Sunday, May 05, 2013

Seventh Sunday of Easter - C

Texts: Acts 16:16-34; Psalm 97; Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21; John 17:20-26

Call to Worship
We come to this place of prayer,
for here we can bring our hopes and dreams,
our hidden fears and the doubts we wear on our sleeves.

We come to this place of grace,
for here we learn compassion and joy,
and discover how deeply we are loved.

We come with these people called the church,
to be blessed by the variety of gifts,
to live as one for our God.

Prayer of the Day
In your presence,
Creator of the Universe,
   mountains melt into
   muddy puddles
      and stars whisper
      your name to us.
   Faithfulness and justice
   are the scuffed shoes
      you put on each morning,
   clouds are your prayer shawl
      in the evening.

When you could have
kept God's glory in your pocket,
Servant of the poor,
   you took it out
   and spent it on us.
Confident in that love
which was yours before
the world began spinning,
   you came to walk
   the dusty path of death.

Spirit of Blessing,
like a crossing guard
   you keep your eyes on us
   as we cross the busy streets of life,
      ready to pull us out of the way
      of oncoming sin.
   You take us by the hand
      to lead us to the shade
      of the tree of life.

God in Community, Holy in One,
make us one Body from many individuals,
as we pray as Jesus teaches us, saying,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation

Plastic cards, shiny cars, brick and glass homes - what idols we fashion with our hands, how much energy and time serving them occupy our hearts!  Let us confess how we have misplaced our priorities, and seek the One who asks us to be first in our lives.

Unison Prayer of Confession
   Enslaved to sin, we cannot see the lives we lead, God of Glory.  Each day, and every day, there are those times when we ignore you and your dreams for us.  Each week, and every week, we find the time to ridicule others, when we could have affirmed them.  Each moment, and every moment, though we do not want to admit it, we seek our own way rather than skipping down your path of joy and obedience.
   We come asking forgiveness for our foolish lives, Eternal Blessing.  Deliver us, and break the chains of sin and death which hold us captive.  Open us to that grace you offer, and give us the gift of the Spirit so we may live as people of the Risen Lord, Jesus Christ.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
In the beginning was God, and at the end will be God, and in every moment in between, there is God: creating, redeeming, sustaining us.
And through Christ, gracious love is poured into our empty souls; through the Spirit, peace becomes the gift we can share with those around us.  Thanks be to God.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving

May the God of wonder be with you.
And also with you.
Lift your hearts to the One who invites you to this Table, calling, "Come, Come!"
Thirsty for life and hope, we bring our hearts to this feast.
Rejoice in the Lord, all you people!
We sing glad songs of thanks to God's holy name!

Disturbing chaos at the very beginning,
Dawn for the righteous,
you created wonder and beauty.
   Coastlands were filled with life's abundance,
   clouds scudded across the skies,
      justice became the foundation for hope.
Crafted in your image to behold your glory,
   we believed the boasts of worthless idols,
   bowing down to worship sin and death.
Prophets came, speaking your word,
   but we accused them of disturbing our peace.
When you saw your hope
of our returning on our own,
you sent Jesus, who came,
not only on behalf of those who knew him,
but also for all who would believe in him.

So with those who thirst for righteousness,
and with those who hunger for justice,
we lift our voices to you:

Holy, holy, holy, Joy of the upright in heart.
All creation beholds your glory.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who testifies to all things.
Hosanna in the highest!

You are most high over all Creation, Holy One,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, your Joy, our Hope.
You gave him your glory,
   which he shares with all your children.
The Bright Morning Star, he came
   to illumine the shadows of our lives.
Bringing the testimony of your salvation,
   he proclaimed the good news to all who listened.
Desiring that we might be with him wherever he is,
   he went to the cross,
      throwing open death's imprisoning doors,
      that we might have life eternal.

As we celebrate his life and love,
as we testify to his peace and hope,
we witness to that mystery called faith:

Christ died, that we may enter the holy city by the gates;
Christ arose, that we may receive the water of life as a gift;
Christ will come soon, your grace calling us home.

Come, Holy God, come,
pouring out your Spirit upon this feast,
transforming your children
with the simple gifts of the bread and cup.
As we eat of the bread,
we find you within us,
   uniting us, wherever we are divided,
   healing us, where we are broken,
   sending us, when we are reluctant,
      to throw open wide all that imprisons
      our sisters and brothers throughout the world.
As we drink from the cup,
we realize how deeply we know you,
   and will go forth to witness to all around us,
      that the love with which you have loved us
      may be in them, and we in them.

And when the end of all time has come,
when the Alpha and Omega invites us to "come,"
we will gather around your Table in the holy city,
clothed in your grace with all the saints,
we will sing your praises forever and ever,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

© Thom M. Shuman