Sunday, October 27, 2013

Proper 26/Ordinary 31/Pentecost 24/Trinity 23 - Year C

Texts: Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4; Psalm 119:137-144; 2 Thessalonians 1:1-4, 11-12; Luke 19:1-10

Call to Worship
We gather in awe
standing in the presence of the One
who crafted the stars, the mountains, the seas.

We gather in faith,
trusting that the One who has held little children
holds our lives in the heart of God.

We gather in need,
seeking the One who longs for justice
to grace each and every person in creation.

Prayer of the Day

You stirred the dust
     and created us for service;
you breathed into our lungs
     so we could share your good news;
you shape our hearts
with the tools of compassion
     so we will seek justice for all.
We thank you, God of gifts.

In the hospitality of Zaccheus,
     we see your openness
          for all who are different;
in the grumbling of his neighbors,
     we hear the echoes
          of our own prejudices and fears;
in his transformation
into a new person,
     we see your grace
          which is prepared for us.
We thank you,
Companion of the poor.

You cradle us in the peace
     of the resting night;
you awaken us
     with the light of dawn
          and the warmth of your gentleness;
you walk with us through each day,
     nudging us to be that blessing
          we are called to be to others.
We thank you,
Surprising Spirit.

God in Community, Holy in One,
we lift our thanks to you,
even as we pray as Jesus teaches,
Our Father. . .

Call to Reconciliation

How patient is God! We run around trying to do everything our way, and God just waits. We try to buy life and happiness, and God waits. We hurt others and walk away from those in need, and God waits. God waits, and upon hearing our heartfelt prayers and cries for help, God touches us with forgiveness and new life. Come, join me as we pray to the One who waits to hear - from us!

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     Surrounded by so many seductions, Patient God, we find it difficult to see you in our lives. Justice has a hard time surviving when there is so much persecution and affliction towards the little ones of the world. Our neighborhoods, our families, even our churches, are filled with strife and contention.
     We cry for help, Listening God; forgive us! As we wait for your grace to fill our lives, may we open our hearts to your hope and healing, always giving thanks for Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. 

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Rich, poor; young, old; sinner, saint. We are all God's children, and God transforms each of us into the people we are meant to be.
Broken, we are mended; separated from others, we are made one; longing to serve, we are sent forth. Thanks be to God, we are forgiven. Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving

May the God of all hope be with you.
And also with you.
Lift your hearts to the One who comes to feast with you.
We offer our hearts to God who is in our midst.
Children of God, sing praises to the One
who feeds you with goodness and hope.
Our hearts and voices resound with joy. 

In your heart, God of wonder,
you wrote the vision of creation,
and the Word shaped the mountains
     from the rich loam of the valleys,
your Spirit breathed life into every
     which sprang forth from your imagination.
Welcomed into your garden with hope,
we forgot your words of hospitality,
     running to catch a glimpse of the parade
     of seductions sin and death brought to town.
Prophets came, your vision written on their hearts,
your voice standing behind their words
which sought to bring us back to you,
     but we took no delight in their invitations.
So you sent your Beloved, Jesus the Christ,
to be the guest of sinners in every time and place,
that we might receive the gift of salvation.

So, with reformers and saints who have gone before us,
with friends and neighbors sitting around us,
we lift our songs of praise to you:

Holy, holy, holy, God of justice and righteousness.
All creation keeps watch for your justice.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes to call us home. 
Hosanna in the highest. 

In your heart, Forgiving God,
you wrote the vision of redemption,
and sent Jesus, your Servant of righteousness,
to your people at the appointed time.
When our zeal for sin consumed us,
     he came to feed us with the bread of life;
when our souls were emptied out
by the corruption of death,
     he came to grow abundant faith in us;
when we saw only destruction on the horizon,
     he came to stand at his watchpost,
          defeating sin and death so they could
          never harm us again,
and inviting us to find life and peace
in your heart's home for all eternity.

As we remember his life, his teachings, his words,
as we celebrate the good news of his resurrection,
we speak of our faith, which often seems a mystery:

Christ died, faithful to the end;
Christ is risen, your righteousness come true;
Christ will return, our hope and peace. 

In your heart, Blessing God,
your wrote the vision of a community
which would live out your kingdom here on earth,
pouring out your Spirit of life and grace
upon the gifts of the Bread and Cup,
and on your people gathered for your Feast.
As we are fed by your Word become life,
     give us understanding so we might hear
          those who are crying out for hope;
as we are nourished by your Spirit of peace,
     may we go to all who live surrounded by oppression,
          bringing justice to every place
          where it has never prevailed.

And when we are gathered in that vision
of life forever which is written in your heart,
we will join our sisters and brothers
from every time and place, forever praising you,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Proper 25/Ordinary 30/Pentecost 23/Trinity 22 - C

Texts:  Joel 2:23-32; Psalm 65; 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18; Luke 18:9-14

Call to Worship
This is the day the Lord has made:
a day for praise and prayer;
a day for gratitude and generosity.

This is the time God has given us:
a time for singing and silence;
a time for speaking and listening.

This is the life to which God calls us:
a life of humility and service;
a life of faith and trust.

Prayer of the Day
Pour out your Spirit
upon us as we gather,
God of our salvation:
so your grace
      might strengthen us
          for service;
so your peace
     might calm
          our troubled souls;
so your hope
     might mend
          our broken hearts.

You poured out your life
     that we might be filled
     with the gift of salvation.
You humbled yourself
     that we might be raised
     to eternal life.
Take hold of our hands,
Servant of the world,
     so we might cross
          the finish line together.

You are in our midst,
Spirit of wholeness.
You enabled us
to cling to faith,
     when hope runs
      through our fingers like sand.
You open the gateways
of our hearts
morning and evening,
     that we might sing
     our praises with all creation.

God in Community, Holy in One,
we pour out our hearts to you,
as we pray as Jesus taught us,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation
When we pray to God, do we do so with pride in what wonderful people we are, or with that humble hope which recognizes how we have not lived as God’s children, and how we need God’s forgiveness and grace in our lives? Join me as we pray to our God, saying,

Unison Prayer of Confession
     Watching God, like the Pharisee, we think we can stick our thumbs into life, pull out a prayer, and congratulate ourselves for being such good Christians. Then, we remember the harsh words we have spoken this week, the hurt we have inflicted on someone we loved, the lack of compassion we failed to offer to someone who needed our help.
     Forgive us, God of Grace, and deal gently with us. May we become more like the tax collector - humble, penitent, acknowledging our faulty lives to you. Then, may we receive the mercy promised to us through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Forgiven and healed, we open ourselves to the grace, the peace, the hope offered to us through our loving God. This is the good news we have received!
Graced and blessed, we are able to live our lives for others, taking them by the hand to reach that finish line called the Kingdom. Thanks be to God. Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the Lord our God be with you!
And also with you!
Rejoice, o children of God, and open your hearts to our God.
Our hearts are overflow with the hope God has poured into them.
Rejoice, o children of God, and be glad!
We sing to the One who has dealt wondrously with us!

Your heart opened, Amazing God,
and abundant rain flowed forth
on that early morning of creation.
Caring and loving beyond all hope,
     the earth's floors were filled with grain
          and the plenty of every good thing;
     valleys overflowed with oil and wine.
Ever ready to crown us with your blessings,
your heart broke as we allowed sin
to cut out your hopes for us,
     as we welcomed death, who came
     destroying your intended life for us.
You sent the prophets into our midst,
to bring us back to live in your courts,
     but we preferred the hollow promises
     of temptation and seduction.
So you sent Jesus into our lives,
pouring your Spirit on his flesh,
so we might see you face to face.

So, with those who have finished the race,
with those who are only at the starting line,
we sing our praises to you:

Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of all.
The gateways of morning and evening shout your joy.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who stands by us, giving us strength.
Hosanna in the highest!

Praise is due to you, Holy One,
for there is no other god like you,
and no Lord and Savior like Jesus Christ,
     who ran the race when we stumbled,
     who kept the faith when it slipped through our fingers.
When sin’s unceasing passions
created a drought in our lives,
     he opened the channels of your river of life
     to flow through us, washing us clean
     and giving us new hopes and dreams.
When death held the deeds of our sins,
threatening to foreclose on our lives,
     he came to purchase them back,
     so we might live free and clear forever.

As we remember how he poured himself out for us,
as we celebrate the new hopes which fill our hearts,
we proclaim that mystery we call faith:

Christ died, rescuing us from every evil;
Christ arose, saving us for your kingdom;
Christ will come again, to pour your spirit into us.

Pour out your Spirit upon all people gathered
around your Table, filled with the gifts of creation.
From the plenty of the Bread of life,
     we will be fed until we are hungry
          to serve your children in every need;
from the sweet river which flows from the Cup,
     we will be humbled into your people,
     that we might exalt all who have been
          cast aside by the world around us.
For here at this Table of grace and joy,
     little boys and girls will tell stories
          of peace and hope;
     young women and men will envision
          lands where oppression has been destroyed;
     old women will recall dreams of justice,
          and work to turn them into reality;
     old men will prepare meals and serve them
          to all who hunger in every place.

And when the time of our departure comes,
and all who have longed for your appearing
are gathered around your river of life,
we will join our hearts and voices
in praising you forever and ever,
God in Community, Holy in One, Amen.

© Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Proper 24/Ordinary 29/Pentecost 22/Trinity 21 - C

Texts: Jeremiah 31:27-34; Psalm 119:97-104; 2 Timothy 3:14-4:5; Luke 18:1-8
Call to Worship
We have gathered in God's holy presence,
the One who etches grace on our hearts.

This is the place where God
will transform us into disciples.
We glorify our God, who yearns for justice,
not just for a favored few, but for the least of our world.
This is the place where God
will write compassion on our souls.
We give thanks to God for unceasing grace;
we remember God's persistence in saving us.
This is the place where God
will breathe the Word into our lives.

Prayer of the Day
Holy God:
with the precious jewel
of holy scripture,
     you share with us
     the treasure of your heart.
Engrave your covenant -
     your hopes, your dreams,
     your vision, your peace -
     upon our hearts,
that they might beat
as one with yours.

Holy Word:
ever clear,
     you keep us from wandering
     down the wrong paths;
ever longed for,
     you make us persistent
     in bringing justice
           to the lost and to the least;
ever practical,
     you show us how
     not to misplace our hearts.

Holy Wisdom:
as you breathe the Word
into our hearts,
     tutor us in faithfulness
so we are trained
     in using the tools
     of justice and hope;
so we are equipped
     to share the good news with all;
so we become skilled
     in compassion and grace.

God in Community, Holy in One,
we lift our hearts to you
as we pray as Jesus teaches us, saying,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation
Seeking to follow Jesus, we often wander down the wrong roads. Impatient with God's schedule, we rush off to do things our way. Let us confess our foolishness, that we might receive God's hope for our lives.

Unison Prayer of Confession
     Your words are given to us, Author of Life, so we might be reformed, but we are intent on changing others.  Your words are offered to us so we might be transformed, but we are focused on conforming to our culture. Your words are spoken to lead us into new life, but we hold our old ways tight to our chests.
     Forgive us, God of Wonder. Do not remember our sins, but continue to touch us with your steadfast mercy. Show us how to be persistent in living out our faith, even as you were so tenacious in offering us your grace and life in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon Jesus reminds us that we are to be resolute in our lives of faithfulness and service.  The good news is that God is steadfast in filling us with love and grace.
We are forgiven people. May we live as sisters and brothers in Christ, God's children in word and deed, in hope and joy. Thanks be to God. Amen.
Great Prayer of Thanksgiving

May the God of this day and all the days to come be with you!
May God be with you as well!
Children of the new covenant, offer your hearts to God.
We open them to the One who writes the good news on them.
People of God, join in praising the One whose Word is within you.
Glad songs are sung to the One we know in our deepest souls.

'The days are surely coming,'
you announced to chaos, God of power,
dividing it into morning and night,

     sowing seeds of humanity and other life
     into the rich loam of your creation.
You took us by the hand to show us
the place where we might have life,
     ever feasting on your bounty of love.
But we drank deeply of sin's sour wine,
     our teeth set on edge by the sound of death
     scraping its fingernails across our souls.
You sent the prophets to us,
your hopes written on their hearts,
     but since we did not fear you,
     we had no respect for them.
So you took Jesus by the hand,
asking him to proclaim the good news
that you would forget our sins,
you would forgive our foolishness.

With all who have wandered from your path,
with all who have the new covenant on their hearts,
we sing our songs of praise to you:

Holy, holy, holy, God of incredible patience.
All creation cries out for your justice.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes to teach your ways.
Hosanna in the highest!

He did not shrink from your command, God of hope,
but obediently, Jesus became one of us
so we might know you face-to-face.
When the law no longer
wanted to be seen with us,
     he became our constant companion.
Wiser than our enemies, sin and death,
     he defeated them at the cross,
          the empty tomb the sign of his victory.

As we remember his persistence in offering grace to us,
as we celebrate the joy of life with him,
we speak of the mystery we know as faith:

Christ died, for all our sins;
Christ rose, for all our sakes;
Christ comes, to take us by the hand to lead us into your presence.

As for us, we pray you
to send your Holy Spirit to us,
to bless the gifts of your love
and to transform your gathered people.
What we know, what we believe,
     we have learned at your knee,
     gathered up into your lap,
your call to wholeness a taste so wondrous
       we share it with all who are broken;
your cup of grace sweeter
     than the honey of our hopes.

And when we are gathered together
into the kingdom you have built in eternity,
we will join our voices with our sisters and brothers,
crying out to you day and night forever,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Proper 23/Ordinary 28/Pentecost 21/Trinity 20 - C

Texts: Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7; Psalm 66:1-12; 2 Timothy 2:8-15; Luke 17:11-19

Call to Worship
Whether we live in an apartment or a house;
if we reside in the suburbs or the city:
God tells us to pray for the places where we live.
Whether we are exiles or prisoners for the gospel;
if we are young, old, insider, outcast:
God says, 'when you search for me, you will find me.'
Whether we have been wandering and lost;
or if we have lived in the same place all our lives:
God says, 'I will gather you from all your places and bring you home.'

Prayer of the Day

Awesome Creator:
you bring us together in this sanctuary,
calling us from all those places
where we live and work and play,
so we can recognize you
     in faces lined with wisdom;
so we can hear you
    in the questions of the smallest child;
so we can sit up and notice
     all that you do in our midst.

Cradler of Grace:
you speak your words,
     so we might hear the sighs
     of the outsiders of our world.
You walk the borderlands
of our joys and sorrows,
     so we might embrace your healing.
You enter our hearts,
     despite our best efforts
          to close them to your presence.

Enduring Spirit:
when we are tempted
to imprison the good news
     with our politics, our fears,
      our prejudices, our doubts -
whisper that Word
     which shatters all chains,
     and sets us free to be God's people.

God in Community, Holy in One,
we pray as Jesus, our Brother and Savior,
has taught us, saying,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation

Despite our foolish and angry words, God continues to speak of mercy to us. Despite our best efforts to be faithless in our living, God remains faithful in keeping the promise to forgive us and restore us to wholeness.  Let us confess our sins to God, so that God's hope and grace might endure in our brokenness.

Unison Prayer of Confession
     God beyond borders, we know that on our way to worship, we may not have noticed the exiles in our neighborhoods. We admit how easy it is for us to wander down the streets of temptation, pausing at the corner of easy choices. We fall silent in the presence of those who speak words of anger and hate. We tolerate a culture that suspects all who are different from us.
     Have mercy on us, O God, for surely you take the side of justice. Open our hearts to all the wonders you are performing in our lives. You gift us with those of other cultures, that our lives might be blessed.  You send us friends out of places we least expect, that our community might be enriched. You call us to be generous with our blessings, so others might be graced with the gift of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
God challenges us, God encourages us. God confronts us, and God accepts us. God works wonders in our midst and gives us the eyes, the hearts, the souls to see such miracles.
God forgives us, God guides us through the wilderness of the world, God leads us home.  Thanks be to God. Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving

May the God of joy be with you.
And also with you.
People of God, open your hearts to the One who does wonders for you.
We offer our hearts to God, who plants gardens of peace within us.
Children of God, sing praises to the One who leads us to this place.
We join all creation in singing our thanks God, our Creator.
On that first glad morning, Architect of glory,
you built the house of creation
     for us to dwell in with peace as our neighbor;
you planted gardens in the valleys and meadows
     that we might be fed by your goodness.
But we chose to live in death's dim exile,
believing sin would provide a better home.
You sent the prophets to us,
carrying words of promise and hope,
     but we refused to return to you.
So, seeking the welfare of all creation,
and longing to restore us to wholeness,
you sent Jesus of your heart to us.

With all the earth that worships you,
with all brought to spacious places,
we sing your glory forever:

Holy, holy, holy, God of wondrous acts.
All creation rejoices in you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blesses is the One who remains faithful to you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, God of peace and hope,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, our Healer.
Your Word sent from glory,
    he came that we might see
     what you are doing for us.
Your Freedom for all your people,
     he set free the gospel which
     shatters the chains of our oppression.
Your Hope from the foundation of creation,
     he went through the regions
     of sin and death that we might
          enter the wonders of your kingdom,
singing praises to you as we travel your Way.

As we celebrate our redemption,
as we remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead,
we sing that mystery we call faith:

Christ died, his faith making us well;
Christ rose, that we might live with him;
Christ will come again, to present us before God.

On this glad morning, Loving God,
pour out your Spirit on the gifts of the Table,
and on those who gather at your feast.
As we are strengthened by the Bread of life,
     send us forth to plant gardens,
          sharing the harvest with those who hunger.
As we are nourished by the Cup of hope,
     give us the tools to build homes
          for those who live in poverty's grip.
As we are filled with the Spirit of service,
     may we have the courage
     to use our hearts and voices
          to break the chains of those
          who live in oppression's exile.

And when that glad morning of resurrection comes,
when we gather with the exiles of every time and place,
our sisters and brothers who were ever faithful,
we will rejoice in you forever,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

© Thom M. Shuman