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