Sunday, April 28, 2013

6th Sunday of Easter - C

Texts: Acts 16:9-15; Psalm 67; Revelation 21:10, 22 - 22:5; John 14:23-39

Call to Worship
L: God calls us to this place, a haven for healing and hope.
P: We come, with the pain of our burdens,
we come to hear God's Word of hope for us.
L: Together, we will sing songs of joy;
each of us will hear God whisper our name,
'Beloved of my heart.'
P: We join our voices in prayer and praise;
we sing of our longing for new lives.
L: Here, our shadowed corners are filled with Light;
here we discover that God dwells in us.
P: And not just us, for God would teach all to love;
God's Spirit would lead all peoples in peace.

Prayer of the Day
Lord God the Almighty,
you bless us with all
that you have created:
you teach us to swim
in the bright crystal water of life;
you cook breakfast for us
in that eternal city;
you open your heart to us
and will never close its door.
We worship you.

Jesus Christ, Lamb of God:
you stand at the door,
your hand on the knob,
your coat over your arm,
ready to go away.
Yet you do not leave us
but fill our emptiness with your peace.
We praise you.

Holy Spirit, God-sent Gift:
you come to our defense
when we are falsely accused;
you rescue us
from the school yard bully
who always picks on us;
you sit by our beds
and comfort us
when the nightmares of life
keep us awake.
We open our hearts to you.

God in Community, Holy in One,
we sing for joy to you, even as we pray with all people
as Jesus taught us, saying,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation
How easy we can learn of God's love - but how hard it is to live it! The
world distracts us with its easy choices, while we know how intentional we
must be to love one another. Join me as we confess our failures to love and
we open our hearts to God, saying,

Unison Prayer of Confession
Because you dwell in our hearts, Eternal God, you know how the anger,
the pain, the bitterness of our lives try to crowd you out. The noise of the
world deafens us to that Word which can heal us. We want our children to be
good, kind, and gentle to others, and then they hear us call others names,
and speak of them with demeaning words. Our desire for revenge towards those
who have hurt us shows that your peace, indeed, is not in us.
You promise a new heaven and a new earth, so create new spirits and new
lives within us, Healing God. Shattered by our sin, your heart can still
heal our brokenness. Your Spirit, living deep within our souls, can teach us
faithful ways. Your Word, Jesus Christ our Lord, whispers to us of your
mercy, your hope, your love.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
L: The Word which can transform us is not some idle gossip, but good news
for us. It fills us with forgiveness, equips us for service, and sends us
forth to love others as God loves us.
P: In our midst, the Holy Spirit teaches us all we need to know, gives us
what we need in order to be faithful, and fills us with peace. Thanks be to
God. Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
L: May God be gracious to you.
P: And also to you.
L: Children of God, offer your hearts to the One who saves you.
P: We open our hearts to the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end of hope, life, grace.
L: As God's people, sing for joy to the One who is with you.
P: We join all creation in lifting our praises to our God.

God of all beginnings,
you spoke a Word, your Spirit acted,
calling forth the first heaven and the first earth.
Rivers teeming with life flowed to the seas,
holiness roamed the hills and valleys,
peace was planted deep in the heart of creation.
To your children created in your image,
you made the promise to be our God,
but we heard sin and death calling to us
and crossed the boundary into their power.
You did not turn your face away from us
but longing to be gracious to us,
you sent your messengers to invite us
back to your heart, where we might live.
When we continued in our foolish ways,
you sent Jesus to us, in your name,
to remind us of all the promises you have made.

So, with those who have been called home to you,
and with those who continue to journey your way,
we join the peoples in praising you:

P: Holy, holy, holy, God whose face shines upon us.
All the ends of the earth bless your name.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes to give us peace.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, God who makes all things new,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, our Joy, our Savior.
Hearing our cries for help in the dark nights of the soul,
he came bringing the light of your love;
finding us living in sin's squalor,
he came to make a home for us;
Going to the cross for us,
he went into death's cold tomb,
so we might not be afraid,
but cradled in the warmth
of the power of the resurrection.

As we remember his promise to always be with us,
as we celebrate his saving power among all nations,
we speak of that mystery we call faith:

P: Christ died, so death would be no more;
Christ rose, so the first things might pass away;
Christ went away, and will come to us to take us back to you.

Here at this table of grace and wonder,
where the simple gifts you have prepared
are set aside for sacred use,
your Spirit is poured out upon them
and your children gathered in this place of prayer.
As we eat of the bread broken for us,
we feast on the promises that one day pain will be no more,
that our tears will mingle with the waters of life.
As we drink deeply from the cup of peace,
we are filled with the joy of your grace,
and hearing the cries of those around us,
we go forth to serve them with your hope and justice.

And when the first things have passed away,
when we wander down the streets of the new Jerusalem,
we will find you waiting for us,
our sisters and brothers gathered together
around the Table of glory and wonder,
where we will sing our praises to you forever,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

© Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Fifth Sunday of Easter - C

Texts:  Acts 11:1-18; Psalm 148; Revelation 21:1-6; John 13:31-35

Call to Worship
Praise God, all people!
Praise the Lord, all creation!
whales doing backflips in the air,
squid and octopi dancing on the ocean floor;
giant redwoods stretching to the sky,
tomato vines cuddling around a stake.

Mountains blocking the sunrise,
moles tunneling through our front lawns;
5-year-olds sitting in a story-time circle,
grandparents singing 'their song.'

Redbuds decorating our backyard,
grass growing faster than our children;
seals getting a suntan on the rocks,
teenagers knotted together at church.

Praise the Lord, all creation!
Praise God, all people!

Prayer of the Day

Vision-Giving God,
when you put bandages
on skinned knees;
when you hold the hand
of a teenager
grieving unrequited love;
when you wipe away the tears
of parents at graduation day:
you show us
your new creation.

Brother to little children,
when you hang out
with the world's outcasts;
when you stay a little longer
with those we rush past;
when you will not take sides
in our petty little games:
you show us
the new earth.

Holy Spirit,
when you turn on the
'no vacancy' sign
as death comes our way;
when mourning becomes
a distant memory;
when pain is found
only in dusty history books:
you show us
the new heaven.

God in Community, Holy in One,
make us new,
as we pray as Jesus teaches, saying,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation

We show others who we are by the lives we lead, the words we speak, the actions we undertake. Let us confess how we have not been God's little children, when we fail to love as we have been loved.

Unison Prayer of Confession
    Who are we to get in your way, Holy God? We put people into neat, little boxes, but you rip them open, so folks can dance in your joy. We imprison others with our unmet expectations, and you set them free with a Word. We build walls around those we don't know, and you tear them down, so they can run wild in the kingdom.
    Who are we to get in your way, Saving Power, especially in the way of your forgiveness offered to all! Give us your vision that sees everyone as equal - forgiven, graced, loved - even as we seek to follow our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
L: We know who God is by the love shown to us in Christ Jesus.
P: We will show others who we are - and Whose we are - by the loved poured
out by our lives. Thanks be to God, we are forgiven! Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving

May God be with you.
And also with you.
Little children, lift your hearts to God.
We lift them to the One who loves us forever.
Let us glorify the One who has raised Jesus to new life.
We sing praises to God, who makes all things new.
You commanded, Holy God,
and chaos yielded to your Word,
so all that is beautiful and good
might be created by your grace.
The sun and moon were shaped
so we would have days and nights
in which to praise you,
but we spent our time
denying your dreams for us,
living each moment for ourselves.
You fixed the boundaries for your Garden,
where we could have life and joy with you,
but we chose to play
on the garbage dumps of sin.
You told the prophets to 'Go!'
to bring your vision
of healing and restoration,
but we thought them to be fools,
standing on the edges of our lives.
When we had decided
to have nothing to do with you,
you chose to become one of us,
living, calling, creating once again
through Jesus the Christ.

Therefore, with those around the Throne,
and with those in every time and place,
we sing our praises to you:

Holy, holy, holy, God who makes all things new.
The height, the depth, the breadth, the width of creation praises you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes, the Alpha and Omega.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, Creator of the Universe,
and blessed is Jesus, your Son, our Lord.
When he could have left us
to deal with sin and death on our own,
he came to live with us;
when he could have chosen
the path to power and fame,
he walked the deadly road to Calvary;
when he could have called down
the angels to save him,
he cried out for forgiveness
for all your children.
When you could have left him
alone and forsaken in the grave,
you graced him with new life.

So as we sing our Easter Alleluias,
we echo that mystery we call faith:

Christ died, that death would be defeated.
Christ is risen, that God would be glorified.
Christ will come again, that we would be led to life.

Pour out your Spirit
upon this Bread and this Cup, O God,
that they might become
your grace and peace for us,
so we might become your servants
of hope and joy to our world.
As we come to your Table,
remind us of your promises
that when the sea is no more,
you will flood us with your grace;
that when the earth is a hollow husk,
you will walk with us
through the streets
of the New Jerusalem;
that when the sun, moon, and stars
have burned out in space,
the Light of your love
will shine for us forever.

And when we sit down
at the Feast of the Lamb,
receiving grace from those we loved,
and passing it on to those we feared
until all people are served,
we will sing with one heart and voice:
"Glory to the One who makes all things new - even us;
Glory to the One who comes in the name of the Lord - for us;
Glory to the One who makes no distinction - among us!'
Glory to God in Three Persons, now and forever. Amen.

© Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Fourth Sunday of Easter - C

Texts:  Acts 9:36-43; Psalm 23; Revelation 7:9-17; John 10:22-30

Call to Worship
We gather in the presence of God,
where grieving people and children with skinned knees

have their tears wiped away.
We gather with the people of God,
who worship the One who provides what we need, not just what we want.
We gather around the Font and Table of God,

where God feeds us with grace and wonder,
where God pours the living waters upon us.

Prayer of the Day
Lead us, God of goodness:
lead us into those places
where your mercy waits
     to nourish our weary souls,

where your grace feeds
     our famished hearts.

Lead us, Gentle Shepherd:
lead us to those sanctuaries of hope,
where we have the joy
     of filling the emptiness of others,
because the table you have set
     has room enough for everyone.

Lead us, Mercy's Mother:
place our feet on your right paths,
walking us down the streets
     where we can do justice
          for all who are wronged in the world;
lead us to those gentle pools
     where we can fill our selves,
     then go to empty them
          for those parched by loss.

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

Call to Reconciliation
We know the wrong turns we have taken, those poor choices which shape our lives, those mistakes which hurt God and those around us.
Let us confess our sins to the One who leads us into life, as we pray together saying,

Unison Prayer of Confession
   Taught by our culture to want every thing, Comfort of the righteous, we confess an emptiness which sends us scurrying for more and more. We look and see folks whose lives seem richer and fuller than ours, and so are filled with lust and envy. We are convinced that peaceful waters offer us nothing, and so thirst for whitewater adventures in our lives. We listen to the silly promises of the world, turning away from the shelter you offer to us.
   Forgive us, Source of wonder and joy. Your goodness follows us around, so we can share it with everyone we meet along the journey. Your mercy shadows our every step, so we can find the way which you would have us live. We find rest in your heart, healing at your hands, and life together in Jesus Christ, our Lord, our Savior, our gentle Shepherd.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Listen to God's voice: I walk with you in every moment; I fill you with grace and hope; I know you and love you.
Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might belong to our God forever!  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving

May the God of all time be with you!
And also with you.
In these moments, people of God, turn your hearts to the One
  who leads you to this Table of refreshment.
Our hearts are filled to overflowing by our Shepherd.

In every moment, offer praise to God, beloved of the Lord.
Surely goodness and mercy are on our lips as we come to this Feast.

Gentle God:
into that place where there was no time,
you crafted day and night,
     bathing green pastures in their light.
Into that dark valley called chaos,
     you flung the sparkling stars,
     you pooled still waters for nourishment,
     you prepared a feast for your children created in your divine image.
We chose to journey down the wrong paths,
sin and death tagging along behind us,
pointing out where temptation built a home for us.
You sent prophets to call to us,
hoping we would hear your voice in them,
but we preferred the presence of your enemies.
So, you sent the good shepherd, Jesus,
to us to call us back to you.

So with that multitude no one can count,
with those of every nation and language,
we lift our voices to you in glad praise:

Holy, holy, holy, God who is seated on the throne.
All creation praises you forever and ever.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the Lamb who is our shepherd.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, God of green pastures,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, our Shepherd, our Savior.
He would not keep us in suspense,
     but came proclaiming the good news
     that we are held forever in your hands.
He came to people who hungered for hope,
who thirsted for healing in their brokenness,
     feeding them on goodness and mercy,
     nourishing them with peace and reconciliation.
He did not fear the power of death,
but walked into its shadowed valley,
     emerging into the bright light of resurrection.

As we celebrate the good news of his resurrection,
as we remember his gentle life and affirming spirit,
we witness to that mystery we can faith:

Christ died, to restore us to life;
Christ is risen, to anoint us with hope;
Christ will come again, to lead us on the path to God.

You prepare a feast for us,
your Spirit taking the simple gifts of the bread and cup,
filling them with your goodness and mercy.
You gather us around the Table,
     strangers now become family,
     enemies now our sisters and brothers,
handing us the broken bread
which heals us of every hurt and division,
     so we can go to bring hope to the world.
Your cup of peace and reconciliation
overflows and makes us one in your grace,
     so we can offer our hands to all who
     have been cast aside, helping them up
          so they might know your love for them.

And when we gather with that multitude no one can count,
when we are with our sisters and brothers
from every nation, tribe, people, and language,
we will fall down on our faces, lifting our voices to you,
God in Community, Holy in One,
singing our praises to you forever and ever. Amen.

© Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Third Sunday of Easter - C

Texts:  Acts 9:1-20; Psalm 30; Revelation 5:11-14; John 21:1-19
Call to Worship
Sing, all people of God! Sing the good news:

We cry ourselves to sleep and God comes in with the dawn,
      to awaken us with Joy's embrace.

Sing, in every land, in every tongue! Sing the good news:
when our lives bottom out, God takes us by the hand 
to lead us into the light.
Sing, in heaven and on earth! Sing the good news:
broken, hopeless, lost - we cry out to God, who hears our hearts.
Sing, all people of God!
We will sing the good news of Easter!

Prayer of the Day
You take away
the drab gray dress
of our despair
     and clothe us
     with hope and joy.
You fill our empty souls
with the resurrection feast
     of peace and life.
You are worthy, Healing God,
and so we worship you.

You come to us,
not as a ravenous lion,
     but the Lamb
          who leads us into God's heart.
When we long to keep you
in our pockets
like a good luck charm,
     you challenge us to live
     a love which goes beyond
          mere friendship
You are worthy, Heaven's Light,
and so we follow you.

You make us speechless
with your mercy,
     yet choose us
     to tell God's story of new life
          to all the world.
When our secret wounds
would sap our energy,
     you pour your peace into us,
          so we may be agents of healing.
You are worthy, Love's Spirit,
and we will praise you.

God in Community, Holy in One,
you alone are worthy
of all that we have, and all that we are,
and so we lift our prayers to you,
saying as Jesus has taught us,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation
We can carry our grudges around with us for years, just waiting for the right time for our hurt to erupt. But God gets angry for but a moment, while surrounding us with grace and mercy all the days of our lives. Join me as we pray to God, saying,

Unison Prayer of Confession
   We sing loud songs to you, Morning Joy, trusting they will drown out our mean-spirited murmurs about those around us. We hope you will turn a blind eye to our behaviors, while we imprison our families and friends with impossible expectations.  We pull a muscle stretching to pat our selves on the back, but our attitudes and actions towards the poor and outcast of the world reveal we are not worthy to be called your children.
   You never give up on us, Healing God. You are quick to forgive us, and quicker to offer us ways to share your name with everyone we meet. As you continue to be loving and affirming towards us, let us go to share the good news of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Do not cry. The Lamb of God has come, to lead us into the kingdom, where we may praise our God, and serve our sisters and brothers.
Songs of blessing, glad shouts of joy; hearts for others, hands for service.  All these we offer, and more, to the One who forgives us and makes us whole.  Thanks be to God, we are forgiven. Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving

May the God who turns our mourning into dancing be with you!
May God teach you new dance steps as well!
May the God who hears our hearts listen to yours!
In those depths, we speak of that for which we long – hope and grace.
May the God who loves us fill your with abundant blessings.
We sing glad songs of joy to the One who comes to us.

You are worthy, God of power and splendor,
for you gathered up all the treasures
of your imagination, flinging them into
the emptiness that would never be again,
     so that as bees buzzed from flower to flower,
     as butterflies played chase across meadows,
     as deer stood still as silence among the trees,
          all creation might sing with full voice.
When we should have fallen down
to worship you with praise-filled hearts,
     we became blinded by the bright lights
     of temptation and its companion, death,
          choosing to live on that street named sin.
You cried out to us, over and over,
offering healing and hope through the prophets,
     but we hid our faces from them,
          refusing to listen to your anguished voice.
So, you sent Jesus to us,
not to breathe threats against us,
but to bring the good news of your salvation.

With those who weep with the mourning
and all those who dance in your wonder,
we lift our songs of praise to you this morning:

Holy, holy, holy, God who restores us to life.
All creation falls down to worship you with praise.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who tells of your faithfulness.
Hosanna in the highest!

Glory and might are yours, God of Holiness,
blessing and honor are the songs we sing
to Jesus Christ, the Lamb who died for us.
When we were wandering down
the crooked paths of seduction,
     he showed us that street called Straight.
When we could not make our way
through the shadows of sin,
     he took our hand to bring us to you.
When the world heaped
threats and murder on him,
     he silently picked up his cross,
     going to his death, breathing his last,
          so that resurrection's Spirit might
          fill us with new life in you.

As we gather at this Table of remembrance,
as we celebrate the feast of resurrection,
we proclaim the mystery we know as faith:

Christ died, to turn death into life;
Christ is risen, to turn mourning into laughter;
Christ will come, to teach us resurrection's dance.

When we are ready to return
to our old lives, trying to do
the good news our way,
you break the bread, hand it to us,
so that as we eat of your life,
     we may hear your call
     to feed those who hunger for
          your justice, your peace, your hope.
When we are adrift, getting nowhere,
you bless the cup, offering it to us,
so that as we drink of your spirit,
     we might hear afresh your voice,
     asking if we love our sisters and brothers,
          and sending us forth to serve them.

And when our life has come to an end,
when we gather at glory's seashore
feasting on the meal you have prepared,
we will not be silent, but praise you forever,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

© Thom M. Shuman