Sunday, August 30, 2015

Liturgy w/communion for September 6, 2015 (Pentecost 15/Trinity 14/Proper 18/Ordinary 23 - B)

Texts: Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23; Psalm 125; James 2:1-10, (11-13), 14-17; Mark 7:24-37

Call to Worship
What good is it if we say we love all people,
but give special treatment to a few?
God calls us to love others as deeply
as we love ourselves, with no strings attached.

What good is it if we say we want
God to show mercy towards us,
but are quick to judge others?
God calls us to forgive our sisters and brothers,
to let mercy triumph over judgment.
What good is it if we say we trust God in every moment,
but live guided by our fears?
We will speak and act as those who trust God to come
and live in our fearful hearts.

Prayer of the Day

God surrounded by glory:
you notice the people we walk past,
      and journey with them,
     wherever they are going.
You speak out for the voiceless,
      and open our ears to their cries.
Jesus, Healer of the hopeless,
Converser with the outsider:
in you,
      faith and works skip hand in hand
      down the streets of the kingdom.
In you,
      the have-a-lots and the have-nothings
      find themselves sitting side by side
      at your Table,
           passing grace to one another.
In you,
      those with good names,
      and those with no names,
           are called by one name:

Compassion's Spirit:
sow justice in our hearts,
      so the poor might find in us a friend;
sow peace in our spirits,
     so the angry might find in us
           a sea of gentleness;
sow generosity in our hands,
      so the hungry might find in us
           their daily bread.
God in Community, Holy in One,
surround us in these moments
and in all the ones to come,
with your grace and love,
as we pray together the disciples' prayer,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation

We find it a lot easier to play favorites, rather than treating everyone equally. We find it simpler to classify others as 'them,' instead of discovering what makes them beloved in God's eyes. We cling to fear, when we could grasp hold of God's enduring love. Let us confess together all we have done, and not done, which brings hurt to others, and harm to ourselves. Join me, as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
      How glibly we say we trust you, Holy One, and how quickly our fears silence our words.  We find you at the side of the poor, while we cozy up to the rich and famous. You stand behind the counter serving the hungry at the soup kitchen, while we are stocking our freezers and pantries till they overflow. We look down at those whose hands are dirty, but your hand of mercy pulls them into your embracing love.
      Forgive us, O Lord, and do good to us when we have trouble doing good for others.  Surround us with your love; surround us with your grace; surround us with your peace; surround us with the Spirit of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Be strong, do not fear! God comes, to fill your parched souls with living water, to open your eyes to the grace which is yours.
God comes, for no other reason than to save us. This is indeed good news.  Thanks be to God.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offertory
May we who are rich with your blessings, share them in common with those who have so little.  May our gifts be used to sow justice, to feed the hungry, and to bring relief to those afflicted in so many ways.  This we ask in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
My beloved sisters and brothers, may the Lord be with you.
And also with you.
My beloved brothers and sisters, lift up your hearts.
Our hearts are offered to our God.
My beloved sisters and brothers, let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
Thanksgiving is in our hearts, and praise is on our lips.
Our hearts do handsprings,
and our joy echoes off the mountains,
Creator of all:
      rich and poor, man and woman,
      child and grandparent, gnat and galaxy.
Created in your image,
      we ridicule others who look different from us;
our lungs filled with the Spirit's breath,
      we laugh at those who are not as good
           as we imagine we are.
But even when we turn our backs on you,
your love is steadfast and your grace is abundant.
And so, with all your people,
those on earth and those around your throne,
those beside us in this moment
and those with you throughout eternity,
we join in everlasting song:
Holy, holy, holy, God who surrounds creation with your grace!
Heaven and earth sing to the One who made them all.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who shares bread with the poor.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, and blessed is Jesus,
your Son, our Brother, our Savior.
Jesus has done everything well:
eating and drinking with sinners,
      he taught us that there is a place
           at the Table for each and every one of us;
responding to the cries of the poor,
      he shows us we are all equal in God's heart;
clearing the eyes of the blind
and opening the ears of the deaf,
inviting children to sit on his lap
and conversing with the outsiders of his day,
      he models the radical inclusiveness
          of your kingdom.
As we remember all you did in and through him -
his words, his touch, his laughter, his silence,
his pain, his loneliness, his death, his resurrection -
we offer ourselves in trust and hope,
in service and sacrifice,
as we proclaim the mystery of faith:

Christ has died, to sow life;
Christ has risen, to sow grace;
Christ will return, to sow justice for all.

May the Spirit of the Risen Lord
be poured out on us in this place,
and on the gifts of the bread and the cup.
As we take the broken loaf, we feast,
not on the crumbs which fall from the Table,
but on the grace which makes us whole;
on the hope which makes us one;
on the love which calls us to serve:
      to welcome the immigrants to our neighborhood,
      to teach the little child to read,
      to affirm the awkward adolescent,
      to share our bread and all we have
           with those in need,
until that day when Christ returns
and all shall feast at his banquet in heaven.
Through your Son, Jesus Christ,
with the Holy Spirit in your holy church,
all honor and glory are yours,
Great God, our hope, our trust, our redemption,
now and forever. Amen.

God sends us forth to love all people, no strings attached.
We will share grace and hope with everyone.
Jesus sends us forth to forgive our sisters and brothers.
We will offer mercy, not judgment, to those around us.
The Spirit sends us forth to trust God in every moment.
We will live in faith, not in fear, sharing our hearts with all we meet.

(c) Thom M. Shuman


Sunday, August 23, 2015

Liturgy w/communion for August 30 2015 (Pentecost 14/Trinity 13/Proper 17/Ordinary 22 - B)

Texts:  Song of Solomon 2:8-13; Psalm 45:1-2, 6-9; James 1:17-27; Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

Call to Worship
Here, our Beloved speaks to us;
the voice of our Beloved sounds in our hearts:
calling us to generous acts, to share the gifts we have been given.
Now, our Beloved speaks to us;
the voice of our Beloved sounds in our land:
calling us to generous acts, to open our hearts to all in need.
In every place, in every moment, our Beloved speaks to us;
the voice of our Beloved sounds in all creation:
calling us to generous acts, to stand with God's people:
the least, the lost, the little, the last.

Prayer of the Day

Light-giving God:
our praises spring up
like flowers on a spring day;
our songs of joy are lifted to you;
our hearts overflow with
your kindness and generosity.

Jesus, Beloved Child:
you look through the lattice of the world
at our lives, our hearts, our souls.
You speak to us with tenderness and strength,
calling us to come away from rigid legalism
to lives of grace and hope.

Truth-speaking Spirit:
we look in a mirror
and see God's child;
we walk away
and forget whose we are.
Move within us and reshape us
into God's beloved children,
living within that circle of blessing
called the kingdom.

God in Community, Holy in One,
hear us as we pray together,
as Jesus taught us, saying,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
Do we honor God only with our lips, while keeping our hearts from the Holy One?  Do we deceive ourselves, thinking we are religious rather than living faithful lives?  Let us confess to God our sin, trusting in the One who seeks to make us whole.

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   Holy One of leaders and little children, we hear your words every day, but rarely live them out.  Our anger roars like a flooded creek, but our forgiveness drips like a rusty faucet.  Our impetuous tongues rush to judgment, while our words of hope sound like a sluggish soundtrack.  We listen with impatient ears to the cries of the poor.
   Father of Lights, may your mercy fall on us like a summer shower on parched grass; may your hope overflow our hearts; may your Beloved Child, Jesus Christ, speak to us and call us to life.

Silence is kept 

Assurance of Pardon
Listen and understand - the voice of the Beloved speaks to us, implanting the word of hope, the word of grace, and the word of forgiveness into our hearts.
We listen and understand.  Every gift comes from God, especially the gifts of mercy and love.  Thanks be to God, we are forgiven.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/offering
Let us be slow in our yearning to hang on to our blessings, and quick to share them with the hungry, the lonely, the forgotten, and the hurting of our world, that our gifts might become a kind of first fruits for those whose lives are so empty.  This we pray in Jesus' name, Amen.

The Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
Beloved, may God be with you!
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts, Beloved of God.
We lift them to the One who loves us beyond all expectations.
God's Beloved, let us offer our thanks and praise to the Lord our God.
Our voices unite in joy and thanks to the One who brings us hope and healing.

Our hearts overflow with praise and thanksgiving,
God, our God!
Your Beloved's voice spoke to chaos,
calling forth the flowers of grace
which bloom in our hearts.
Because you love righteousness,
you would anoint us
with the oil of joy
and clothe us in the robes
of mercy and goodness.
But we break your heart by embracing
the very wickedness you hate,
staining our lives with sin and death.
Still, you love us and seek us out,
for in Christ your grace has defeated sin
and the Risen Lord has opened the way
to life in your kingdom

So, we lift our voices in joy and hope,
singing with the choirs of angels in heaven,
and with all the faithful of every place and time,
singing of your glory forever

Holy, holy, holy are you, Lover of righteousness
All creation overflows with praise for you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is your Beloved who anoints us with unexpected grace.
Hosanna in the highest!

Look, he comes!
Your Beloved Child,
Jesus Christ, our Lord, our Savior, our Companion,
the joy of your Heart.
Gazing into our souls,
he sees our emptiness
and fills us with your grace;
listening to our pain,
he is quick to speak
healing and hope to us;
the perfect gift of life,
he declares that sin is past,
death is over and gone,
and resurrection blossoms
in our hearts forever.

As you have called him Beloved at his baptism,
and as you raised him from death to give us life,
so we give ourselves to live for him in grateful praise and service:

Christ was born, hearing your morning song.
Christ died, doing your will even in the moments of his despair.
Christ was raised, in fulfillment of your own purpose.
Christ will come, the first fruits of our resurrection.
Generous God, pour out your Holy Spirit
upon those who gather around your Table,
and upon the gifts of the Bread and Cup.
As they are the body of your Servant
and the Spirit of your compassion,
may we become the healing and hope
the world longs for in our time.
As you touch our lips with your life,
may we be quick to speak of justice;
as you pour grace into our hearts,
may we be the doers of your Word,
those whose hands are stained
by generous acts of kindness:
feeding the hungry,
clothing the naked,
lifting the fallen to their feet,
comforting all who are broken.

Then, when your Spirit
unites us at your Table in heaven,
as we clasp hands with all your beloved,
we will sing your glory for all eternity:
God in Community, Holy in One.

Arise, and let us go forth as God's people.
Look!  God sends us forth with songs of love on our lips.
Arise, and let us go forth to serve beside Jesus.
Look!  He stands, waiting for us to help tear down the barriers of injustice.
Arise, and let us go forth to join the generous Spirit.
Look! We will be doers as well as givers with our gifts.

(c) 2015 Thom M. Shuman

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Liturgy w/communion for August 23, 2015 (Pentecost 13/Trinity 12/Proper 16/Ordinary 21 - B)

Texts: 1 Kings 8: (1, 6, 10-11, 22-30), 41-43; Psalm 84; Ephesians 6:10-20; John 6:56-69

 Call to Worship
Jesus said: 'I am the Bread of Life . . .
whoever eats this Bread will always live.'
This is a tough teaching, too tough to swallow.
Jesus said: 'Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God
like a child shall not enter it.'
This is a tough teaching, too tough to hear.
Jesus said to all he met: 'Follow me.'
We have accepted Jesus, and seek to be faithful,
no matter how tough it is to follow him.

Prayer of the Day
Holy God,
Home of all who seek you:
may you find in our hearts paths to walk,
wandering with us through dark valleys,
dipping us in pools of living water,
lifting our faces to the grace
falling softly upon us.

Loving Lord,
Speaker of tough words:
we would wish for an easy life
as we follow you to our Home.
Help us to see that when we mop floors,
we find our meaning;
when we hammer nails,
we discover our hope;
when we embrace the sick,
we touch our healing.
Spirit of Strength,
Bearer of our prayers,
we would ask for:
the strength
to say 'yes'
when 'no' is on our lips;
the wisdom
to welcome all
into our hearts;
the longing
to be with you
God in Community, Holy in One,
hear us as we pray together,
as Jesus has taught us, saying,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
If it was easy to follow Jesus, we would not need to ask for forgiveness. But it is tough - tough to say 'yes,' tough to be graceful, tough to be loving. Yet whatever we do, God loves us enough to forgive us and to feed us with the Bread of Life. Let us pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     God, our sun and shield: we may long to be in your house, but our deeds show how tough it is for us to live there. Called to follow, we search for paths to take us back to our old ways; given the words of eternal life, we weakly proclaim the gospel to others; offered the path of salvation to walk upon, we stumble down the rocky roads of our world.
     Forgive us, Guardian of our lives. Strengthen us with your Spirit, so we may serve your people with all that brings them life. Let your Word, Jesus Christ, the One we have come to believe and know is our Lord and Savior, be confirmed in us in every word, every deed, every thought, every moment in the days to come.

Silence is kept
Assurance of Pardon
Today, receive the Bread of Life;
today, hear the words of eternal hope;
today, trust in the One who hears your prayers,
and showers grace and forgiveness upon you.
Today, we are set free to serve God's people, and to sing God's praises. Thanks be to God.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offertory
Take our gifts, Gracious God, and use them to put shoes on blistered feet, to put garments of grace around the hopeless, to touch hurting bodies with healing hands, and to share the gospel with everyone we meet.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the Lord, our Host, be with you!
And also with you!
Blessed are those whose hearts know the way to the kingdom.
Our hearts are filled with life itself
as we seek to follow Jesus.
Blessed are those who sing praises to God.
Trusting in the One who calls us here,
we sing our joy and love to God.

Early morning rains created pools
filled with the sweet waters of life
on that day of wonder and goodness
we call creation, God of our joy.
You shaped a garden
here we might always find you,
you offered hope to all who trusted you.
But we found your words too hard,
and the promises of sin too easy,
your road to peace was too long,
and death's path was so short.
Through the ambassadors of your word
you spoke, that we might know your name
and return to your heart.
But we were offended by their speech,
and went from sin to sin.
So, you sent Jesus to us,
the bread come down from heaven
to lead us back to you.
So, with those who have always known your name,
and those who have heard it for the first time,
we join our voices in praise and song:
Holy, holy, holy are you, our God and our Creator.
Heaven and highest heaven cannot contain you.
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is the One who comes with words of eternal life.
Hosanna in the highest!
Holy are you, God of steadfast love,
and blessed is Jesus, the Holy One of God.
Trusting your heart,
he poured out his love for us
in every miracle, in every conversation.
Trusting your words,
he told us of lost children welcomed
with open arms,
of outsiders who live out your grace.
Trusting you, Keeper of the covenant,
he would not live in the tents of evil,
but lived in your hope and peace.
Trusting your grace,
he journeyed to the cross
to defeat the power of death,
to be raised to new life,
so you might look upon the faces
of your beloved children.

As we gather to remember his life and death,
as we celebrate the wonder of the resurrection,
we make known the mystery of the gospel:
Christ died, so we might have peace;
Christ is risen, so we might live forever;
Christ will come again, so we may live
     in God's house for all eternity.

How lovely is your Table of grace, God of mercy,
the simple gifts of the bread and cup
transformed by your love,
your Spirit of joy and hope filling
your people who come to your feast.
The bread of heaven feeds us with life,
so we might go from person to person,
bringing relief where there is pain,
bringing hope where there is despair.
The cup of grace is filled
with deep pools of your hope,
so we might go to all the places
of worry, anger, and discord,
to share your peace for all people.
And when that day with you
which will never end finally begins,
when we are gathered with our sisters
and brothers from every time and place,
we will sing for joy to you,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

Let us go now, to share God's strength.
We will do so by embracing the weakness of others.
Let us go now, to be as alert as Jesus.
We will do so by noticing the brokenness all around us.
Let us go now, to share the life of the Spirit.
We will do so by receiving the bread of life from the poor.

(c) 2015 Thom M. Shuman

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Liturgy w/communion for August 16, 2015(Pentecost 12/Trinity 11/Proper 15/Ordinary 20-B)

Texts:  1 Kings 2:10-12; 3:3-14; Psalm 111; Ephesians 5:15-20; John 6:51-58

 Call to Worship
For cool mornings and rumbling afternoon storms,
for amazing days and even more ordinary evenings,
for deep friendships and shallow wading pools:
we give thanks to God!
For the laughing God who tickles us with joy,
for the broken-hearted Love who joins in our struggles:
we give thanks to God at all times!
For the Bread of heaven who feeds us hope,
for the Spirit of grace who teaches us to dance:
we give thanks to God at all times and for everything!

Prayer of the Day

We long to worship
in high-vaulted cathedrals,
our songs and prayers
echoing the deep sighs
of the saints cradled in the stone.
Yet you, unpredictable Creator,
you compose a canticle
with the gentle drops of rain
on a tin-roofed shelter.

We long to worship
beside the high and famous,
rubbing shoulders with those
clothed in power, wealth, renown.
But you, quirky Redeemer,
you we find sitting at the gutter,
huddling in the shadowed doorway,
curled up on a sidewalk grate
with your long-lost kin.

We long to worship
with drums pounding
and the amps turned up
so high our hearts tremble.
And you, fanciful Spirit,
you would draw us into
that still, silent, sacred
space called peace.

We long to worship you,
God in Community, Holy in One,
even as we pray saying,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation

We would follow Jesus, but sometimes it seems that we do not know how to go out in faith, or come in out of the shadows of life. The One who has sent the Bread of life to us is the God who is just and true, longing to grace us with mercy. Please join me, as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     We try to be so careful, Faithful God, yet we make so many mistakes. We think we are so wise, yet do not understand the simple wonder of a child. We spend so little time in your presence, and ask why we do not know your dreams for us. We long to be good, upright people, but find our hearts tripping over the temptations of the world.
     Have mercy, Covenant Keeper, and be gracious to us. As you continue to teach us of your hopes, your dreams, your love for us, may we practice what we learn, as we follow our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, in faith.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Out of our lives laced with foolish mistakes and unwise choices, God is able to weave a tapestry of grace, forgiveness, and healing.
God has sent redemption for all, God has fed us with the healing bread of life. At all times, and for every grace, we give thanks to God in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
By your grace, Holy God, our gifts become the bread which feeds the hungry, become the water which drought ravaged lands need, become a community for the lonely, become medical missions for those battling disease and worries.  By your grace, Holy God, may we offer more and more as your feed us with the Bread of life.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of joy be with you!
And also with you!
At this Table, God speaks grace to us.
We offer our listening hearts so we hear these words of life.
In this company of faithful followers of Jesus, give thanks.
In this moment, and always, we sing praises to our Steadfast Love.
All praise is due to you, Amazing God,
for your great works we call creation.
Grace flowed out of your heart,
its gentleness woven into
the light, the earth, the air;
peace rested upon all that was shaped
out of your unpredictable imagination,
all that lived and breathed touched by
the wisdom of your Spirit.
You formed humanity in your image,
that we might bear witness to you,
but we could not discern between
good and evil, choosing to follow
death and sin out of your presence.
You asked your servants, the prophets,
to teach us your ways and will,
but we did not have understanding minds.
So, in grace and mercy, you sent Jesus,
the living bread come down from heaven
that we might have eternal life with you.
So, with the wise and the unwise,
the foolish and the faithful of every time,
we join our voices to sing our thanks:
Holy, holy, holy are you, God who teaches us to walk in faith.
All hearts in creation sing praises to you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the Living Bread which came down from heaven.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, Awesome God,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, Living Bread.
When he could have remained
in the high places of glory with you,
he became fully human,
walking the paths of pain,
drinking the brackish waters of rejection,
eating the stale bread of our broken promises.
When he could have been careful,
he threw his fears to the wind,
taking up his cross to embrace death,
rising from the grave to lead us to eternal life.
As we gather to eat at your Table of remembrance,
as we give thanks for the life, death, and resurrection of Christ,
we point to that mystery of grace called faith:
Christ died, the Bread which will live forever;
Christ was raised, on the first day of new life;
Christ will come for us, so we may abide in God's kingdom forever.

It is not in the high places
but here at this Table graced
with the common loaf and the graced cup
that we find your promises kept,
and your Spirit poured out upon us.
You offer us the Bread of heaven,
broken that we might be made whole,
to us, so that filled with grace,
we might go to find all those
whose hopes have been foreclosed.
You touch the Cup of life,
poured out for our renewal,
to our lips, to our hands, to our hearts,
so that we might be transformed
into servants to all the world.

And when all your works have come to fruition,
when all your children are gathered around you,
we will lift our voices, singing praises to you,
through all time, and for all good things you have done,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

(c) Thom M. Shuman



Sunday, August 02, 2015

Liturgy w/communion for August 9, 2015 (Pentecost 11/Trinity 10/Proper 14/Ordinary 19 - B)

Texts: 2 Samuel 18:5-9, 15, 31-33; Psalm 130; Ephesians 4:25-5:2; John 6:35, 41-51
Call to Worship
Watch what God does:
mostly God loves us.
We would learn a life of such love
so we might do as God does.
Watch how Christ loves us:
not with caution, but with extravagance.
We would practice such lavish love,
not noticing what it costs us.
Watch how the Spirit loves us:
moving in us, breathing love into us.
We would live such love for others,
keeping company with God.

Prayer of the Day
We gather in this place,
with these people,
in these moments, Gentle God,
because we hope our self-righteous anger
might become passionate justice for others.

We gather in this place,
with these people,
in these moments, Christ our Bread,
because we hope our complacency with half-lies
might become a hunger for your truth.

We gather in this place,
with these people,
in these moments, Gifting Spirit,
because we hope our fumbling, faltering words
might be transfigured into good news to others.

We gather in this place, with these people,
in these moments, God, Christ, and Spirit,
praying as we have been taught,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
It's this simple  -  God loves us.  But our inactions grieve God, our sins break God's heart. In Christ, God forgives us through and through.  Let us confess our failures and our faithlessness, trusting in God's promise to make us new.

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness   
   We break your heart, God of all the world, by the respectable lives we lead.  Blessed by you with every gift, we practice thrift towards others.  Seeking to be good and proper Christians, we overlook you in the company of the poor, the oppressed, those without a voice.  We choose to spread gossip about our friends and neighbors, when we could speak gently to them.
   Forgive us for the pain we cause you and other people, Grieving God.  Help us to make a clean break with those habits which keep us from wholeness.  Open us to the movement of your Spirit within us.  Feed us with the Bread of Life, so we might have the love and passion to feed the world.  This we pray in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
It is really that simple  -  God loves us.  Through the Holy Spirit, God works in us, transfiguring our old ways, breathing life and love into us.
We receive God's grace, so we can offer it to others.  We are caressed in God's gentleness, so we can hold the broken.  We will be quick to forgive, even as God has forgiven us.  Thanks be to God.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
May we imitate your generosity, Gracious God, as we offer these gifts to you.  May we model your justice, as we seek to bring hope to the broken all around us.  May we share the gift of your love with all who are alone and hurting, and simply looking for grace in their lives.  This we pray in the name of our Bread, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the Bread of life be with you.
And also with you.
Come to the One who waits for you at this Table.
We bring our hearts to the One with whom
there is grace and wonder.
Children of God, hope in the Lord!
We will sing glad songs to the One
who listens to our hearts and lives.

Such slight words -
light, water, earth, sky -
when written on a list,
but in your voice,
echoing in the Spirit,
creation bursts the logjam of chaos,
rushing forth to fill the void
with life, hope peace, grace,
all the gifts you shaped for us.
Our denial of you broke your heart,
as we made room for sin and death,
but you did not forget us,
sending the prophets to remind us
that there is forgiveness with you.
When we continued to watch
more for temptation than for you,
you sent Jesus into our midst,
to speak the truth of your love for us.

So, as we gather with our friends and neighbors,
as we are members of the one Body
in every time and place,
we lift our voices singing of your love:
Holy, holy, holy are you, God of steadfast love.
All creation waits for you.
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is the One who is the living bread.
Hosanna in the highest!
Steadfast love is who you are, God of Compassion,
and this love is made flesh in Jesus, your Child.
Though we struggle to follow,
he is the Guide to your heart;
though we rarely seek him,
he is the Bread which can feed
our deep-down-in-the-belly longings;
though we resist drinking from the fountain,
he is the living water which can quench our thirsts;
though we are convinced we can do it ourselves,
he is the one who gives himself up to sin and death,
defeating forever their power over us.
As we remember this fragrant offering for our sakes,
as we come to the Table of joy and peace,
we tell of that mystery we call faith:
In Christ's death, we hope;
in Christ's resurrection, we live;
for Christ's return, we wait.
Here at this Table of bread and cup,
graced by your Spirit of hope and peace,
we discover the extravagant love you have for us.
As we feast on the Bread of life,
may its lavish grace fill our hearts,
so we may go out to serve others,
never minding the cost.
As we drink from the cup,
may we transformed by its peace,
that we might go out to embrace
all who have been forgotten by the world.
And when we no longer have to watch
but awaken in that eternal morning,
when we no longer have to wait,
but find ourselves seated around the Lamb's Table,
we will join our voices with all your beloved children,
singing to you forever and ever,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.
Go, with the God of gentleness, into the world.
We will go to offer passionate justice for all
Go with the Bread of life into the world.
We will share compassion with the needy in our communities.
Go with the Spirit of holiness into the world.
We will speak the good news, even with our fumbling words.

(c) 2015 Thom M. Shuman