Saturday, December 27, 2014

Liturgy for January 4, 2015 (2nd Sunday after Christmas)

Texts: Jeremiah 31:7-14; Psalm 147:12-20; Ephesians 1:3-14; John 1: (1-9), 10-18 

Call to Worship
On this day, we remember the gift of God's Word,
who gathers us together from the farthest parts of the world
to worship in joy and hope.
On this day, we remember the simple graces of the bread and the cup,
those plain gifts shaped by God's love into nourishing hope.
On this day, we remember the gifts of water and oil,
cleansing us in the baptismal pools, anointing us as God's children.

Prayer of the Day
You could let us continue to shuffle
through the world's deserts,
God of Christmas,
     but you choose to walk with us
     beside the rivers of life.
You could forget who we are,
     but you adopt us into your family,
     your children of hope and joy.
You could decide we are not worth all the love
or all the agony of caring,
     but your redeem us and make us whole.
Blessed are you!

It was only the other day
the angels were singing of your birth,
Tiny One of Bethlehem,
and now, here you are,
running swiftly toward us:
     to melt our frozen faith,
     to comfort us in our loneliness,
     to lead us into life in your kingdom.
Blessed are you!
At the edge of a new year,
we wonder what life will be like,
and what do you do,
Gathering Spirit?
     You water our parched souls with laughter;
     you teach dance steps to those
         too weary to tap their toes;
     you fill our emptiness
          with overflowing gladness!
Blessed are you!

Blessed are we,
God in Community, Holy in One,
as we lift the prayer Jesus has taught us, saying,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
Have we really been to Bethlehem? Have we worshiped at the manger? Have we changed, for the better? Or have we simply gone back to being the people we were before the joy, the peace, the gifts of Christmas? Let us confess how we have not lived as those who have seen the Baby, as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
God of Christmas:
we are still playing with our new toys,
     the manger figures have not been put away;
we have the stacks of Christmas cards,
     but we memorize the words sin has taught us;
we set limits on who we will love,
     we make promises we cannot keep,
we fail to see the pain and hurt we cause.
God of the angels and shepherds, forgive us.
     Your Word has come to reshape our lives;
     your Light has come to show us the way home;
     your Son has come to make us your family.
Have mercy and make us new people. This we pray
in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Like the Baby of Bethlehem, we are born anew. God's forgiveness cradles us; God's love is poured out on us.
What a marvelous gift - forgiveness! Filled with hope and new life, we can sing God's praises forever. Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
The gift of Bethlehem has come to bless us, and so may our gifts bring hope, bring healing, bring peace, and bring grace to Birmingham, to Belfast, to Bangladesh, in every place where folks hunger for your gifts, O God.  This we pray in Jesus' name.  Amen. 

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of newness be with you.
And also with you.
People of Christmas, offer your hearts to God.
We lift them to the One who comes,
new hope and life cradled in loving hands.
People of the Holy One of Bethlehem, sing glad praises to our God.
We come, for we have received the good news,
we have believed the Word, we are given joyful songs to sing.

When chaos thought there was no end,
you began, Fullness of all time.
Your Word ran sprints through creation,
     scattering the seeds which sprang forth
     into fruit, flowers, mountains and molehills.
Your Spirit sang songs of wonder and hope,
     that Breath which gave your children life.
We were as close to your heart
as the blood which flows through ours,
but the soft, insistent whispers of sin
grew louder and louder in our ears,
     and we ran off, letting the shadows
     of seduction overwhelm us.
Time and again, every time you could,
you sent your messengers to us,
crying out in love and hope, 'return!'
     but we did not recognize them
     nor listen to their words.
So turning to the angels,
you said, 'Watch!' as you
sent Jesus to bring us home to you.
So, with those in every place,
and with those from every time,
we join our voices, singing to you:
Holy, holy, holy, God of every blessing.
All creation lavishes praise on you.
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is the One who comes to live among us.
Hosanna in the highest!
You could have kept us scattered
to the limits of loneliness, God of Wonder,
but you sent Jesus, your Glory,
to become the Gatherer of those
who had wandered far from you.
Peering into the shadows of our lives,
     he is the Light which overcomes
     all our fears, our doubts, our worries.
Speaking into the hollows of our hearts,
     he is the Word who teaches us
     new songs of gratitude and awe.
Gathering the cross into his arms,
     he is the Deliverer who breaks
     sin's death grip on us,
          walking with us by the brooks of water,
          into the kingdom of life eternal.

As we begin this year with hope,
we remember his promise to be with us always,
even as we tell of that mystery we call faith:

At the beginning of time, Christ was the Word of creation;
at the right time, Christ was the Word of redemption;
at the end of time, Christ will be the Word who brings us home.
And in this time, in this place,
with these people, we come to your Table,
     Gatherer of your children.
The simple gifts we take for granted,
the bread which has been a staple of life,
the cup which refreshes us when we thirst,
     you transform into imaginative grace,
     the Meal which is blessed by the presence
     of your Spirit of power and peace.
You bring us from every point on the compass -
     young and old, the mother with her son,
     the grandfather balancing the girl on his knee,
     those who run circles around us,
     and those who point the way with their canes -
welcoming that great parade of your children
who come with outstretched hearts
to receive every blessing imaginable.

And when our beginning has come to your fullness,
when we come, our faces glowing with wonder,
our voices ringing with the songs of freedom,
we will gather around your Table in heaven,
comfort and gladness our eternal inheritance from you,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

As you go, remember the gift of God's Word.
We will tell of the good news to the world.
As you go, remember the simple graces of the bread and cup.
We will seek to feed those who hunger and thirst for life.
As you go, remember the gifts of oil and water.
We will live out our baptismal promises in all the days to come.

(c) 2014 Thom M. Shuman

Monday, December 22, 2014

Liturgy w/communionfor December 28, 2014 (Christmas 1 - B)

Texts: Isaiah 61:10 - 62:3; Psalm 148; Galatians 4:4-7; Luke 2:22-40

Call to Worship
Praise the One who spoke and made everything!
Let the rivers ripple with joy;
let the mountains stomp their feet.
Praise the One who adopts all of us as children!
Let old folks tell familiar stories;
let little children swim with dolphins.
Praise God!
We will sing of God's glory;
we will shout our joy to the heavens.

Prayer of the Day
Creation's Father:
of all that you created and love,
you choose us to be your children;
of all the places
you could love,
you make us holy
by your Spirit's presence;
of all that you could offer to us,
you have given us Jesus.
Destiny's Child:
you came to clothe us
in salvation's finery;
you amazed the wisest
with your humility;
you know all the thoughts
we dare not share with anyone.
Spirit of Abba:
as we celebrate a Birth,
be born in us each day;
as we sing God's praises,
whisper the good news to our ears;
as we seek to be faithful to our calling,
lead us into the kingdom waiting for us.
God in Community, Holy in One,
hear us as we pray as we have been taught,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
It is easy to become slaves to our passions, it is harder to live as God's children. Let us confess the easy choices we have made, so God can strengthen us to be faithful sisters and brothers of Christ.  

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     Abba God: we know that given the chance, we rarely praise others. We are guided more by meanness than by your gentleness. And we are seldom wise enough to listen to your voice, preferring instead the sweet, sweet songs of sin.
     Forgive us, Heart of Heaven. Touch those inner places of hope and joy that they might become the gifts we can offer to those around us, as we seek to follow Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Hear the good news.  the time is now; the place is here: God has redeemed us from sin; God has claimed us as the children of Hope.
Praise God, all people, for life is given to us anew; eternity is our home.  Thanks be to God. Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
By these gifts, Gracious God, may those who have so little be clothed with your abundant grace; may the hungry be fed with food that strengthens them and hope which gives them new life; may all who are searching find that they are your beloved children.  In Jesus' name we pray.  Amen.
Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of Christmas Joy be with you.
And also with you.
Children of God, lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the One who came to us in Bethlehem.
Children of Hope, give thanks to God.
We sing our songs of joy to the One who became one of us.

How can we keep from praising you,
Glory's Father?
You spoke,
and stars danced in the sky;
you whispered,
and snow fell gently in the night;
you sang,
and the Spirit
breathed life into us.
Yet, we allowed ourselves
to be guided by the Evil One,
being led into the wilderness of sin.
But you could not sleep,
tossing and turning in grief.
You sent the prophets
to adorn us with your grace,
but we ignored them.
Finally, with time almost running out,
you sent your most precious possession,
Jesus Christ, your Beloved Son.

So, with all creation echoing
the songs of angels,
we join in praising your name:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God who alone is exalted.
All creation rejoices in you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who would not keep silent.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, Mighty God,
and blessed is your Son, Jesus Christ.
When we thought we could do no wrong,
he came to make us right;
when the world had forgotten us,
he called us by a new name;
when the time came,
he went to the cross,
that sin's slaves might be set free
and become your children.
As we celebrate his Birth,
and remember his death and resurrection,
we speak of that mystery we call faith:

By Christ, we are redeemed from sin;
by Christ, we are delivered from death;
by Christ, we are adopted as God's children.
Guiding Spirit,
as you moved over creation,
come to bless this bread and cup,
and your children gathering around this Table.
As we eat of the Bread of angels,
may we be nourished by your justice,
to bring hope to all people.
As we are filled with the Cup of grace,
may the seeds of righteousness
planted deep within us,
bloom that all creation can be made whole.
Then send us forth
not as slaves to sin,
but as servants of salvation
to those longing for new life.
Then, when the time comes,
and we are all gathered in heaven,
we will join hands and dance around your Table,
singing our praises to
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
One God forever and ever.  Amen.

The God of creation goes with you now.
As we go to care for all that has been given to us.
The Child of Bethlehem goes with you now.
As we seek to serve with humility and hope.
The Spirit of Abba goes with you.
As we would show others how to find the kingdom.

(c) 2014 Thom M. Shuman