Sunday, January 17, 2016

Liturgy w/communion for January 24, 2016 (3rd Sunday after the Epiphany - C)

Texts: Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10; Psalm 19; 1 Corinthians 12:12-31; Luke 4:14-21

Call to Worship
Loud talkers and silent worriers,
glad-handers and lonely wallflowers:
God gathers us together to be the Body
of wonder and joy, of hope and healing.
Bystanders with hands shoved into our pockets,
fraidy-cats whose feet are frozen in place:
Jesus calls us to carry grace to outsiders,
to walk with all those left behind.
Kids who never offer answers in class,
bashful folks whose tongues tie in knots:
The Spirit anoints us to speak up for the voiceless,
to partner with the poor to discover their gifts.

Prayer of the Day
Every day sings of your glory,
each night lullabies us to sleep;
and in every moment between
your grace silently laps upon
the shores of our souls,
Imaginative God.

You fulfilled the prophet's hopes,
Faithful Servant,
your voice racing through the valleys
of our despair to bring us hope,
your feet gently walking by our side
over the dusty roads of death.

More than any prize we might win,
we long for the riches of your joy;
more than all the world's empty calories,
we hunger for the fullness of your love;
more than all the fears promised to us,
we embrace the peace of your heart,
Anointing Spirit.

You are our promise, our hope, our fulfillment,
God in Community, Holy in One,
and so we pray with one voice,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
We are afraid to join hands with others; we want to listen to those who speak falsely; we glibly offer silliness to those we love the most.  Let us share with God how we have not been that Body we are made for, that God might reshape us into that holy community, even as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   Do we make you laugh or weep, Gracious God?  We sing that we are one in your Spirit, but cannot tolerate those who disagree with us.  We talk of being one Body, but fight over music or Bible versions or carpet colors.  We affirm the giftedness of each person, but we heap honor on just a special few.
   Forgive us, Creative God, that we dismember your Body so easily.  May the words of our mouths speak peace to the brokenness in our world; may the hopes of our hearts bring wonder to those in despair; and may our love embrace all who are around us, even as we have been welcomed by your grace in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Forgiven, we are filled by God's Spirit, commissioned to be Christ's hope, Christ's people for the world.
Anointed, we can care for one another, weep with one another, serve one another, and live with one another.  Thanks be to God.  Amen.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
Though many different amounts and ways, when gathered up by you, our gifts become a food pantry, a rebuilt life, medicine for children, a caregiver to the lonely - your grace in action.  In love we offer these gifts in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the Spirit anoint you!
And you, as well!
Grace is offered to us by our God of love.
We open our hearts to receive this gift.
Join all creation in praising God.
In every moment, we sing of God's wonders.

When the time came, God of the ages,
you opened up chaos
and creation sprang forth, all
the parts arranged to work together:
   seeds burrowing into rich soil,
   water nurturing the young roots,
   the sun to raise the plants ever higher,
   animals to be nourished by such goodness.
But you were not finished, shaping us
in your imaginative likeness, so we could
be filled with your Spirit,
   but we chose to open
   the gifts of sin instead.
Prophets gathered us tie and again
to draw us back to you,
   but we paid attention only
   to the empty words of death.
So you sent your perfect Hope
to us in the birth of Jesus.

With the weak as well as the strong,
with the disreputable and the righteous,
we lift our voices as one to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, Opener of your heart.
Each day, each moment, creation tells of your love.
Amen!  Amen!

Blessed is the One who fulfills your words.
Amen!  Amen!

One in holiness with you, Joyful God,
your Child set aside glory
to become one of us.
Because we had failed to pay attention,
   he began to teach
   of your dreams for us.
Because we were so empty,
   he brought the deep riches
   of your grace to us.
Because we were held captive,
   he let sin slam the cell door
   behind him as he entered the grave,
only to be set free by you
when the time came.

Though from many places, with many hopes,
we are made one by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus,
a mystery we proclaim in every moment:

Christ died, finish his life on earth;
Christ was raised, as you accomplished life for all your children;
Christ will return, to fulfill your promises beyond this life.

Now is the time when your people
are gathered together at your feast,
so pour out your Spirit upon
the gifts of the bread and of the cup,
and on our sisters and brothers.
Strengthened by the bread of life, may we
   offer a hand to walk with those
      who cannot see the way,
   and oppression's burden
      off our neighbor's backs.
Filled with your grace, may we be anointed
   to carry your hops and dreams
      to all in despair;
   to let loose all imprisoned
      by their fears.

And when there is no more time
to come but only infinite love with you,
gather us around your joyous feast,
as we join all creation in praising you,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Now, we are scattered by our God,
to go carry grace into a broken world.
Now, Jesus scatters us,
to bring justice to the outsiders,
to visit all who are alone and lonely.
Now, filled with the Spirit, we are scattered,
to gather up the dispirited,
to take hold of the lost and embrace them as family.

(c) 2016 Thom M. Shuman