Sunday, January 25, 2015

Liturgy w/communion for February 1, 2015 (Epiphany/Ordinary Time 4 - B)

Texts: Deuteronomy 18:15-20; Psalm 111; 1 Corinthians 8:1-13; Mark 1:21-28

Call to Worship
Thinking we know all the answers,
yet wondering if we haven't missed something:
we enter this sanctuary of Truth.
In the company of sinners,
in cahoots with saints:
we gather as God's people.
Standing by folks of deep, abiding faith;
seated with those who stumble through the Kingdom:
we lift our praise to God.
Prayer of the Day
We hunger for power,
     and you feed us
     the bread of humility;
we long for freedom,
     and you invite us to drink
     the cup of self-denial.
Faithful and Just God:
our songs of gratitude
will echo down
the hallways of creation.

You speak
     and all the props
     are knocked out
     from under our pride.
Then, you astound us
by reaching out your hand
     to lift us to our feet
     so we may follow you.
Holy Gift of God:
our songs of praise
will echo down
the hallway of our hearts.

Without your wisdom,
     we would be speechless;
without your peace,
     we would be heartless;
without your presence,
     we would be graceless.
Bearer of Truth:
our songs of joy
will echo down
the hallways of eternity.

God in Community, Holy in One,
may our songs echo in your heart
as we pray as Jesus has taught us, saying,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
It's very simple:  all God asks is that we recognize our sin and acknowledge it. And why?  When we offer our prayers of confession, God takes them from us and fills our hearts with such an abundance of mercy, we cannot hold it all.  Please join me as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     God our God: we fill our souls with the empty sounds of our culture, and wonder why we are so empty when we need words of hope, of grace, of comfort.  We are careful to follow the   prescriptions our doctors give us, yet pay little heed to your hopes for us.  We puff out our chests over what good people we are, yet do not notice how our pride trips those who seek to follow Jesus.

Forgive us, Holy One, and be gracious to us:
   astound us with your words,
        so we may learn your ways;
   nourish us with your mercy,
        so we may be filled with life;
   enter our empty souls,
        till they overflow with praise for your
        Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept
Assurance of Pardon
Of all the astounding works of God, this may be the most wonderful:  God is gracious and merciful  -  to us!
What has this to do with us?  Everything!
What is this?  Good news, of the very best kind!
We are forgiven.  We give thanks to our God with all our hearts.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offertory
Now, we know how easily we could treat our abundant resources as idols, Holy God, so we will treat them as they truly are, marvelous gifts meant to be shared so others might know of your marvelous presence in their lives.  Bless what we offer to you, and use it in service to others, we pray.  Amen.
Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of wondrous deeds be with you!
And also with you!
Let us give thanks to our God.
We lift our whole hearts to God, holding nothing back.
Join in praising God, who is merciful and gracious.
In the company of our friends and fellow followers,
     we rejoice in the one who is our God.
'What have you to do
with us,' chaos cried out,
and you rebuked it, Holy One,
whispering, 'be silent,' and with a Word
all that is good and true came forth,
   oceans teeming with life,
   meadow grass rippling in the breeze,
   snow-capped peaks touching the sky.
You raised us up in your image,
but we worshiped the idols, sin and death,
becoming so accustomed to them
we would follow them anywhere.
You put words into the prophets' mouths,
so they could speak your words of hope,
but we refused to listen.
So you sent Jesus,
from whom all things are,
so we might live with you.

Thus, with prophets and those who never listen,
with the foolish, as well as the faithful, of every age,
we sing our songs of praise to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God of great wonders.
All creation is astounded by your works.
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is the One who restores us with love.
Hosanna in the highest!
Holy are you, Awesome Creator,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, Redeemer of all.
He teaches, as one with authority,
those who rebel against you.
He heals, as one with compassion,
those who struggle with pain and illness.
He calls, as one with the words of life,
those who have lost their way.
He dies, as one with complete trust,
for those who have no hope.
He rises, as one known by God,
so we may live for you.
As we remember what Jesus has done for us,
as we celebrate his life, death, and resurrection,
we speak of that mystery we know as faith:
Christ died, as we fell silent in grief;
Christ is raised, silencing the power of sin and death;
Christ fills the silence of our fears with songs of
        your wondrous love and life.

You long to have everything
to do with us, God of wonders,
and so you call us to this table
of peace, hope, reconciliation.
Here, in the bread and the cup
transformed by your Spirit,
we are reminded that
there is no God but you.
For, in the life of the bread,
we feast on that grace
which can heal a broken world.
For in the sweet taste of the cup's hope,
we taste those promises
which we can share with all people:
   peace where there is only war,
   love where there is only evil,
   wonder where there is only despair,
for from you come all things;
to you, we all would turn to follow.
And when all human time and history is done,
when we are gathered with our sisters and brothers
in that time with you we call eternity,
we will praise you forever, singing glory to you,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

God sends us into the world,
so we may see Jesus at work in all the desolate places.
As one with compassion, Jesus calls,
so we may follow him to those who live on the fringe of life.
The Spirit opens our ears and our hearts,
so we may hear the cries looking for hope.

(c) 2015 Thom M. Shuman 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Liturgy w/communion for January 25, 2015 (Epiphany/Ordinary 3 - B)

Texts: Jonah 3:1-5, 10; Psalm 62:5-12; 1 Corinthians 7:29-31; Mark 1:14-20

Call to Worship
The Word of the Lord came,
hope for all people cradled in his arms.
the Word of the Lord comes,
calling us out of our comfort zones,
to go where grace is needed most.

The Word of the Lord will come,
gathering all the outsiders and insiders
into one community of the kingdom.

Prayer of the Day

When we try to ward off
your call to proclaim
the kingdom's good news
to those we would never
welcome into our tight circle,
you remind us that we can never
set boundaries on how far
your mercy, your love, your hope
will extend, God of persistence.

Looking at your watch,
you announce, 'it is time,'
opening your arms to welcome
all the outlanders we build fences
to keep out of our lives,
opening your heart to draw
all the odd ones out
into the safe shelter
of your heart, Calling Jesus.

Each morning,
you break your fast
with those for whom
we have no place at our tables;
each day,
you set out
to meet those who stand
at the edge of our narrow-mindedness,
to show them the path home;
each evening,
you take our foolish fears
and gently blow them away
from our hearts, Companion of Grace.

We wait and trust in you,
God in Community, Holy in One,
even as we pray as taught, saying,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
Now is the appointed time.  Pour out your hearts to God, bringing those harmful words you spoke, the chances to help you turned your backs on, and the foolish choices of your lives.  Offer them to the One who longs to hear us, trusting that God will forgive us.

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   Our comfortable lives convince us we do not need to follow Jesus, Steadfast God.  Our work provides for our wants, so we have no need for your grace.  Our friends are found through social media, so we do not need your community.  Our fear of the beliefs and cultures of others makes us sure that we do not need to share your grace with them.
   Forgive us for dragging our feet as Jesus' disciples, Compassionate God.  May we get up from our comfort zones and step out in faith.  May we go to all the uncomfortable places to bring hope.  May we proclaim with our lips, but especially with our lives, that the kingdom of love is near, brought by Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. 

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Now, after we confess, we hear the good news proclaimed: God hears our words, God sees our changed hearts, God's steadfast love is poured out upon us! 
We will trust in God, in whom our salvation rests.  Thanks be to God, we are forgiven! Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offertory

May these gifts we offer show we recognize your claim upon us, Holy God.  Use them so your grace, your love, and your hope may be shared with everyone who needs them.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of the outsiders be with you.
And also with you.
Open your hearts to God, dear friends.
We pour them out to the One who redeems us.
Sing songs of gladness to our God.
We join in the chorus of all who believe. 

Into the swirling mist
of chaos and destruction,
you tossed the seeds of creation,
Persistent God:
   whales that power through the seas,
   puffins that gather on rocky islands,
   gases which coalesce into stars.
All your wonders were gifts for your children,
   but we chose to stew in sin's acid.
You longed to rescue us from death's belly,
sending even the most reluctant prophets
to proclaim the nearness of your compassion,
   but we refused to change our minds,
   sure we could bribe our way out of sin's grasp.
Persistent to a fault,
you sent Jesus to proclaim your good news.

With the intimates who prove to be unfaithful,
with the interlopers who trust and believe,
we sing songs of joy to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God of steadfast love.
All creation waits in trust for you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who brings the kingdom near.
Hosanna in the highest!

Leaving that safe place which
is your holiness, Gracious God,
Jesus came at the time appointed by you.
He set aside all he possessed,
   so we might have the riches
   of your merciful heart.
He refused to let our fears
prevail against his life of grace,
   continuing to draw us
   near to your kingdom.
He went a little farther
than we dared imagine,
   walking for three days
   in death's cool shadows,
before coming forth into
the bright joy of the resurrection.

As we would faithfully follow Jesus,
going a little farther with him each day,
we proclaim that kingdom called faith:

Christ died, claiming the promises of hope;
 You raised Christ, claiming him from death;
 Christ will return, claiming us for you. 

Now is our time fulfilled, Blessing God,
as we gather at this Table,
the bread and the cup made sacred
by the presence of your Spirit.
We eat of the bread,
praying that its grace might strengthen us
so we would become as persistent as you
   in confronting injustices,
   challenging oppressive actions,
   reaching out to lift the fallen.
We drink from the cup,
trusting that its hope will spill
out from us upon
   the lonely and he lost,
   the hungry and the homeless,
   and especially on the outsiders.

Then, when the appointed time comes
and you gather us with our sisters and brothers
around the Supper of the Lamb in glory,
we will sing our praises to you forever,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Now, take the word of God into the world.
we will place hope in the arms of others.
Now, take the word of Jesus into the world.
We will follow to serve beside him in all the broken places.
Now, take the word of the Spirit into the world.
We will bring others near to the kingdom where all are welcome.

(c) 2015 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Liturgy w/communion for January 18, 2015 (Epiphany/Ordinary 2 - B)

Texts: 1 Samuel 3:1-10, (11-20); Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18; 1 Corinthians 6:12-20; John 1:43-51

 Call to Worship
Young or old, slow or fast; tall or small, know-it-alls or eager learners:
Wonder of wonders! God has called each of us here.
Wrinkled, white-haired, stooped with age;
bright-eyed, smooth skinned, leapers of two steps at a time:
Wonder of wonders! Each of us is made in God's image.
Parents volunteering at school, kids playing tag;
workers stocking shelves, retirees planning a trip:
Wonder of wonder! God works through each of us.
Prayer of the Day
It doesn't matter
how far we go
to run from you,
you reach out
and touch us
with healing in your hands,
and turn us around
so we can follow you home.
It doesn't matter
how suspicious
we are of you,
you remove our fears
with your compassion,
you take away our doubts
with complete acceptance
of who we are.

It doesn't matter
how often
we ignore your words,
you whisper to us
until our ears
tingle with anticipation
and we listen
with eager hope.

God in Community, Holy in One,
continue to call us by name,
even as we pray in the name
of the One who has taught us to say,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
We break our word - God knows;
we hurt another - God knows;
we ignore the needy - God knows.
God also knows the sins we try to hide, even from ourselves. Let us confess to the One who has called us and will make us whole.

 Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     How foolish we are to think we can hide our failings from you, Seeing God.  We treat our bodies as trash cans for junk food, not as sanctuaries for your Spirit. We get drunk on the seductions of our society, while daintily sipping at your living water. We doze under the tree of temptation, hoping you won't see us and expect us to get up and follow Jesus.
     Forgive us, our heart's only Hope. Your grace mends our brokenness, making us whole; your compassion removes our sin, making us new; your voice speaks tenderly to us, silencing our pride; your Love is made human in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, redeeming our lives.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
In front of us, behind us, to our right, to our left: look!  God is there!
In our past, beside us today, waiting in the future: look!  God is there!
in the shadows, in the light: look!  God is there!
From the top of the mountains, to the bottom of the seas;
in the morning, in the evening, in every moment: God is with us!
Thanks be to God. Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offertory
You call us, not because you need us, but because others do.  You gift us, not because we are so special, but because others need to be blessed by our gifts.  We give from the abundance which is ours, not because we are so generous, but because you have graced us with so much.  May our gifts go to serve the work of your kingdom, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God who created us be with you!
And also with you!
Open your hearts to the One who writes grace on them.
May God's words of hope and wonder guide our lives.
Sing praises to your God, children of the Creator of the universe.
Glad songs are lifted to the one who gives us new life.

Into the silence of chaos,
you called, Wonderful Crafter,
and creation responded, 'here I am,'
as mountains pushed up to tower over the rivers
that raced each other to the seas.
Your words did not fall to the ground
but became the stars that dance in the night.
You shaped us in your image,
telling us everything, hiding nothing from us.
But the tempting songs of sin made our ears tingle
and we did not restrain temptation's demands.
You refused to give up on us,
continuing to call us through the prophets,
but we were dominated by death's power.
So you sent Jesus to us,
to search us and know us
for who we are meant to be -
your people.
So with youngsters who hear your songs in the night,
and those who follow you in every time and place,
we lift our songs of thanksgiving to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, Searcher of all hearts.
All creation praises your name.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One in whom there is no deceit.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, Knower of every thought,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, who is your heart.
When he could have wandered the streets of glory,
he searched up and down temptation’s paths to find us.
When we doubted anything good
might come of humility and sacrifice,
he called us to follow him into service to you.
When he could have shunned the cross,
he said, 'here I am,' confronting sin and death,
defeating them as he was raised to new life,
glorifying you in his resurrected body!
As we remember his ways of goodness and life,
as we celebrate the gift of the resurrection which is ours,
we speak of that mystery we call faith:

Christ died, trusting that he was held in your heart;
Christ rose from the grave, as you brought him out of death;
Christ has promised to welcome us into new life with you.
You search for us down every path we wander and,
finding us, lead us to this Table of hope and peace,
where the Spirit not only blesses these simple gifts,
but all your children who gather at your feast.
Speak, Lord, for your servants are listening,
so that as we are fed by the bread of life,
we would be ready to go forth to carry healing to the world;
so that as we drink from the cup of grace,
we would go to tell everyone we meet
that we have found the One who offers
the life and joy we are all long to have.
And when our lives have come to an end,
when we are gathered with your children from every age,
we will sit at your Table, finally knowing your ways,
and singing to you of our love and joy forever,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.
Wonder of wonders!  God sends us from this place,
to be healing hands to the world's brokenness.
Wonder of wonders! Jesus calls us as sisters and brothers,
to accept others as completely as we have been embraced.
Wonder of wonders! The Spirit is at work through us,
wherever we are - work, home, playground, shelter, school.
Wonder of wonders!
We will go to live as God's people!

(c) 2014 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Liturgy for January 11, 2015 (Baptism of the Lord - B)

Texts:  Genesis 1:1-5; Psalm 29; Acts 19:1-7; Mark 1:4-11

Call to Worship
On that first day, when time began:
you gave birth to creation;
light danced through the darkness;
the waters of hope flowed free and clear.
On that first day at the Jordan, when redemption began:
you spoke of life for all your children,
as your Child stepped into the waters of forgiveness,
dancing in hope with his cousin, John.
On this first day of the week, when we begin anew:
you call us to faithfulness,
as we open our hearts to you,
your voice claiming us as your own.
Prayer of the Day
Beloved's Parent:
grace is the gift
     which flows to us
     from your heart;
joy is the seed planted
     deep within our souls,
     that it might blossom
          into lives of service to all.
And we cry: "Glory!"
Servant of sinners:
you emerge from baptism's water,
     to embrace us in your hopes;
you take our fears from us
     and toss them aside
     as you lead us into your kingdom;
you shine the Light
     which brings us out
     of despair's shadows.
And we cry: "Glory!"
Wind upon the water:
you move among us
     sweeping aside our petty pride,
     and offering us the gifts
          of humility and servanthood.
You whisper of your yearning
for peace and reconciliation,
     until it silences our angry voices
     and unclenches our fisted hearts.
And we cry:  "Glory!"
God in Community, Holy in One,
we lift our voices as your Beloved teaches,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
You and I are now the ones who step forth out of the safe waters of baptism, to bring hope, to share a word of grace, to carry healing into the brokenness of the lives around us.  Let us confess how we still struggle
to follow in faith wherever Jesus leads us.  Join me as we pray, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
Timeless God,
you cast Light into sin's dark places
and call us your Beloved.
Forgive us:
    when we still linger in the shadows;
    when we treat others in hurtful ways;
    when we speak ill of your friends.
As he knelt in the waters of Jordan,
you proclaimed Jesus as your Child,
pointing to him as the way to you.
Forgive us:
    when we put ourselves ahead of him;
    when we think he is no longer needed;
    when we fail to see him in the broken of our world.   

Baptized and blessed in your living waters,
you would have us be your servants in our time.
Forgive us:
    when we fail to welcome the stranger;
    when we refuse to forgive as we should;
    when we believe we are too good to kneel down
        and tie the shoes of the lost, the least, the last, the little.
Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Touched by the waters of life, fed at the feast of grace and hope, embraced in the warmth of God's love and hopes - this is good news!
Blessed by baptism's tears, called to servanthood by the Beloved, filled with the peace of the Spirit, we are indeed God's people - redeemed, restored, refreshed to serve.  Thanks be to God!  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offertory
Bathed in the waters of baptism, we are graced people.  Graced people, we recognize the gifts which have been poured out upon us.  Recognizing these gifts, we take them and give them back to you, God of the waters, so that others might be bathed in hope, graced with joy, gifted with your peace and love.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the Creator of heaven and earth be with you!
And also with you!
People of God, lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the One who gave his Heart to heal us.
Let us give thanks to the One who made everything and called it 'good'.
How right it is to give our thanks and praise
to the One who calls us 'Beloved.'

Into the shadows of silence,
you hummed the first chords of creation,
Heart of Tenderness,
     your Word crafting the sun to welcome each day,
     the moon and stars to guide the night.
The Spirit gathered up the dust of chaos
     and shaped it into vast universes,
     flinging them into space and time.
Floating on the warm waters of Eden,
cradled in your love and joy,
     we could have lived with you forever.
But we made mud pies from death's dirt,
     shaping our own foolish dreams,
     chasing after sin, and always being caught.
Prophets came, sent from your heart
to call us back to you,
     but we could not hear them
     over the shouts of our desires.
So, when we had no hope,
you sent your Child, Jesus,
the One who was willing to take on
anything, and everything, which kept us from you.
With those who ran to the river's side,
and those who immersed themselves in grace,
with our beloved sisters and brothers
in every time and place, we sing of your love:

Holy, holy, holy!  Creator of Light and life.
Heaven and earth sing forever of your love and joy.
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is the One who comes to be baptized
       by water and the Holy Spirit.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessedness is your nature, Holy Imagination,
and your Bright Morning Star is our Savior, Jesus Christ.
When our hearts were hardened towards you,
     he came to soften them with your grace.
Knowing we had lost our way,
he came to walk at our side,
     unfolding the map of the kingdom
     and pointing out the way home.
Standing with us in baptism's waters,
he journeyed alone to the cross,
     taking our place in sin's grasp,
     and leading us into your heart,
leaving death empty and alone.
On this day we remember our baptism,
we would proclaim the life which was his,
and the hope which is ours in that mystery we call faith:

Bathed in your tears, Christ died for us;
washed in the resurrection waters, Christ rose for us;
bringing the waters of life to us, Christ will come again.
As your Spirit changed chaos into creation,
may these simple gifts
of the bread and the cup
be transformed into
your life and peace for us.
We come to this table,
your baptized and beloved children,
     hungry for your hope in our lives,
     yearning for your peace to fill us.
And when we have been fed by you,
we would go forth into the world
     to bring the homeless off lonely streets,
     to feed the hungry with more than clich├ęs,
     to welcome the stranger as our sister,
     to embrace the outcast as our brother.
And when time has ended its journey,
and we are gathered as your family
around the Table of grace,
we will join our hands and hearts together,
singing to you through all eternity
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Go into the world as God's beloved children.
We will go to share the gift of grace which flows from God's heart.
Go into the world as baptized sisters and brothers of Jesus.
We will go to bring the light of hope to all in despair.
Go into the world as those filled with the Holy Spirit.
We will go to hear the whispered yearnings for peace and reconciliation.

(c) 2015 Thom M. Shuman