Sunday, December 11, 2016

Liturgy w/communion for December 18, 2016 (Advent 4 - A)

Texts:  Isaiah 7:10-16; Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19; Romans 1:1-7; Matthew 1:18-25

Call to Worship
Come, Over-flowing joy:
   tip-toeing into our lives
   like the children on the holiest of nights.
Come, Good News of grace:
   prepare our hearts to welcome you,
   and all whose hopes have turned to ashes.
Come, Dreamer of peace:
   so we may pour our lives and gifts
   into a world in need of reconciliation.

Prayer of the Day
You watched in silence,
   until you spoke in dreams,
   sang through angels,
   and cried a newborn’s lusty wails.
You were born for us,
   not to sit in power,
      but next to the bullied
      on school buses;
   not with a silver spoon in your mouth,
      but with words of justice,
      with songs for hope for the grieving.
You come, like the cold wind of winter,
or a warm breeze in the spring,
   to feed hungry souls
      with the bread of heaven;
   to share peace with those
      filled with bitterness and fear.
You came in love to us, for us, to be with us,
God in Community, Holy in One,
so come to us again, as we pray saying,
(The Lord’s Prayer)
Call to Reconciliation
How easy we lost our way on the road to Bethlehem!  How quick we are to dismiss the dreams and hopes our God has for us in this holy season!  Let us come to the One who approaches, ready to swaddle us in forgiveness and grace, as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   Come now, Reconciler of the nations,
      for our world, our lives, need your peace more than ever before.
   Come, Caller to discipleship,
      for we long to let go of our self-interest and narcissism.
   Come, Word Gifter,
      for we hunger to hear your voice once again, ever always.
   Come, Servant of the poor,
      so we notice you in all those we push past in this hectic season.
Come, Silence of our nights and Holiness of our hearts, and forgive us for turning your compassion into commercials, your joy into jingles, your hope into hollow words, your love into lust for the short-lasting offerings of the world.  May we find our way to the One born simply, born gracefully, for us – Jesus, the Child of wonder and life.
Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
We may not notice them there, at the back of the pile of presents, but it is God’s hope, God’s life, God’s mercy, which are the true gifts we receive each and every moment.
We give thanks to our gracious God, who has forgiven us and blessed us.  Amen!

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
We must not take the gifts God gives to us, even the most tangible ones, and hoard them for ourselves.  Rather, we offer them, as well as our hearts and lives as offerings to those in true need around us.  This we pray in the name of Bethlehem’s Babe.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
Come, God, to be with your people!
Come, God, to be with you!
Come, Turner of barren hearts into seas of overflowing wonder!
Come, Longing of our empty lives!
Come, Listener to the songs of all creation!
Come, Receiver of our joyful hearts and hopes!
Come, Dreamer of creation,
for by your Word you spoke,
   calling sheep to roam hillsides,
   crafting trees to touch the clouds,
   filling sea beds with teeming life.
Come, Face shining with grace,
for with your Spirit you shaped us
to be your people, signs of your hope,
   even when we listen
   to sin’s hollow voices.
Come, Listener to our hearts,
for by the prophets,
you never abandoned us to sin
or would let death separate us from you,
   even sending your Beloved to save us.
As we seek not to put you to the test,
as we would not weary those around us,
we offer our thanksgiving to you:
Come, God whose holiness shatters the stillness.
We join all creation in praising you:
Hosanna in the highest!
Come, Blessed of God’s love for us.
Hosanna in the highest!
Come, Spirit of holiness,
   as we celebrate the One
   who has come to be with us.
Come, Restorer of our empty hearts,
   and rebuild our ruined souls
   shattered by stress.
Come, Good News for our longing ears,
   and speak to us of
   God’s love and hope in us.
Come, Life-giver,
   destroying sin’s death grip
   over us forever, as
   you lead us into resurrection.
Preparing to celebrate the birth of hope,
making ready to welcome the gift of your heart,
we cry out the mystery we know as faith:
Come, Sufferer on our behalf.
Come, Resurrection’s bright hope.
Come, Promise keeper of our future.
Come, Bestower of grace,
   pouring out your Spirit
   on the gifts of this Table
   and your children gathered here.
Come, Baker of hope,
   mixing our tears with
   the flour of your hope,
   so the bread of life might
   fill all people with joy this day.
Come, Cradle of our hearts,
   so we as we drink
   the cup of grace
      bitterness may become benevolence,
      cynicism may transform into compassion,
      fear may be recast into faithfulness.

Then come, Keeper of all time,
when we least expect you,
to gather us with our sisters and brothers
of every place and from every time,
to joyfully feast with you in all eternity,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Come, let us go with God to bring healing to the world.
Come, let us bring family to the lonely,
comfort to those who grieve.
Come, let us go with Jesus to all are forgotten.
Come, let us carry justice to the oppressed,
to feed those who hunger in body and soul.
Come, let us go with the faithful Spirit.
Come, let us speak the gospel with our lips,
let us share grace with our lives.
© 2016 Thom M. Shuman