Friday, February 24, 2017

Liturgy w/communion for March 5, 2017 (Lent 1 - A)

Texts:  Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7; Psalm 32; Romans 5:12-19; Matthew 4:1-11

Litany for Lent
Jesus of the temptations,
you enter the wilderness
   of our hungers,
   our lust for power,
   our eagerness to test God:
be with us on our journey to Jerusalem, we pray.
Jesus of hopes,
you set aside your glory,
choosing to cradle us
in your scarred hands:
hold us in your tender embrace, we pray.
Jesus of the Feast,
you are broken
   so we might be healed,
you pour our your self
   so we might be drenched in your grace:
feed us from the simple gifts of creation, we pray.

Silence is kept

Lamb of God:
have mercy.
Servant to the poor:
have mercy on us.
Free gift of our righteousness:
have mercy on us, even as we pray, saying,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
We are easily seduced by the temptations all around us.  But if we are willing to trust God and offer our confessions, God is quick to forgive us and fill us with hope.  Join me, as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   Led by the crafter of lies, Lord God, we wander into the wasteland of wrong-doing.  We hunger for more and more, and feel emptier and emptier.  We seek power, especially over others, only to do harm.  By our choices, we worship the false gods of success, wealth, and spectacle.
   Have mercy on us, God of love, and forgive us for the power we give to temptation in our lives.  Help us to become as vulnerable as Jesus, for in that vulnerability, we find the humility to trust you in all things; in that trust, we discover the grace which sets us free from the grasp of the shrewd one; in that freedom, we can leave our badlands behind, in order to follow Jesus in this life, and into the next.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Be glad and rejoice! Give thanks with shouts of joy!  Grace abounds for everyone.
With glad cries of deliverance, we offer our thanks to God who loves us and forgives us.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
Too often, we give into the temptation to keep everything for ourselves.  But you would have us notice those how hunger for hope, as well as bread; those who are caught in the injustices of the world; those who struggle to find themselves.  And in noticing, we become generous and loving, even as we have been graced by our Brother and Savior, Jesus, in whose name we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of discipleship be with you.
And also with you.
Let us begin our Lenten journey with open hearts.
We offer them to the One who walks with us.
Let our voices resound with thanksgiving to the One who shows us faithful care.
We rejoice in our God of hope and love.

You held nothing back,
Gardener of grace,
as the Spirit led creation
into the hinterlands of nothingness:
     spreading rich soil in the valleys,
     planting seedlings and flower bulbs,
     making mountains from river clay,
     sprinkling water over everything.
Mornings came in Eden's beauty,
all that wonder and goodness
given for your children,
     but we listened to evil's whispers,
     believing those lies so easily told.
Like a crew launching in boat
to rescue those who are adrift,
prophets came, counseling us
to let go of our stubbornness
and return to your side,
     but with our eyes wide open,
     we followed that path which
     took us away from the middle of the garden.
So you sent Jesus to us,
that free gift of grace for all.

With the faithful who have gone before us,
with companions through this journey today,
we offer glad songs of deliverance:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God of steadfast love.
Creation sings your praises as on that first morning.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who brings grace to us.
Hosanna in the highest!

You alone are holy, Hope of our lives,
and Jesus Christ is your blessed righteousness.
When we got what we wanted
in knowing both good and evil,
     he came, so we might receive
     what we need most - your grace.
When we left the garden
to enter the deserts of temptation,
     he came , to show us
     the path back to your heart.
When we had given control
of our lives to sin and death,
     he came, to break their hold on us
     as he was resurrected from the grave.

As we begin to follow him to Jerusalem,
as we would choose to embrace his suffering,
we speak of that free gift called faith:

Christ died, going into the wilderness of the grave;
Christ was raised, shattering the grip of sin and death;
Christ will come, so we might follow him to the New Jerusalem.

You hold nothing back from us
as the Spirit comes to rest
on the gifts of the bread and the cup,
so that those gathered might be fed.
Like your heart, the bread is broken,
so we might be made whole and,
     by our healing, go forth
     to bring hope to those around us.
Like your Child, the cup is poured out,
so we might be filled with your grace, and
     go out into the world
     to empty ourselves for others.

And when our journeys in and out
of the wildernesses of the world are ended,
you will gather us around the
great Feast of the Lamb,
where we will sing glad songs of joy to you,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

May God lead us to all who are afraid.
We will follow God into the barren spots of our world.
May Jesus lead us to all who look for a friend, a companion in this life.
We will follow Jesus into all the places where the lonely live.
May the Spirit lead us to all who are tossed aside by the world.
We will follow the Spirit to the neighborhoods filled with injustice, to bring hope.

(c) 2017 Thom M. Shuman

Friday, February 17, 2017

Liturgy w/communion for February 26, 2017 (Transfiguration - A)

Texts:  Exodus 24:12-18; Psalm 2; 2 Peter 1:16-21; Matthew 17:1-9

Call to Worship
It is good to be here in this sacred space,
in the shelter of God’s love and hope.
It is good to be here with folks we know well, as well as with new friends,
joining with all of God’s beloved, sisters and brothers of Jesus.
It is good to be here, where we can hear God’s voice,
calling us to be eyewitnesses to the Spirit’s presence.
Prayer of the Day
We could build grand edifices
crafted out of our opinions
of how you should act and be,
God of mountains,
   or we could gather up
   all the broken dreams
   of the most vulnerable
to build a more just world.

We could join the denigrating
chorus which ridicules all
who have been pushed aside
by those climbing to the top,
Dawn of Hope,
   or we could hear songs
   of reconciliation and hope
   in the lingua franca
   of all who seek peace.
We could avert our gaze
from those who have fingers
pointed at them because
of where they come from,
Spirit of love,
not who they are,
   or we could catch
   a glimpse of you
   coming down from the
   closet shelf where we put you
      so you can be with us.
When we could stay on the mountaintop,
take us by the hand to lead us into service,
God in Community, Holy in One,
even as we pray as we have been taught,
(The Lord’s Prayer)
Call to Reconciliation
We wait for God to show up, and while waiting, do not notice the words we might have spoken, the good we could have done.  Let us confess to our God, who waits to surround us with grace and hope, as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   Our judgment often becomes clouded by our foolishness, Sheltering God, and so we make all the wrong choices.  We let fancy philosophies draw us away from your grace.  The flowery words of politicians can lead us into valleys of worry and despair.  Our fears can convince us that those around us are conspiring against us.
   You can take all our foolishness, Creative God, and make us wise enough to see you among us.  You take the shards of our broken lives to recast us into a faithful people.  You speak gently to us, so we can listen to your dreams of our seeing each person as your beloved, even as Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, sees us through such eyes.

Silence is kept
Assurance of Pardon
On mountaintops and in valleys, in moments when our lives are shrouded and as well as when we reflect Christ’s light, God is with us, declaring we are the beloved!
In this moment, in every moment, may we glimpse the grace of God which comes and transfigures our lives.  Thanks be to God, we are forgiven!  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
Let us not keep our treasures stored in the mountaintops of our fears of how others might use them, but pour them out so they might be used to transform all those who find themselves in the valleys of hunger, of loss, of loneliness, and of injustice.  This we ask in the name of your Beloved.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of each dawn be with you.
And also with you.
Let us open our hearts to God who gathers us at this Table.
We delight in the grace which fills our lives.
May we offer our praise to the One who calls us the beloved.
We give thanks to our God of holiness.
You took the shards of chaos,
Repairer of all brokenness
and transfigured them into
   mountains where we could draw closer to you,
   valleys where we could serve your people,
   bright stars of each morning.
These gifts, and so many more, were offered
to the children of dust you call Beloved,
   but we joined death and sin
   in their conspiracy to make themselves
   more important than you in our lives.
You waited for us to return to you,
sending invitation after invitation
through men and women of every age,
   but we continued to plot,
   listening only to sin’s foolish words.
When you could no longer wait,
you sent Jesus to us,
so we might take shelter in you.
With those who have seen your glory,
with those who hunger for your grace,
we join in praising your name:
Holy, holy, holy are you, God who offers shelter.
We join all creation in glorifying you.
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is the Morning Star of salvation.
Hosanna in the highest!
You alone are holy, God who laughs
at our foolish posturing,
and blessed is Jesus Christ,
who came to tell everyone of your love.
He could have remained seated in glory,
   but chose to walk with us
   down this path called life.
He could have remained on the mountaintop,
   but came down to minister
   to all in despair’s empty valley.
He could have simply told us
how we should live,
   but demonstrated genuine love
   by dying on the cross, so
      death’s power might be broken
      by the grace of the resurrection.
As we rejoice in your heart’s Beloved,
as we would listen to him with our souls,
we speak of that transfiguring mystery called faith:
Christ died, breaking sin’s power forever;
Christ was raised, as love conquered death;
Christ will return, to gather all the beloved to God.
Overshadow us with your grace, we pray,
as the Holy Spirit is poured out on us
and the gifts of this holy table.
As you give us the broken bread
to strengthen our service to others,
   may we offer hop to all
   surrounded by injustice.
As your cup of life nourishes us,
   may we see each person,
   not as a stranger or outsider,
   but part of your beloved family.
And when the waiting is ended,
when the stars of mornings and evenings
shine the way to your holy feast,
we will join our sisters and brothers
in forever singing your praises,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.
God sends us from this experience of worship
to serve all those around us.
We will go to take the light of hope
into the shadowed corners in our midst.
Jesus, the Beloved, invites us to join him
in everyday life, in everyday service.
We will go to be blessed by all those
overlooked by the world.
Glory’s Spirit takes us by the hand
to lead us down path of humility.
We will enter into the mists of mistrust,
so we can offer hope to many.
© 2017 Thom M. Shuman

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Liturgy w/communion for February 19, 2017 (7th Sunday after the Epiphany/Ordinary 7 - A)

Texts:  Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18; Psalm 119:33-40; 1 Corinthians 3:10-11, 16-23; Matthew 5:38-48

Call to Worship
We are called to turn the other cheek,
so we will seek to be vulnerable
in our lives of faith and service.

We are called to go the extra mile,
so we will walk with those around us
in the journeys of hope as well as fear.

We are called to love those who make that so hard,
so we will rely on the One who loves us
to fill us with that special grace.

Prayer of the Day

You are the Lord,
Master Builder,
so holy, we cannot understand,
     yet you turn the pages
     of your heart, so we
     might learn to love;
so creative, we stand open-mouthed
in awe and wonder,
     yet you teach us the words
     which can bring hope
     to those who need it most.

You are the Lord,
Wordsmith of new sayings,
so gentle, we think you weak,
     yet you dare to love
     those who confront you
               (even us);
so tolerant, we think you naive,
     yet you are wise enough
     to always let us make
     fools of ourselves.

You are the Lord,
Gifter of wisdom,
so exalted in glory, we lower our eyes,
     yet you move into
     our hearts in order
     to renovate our lives;
so perfect in wonder, we tiptoe away,
     yet you stick with us
     until we are all
     grown-up in faith.

You are the Lord,
God in Community, Holy in One,
and we worship you as we pray,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
Because we belong to God, we can turn our gaze away from all that tempts us, and see the One who loves us always.  Let us turn our hearts towards God, as we speak of our foolishness and failures. Please join me as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     We may try to trick ourselves, but we cannot fool you, Wise God.  We tell lies about others, and profane your name.  We hold onto grudges as if they were the most precious of jewels.  We steal another's identity when we ridicule who they are, and we boast about all we are without a nod toward you, who have blessed us.
     No matter how often we hurt you, God of grace, you show us your merciful nature.  As you seek to teach us your ways, may we pay close attention.  As you love us despite our foolish choices, may we be more compassionate toward others.  As we seek to follow Jesus, may we be willing to go as far as he will take us, even into that place of hope and peace, which is the realm of your heart.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
This is the good news: we belong to Christ.  He is the One who comes bringing life and hope to all.
Because we belong to Christ, we belong to God.  The Holy One is also the Merciful One, who fills our hearts with love.  Thanks be to God, we are forgiven!  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
We will not only offer our gifts but follow you, Gracious God, all the extra miles needed so the hungry might be fed, the homeless might be sheltered, and your compassion would be showered on all those around us.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of grace be with you.
And also with you.
We are the people of the Holy One.
We lift our hearts to the One who touches them with hope.
We are children of God, who fills us with joy.
Glad songs of praise are lifted to our God.

You unrolled the blueprints
of creation, Wise Architect,
showing the Spirit the waters to move over,
     so whales could spiral out of the sea,
     dolphins could whistle your joy,
     sea urchins could crawl over coral reefs.
You shared your plans with the Word,
who sang,
     and snowflakes drifted downward,
     bears hibernated in dark caves,
     squirrels jumped from branch to branch.
You did not hoard these gifts
for yourself, but longed to share them
with those created in your image,
     but we chose to belong to sin,
     who belonged to death.
Gifting the prophets with wisdom,
you sent them to bring us back,
     but we continued to turn
     our backs on you, bragging of
     our imperfections and foolishness.
Then, Jesus came to be with us,
so we might belong to him,
even as he belongs to you.

With those who have gone the distance,
and those who still search for the way,
we sing our praise to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, Master Builder.
All creation chooses to glorify you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who loves us.
Hosanna in the highest!

You alone are holy, God of our hearts,
and Jesus is your foundation of hope.
He took off the coat of glory,
     so we might be wrapped
     in the shawl of salvation.
He turned the other cheek
when sin slapped him,
     so we might see what
     true obedience looks like.
He went all the way to the cross,
     so death might be left behind,
as he walks with us
down resurrection's path
to your kingdom of life.

We would turn our hearts to you,
and belong to Christ, who belongs to you,
as we pay attention to that faith which is a gift:

Christ died, praying for those who persecuted him;
Christ rose, the foundation of our salvation;
Christ will come again, to lead us to the end of our journeys.

Here at this Table of love,
where we share the broken bread
and pass the cup of grace
which have been blessed by your Spirit,
we learn how to be your people.
We go forth to work for justice,
     and to share from our abundance;
we will not bear a grudge,
     or seek revenge when we are hurt;
we will not tell lies about others,
     but love them as deeply
     as we love ourselves.

And when we come to the end of the journey,
when enemies gather as friends around your Table,
we will join our hands and hearts,
lifting our praise to you for all eternity,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Go now, beloved of God!
We will go to love all we meet.
Go now, followers of Jesus!
We will go the distance with the One who shows us the way.
Go now, companions of the Spirit!
We will go, sharing peace and hope with the world.

© 2017  Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Liturgy w/communion for February 12, 2017 (6th Sunday after the Epiphany/Ordinary 6 - A)

Texts:  Deuteronomy 30:15-20; Psalm 119:1-8; 1 Corinthians 3:1-9; Matthew 5:21-37

Call To Worship
As we offer a welcome to stranger and friend,
as we are embraced in their kindness,
we choose to be people of life and blessing.
As we serve others in God's name,
as we receive blessings from those we do not know,
we choose to walk in God's way.
As we forgive those who have hurt us,
as we reach out to those we have harmed,
we choose to be reconciled to our sisters and brothers.

Prayer of the Day
You do not stand there
with a ruler in your fist,
ready to smack our hands
whenever we do wrong,
but are that gentle Parent
who wants only the best
for your children always.

You do not look at us
through the lenses of judgment,
Servant of all,
but see us as your
sisters and brothers
who have wandered away,
and so you reach out
and take our hands so
we might walk together.

You do not hold anything back,
Spirit of goodness,
but you fill our empty lives
with the waters of grace and peace,
so we might overflow with
love, wonder, joy, and hope,
true blessings to the world.

God in Community, Holy in One,
may we choose always and in all ways
to be your people, even as we pray,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
With every choice we make, we show how faithful we are to God's hopes for us.  Yet, despite the mistakes we make, the missteps we take, God remains forgiving and gracious.  Let us come to our God, speaking honestly about our lives, as we pray, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     How often we make the wrong choices, God of our lives!  We look at others through the prism of lust, distorting who they really are.  We let our 'mad' feed us with bitterness and hurt.  We toss about harmful words like so many snowballs on a winter's day.  We would rather insult those around us, than to lift them up.
     Have mercy on us, God who is everywhere.  May we set aside our quarreling natures to be united in common worship, common service, and a common purpose, as we follow Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Christ came, so we might be healed by God's tender touch.  Christ came, so we might be reconciled to one another.
Thanks be to God!  As risky, as hard as it may be, we will choose to be God's people.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
When we could choose to be selfish, may we share from our abundance;
when we could choose to be hoarders, let us give away all we have;
when we could choose to be broken, let us be reconciled with those around us.
Bless our lives, as well as these gifts, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May our reconciling God be with you.
And also with you.
Come to the One who loves you always.
We choose to offer our hearts to God.
Come to the Table with glad hearts.
We will offer God praise in these moments.

Heaven and earth are witnesses
to your creation, God of forever,
as you chose to bring forth
life, goodness, and beauty
out of the empty canyons of chaos.
Soft winds rippled grains in meadows,
thunder and lightning echoed your praise,
insects chattered away in hidden places.
All these were blessings - for us, those
who have been crafted in your image,
     but we turned away from you,
     led astray by sin to worship false gods.
You commanded the prophets to speak,
your words inviting us back to you,
     but we chose not to listen.
You sent Jesus to us then,
the One who walked that path called Blameless,
so we might know the way.

So with those who are mature in the faith,
ad those who are just starting the journey,
we lift our songs of thanksgiving:

Holy, holy, holy, Lord God who is everywhere.
All creation offers praise to you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who reconciles us to you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Seeking to be obedient to you,
God of every good choice,
Jesus came,
     so we might walk
     in his footprints on
     that path to life.
He came,
     so we could pay
     attention to you,
          yet not neglect our
          sisters and brothers.
He come,
     choosing to confront sin
     and death on the cross,
so we might receive the
blessing of resurrected life.

As we seek to mirror his faithfulness,
as we would choose to follow him,
we proclaim that mystery called faith:

Though he did not wrong, Jesus died for us;
though we thought him dead, Jesus has risen;
though we have our doubts, Jesus will come again.

It used to be that we had no hope,
but now, at this Table of bread and cup,
your Spirit of grace and joy is poured out.
Filled with the bread which
symbolizes your brokenness,
     may we choose to be
     reconciled to one another,
     honoring all relationships.
As we are transformed by the cup,
     may we choose to work together,
     so all may be blessed
     by your love and peace.

And when you choose to end time,
gathering us together around your Table,
we will join with all those around us,
forever singing your praises,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Go now, with God's love,
we will choose to be a blessing to others.
Go now, with Christ's hope,
we will choose to serve all in need.
Go now, with the Spirit's peace,
we will choose to share life in every moment.

© 2017  Thom M. Shuman