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