Sunday, October 26, 2014

All Saints Day - Year A

Texts:  Revelation 7:9-17; Psalm 34:1-10, 22; 1 John 3:1-3; Matthew 5:1-12

Call to Worship
At all times we are called
to bless God’s name.
Our lips are drenched with praises,
our hearts exult in God.
The proud will bend knees in worship,
the humble will lift glad songs.
We are free from our fears,
we have searched for God and been found.
Our faces glow with thanksgiving,
our spirits overflow with grace.
God has wiped away our tears,
God has fed us from the storehouses of hope.
Prayer of the Day
They are gathered around you,
God of Forever and Ever.
Some are well known, like
Martin Luther,
Mother Theresa,
C. S. Lewis,
Helen Keller,
and so many more.
Some have been forgotten, like
Agnes and Cadoc,
Tuda, Mary of Egypt,
and Ebba,
while others have days named after them.

But many are ordinary folk,
such as the teacher from second grade
who guided our fingers under the words;
the nurse in the hospital
who held our hand while blood was taken;
the coach who trusted us with the ball,
not the end of the bench.
There is an old man who left retirement behind,
and a barren woman who laughed at your promise;
there are popes, princes, and power-brokers
who are taught heaven’s hymns
by the paupers and pretenders;
there are those who moved mountains
and those who murmured in the wilderness;
there are those who founded the church,
and those who floundered on the waves of Galilee.

All saints,
just like us,
singing your praise forever and ever,
and we join in their anthem
even as we pray as Jesus has taught us, saying,
(The Lord's Prayer)

 Call to Reconciliation
 When God sets the table of the Lamb, all will be welcome – the young and the old; those who were faithful, and those who failed; those who followed Jesus, and those who lost their way.  Let us confess to our God our unsaintly ways, knowing how quick God is to forgive.

Unison Prayer for Confession
We did not listen, when the Teacher spoke, God of sinners. 
Rich in pride and arrogance,
     our spirits have no need for a kingdom;
taught to not let anyone see us cry,
     we refuse your comforting arms;
seeing the greedy and self-indulgent have their way,
     we yearn to inherit their hardened hearts;
noticing the hungry standing by the side of the road,
     we make sure we get more than our share
     of the world’s resources;
taking note of how the merciful are pushed aside,
     we develop calluses on our souls.

Forgive us, Saint Maker, that we follow the wrong examples and listen to false teachings.  It is the peacemakers who live into your hope; it is those whose hearts are shaped by yours, who are able to see you in the poor and broken; it is those who give themselves to serve others who are your saints, following the example of Jesus Christ, our Lord, our Savior, our Shepherd, guiding us to the wellsprings of life.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
When we seek God, we are found;
when we cry out, we are heard;
when we confess, we are forgiven and made new.
We can taste the yeasty flavor of grace, we can drink the deep wine of hope, we can find our home in God’s heart, receiving mercy and new life.  Thanks be to God.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
We seek, not to be saints so much, but simply your people.  We have been blessed beyond imagination and so pray, as we offer these gifts, that they would be used to touch the lives of the broken, the lonely, the seeking, the hungry, the hopeless - all those who are our brothers and sisters.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of saints and sinners be with you.
And also with you.
Join me in glorifying our God.
We offer our hearts as we praise our God.
Let us bless our God at all times.
Songs of thanksgiving will flow from our lips forever.
You stood before chaos, God of all time,
and cried out with a loud voice,
calling all that is good and beautiful into being:
     wiggly worms tilling the rich soil,
     owls watching over the gathering dusk,
     butterflies flittering through gardens.
You created humanity in your image,
the Spirit breathing life into our lungs,
all so we could live with you in creation’s wonder.
     But we tasted the tempting goodies of sin,
     and saw all the promises death offered to us,
          and we placed our hopes in them.
Hearing our souls cry out to you,
you sent the prophets to us,
to remind us that we were your children.
     But we continued to fall on our faces,
     worshiping the false gods of hopelessness.
So you sent Jesus to us, to reveal you to us
as the One who will redeem us from ourselves.
We join our voices with those
of every time and place,
joyfully sing with loud voices:
Amen!  Blessing and glory and wisdom
and thanksgiving and honor and power and might
be to our God forever and ever!  Amen!
Holy are you, God who wipes away all tears,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, the Lamb who is our shepherd.
Rich in your glory and honor,
     he came to bless the poor in spirit;
Word by which creation’s life came forth,
     he came to comfort all who stand at gravesides;
exalted by all the choirs of heaven,
     he came to give the meek their heritage;
emptying himself of all he might claim,
     he came to feed us with your righteousness;
compassionate beyond all imagination,
     he came to offer mercy to all he encountered;
true Prince of Peace,
     he came to share that gift with God’s children;
persecuted for being God’s righteousness,
     he came, to bring God’s kingdom into our midst;
reviled and crucified on the cross,
     he offers us that resurrection
     which is great in heaven.

Knowing that what we will be has not been revealed
but trusting that we will be like him,
we join all the saints in proclaiming our faith:
Christ died, so we might have life;
Christ arose, so we might have this hope of resurrection;
Christ will be our guide, leading us to the living waters.
See what love God has given us!
Here at the Table where the Feast of Joy
has been prepared for all of God’s people,
the Spirit comes upon the gifts of the bread and the cup
and upon all who hunger and thirst for righteousness.
As we eat of this bread, we will taste God’s goodness,
going out into the world as God’s people,
     to offer shelter to those who sleep on the streets,
     to feed those whose hunger is palpable,
     to speak out for those who endure
          the great ordeal of oppression.
As we drink from the Cup, we will see God’s hope,
committing ourselves to serve others
that they might see Christ as he is:
     Healer of the broken,
     Brother of the poor,
     Servant of all who are lost.
And when we gather with those from every nation,
those from all tribes and peoples and languages,
we will fall on our faces worshiping and praising you,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Go now to be saints of God this week.
Not to be holier-than-thou folks, but people 
who keep an eye out for those the world has overlooked.
Go now to be servants of Jesus this week.
Not to be those who are better than others,
but those who humble themselves in service. 
Go now to be companions of the Spirit this week.
Not those who are on the inside path,
but those who walk with all who have lost their way.
(c) 2014 Thom M. Shuman