Saturday, December 16, 2017

Liturgy w/communion for December 24, 2017 (Advent 4 - B)

Texts: 2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16; Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26; Romans 16:25-27; Luke 1:26-38

Call to Worship
O come, early morning Mist:
slowly moving over our lives
to swaddle us in your peace,
as we seek to walk through these moments.
O come, gently falling Grace:
calming us in this season
that has gotten so out of control
we cannot hear the angels sing,
or see the shepherds pointing the way.
O come, Walker with the winds:
bring cooling peace
to our over-heated fears
of the future;
knock us off our feet
so we can make angels in the snow
with all the kids around us.   
O come, Flinger of galaxies,
so that as we gaze on them
in the silence of holiness,
our path to Bethlehem,
as well as your heart,
might be illuminated for us
O Come, Imagination beyond compare,
as you gather us up
with all of creation
to dance with joy around
the wonder of your love.
O come to us, and live with us,
this day and forever, Immanuel.
O come!

Prayer of the Day
Wherever we have been,
you were with us,
Architect of the Universe;
wherever we are,
you are constantly at our side,
Shelter of our hearts;
wherever we are going,
you are there waiting for us,
Builder of our future.

Above the din of violence and war,
you whisper to us of reconciliation:
Prince of Peace.
Into lives which are barren
and filled with the ashes of disappointment,
you come singing of newness:
Hope of Heaven.
Where the oppressed are captive to our greed
and the poor have nothing to eat,
you come to set all of us free
and to feed everyone at your Table,
Servant of the lost.

When we are afraid of tomorrow,
push us into God's Advent:
when we believe no one loves us,
sing Bethlehem's lullaby to our souls;
when we doubt our ability
to be the children of God,
infuse us with your gifts.

God in Community, Holy in One,
remind us that there is nothing you cannot do,
even as we pray as Jesus has taught us, saying,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
Advent is the time to prepare;
Advent is the time to watch and wait;
Advent is the time to open our hearts to God,
as we pray together saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
We watch for packages to arrive
and Christmas cards to be delivered,
    but we do not keep our eyes open
    for your coming, Approaching God.
We expect our Christmas 'wish list' to be filled,
and for the pile under the tree to grow and grow,
    but we hope you do not expect
    to transform our lives.
We notice where to find the best bargains,
and what decorations our neighbors have put on their houses,
    but we do not notice
    the little, the least, the lost, the last
    walking down our streets.

Forgive us, Saving God, for our misplace priorities.
May we watch for your coming,
may we reach out to those in need,
may we wait for hope to come,
even as Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior,
arrives to live in our hearts.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
The good news is made known to all people:
Christ Jesus was born to save us from our sins.
Glory and praise to the only wise God, who fills us with healing and hope.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
May these gifts be signs of the yes we would say to you, not only in this season, but in all the days to come.  May they bring hope to those who have always had doors slammed in their faces and NO! pounded in their ears, so they will know your love and grace are gifts for them as well.  In Jesus' name, Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May salvation's Rock be with you.
And with you as well.
God comes to fill our hearts in these moments.
We offer them, for they are empty of wonder and grace 
in this season of stress and worry.
Rejoice in that love of God which never ends.
With our lips, as well as our hearts, we praise God.

Into the repeated "no's" of chaos,
you whispered Yes, God of wonder,
creation tumbling forth for all:
   tall pines kissing the sky,
   dolphins leaping from seas,
   swallows nesting in barns.
You offered all these gifts to those
who were shaped in your image,
   but we preferred the negativity of sin,
   longing to be comforted by death.
Prophets, like Nathan and Mary,
came to remind us of your presence
in our lives, your hopes for all of us,
   but we continued to try to build
   our own ways of being, of doing.
So, you sent your Child to us,
to sing of your never-ending love for us
in the bleak moments of our lives.

With all those who have said Yes to you,
with all who struggle to learn the word,
we offer our praises in this moment:

Holy, Holy, Holy are you, God of new birth.
All creation joins in singing your praises.
Glory to God in the highest!

Blessed is the One who came to teach us to say, Yes!
Peace on earth; God's favor on all.

When we thought your holiness kept you distant,
God of shepherds and angels,
you spoke your Yes to us in Jesus,
who came to be our Brother, our Savior.
A worker with wood,
   he came to help us rebuild shattered dreams;
a weaver of stories,
   he came to share your words of grace and hope;
a healer of wounds and worries,
   he came to spread the balm of love over us;
a heart which beat as one with yours,
   he came to have his stilled on the cross,
   his life and spirit brought to the end
      by the brutality of fear and death,
   only to show that the journey called resurrection
   could not be delayed, as he came out of the tomb,
to offer us your life.

As we draw closer to Bethlehem,
as we seek to hear the angels and follow the shepherds,
we would tell of the revelation of your mystery in Jesus:

Jesus was born, to live, to be, to die with us;
Jesus was raised, so we would know that death has no power;
Jesus will come, your final Yes to all our doubts and worries.

As we long to say Yes to your great love,
we gather at the Table, praying your will
pour out your Spirit on us and the feast prepared.
Though broken, the bread can make us
strong enough to say No
   to the builders of unjust systems;
   to the bullies who stalk our world;
   to the braggarts who deceive with false words.
Though just a cup, your grace fills us
with the courage to say Yes
   to the hurting asking for medicine;
   to the lonely longing for a family;
   to the hungry who ask to be fed.

And when your realm of grace is finally complete,
you will lay down your tools of reconciliation and peace,
gathering all from every time and place,
seating us around your table,
where we will sing Gloria to you forever,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Go now, with God's love,
the only tool we need to bring hope to the world.
Go now, with the grace of Jesus,
the only tool we need to offer love to others.
Go now, with the peace of the Spirit,
the only tool we need to mend the brokenness around us.

(c) 2017 Thom M. Shuman