Sunday, April 10, 2016

Liturgy w/communion for April 17, 2016 (Easter 4 - C)

Texts:  Acts 9:36-43; Psalm 23; Revelation 7:9-17; John 10:22-30

Call to Worship
Frayed and frazzled, our lives jangling
with tension and anxiety,
we gather to find that place of peace
which God offers to us.
Awash in worries and doubts,
drowning in a sea of fears,
we gather beside the still waters
where Jesus offers us a cup of grace.
Weakened by the burdens of life,
wandering as if lost in a wilderness,
we gather so the Spirit can restore our souls
and show us the path to the kingdom.

Prayer of the Day
Whenever we find ourselves
waist deep in stress,
you float us on your living waters
until we are at peace.
As we try to race down
every road and alley
of endless meetings,
you put up a detour sign
directing us to your joy.
When we find ourselves
empty from chasing down
the shadows of sin and death,
you are setting out a picnic
in grace’s garden of delights,
handing us a slice of bread
spread with hope’s sweetness.
Though we try to flee
from the very life we are
longing to discover,
you slow us down until
mercy and goodness can catch
up with us so, hand in hand,
we can race to your house
where we are welcomed
in all the moments to come.
Be our Shepherd in this life,
God in Community, Holy in One,
even as we pray, saying,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
We have no time for rest, or to sit by calm oases of grace, or find the right paths to follow, and so we hurt people with our words and deeds, we turn away from the One who seeks to feed us with goodness and mercy.  Let us come to our God, who longs to anoint us with forgiveness, as we offer our prayers, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   God who shepherds us, you must wonder how long we will continue to live the way we do.  We snatch hope out of the grasp of those who need it most.  Our acts of kindness are offered only to those we think to be deserving of our generosity.  We gather around to watch endless reality shows, while those whose real lives are filled with struggle and loss are ignored.
   Yet you refuse to keep forgiveness a mystery, Gracious God, but offer it to us without any hesitation.  You gather us in the green pastures of mercy, so we might find hope; you offer us a drink of the living waters so we might become still enough to listen to your heart; you send the Spirit to take us by the hand to lead us on the paths of justice; the goodness and mercy of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, follow us all the days as we seek to be faithful in our calling to serve him.  Amen.

Silence is kept
Assurance of Pardon
Hear the good news: God will lead us into places of hope; God will give us the waters of life to strengthen us; God will be with us in every moment, in every place of our lives.
Anointed with grace, fed with joy and wonder, we offer blessing and thanksgiving to the One who forgives us now and forever.  Thanks be to God.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
There are those who have to place to rest, may our gifts provide shelter.
There are those who are parched for justice, may our generosity quench their thirst.
There are those who wander the streets alone and afraid, may our blessings provide a way.
There are those who are in the valleys of suffering, may offer ourselves as companions on the journey.  In Jesus’ name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May our Shepherd be with you.
And also with you.
Come to the Table prepared for all of God’s children.
We bring our hearts to be anointed with grace and hope.
Join in singing praise to the One who leads us through the kingdom.
We hold hands with goodness and mercy in giving thanks to God.
The warmth of creation was breathed
into the bitter winter of creation,
God of new life,
   planting grassy meadows for picnics,
   pooling clear waters for floating,
   spackling starry skies for gazing,
   a great multitude of creatures too many to count.
You shaped us in your image
so we might not ever want,
   but we let death anoint us
   with sin’s slick temptations.
You sent women and men to us,
who encouraged us to get up
and to return to your side,
   but we refused to walk
   in the light of your hope.
So you sent Jesus to us,
that we might hear his voice
and believe his plain spoken words.
With those worship you in every moment,
with those who hunger and thirst for you,
we offer thanksgiving and praise:
Holy, holy, holy are you, God of glory and honor.
All creation falls down to worship you.
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is the One who gives us eternal life.
Hosanna in the highest!
Holy are you, God of wisdom and thanksgiving,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, the Lamb become Shepherd.
When we fear everything imaginable (and un-),
   he comes to anoint us with hope;
when our hearts are empty,
   he fills them with your love;
when the world mocks us,
   he comforts us with your grace;
when sing and death pretend
to be our only companions,
   he sends goodness and mercy
   to be our lifelong friends.
As we continue to follow the Risen Lord,
as we listen to the voice of our Shepherd,
we would speak of that faith which is a mystery:
Christ died, walking through death’s shadows;
Christ was raised, goodness and mercy following
      him into new life;
Christ will come, that we might dwell in God’s house forever.
You have prepared this Table for us,
so now anoint the meal with your Spirit,
as well as those gathered in this place.
We are fed the bread in its brokenness,
so we might go
   to restore fractured relationships
      with those we do not like;
   to comfort the grieving with
      your love and hope.
Through the cup, your grace
overflows into us so
   we might anoint the lost and lonely
      with your goodness and mercy;
   we might lead the oppressed
      out of the valleys of injustice.
And when you lead us into your house
at the end of all time,
we will join our sisters and brothers
around the Table prepared for us,
worshiping and praising you day and night,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.    

Gathered for worship, we are now sent to work,
to find God in all the broken places
and serve with healing and hope.
Having gathered in silence, we are now sent to speak,
to share the words of Jesus
about justice and inclusion of all.
Gathered for prayer, we are now sent to live,
to take goodness and mercy and anoint
everyone with these gifts of the Spirit.

© 2016 Thom M. Shuman