dawned on us,
     and we surround you with our praise.
You reach out your hand,
     and lead us into joy.

Jesus Christ, Faithful Witness:
you pick open the locked doors
of our hearts
     and come in to be with us forever.
You breathe peace into our souls,
     so we may bring healing
          to a troubled world.

Holy Spirit, Breath of Peace:
you show us our hearts,
     so we may give love to others.
You show us our hands,
     sending us to serve the needy.
You show us your hope,
     so we may live in your joy.

God in Community, Holy in One,
who is, who was, and who is to come,
hear us as we pray as you have taught us,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation

When we keep our faults and failures locked safely away, we have no need to confess. But God comes into our hearts when we least expect, so we can be filled with forgiveness, with hope, with peace.  Please join me as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer of Confession
God of empty tombs and emptier people:
when we hesitate to speak of your hope,
     forgive us, and give us a voice.
When we find it difficult to love one another,
     forgive us, and give us fresh compassion.
When we want to stand with the high and mighty,
     forgive us, and seat us next to the poor and oppressed.
When we stay locked behind our fears and doubts,
     forgive us, and send us out to share you grace.
When we cannot believe your Word of new life,
     forgive us, and fill us with your joy.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Christ comes into every shadowed corner of our lives with the light of Easter. Christ comes into the locked rooms of our faults and gifts us with grace and hope.
Christ comes to fill us with peace, so we may proclaim the good news of mercy and forgiveness for all. Thanks be to God. Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of resounding joy be with you!
And also with you!
Easter people, may your hearts be filled with joy!
May God fill our emptiness with the carols of angels!
Children of the resurrection, lift your praises to God!
We join with all creation in shouting our praise to the One who loves us!

From the rubble of chaos,
you shaped a sanctuary for creation,
Surpassing God:
     trumpeter swans glided gracefully across lakes,
     tall trees waltzed across green fields,
     stars piped choruses of joy in the night.
Having formed us in your image,
your Spirit breathed peace into us,
inviting us to wander the gardens of wander.
     But we chose to hide ourselves behind
     the locked doors of sin and death.
Prophets came, to witness about your
willingness to forgive us and
to take our fears away from us.
When we would not respond
to your gracious invitations,
Jesus came, to free us from all sin.

With our ancestors in the faith,
with our children and grandchildren,
with everyone who sees you coming,
we sing our glad praise to you:

Holy, holy, holy, God of surpassing greatness.
Everything that breathes praises you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who you exalt.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, God of our ancestors,

and blessed is Jesus Christ, the first and last.
Co-creator of all that is around us,
     he came to bear witness of your promises.
Our Lord as well as our God,
     he blesses all who believe in him
          whether or not they have seen him.
Serving you in life as well as death,
     he became the first-born of the dead,
          so we might be your children through eternity.

As we remember all he did and taught,
as we celebrate the wonder of his resurrection,
we sing of that mystery we call faith:

Christ was the One who died for us;
Christ is the One who is risen for us;
Christ is the One who will come for us.

Send your Spirit of holiness
to transform these simple gifts
into your grace surpassing all fear,
and to bear witness of your enduring love.
Through the bread which is broken,
we are made whole once again,
     so we might minister to those
          who live behind the locked doors of oppression.
By the cup which is shared,
we are able to believe,
     even when we cannot see,
          that your peace is coming to everyone.

And when our lives have ended,
when we are gathered in grace and peace
with our sisters and brothers from all time,
we will join our hearts in praising you,
God in Community, Holy in One,
who was. who is, and who is to come. Amen.

 © Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Palm/Passion Sunday - C

Texts:  Isaiah 50:4-9a; Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29; Philippians 2:5-11; Luke 19:28-40                                   

Call to Worship
On this day of palms and celebration,
Jesus continues his journey with God.
We will go with him, for a while,

until he turns towards Calvary.
From the top of Olive Mountain,

Jesus prepares to travel
through the valley of heartache and loss.
We will follow Jesus, for a while,

cradling hope in our hearts.
In the streets of Jerusalem,

Jesus hears the cries of those who adore him.
We will shout Jesus' name, for a while,
until we cry out, "Crucify him!"

Prayer of the Day
Holy God,
Architect of our grace:
from your house we praise you.

     Your love is never taken from us;
     your goodness is the constant in our lives.
We worship you.

Jesus Christ,
Sorrow of our salvation:
you dared to listen to God
     instead of the cheers
     of the crowd
          and the jeers
          of your enemies.
We walk with you.

Holy Spirit,
Glory of God:
you give us light
     so we might see
     the One who comes;
you open our ears,
     so we might hear
     the whispers of hope;
you sustain the weary,
     so we might journey
     through this week.
We welcome you.

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

Call to Reconciliation
Petty squabbles don't belong in such a story of high drama and sacrifice, but they are there, just as in our lives, along with the other ways we fail to be the disciples of Christ. Please join me as we pray.

Unison Prayer of Confession
   Sustainer of the weary, we know how we sang for joy when Christ came into our lives, and how we have not followed him as he leads us on this journey. We have hidden our faces from the pain and suffering of our world. We have turned a deaf ear to the cries of the poor, the hungry, and the oppressed.  We trust in the slick promotion of the world, and not in your words that can transform our lives.
   Forgive us, Steadfast God, and shine your face upon us. Help us to have the same mind as Christ, so we would know your promises; help us to have the same heart as Christ, so we might serve your children; help us to have the same Spirit as Christ, so we might go wherever you lead us.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
God does not turn away when we fail to be faithful. God does not reject us when we do not trust fully. God continues to love us, to forgive us, to restore us.
It is God who helps us; it is God who saves us.  It is all we need or ever will need. Thanks be to God. Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
The Lord is coming to be with you.
And also with you.
People of God, lay down your coats and lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the One who comes in God's name.
Let us praise God for the mighty works we have witnessed.
It is right that we praise our God.

It is our highest joy to praise you,
God of enduring love.
All that is good and beautiful,
all that is just and true,
     is your doing.
Morning by morning,
     you whispered your dreams
     and hopes into our hearts.
But we chose to listen
to different voices,
     turning our backs on you
     in rebellion and sin.
You sent the prophets
to waken our ears
to your songs of grace,
     but we rejected them
     as adversaries to our desires.
Yet you would not turn your face from us,
and sent the One who is named Salvation.

Therefore, we join our voices in thanksgiving,
with those in this place, and in every place,
with those in every moment, and in this moment,
singing with all creation to your glory:

Holy, holy, holy, God of palms and passion.
All creation proclaims your coming towards us.
Hosanna in the highest!

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

Holy are you, God of goodness,
and blessed is Jesus Christ,
who comes in your name.
When he could have remained with you,
     he poured himself into
     the emptiness of our souls;
casting aside his unity with you,
     he gathered up our brokenness
     to make us whole;
proclaimed by the choirs of heaven,
     he humbled himself as a servant,
     so we might be raised to glory;
faithful to the point of death,
even shameful death,
you exalted him to new life
     so we might stand with him
     in eternity with you.

Remembering the One who came for us,
remembering the words he taught,
remembering his passion and his resurrection,
we proclaim the One who is the Bread of Life:

Christ came in triumph, only to be rejected by us;
Christ died in sorrow, only to be raised by you;
Christ will come again, only to bring us to you.

Holy Spirit,
as we come to this Table,
bless the gifts of the bread and the cup
that they might be the sustenance of grace.
Strengthen us with the Bread of life,
     so we would not turn our backs
          on those who hunger;
nourish us with the Cup of hope,
     so we might sustain the weary;
so fill us with the good news,
     that we dare not remain silent,
          but must shout out God's desire
          of justice and peace for all people.

And when days of triumph and tragedy are done,
when we are gathered in your righteousness,
we will join with all your people, of every time and place,
who forever sing your praises for all eternity,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Fifth Sunday in Lent - C

Texts: Isaiah 43:16-21; Psalm 126: Philippians 3:4b-14; John 12:1-8

Call to Worship
L: Whatever God did in the past, the future is that much better!
(even in Jerusalem)
P: We will not stop looking for the newness God has for us!
L: Whatever we have achieved to this point,
we have not completed our journey.
(even into the unknown).
P: We will quicken our pace to follow Jesus wherever he leads.
L: Whatever obstacles we put in the path,
God will make a way to our hearts.
(even in the desert of death)
P: We will move onward, through our doubts and fears.

Prayer of the Day
Holy God, Water Tamer:
you humble our pride,
so we might open
our hearts
to your healing;
you restrain our fears,
so we might reach
for your joy.

Jesus Christ, Living Water:
you gather up our tears
and wash away
the dust of our despair;
you sit at our feet
and anoint us
with your costly love;
you wipe away our sin
and make us new.

Holy Spirit, Impudent Joy:
you grace us
with gifts so abundant
they become a river
bursting its banks
in our lives.

God in Community, Holy in One,
we lift our prayers and our joy to you,
even as we pray as Jesus taught us:
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation
Even now, God makes a way for us to be made whole. God wants to bring us out
of despair and to fill our hearts with laughter. Please join me as we pray
to the One who forgets our past to offer us a new future,

Unison Prayer of Confession
    God, whose name is Grace: you are always in the business of surprising us
with new lives, new dreams, new hopes. But we are so busy opening up the
boxes where we have stored the past, making sure that each item remains safe
and unbroken, that we do not recognize what you are doing. We are so blinded
by the dull reflection of our old habits, that we cannot see the fresh
chances which are given so freely to us. Our senses are so deadened by our
desires that we cannot smell the bouquet of joy that is in the air.
    Forgive us, God of Joy. By your mercy, mend our broken lives. You move
through us, rearranging the price tags on everything we value, so we might
be able to let go of all that holds us back from faithful living. Then we
can press on in following Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, into that
kingdom of hope and wonder.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
L: God comes to us to give living water to thirsty people;
God comes to us to anoint us with the grace that wipes away our sin;
God comes to fill us with joy.
P: Our tears are turned into rivers of grace; our weeping becomes glad
cries of praise. Thanks be to God. Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
L: May the God who restores us be with you!
P: And also with you!
L: Our God desires to fill us with grace and wonder.
P: We lift our hearts to the One who longs for us
L: From brokenness, God would make us well.
P: We sing glad songs to the One who touches us with hope.

You made a way through chaos,
God of newness,
riding the rapids through mountain gorges,
giving water to the deserts
so life might spring forth.
You formed us for yourself,
so we might live with you
in the wonders of creation.
But our tongues tingled at
that first taste of sin and
as death filled our dreams
with promises that would not be kept,
we made our way
into the middle of nowhere.
You would not cling to
our former ways, but
sent the prophets to tell us
of all the new things you
wanted to do for us,
but we did not care for such words.
Then you sent Jesus to us
to restore us back to life.

So, forgetting what lies in the past,
we join our sisters and brothers
in reaching out towards you
with glad songs on our lips:

P: Holy, holy, holy, God who fills us with joy.
All creation joins in honoring you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blesses is the One who is always with us.
Hosanna in the highest!

Forgetting what lay behind in glory,
Jesus pressed on in coming to us
to make us his own sisters and brothers.
Find us wandering the back of beyond,
he took us by the hand
to make a way home to you;
sowing the tears of your heart
in the barrenness of our souls,
he brought forth a harvest of hope;
he went to the cross,
suffering the loss of all he held dear,
that we might gain life with you.

As we remember the new spirit he brought,
as we celebrate our heavenly call in him,
we proclaim the mystery we call faith:

P: Christ died, that we might gain life;
Christ is risen, that life might spring forth in us;
Christ will come again, carrying our hopes to us.

Pour out your Spirit, Holy God,
on these simple gifts of the Table
and on all who gather in your presence.
As we eat of the bread,
you refresh us with life
so we might go to serve,
our hands and hearts
overflowing with hope to others.
As we lift the cup to our lips,
we are overwhelmed with
the aroma of servanthood,
and as we taste your dreams
mingling with your tears,
our tongues tingle with grace,
and we go out with shouts of joy
gathering up all your people
to bring them home to you.

And when all time has ceased,
when our tears have turned
and our laments to loud cries of joy,
we will sing our songs of wonder to you,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

© Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Fourth Sunday in Lent - C

Texts:  Joshua 5:9-12; Psalm 32: 2 Corinthians 5:16-21; Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32

Call to Worship
Do you feel it? God's kingdom is beneath our feet.
We live in the new creation shaped by God out of our brokenness.
Do you know it? God's reconciling love in Christ has shattered our ways of viewing people.
No longer do we label our sisters and brothers, we welcome them with open arms.
Do you believe it? God has made everything, including us, new,
and sends us forth to share this good news with everyone!

Prayer of the Day
Holy God, Word Shaper:
you are not our accountant,
     but our lover;
you are not angry at us,
     but you forgive us;
you are not our enemy,
     but the One who runs towards us
     with wide open arms,
throwing steaks on the grill
to celebrate our newness!

Jesus Christ, Shaper of our story:
you travel to that distant country called our sin
     to bring us home once again;
you share your inheritance with us
     so we might be blessed;
you know the famine of our spirits
     and fill it with your hope.

Holy Spirit, Life Shaper:
surrounded by your grace,
     we offer glad cries of salvation;
encircled by your constant love,
     we shout for joy;
enclosed in your comforting arms,
     nothing can overwhelm us.

God in Community, Holy in One,
from now on we will remember our life in you,
even as we pray as Jesus taught us,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation
We know our faults -- the way we have treated others, our alienation from God, our unwillingness to be faithful people. We will not hide our sin or remain silent, but confess them to the One who surrounds us with steadfast love. Please join me as we pray, saying,

Unison Prayer of Confession
   On this very day, Waiting God, we admit all the lengths to which we go so we might avoid you. You offer us that kingdom of joy and wonder, yet we would hide in places where temptation waits. You invite us to feast on your grace and peace, but we stubbornly refuse, because you also welcome those we call 'outsiders.' We are quick to see all the mistakes that those around us make, but hope you will ignore our foolish choices.
   Celebrating God, before we come to our senses, we find you running towards us, sweeping us up in your arms, tears of grace mingling with our cries of confession, a mighty river washing away our sinful ways to restore us to new life.  In Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, we find no limitations on your grace, no reservations about your love, but a feast that overflows with wonder, a place we can finally call home.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
God rolls away everything that stands in our way - our past, our sin, our pain, our hesitation, and reshapes us into new people living in the new creation. What wonderful grace. We are forgiven!
Broken, we are made whole;
lost, we are brought home;
empty, we are filled with songs of gladness.
We rejoice and give thanks to God who has graced us with mercy. Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving

May Abba our God be with you!
And also with you!
Lift your hearts to the One who welcomes you home.
We open them to our God, who runs to embrace us with grace.
Sing glad songs to the One who provides this feast.
We join in singing to God, who throws a party for us in this place.

On those days you called creation
from the hiding places of your imagination,
     mighty rivers rushed down to the seas,
     a rainbow of produce sprang up in fields,
     day and night rippled with your beauty.
All this was from you, God of Wonder,
gifts for those created in your image.
But we demanded our share,
     traveling to that far country called death,
     squandering everything in sin's hidden shadows.
Longing for us to come home,
you sent the prophets to surround us
with glad songs of deliverance,
     but we regarded their words as empty husks,
     continuing to waste away all our days.
So you sent Jesus, your Son,
to lead us back from the dead
so we might celebrate your life.

With all the prodigals as well as the pious,
with all the saints as well as the sinners,
with all the faithful, we sing to you:

Holy, holy, holy, God who reconciles us to yourself.
All creation is glad and rejoices.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who finds the lost and guides them home.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, God of prodigals,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, in whom there is no deceit.
Coming to that far country we call life,
     he shared the gifts of grace and peace;
telling us stories of families reunited,
     he points us to you sitting by the kingdom's window;
seeing us green-eyed with jealousy,
     he hands us the glasses of reconciliation
          so we might see others in a new way;
going to the cross and dying,
     he comes to life in joy,
          surrounded by your glad cries of resurrection.

As we remember how he welcomed those we overlook,
as we celebrate at the feast which is offered in his name,
we would reflect on that mystery we call faith:

Christ died, to be our salvation;
Christ rose, to be our reconciliation;
Christ will return, to lead us home.

On this day, Parenting God,
pour out your Spirit
on the gifts of the bread and the cup,
the celebration of our new life with you.
In this feast you provide,
     we find the healing we hunger for
     in the bread which is broken for us.
At this table of peace and joy,
in the deep richness of grace's cup,
we receive new sight,

so we can see our sisters and brothers in a new way,
not strangers,

     but siblings,
not outsiders,

     but members of the family.
And on the very day when all time will end,
we will gather with your family around your table,
our voices singing through all eternity glad songs to you,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

© Thom M. Shuman