Sunday, August 18, 2013

Proper 16/Ordinary 21/Pentecost 14/Trinity 13 - C

Texts:  Jeremiah 1:4-10; Psalm 71:1-6; Hebrews 12:18-29; Luke 13:10-17

Call to Worship
Before we got up this morning
and decided to come to church,
God was waiting for us,
to welcome us with grace.

When we are unsure of what to do;
when we falter before the next step,
we come to listen to God's voice,
to learn from the One who teaches us
all we ever need to know.

When we are surrounded by cruelty and injustice;
when our fears cripple our souls,
God delivers us with steadfast love;
we are set free to be God's sons and daughters.

Prayer of the Day
Rock of Ages:
when we are afraid
and can only whisper our fear,
     yet once more,
          you bend over to listen to us.
When everyone acts as if
they can't remember our name,
     yet once more,
          you know us as your Beloved.
When we cannot seem to tell others
all that you have done for us,
     yet once more,
          you put the Word into our mouths.
And we tremble with praise.

Word of the Lord:
when others would weigh us down
with shame and guilt,
     yet once more,
          you set us free with your joy.
when we are bent over
by our doubts and questions,
     yet once more,
          you reach out to touch us
          with your hope and grace.
And we tremble with praise.

Refuge of Wisdom:
when we wander
from one crippling spirit to the next,
     yet once more,
          you lead us into hope.
When our fears
shake us to the core,
     yet once more,
          you touch us with your serenity.
When we cannot stand up
and see our way,
     yet once more,
          you take us by the hand
          to lead us home.
And we tremble with praise.

God in Community, Holy in One,
yet once more, we tremble with praise and joy
as we pray as Jesus has taught us,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation

When we were children, we learned not to touch hot things so we would not be burned. If only avoiding sin was that easy! But sin seems so comfortable, so easy, and so harmless that we cannot stop ourselves from reaching out to touch it over and over again. Let us confess our sins to the One who chooses to forgive us and love us unconditionally, as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer of Confession
     Yet once more, we come to you with our prayers, Holy God. Our crippling spirits keep us from following you. Our grudges weigh us down until we cannot walk straight in your way.  Our anger becomes a fire which scorches our friends and loved ones. Our fears blind us to the goodness in those we believe to be different.
     Forgive us, God our Rock, and set us free from our wrong-doings and failures. From the day of our birth, we have known your love, grace, and hope. So may we offer you our joyful thanks, as Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, reaches out to touch us with your healing forgiveness, yet once more.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
God chooses not to turn a deaf ear to us, but to listen to our prayers.
God chooses not to shame us, but to save us.
This is, indeed, good news for us! We are set free to drink deeply from
the waters of life. Thanks be to God! Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
People of God, lift up your hearts.
We lift them to our Rock and Refuge.
Daughters and sons of God, give thanks to the One who saves us.
We lift our thanks and joy to the God who is our hope.
With a simple Word,
Creator of the Universe,
you caused chaos to tremble with fear,
     as mountains stretched
          to touch the clouds,
     and rivers cascaded
          through barren deserts.
With a single Breath,
life was given to our ancestors,
     who stood up straight
          to walk through your Garden.
But the spirit of sin
     put out its hand and crippled us;
death enslaved us
     with its unjust and cruel grip.
You touched the lips of the prophets,
appointing them to call us home,
but we could not lift our heads to see,
we would not turn our hearts to listen.
Yet, you would not leave us hopeless,
but sent Jesus to set us free.

Therefore, we joining our voices
with the faithful of all time and all places,
singing our songs of joy to you:

Holy, holy, holy, God our hope, our trust.
All creation worships you with reverence and awe.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes as the mediator of the new covenant.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, God of the Ages,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, our Hope, our Trust.
Your Child from before time,
he became a son of Abraham,
     so we might all be a part of your family.
From the day he became human,
he taught us of your hopes for us,
     so we would not give in to despair.
Seeing us held in the unrelenting grasp of sin and death,
he put out his hand and rescued us.

As we remember his life, ministry,
death, and resurrection yet once more,
we will proclaim that mystery we call faith:

Christ died, to set us free from sin;
Christ arose, to set us free from death;
Christ will come again, rejoicing at all the wonderful things
          God has done.

Pour out your Holy Spirit
upon the gifts of the Bread and the Cup,
and upon your daughters and sons
who come to this Table.
We come with knees knocking,
with hearts pounding,
taking shallow breaths,
trusting and believing that
     here, we will find healing,
     here, we will be touched by your grace,
     here, we will hear your Word of hope.
Then, fed by your love
and nourished by your dreams,
     we shall go to bring your peace
          to a warring world.
     We shall speak out on behalf
          of those whom society has rendered voiceless.
     We will not be afraid to stand up straight
     and look injustice and cruelty in the eye
          and proclaim, "Enough!"

And then, when we are gathered
with our sisters and brothers
from the beginning of creation,
we will sit at the Table of the Lamb,
joining hands and lifting our eternal praise to you,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

© Thom M. Shuman