Friday, August 31, 2018

Liturgy with communion for September 9, 2018 (Pentecost 16/Trinity 15/Proper 18/Ordinary 23 - B)

Texts: Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23; Psalm 125; James 2:1-10, (11-13), 14-17; Mark 7:24-37

Call to Worship
What good is it if we say we love all people,
but give special treatment to a few?
God calls us to love others as deeply
as we love ourselves, with no strings attached.

What good is it if we say we want
God to show mercy towards us,
but are quick to judge others?
God calls us to forgive our sisters and brothers,
to let mercy triumph over judgment.
What good is it if we say we trust God in every moment,
but live guided by our fears?
We will speak and act as those who trust God to come
and live in our fearful hearts.

Prayer of the Day

God surrounded by glory:
you notice the people we walk past,
      and journey with them,
     wherever they are going.
You speak out for the voiceless,
      and open our ears to their cries.

Jesus, Healer of the hopeless,
Converser with the outsider:
in you,
      faith and works skip hand in hand
      down the streets of the kingdom.
In you,
      the have-a-lots and the have-nothings
      find themselves sitting side by side
      at your Table,
           passing grace to one another.
In you,
      those with good names,
      and those with no names,
           are called by one name:

Compassion's Spirit:
sow justice in our hearts,
      so the poor might find in us a friend;
sow peace in our spirits,
     so the angry might find in us
           a sea of gentleness;
sow generosity in our hands,
      so the hungry might find in us
           their daily bread.

God in Community, Holy in One,
surround us in these moments
and in all the ones to come,
with your grace and love,
as we pray together the disciples' prayer,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation

We find it a lot easier to play favorites, rather than treating everyone equally. We find it simpler to classify others as 'them,' instead of discovering what makes them beloved in God's eyes. We cling to fear, when we could grasp hold of God's enduring love. Let us confess together all we have done, and not done, which brings hurt to others, and harm to ourselves. Join me, as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
      How glibly we say we trust you, Holy One, and how quickly our fears silence our words.  We find you at the side of the poor, while we cozy up to the rich and famous. You stand behind the counter serving the hungry at the soup kitchen, while we are stocking our freezers and pantries till they overflow. We look down at those whose hands are dirty, but your hand of mercy pulls them into your embracing love.
      Forgive us, O Lord, and do good to us when we have trouble doing good for others.  Surround us with your love; surround us with your grace; surround us with your peace; surround us with the Spirit of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Be strong, do not fear! God comes, to fill your parched souls with living water, to open your eyes to the grace which is yours.
God comes, for no other reason than to save us. This is indeed good news.  Thanks be to God.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
May we who are rich with your blessings, share them in common with those who have so little.  May our gifts be used to sow justice, to feed the hungry, and to bring relief to those afflicted in so many ways.  This we ask in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
My beloved sisters and brothers, may the Lord be with you.
And also with you.
My beloved brothers and sisters, lift up your hearts.
Our hearts are offered to our God.
My beloved sisters and brothers, let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
Thanksgiving is in our hearts, and praise is on our lips.

Our hearts do handsprings,
and our joy echoes off the mountains,
Creator of all:
      rich and poor, man and woman,
      child and grandparent, gnat and galaxy.
Created in your image,
      we ridicule others who look different from us;
our lungs filled with the Spirit's breath,
      we laugh at those who are not as good
           as we imagine we are.
But even when we turn our backs on you,
your love is steadfast and your grace is abundant.

And so, with all your people,
those on earth and those around your throne,
those beside us in this moment
and those with you throughout eternity,
we join in everlasting song:

Holy, holy, holy, God who surrounds creation with your grace!
Heaven and earth sing to the One who made them all.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who shares bread with the poor.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, and blessed is Jesus,
your Son, our Brother, our Savior.
Jesus has done everything well:
eating and drinking with sinners,
      he taught us that there is a place
           at the Table for each and every one of us;
responding to the cries of the poor,
      he shows us we are all equal in God's heart;
clearing the eyes of the blind
and opening the ears of the deaf,
inviting children to sit on his lap
and conversing with the outsiders of his day,
      he models the radical inclusiveness
          of your kingdom.

As we remember all you did in and through him -
his words, his touch, his laughter, his silence,
his pain, his loneliness, his death, his resurrection -
we offer ourselves in trust and hope,
in service and sacrifice,
as we proclaim the mystery of faith:

Christ has died, to sow life;
Christ has risen, to sow grace;
Christ will return, to sow justice for all.

May the Spirit of the Risen Lord
be poured out on us in this place,
and on the gifts of the bread and the cup.
As we take the broken loaf, we feast,
not on the crumbs which fall from the Table,
but on the grace which makes us whole;
on the hope which makes us one;
on the love which calls us to serve:
      to welcome the immigrants to our neighborhood,
      to teach the little child to read,
      to affirm the awkward adolescent,
      to share our bread and all we have
           with those in need,
until that day when Christ returns
and all shall feast at his banquet in heaven.
Through your Son, Jesus Christ,
with the Holy Spirit in your holy church,
all honor and glory are yours,
Great God, our hope, our trust, our redemption,
now and forever. Amen.

God sends us forth to love all people, no strings attached.
We will share grace and hope with everyone.
Jesus sends us forth to forgive our sisters and brothers.
We will offer mercy, not judgment, to those around us.
The Spirit sends us forth to trust God in every moment.
We will live in faith, not in fear, sharing our hearts with all we meet.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Friday, August 24, 2018

Liturgy with communion for September 2, 2018 (Pentecost 15/Trinity 14/Proper 17/Ordinary 22 - B)

Texts:  Song of Solomon 2:8-13; Psalm 45:1-2, 6-9; James 1:17-27; Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

Call to Worship
Here, our Beloved speaks to us;
the voice of our Beloved sounds in our hearts:
calling us to generous acts, to share the gifts we have been given.
Now, our Beloved speaks to us;
the voice of our Beloved sounds in our land:
calling us to generous acts, to open our hearts to all in need.
In every place, in every moment, our Beloved speaks to us;
the voice of our Beloved sounds in all creation:
calling us to generous acts, to stand with God's people:
the least, the lost, the little, the last.

Prayer of the Day
Light-giving God:
our praises spring up
like flowers on a spring day;
our songs of joy are lifted to you;
our hearts overflow with
your kindness and generosity.

Jesus, Beloved Child:
you look through the lattice of the world
at our lives, our hearts, our souls.
You speak to us with tenderness and strength,
calling us to come away from rigid legalism
to lives of grace and hope.

Truth-speaking Spirit:
we look in a mirror
and see God's child;
we walk away
and forget whose we are.
Move within us and reshape us
into God's beloved children,
living within that circle of blessing
called the kingdom.

God in Community, Holy in One,
hear us as we pray together,
as Jesus taught us, saying,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
Do we honor God only with our lips, while keeping our hearts from the Holy One?  Do we deceive ourselves, thinking we are religious rather than living faithful lives?  Let us confess to God our sin, trusting in the One who seeks to make us whole.

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   Holy One of leaders and little children, we hear your words every day, but rarely live them out.  Our anger roars like a flooded creek, but our forgiveness drips like a rusty faucet.  Our impetuous tongues rush to judgment, while our words of hope sound like a sluggish soundtrack.  We listen with impatient ears to the cries of the poor.
   Father of Lights, may your mercy fall on us like a summer shower on parched grass; may your hope overflow our hearts; may your Beloved Child, Jesus Christ, speak to us and call us to life.

Silence is kept 

Assurance of Pardon
Listen and understand - the voice of the Beloved speaks to us, implanting the word of hope, the word of grace, and the word of forgiveness into our hearts.
We listen and understand.  Every gift comes from God, especially the gifts of mercy and love.  Thanks be to God, we are forgiven.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/offering
Let us be slow in our yearning to hang on to our blessings, and quick to share them with the hungry, the lonely, the forgotten, and the hurting of our world, that our gifts might become a kind of first fruits for those whose lives are so empty.  This we pray in Jesus' name, Amen.

The Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
Beloved, may God be with you!
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts, Beloved of God.
We lift them to the One who loves us beyond all expectations.
God's Beloved, let us offer our thanks and praise to the Lord our God.
Our voices unite in joy and thanks to the One who brings us hope and healing.

Our hearts overflow with praise and thanksgiving,
God, our God!
Your Beloved's voice spoke to chaos,
calling forth the flowers of grace
which bloom in our hearts.
Because you love righteousness,
you would anoint us
with the oil of joy
and clothe us in the robes
of mercy and goodness.
But we break your heart by embracing
the very wickedness you hate,
staining our lives with sin and death.
Still, you love us and seek us out,
for in Christ your grace has defeated sin
and the Risen Lord has opened the way
to life in your kingdom

So, we lift our voices in joy and hope,
singing with the choirs of angels in heaven,
and with all the faithful of every place and time,
singing of your glory forever

Holy, holy, holy are you, Lover of righteousness
All creation overflows with praise for you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is your Beloved who anoints us with unexpected grace.
Hosanna in the highest!

Look, he comes!
Your Beloved Child,
Jesus Christ, our Lord, our Savior, our Companion,
the joy of your Heart.
Gazing into our souls,
he sees our emptiness
and fills us with your grace;
listening to our pain,
he is quick to speak
healing and hope to us;
the perfect gift of life,
he declares that sin is past,
death is over and gone,
and resurrection blossoms
in our hearts forever.

As you have called him Beloved at his baptism,
and as you raised him from death to give us life,
so we give ourselves to live for him in grateful praise and service:

Christ was born, hearing your morning song.
Christ died, doing your will even in the moments of his despair.
Christ was raised, in fulfillment of your own purpose.
Christ will come, the first fruits of our resurrection.
Generous God, pour out your Holy Spirit
upon those who gather around your Table,
and upon the gifts of the Bread and Cup.
As they are the body of your Servant
and the Spirit of your compassion,
may we become the healing and hope
the world longs for in our time.
As you touch our lips with your life,
may we be quick to speak of justice;
as you pour grace into our hearts,
may we be the doers of your Word,
those whose hands are stained
by generous acts of kindness:
feeding the hungry,
clothing the naked,
lifting the fallen to their feet,
comforting all who are broken.

Then, when your Spirit
unites us at your Table in heaven,
as we clasp hands with all your beloved,
we will sing your glory for all eternity:
God in Community, Holy in One.

Arise, and let us go forth as God's people.
Look!  God sends us forth with songs of love on our lips.
Arise, and let us go forth to serve beside Jesus.
Look!  He stands, waiting for us to help tear down the barriers of injustice.
Arise, and let us go forth to join the generous Spirit.
Look! We will be doers as well as givers with our gifts.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Alternate texts liturgy w/communion for August 26, 2018 (Pentecost 14/Trinity 13/Proper 16/Ordinary 21 - B)

Texts: Joshua 24:1-2a, 14-18; Psalm 34:15-22; Ephesians 6:10-20; John 6:56-69

 Call to Worship
To abide in you;
to find strength in you;
to worship you in these moments,
we gather, O God.
To challenge the evil around us;
to bring healing to the hurt;
to offer hope to the vulnerable,
we follow, Jesus our Brother.
To learn how to live;
to put away our old gods;
to stick with God in every moment,
we listen, Holy Spirit.

Prayer of the Day
Knowing the words to familiar hymns
and offering a word of welcome to a stranger;
listening to the silly stories of 5-year-olds
and affirming an awkward adolescent;
dancing to soul-filled tunes
and walking a sick neighbor’s dog:
we continue to love you, O God.

Filling a grocery cart for the food pantry
and dropping off supplies for a free health clinic;
living out God’s hopes for others,
rather than giving into the mongers of fear;
cradling the broken heart of the widower
and mending the toddler’s flat tire:
we choose to stick by your side, Servant to all.

Noticing the faithful teachers arms full of supplies
and paying for them out of our own pockets;
taking a lonely neighbor out for lunch
and reconnecting with an old college mate;
refusing to turn our backs on the forgotten
and holding leaders accountable for injustices,
we offer the bread of life, Holy Spirit.

In all ways, with all people, in all moments,
we give thanks to you,
God in Community, Holy in One, 
even as we lift the prayer we are taught, saying,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
When we could pay attention to our words and actions, we become distracted by our worries, our desires.  Yet God would seek to clothe us in garments of hope and grace, so we might continue to walk in the ways of love and peace.  Let us bring our lives to the One who offers us mercy, as we pray together,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   Yes, Watcher of the faithful, we could put on the comfortable shirt of faith, but prefer fear with its frayed cuffs and stains on the front.  We could slip on the loafers of peace, but squeeze into the size-too-small stiff dress shoes of anger.  We could wrap truth around our lives, yet continue to punch holes in the belt of falsehood so it always fits.
     Hear us, Faithful heart, and rescue us from our worst selves.  When we are lonely, you offer us your heart as a refuge.  When we are broken, you knit us back together.  When we are afraid, you promise to draw us into your embrace.  When we are faithless, you continue to call us to follow Jesus the Christ, the only Word we need in the midst of so many hollow promises.  Amen.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
As God listens to our voices and hearts, our brokenness is gathered up and we are made whole, as mercy and hope fill our lives.
We are forgiven.  We are transformed into new people.  We are clothed with grace and peace, so we may go and serve as God’s people.  Thanks be to God!  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
May these simple gifts transform into shoes for those who have none, into clothes for kids heading off to school, into faith, hope, peace, and grace for all of your children, Holy God.  Amen.

The Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of the feast be with you;
may God also be with you.
We come to the place where God has called us.
We lift up our hearts to the One who mends them.
Here, we are fed with living hope and grace.
And so, we lift our songs of thanksgiving to God.

You listened to the silence of chaos,
Wonder-filled God, and called forth creation.
Yes, there were feathered birds,
   but also faith planted in the hollows of our hearts;
there were porpoises swimming in clear waters,
   as well as peace to shelter us in trouble;
trees grew tall with shade
   and truth whispered to us in the evenings.
All these good and precious gifts
were offered to those in your image,
   but we were seduced by the wiles
   of the Evil One, feasting on moldy lies.
Prophets came to call us back to you
with words, prayers, and challenges,
   but we wished that you would go away
   and leave us alone to our doubts.
That is when you chose to send
your love, your hope, your grace to us
in the One made human like us.

With those who are bold in their faith,
and those who can barely lift their hearts,
we sing our praises to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God who clothes us.
All creation gathers to praise you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the Bread of life offered to us.
Hosanna in the highest!

Though you are holy, Eternal God,
you would not forsake us to our foolishness
but became bone of our bone, flesh of our flesh.
In Jesus, we hear the tough teachings
of justice for those we would ignore,
   not the easy platitudes of those
   who claim they do not matter.
In Jesus, we are offered the life
which is grounded in your hope and grace,
   not the daily promises of success
   which are pulled out from under us.
In Jesus, we taste the sweetness
of resurrection life and love,
   not the moldy and stale death
   the Evil One tells us is our finish.

As we come to the Table of living bread,
as we prepare to take the cup of grace,
make us bold with that faith which is hard to understand:  

Though the Word was shattered on the cross,
you did not forsake him, Loving God,
but completed the mystery of the gospel
with your resurrection love, offered to all.         

We come to this holy feast, Loving God,
because this is where you want us to be,
gathered with those who like us,
seek to be faithful and not forsake you.
Here, the Spirit is the yeast in
the bread which, though broken, offers life
to those who eat of it, so we might
   share peace with every step we take,
   speak the gospel with every action of our lives,
   stand firm against the injustices around us.
Here, the Spirit is poured into
the cup which, when emptied, fills us so we can
   wrap our arms around the lonely and grieving,
   gather up broken hearts and mend them,
   reunite children separated from their families.

And when we are no longer ambassadors
in chains of hope, grace, and peace,
but are gathered with our sisters and brothers,
we will join in praising you at all times,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen. 

To whom should we go, Holy God,
now that worship is done?
We will go to nurture others with grace.
Where should we go, Holy One of God,
now that the songs have been sung?
We will go to serve those around us,
for you are the Word of hope all need.
Why should we go from this space,
gracious Spirit, where we find life?
We will go to gather who are lonely,
all who hunger for community.  

© 2018 Thom M. Shuman