Saturday, March 26, 2016

Liturgy w/communion for April 3, 2016 (Easter 2 - C)

Texts: Acts 5:27-32; Psalm 150; Revelation 1:4-8; John 20:19-31

Call to Worship
Praise God with clapping hands;
praise God with hands comforting a child.
Praise God with silent hearts;
praise God with hearts broken for the world.

Praise God with electric guitars;
praise God with soft piano chords.
Praise God with be-bop and hip-hop;
praise God with rhythms that don't stop.

Praise God with a hallelujah chorus;
praise God with a Gregorian chant.
Praise God with dancing steps;
praise God with feet walking for justice.

Prayer of the Day

Holy God, Lover of your children:
the tomb has been opened,
     and we dance into your future.
Your life has dawned on us,
     and we surround you with our praise.
You reach out your hand,
     and lead us into joy.

Jesus Christ, Faithful Witness:
you pick open the locked doors
of our hearts
     and come in to be with us forever.

You breathe peace into our souls,
     so we may bring healing
          to a troubled world.

Holy Spirit, Breath of Peace:
you show us our hearts,
     so we may give love to others.
You show us our hands,
     sending us to serve the needy.
You show us your hope,
     so we may live in your joy.

God in Community, Holy in One,
who is, who was, and who is to come,
hear us as we pray as you have taught us,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
When we keep our faults and failures locked safely away, we have no need to confess. But God comes into our hearts when we least expect, so we can be filled with forgiveness, with hope, with peace.  Please join me as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness

God of empty tombs and emptier people:
when we hesitate to speak of your hope,
     forgive us, and give us a voice.
When we find it difficult to love one another,
     forgive us, and give us fresh compassion.
When we want to stand with the high and mighty,
     forgive us, and seat us next to the poor and oppressed.
When we stay locked behind our fears and doubts,
     forgive us, and send us out to share you grace.
When we cannot believe your Word of new life,
     forgive us, and fill us with your joy.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon

Christ comes into every shadowed corner of our lives with the light of Easter. Christ comes into the locked rooms of our faults and gifts us with grace and hope.
Christ comes to fill us with peace, so we may proclaim the good news of mercy and forgiveness for all. Thanks be to God. Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
We could keep our treasures locked up where they never see the light of your love, or we can offer them back to you so that those who live in the shadows of poverty might be fed, those who walk the streets of loneliness find a community, and those who long for peace will bind an end to the violence in their lives.  And so we open our hearts and our gifts in joyous praise to you.  Amen. 

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of resounding joy be with you!
And also with you!
Easter people, may your hearts be filled with joy!
May God fill our emptiness with the carols of angels!
Children of the resurrection, lift your praises to God!
We join with all creation in shouting our praise
to the One who loves us!

From the rubble of chaos,
you shaped a sanctuary for creation,
Surpassing God:
     trumpeter swans glided gracefully across lakes,
     tall trees waltzed across green fields,
     stars piped choruses of joy in the night.
Having formed us in your image,
your Spirit breathed peace into us,
inviting us to wander the gardens of wander.
     But we chose to hide ourselves behind
     the locked doors of sin and death.
Prophets came, to witness about your
willingness to forgive us and
to take our fears away from us.
When we would not respond
to your gracious invitations,
Jesus came, to free us from all sin.

With our ancestors in the faith,
with our children and grandchildren,
with everyone who sees you coming,
we sing our glad praise to you:

Holy, holy, holy, God of surpassing greatness.
Everything that breathes praises you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who you exalt.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, God of our ancestors,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, the first and last.
Co-creator of all that is around us,
     he came to bear witness of your promises.
Our Lord as well as our God,
     he blesses all who believe in him
          whether or not they have seen him.
Serving you in life as well as death,
     he became the first-born of the dead,
          so we might be your children through eternity.

As we remember all he did and taught,
as we celebrate the wonder of his resurrection,
we sing of that mystery we call faith:

Christ was the One who died for us;
Christ is the One who is risen for us;
Christ is the One who will come for us.

Send your Spirit of holiness
to transform these simple gifts
into your grace surpassing all fear,
and to bear witness of your enduring love.
Through the bread which is broken,
we are made whole once again,
     so we might minister to those
          who live behind the locked doors of oppression.
By the cup which is shared,
we are able to believe,
     even when we cannot see,
          that your peace is coming to everyone.

And when our lives have ended,
when we are gathered in grace and peace
with our sisters and brothers from all time,
we will join our hearts in praising you,
God in Community, Holy in One,
who was. who is, and who is to come. Amen.

God sends us forth with songs of joy in our hearts.
We will go to sing of wonder to all who are empty of life
even as we gather them close to our hearts.
Jesus calls us to step out of our fears into lives of witness.
We will go to breathe peace into all the broken places around us.
The Spirit teaches us new dance steps of grace.
We will go to take our sisters and brothers by the hand
to dance in the streets of the kingdom.

(c) 2016 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Liturgy w/communion for March 27, 2016 (The Day of Resurrection)

Texts:  Acts 10:34-43; Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24; 1 Corinthians 15:19-26; John 20:1-18

Call to Worship
L:  This is the day the Lord has made!
P:  We will rejoice in it.
L:  This is the day God has made; and what a day!
P:  When God wipes away our tears so we can see the empty tomb.
L:  What a day! Easter day!
P:  When God opens our hearts' tombs as Jesus calls us by name.

Prayer of the Day
Holy God our Salvation:
you roll away the power of sin,
     bringing forth the One
     who makes everything alive.
Out of the garden
of violence and hate
which evil has planted,
     you bring forth
     a spring harvest
          of love and forgiveness.

Jesus Christ, Creation's Gardener:
you went into the grave
     to drive out the power of the world;
you shut the doors
     of pain and death
and open the gates of glory
     to those who trust in you
     and follow as your faithful servants.

Holy Spirit, Anointer of new life:
you speak
     and open our eyes to faith;
you touch our lips
     with glad songs of victory;
you roll away our fears
     so we can tell everyone
          we have seen the Risen Lord.

God in Community, Holy in One,
on this great day of Easter,
we pray as Jesus taught us, saying,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation
Logically, rationally, we have no need to confess. Our petty sins pale in comparison to the great evils of our time. But this is the day God tossed logic out the window and raised Jesus from the dead. So we must throw out our claims of innocence, and confess how we have not lived as God's Easter people.

Unison Prayer of Confession
     On this first day of the week, Emptier of tombs, we must admit that we have not lived faithfully the last few days. It is not that we have done great evil; we simply have failed to do good. It is not so much that we have caused hurt, but we have not brought healing. It is not that we have trouble believing in the event of Easter, we have difficulty speaking about this day to our friends and neighbors.
     Call us by name, Redeemer of all creation, so we might hear your words of mercy. You have not given us over to despair, but handed us hope. You have not ignored our emptiness, but filled us with the Bread of Heaven. You do not hand us over to death, but raise us to new life, through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, in whose name we pray.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
L:  What a day! Easter Day! God's dawn of new hope, new mercy, new life.
P:  On this first day and every day, we can walk as God's people, forgiven and made whole. Thanks be to God. Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
On this day of new finery, help us to clothe those who have charity shop outfits.  On this day of family feasts, help us to feed those who stand at the back of restaurant kitchens hoping for the left-overs.  On this day of rejoicing, show us those who need an embrace of compassion and hope.  On this day of new life, let us dedicate not just our material gifts, but our very lives in sharing the great glad news of Easter.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

The Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
L:  The Lord is risen!
P:  We have seen the Lord!
L:  Lift up your hearts, people of God.
P:  We lift them to the Risen Lord.
L:  Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
P:  We offer our thanks and praise to the One who gives us new life.

How good it is on this day of joy
to lift our glad songs of praise to you,
Redeemer of the lost.
You planted your steadfast love
in the gardens of creation,
     but we ate the bitter fruit
     of idolatry and sin.
Prophets came in your name,
bringing your gracious word,
     but we could not hear them call our name.
When we were about to perish,
when we could have died,

you sent the One
who could bear that threat away.

Therefore, on this day and every day,
with those in heaven and those on earth,
we lift our glad cries to you:

P:  Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,
      All creation is blessed with new life on this day.
      Hosanna in the highest!

      Blessed is the One who comes bringing your resurrection power.
      Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, God of Easter,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior,
sent by you to bring us salvation.
Your right hand,
   he releases us from sin's grip;
walking through the darkness of death,
   he leads us into the kingdom's light;
confounding the practitioners of evil,
   he did good for others;
humbling himself to experience our pain and suffering,
   he is raised to rule over all.

As we believe what we may not understand,
we trust that mystery we call faith:

P:  Christ has died, but death does not have the final word;
     Christ is risen, and Easter begins for us

           when Christ calls us by name.
      Christ will come again and lead us into God's glory.

Pour out your Holy Spirit
upon the Bread and the Cup,
Resurrecting God,
and upon us who seek to be your children.
When we are done
eating and drinking
with the Risen Lord,
   send us forth to feed the hungry.
Served at the Table by the One
who freed us from death,
   we would go out to be servants
   of the poor and oppressed in our world.
Called to proclaim the good news of Easter,
   we would do so with our hands and hearts,
      not just our lips.

Through Christ,
glory and honor,
praise and thanksgiving are yours,
God of new life,
with the Holy Spirit,
in your holy people,
on this first day of the week
and in all the days to come.

L:  This is the day God gives us new life.
P:  We will share it with everyone we meet.
L:  This is the day of Jesus' resurrection.
P:  We will tell this story over and over.
L:  This is the day we are anointed by the Holy Spirit.
P:  We will go to share peace and grace with the world.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Liturgy w/communion for March 20, 2016 (Palm/Passion Sunday - C)

Texts: Isaiah 50:4-9a; Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29; Philippians 2:5-11; Luke 19:28-40

Call to Worship
On this day of palms and celebration,
Jesus continues his journey with God.
We will go with him, for a while,

until he turns towards Calvary.
From the top of Olive Mountain,
Jesus prepares to travel
through the valley of heartache and loss.
We will follow Jesus, for a while,

cradling hope in our hearts.
In the streets of Jerusalem,
Jesus hears the cries of those who adore him.
We will shout Jesus' name, for a while,
until we cry out, "Crucify him!"

Prayer of the Day
Holy God,
Architect of our grace:
from your house we praise you.

     Your love is never taken from us;
     your goodness is the constant in our lives.
We worship you.

Jesus Christ,
Sorrow of our salvation:
you dared to listen to God
     instead of the cheers
     of the crowd
          and the jeers
          of your enemies.
We walk with you.

Holy Spirit,
Glory of God:
you give us light
     so we might see
     the One who comes;
you open our ears,
     so we might hear
     the whispers of hope;
you sustain the weary,
     so we might journey
     through this week.
We welcome you.

God in Community, Holy in One,

hear us as we pray as Jesus taught,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
Petty squabbles don't belong in such a story of high drama and sacrifice, but they are there, just as in our lives, along with the other ways we fail to be the disciples of Christ. Please join me as we pray.

Unison Prayer of Confession
   Sustainer of the weary, we know how we sang for joy when Christ came into our lives, and how we have not followed him as he leads us on this journey. We have hidden our faces from the pain and suffering of our world. We have turned a deaf ear to the cries of the poor, the hungry, the oppressed.  We trust in the slick promotion of the world, and not in your words that can transform our lives.
   Forgive us, Steadfast God, and shine your face upon us. Help us to have the same mind as Christ, so we would know your promises; help us to have the same heart as Christ, so we might serve your children; help us to have the same Spirit as Christ, so we might go
wherever you lead us.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
God does not turn away when we fail to be faithful. God does not reject us when we do not trust fully. God continues to love us, to forgive us, to restore us.
It is God who helps us; it is God who saves us.  It is all we need or ever will need. Thanks be to God. Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
As we offer our gifts this day, God of salvation, remind us that we are called not just to parades, but to serving in the streets; not just to waving palm branches, but offering our hands to those in need; not just to days of celebration, but into the hearts that suffer and cry out for help.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving

The Lord is coming to be with you.
And also with you.

People of God, lay down your coats and lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the One who comes in God's name.

Let us praise God for the mighty works we have witnessed.
It is right that we praise our God.

It is our highest joy to praise you,
God of enduring love.
All that is good and beautiful,
all that is just and true,
     is your doing.
Morning by morning,
     you whispered your dreams
     and hopes into our hearts.
But we chose to listen
to different voices,
     turning our backs on you
     in rebellion and sin.
You sent the prophets
to waken our ears
to your songs of grace,
     but we rejected them
     as adversaries to our desires.
Yet you would not turn your face from us,
and sent the One who is named Salvation.

Therefore, we join our voices in thanksgiving,
with those in this place, and in every place,
with those in every moment, and in this moment,
singing with all creation to your glory:

Holy, holy, holy, God of palms and passion.
All creation proclaims your coming towards us.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes in your name.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, God of goodness,
and blessed is Jesus Christ,
who comes in your name.
When he could have remained with you,
     he poured himself into
     the emptiness of our souls;
casting aside his unity with you,
     he gathered up our brokenness
     to make us whole;
proclaimed by the choirs of heaven,
     he humbled himself as a servant,
     so we might be raised to glory;
faithful to the point of death,
even shameful death,
you exalted him to new life
     so we might stand with him
     in eternity with you.

Remembering the One who came for us,
remembering the words he taught,
remembering his passion and his resurrection,
we proclaim the One who is the Bread of Life:

Christ came in triumph, only to be rejected by us;
Christ died in sorrow, only to be raised by you;
Christ will come again, only to bring us to you.

Holy Spirit,
as we come to this Table,
bless the gifts of the bread and the cup
that they might be the sustenance of grace.
Strengthen us with the Bread of life,
     so we would not turn our backs
          on those who hunger;
nourish us with the Cup of hope,
     so we might sustain the weary;
so fill us with the good news,
     that we dare not remain silent,
          but must shout out God's desire
          of justice and peace for all people.

And when days of triumph and tragedy are done,
when we are gathered in your righteousness,
we will join with all your people, of every time and place,
who forever sing your praises for all eternity,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

Let us go into the world with God.
We will go into the streets of despair
with words of hope and justice.
Let us go to welcome Jesus.
We will find him in the lonely and the grieving,
we will discover him in those whose gifts we ignore.
Let us go to share the gift of the Spirit.
We will open our ears to the cries of the oppressed,
we will help those who have been disgraced by the world.

(c) 2016 Thom M. Shuman

Saturday, March 05, 2016

Liturgy w/communion for March 13, 2016 (Lent 5 - C)

Texts: Isaiah 43:16-21; Psalm 126; Philippians 3b-14; John 12:1-8

Call to Worship
We come to this place
because we want to know God,
who helps us set aside the past,
to walk the path to new life.
We come in these moments
because we want to know Jesus,
who anoints us with the resurrection,
who shares our lives with us.
We come with these people
because we want to know the Spirit,
who shapes us for life with God,
so we may praise God forever!

Prayer of the Day
You have done great things
for us, God of great love.
You make a way through our brokenness,
so hope might be restored;
you loosen our grip on fear,
so we might take hold of the One
who cradles us in the palms of grace.

You are doing great things
through us, Brother of the poor.
You make a way through our doubt,
so we may have the faith to follow,
as well as to serve by your side;
you gather up our tears,
turning them into fountains of joy.

You will do great things
in us, Anointer of our hearts.
You make a way through
our hardened hearts, melting them
into rivers of wonder for all;
you touch our tongues so
they tingle with delights, and
laughter tumbles out of our mouths.

Continue to make a way through us,
God in Community, Holy in One,
as we pray together, saying,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
As we offer our prayers of confession, remember that God chooses to forget about our past, forgiving us so we may embrace the new life and new hope offered to us in grace.  I invite you to join me, as we pray together,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   Like Judas, God of new things, we like to complain about your generous ways, rather than living in your grace.  The poor are always with us, we believe, which justifies our ignoring them.  In our memories, we see a perceived golden past, and so close our eyes to the new things you do in our midst.  We are so enamored with our achievements that we are not willing to throw them away in order to follow Jesus.
   Forgive us, Restoring God, and help us to notice the kingdom springing forth in our midst.  By your grace, may our fears turn to faith, our seeds of grief produce a bumper crop of joy, and our tears turn into torrents of tenderness as we journey with Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, to Jerusalem.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Making a way through all the foolishness and mistakes of our lives, God leads us into new life, where we are restored to grace, to hope, and to peace.
Do we notice what God has done for us, what God is doing in us?  This is good news for everyone.  Thanks be to God, we are forgiven!  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
If we want to know you, Generous God, we must see you in those all around us.  If we want to serve you, we must give up that which is most important to us, even our material resources, so that blessings of hope and life might be offered to the needy, the lonely, the hungry all around us.  Receive our gifts, we pray, so that others might be transformed even as we are.  In Jesus’ name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of all new things be with you.
And also with you.
Let us offer our hearts to the One who restores us to new life.
May we empty them of all that holds us back,
so God may fill the emptiness with grace.
May our hearts overflow with praise to God.
May joy and laughter resound in our words and lives.

You made a path through the emptiness
of chaos, God of every imagination,
sending creation to spring forth as
   grass carpeted empty fields,
   trees stretched their branches to the sun,
   animals curled up by cool pools of water.
You even shaped us for life with you,
so we might share in this beauty and goodness,
   but we threw aside all these gifts
   in order to know sin and death.
You sent prophets to us,
who encouraged us to let go of the past
and to return to your side,
   but we didn’t care about their words,
   thinking such a life to be too costly.
So you sent Jesus to us,
setting aside your grieving heart
so we might be restored to you.

So with those who long to know you,
with those who run to be with you,
we offer our songs of thanksgiving:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God of new things.
All creation honors you with praise and joy.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes to take hold of us.
Hosanna in the highest!

Though you are holy, God of restoration,
you were willing to set aside all we had done,
so that Jesus might anoint us with new life.
He could have clung to his glory,
   but set it aside to become one of us;
he could have maintained all power,
   but became weak and foolish for us;
he could have been surrounded by your love,
   but walked into the forest of our fears,
   to make a way out for us;
he could have avoided pain and suffering,
   but went into sin’s cold embrace,
   to bring back death’s captives,
his tears sowing the seeds of hope
which brought forth a bouquet of grace.

As we long to want to know Jesus more,
as we seek to be restored to life by you,
we speak of that mystery we call faith:

Christ lost his life so we might find ours;
Christ was raised, his resurrection life springing forth in us;
Christ will come, that we might gain eternity with God.

We pray that you would anoint
this Table and its gifts of the bread and cup
with your Spirit of life and love,
which are offered to the people you love.
When we take the bread
which has been broken and eat of it,
   we forget about our past
   and embrace your kingdom
   where we share in the sufferings
   of our sisters and brothers everywhere.
When we drink from the cup,
the fragrance of your grace fills us
to go and serve your people:
   the poor who do not always need to be,
   the lonely who can be offered a family,
   the grieving who can be cradled in love.

And when the past is finally behind us
and we are gathered in the new Jerusalem
with our sisters and brothers of every time and place,
we will join our hands around your feast,
and sing your praises from the depths of our hearts,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

And now, God sends us out into our communities,
not to cling to a faded past,
but to share all the new things God is doing.
And now, Jesus calls us to notice those around us,
to shower them with hope,
to feed them from our deep pantries,
to welcome them as family.
And now, the Spirit anoints us with grace,
to make a way through the injustices around us
so we might walk with our sisters and brothers
into the kingdom springing forth in our midst.

© 2016 Thom M. Shuman