Friday, September 28, 2018

World Communion Sunday (October 7, 2018)

Call to Worship 
On this day, we are not a single congregation, 
but part of all believers everywhere, every place. 
On this day, we share not just a sacrament, 
but a feast from every time, every place of faith. 
On this day, God’s people gather in house churches and cathedrals,  
and on sandy beaches and under towering trees.   

Prayer of the Day 
In Tagalog and Turkish, 
in Mandarin and Maine drawls, 
in children’s whispers  
and seniors’ forgotten word, 
glad songs are lifted to you, Loving God, 
and we join our hearts and voices 
in praising you. 

In villages where water is more precious than gold, 
in prisons where humanity often disappears, 
in neighborhoods controlled by gangs, 
in residential homes for the disabled, 
your children cry out for justice, Servant of the poor, 
and we commit our hearts and lives 
to serving them with you.    

In prayers for peace  
whispered by little children; 
in hope-filled comfort 
offered to those who struggle;  
in affirmations of unity found in neighborhoods  
where folks live side-by-side,  
not doctrines filled with jargon,  
you continue to fill us with the words we need, Wisdom’s Heart,  
and we will continue to speak them  
in every moment. 

In this place, and in every place, 
with those we know, and with folks faraway,  
we will seek to be your people  
united in your heart, love, and service,  
God in Community, Holy in One,  
even as we pray, saying,  
(The Lord’s Prayer) 

Call to Reconciliation 
A word of anger breaks another’s heart, a church’s silence damages a family, a nation’s anger can bring war and destruction.  As individuals, as communities, as a world, we do not live as God’s people, so let us bring our lives to our God, so forgiven, we might continue to seek to become one in Christ. 

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness 
   We confess, God of every person, how easy it is to think that our way of being your church is the one, true way.  And so, we believe we have no reason to hear your name spoken in another language.  We are sure we don’t need to learn songs that have tunes which sound dissonant to us.  We believe that our baptism, our communion, our beliefs are the ones closest to your heart, and so we close our hearts, eyes, and hands to those around us. 
   Forgive us, Gracious God, and have mercy.  Remind us that while there may be many types of bread, there is that one Love which has been broken for us.  Remind us that while there might be wine or juice offered, there is one Life which has been poured out for us.  Remind us that while some remain seated, some come forward, and others dance, there is one Table, offered to us by your grace, through Jesus Christ, our Brother, our Savior. 

Silence is kept 

Assurance of Pardon 
In little churches with wide open windows, in ancient buildings echoing with the songs and prayers of generations, in buildings that do not look like sanctuaries, the same good news is proclaimed: God is love.  And that love forgives us, redeems us, restores us. 
In whatever language, in every tongue and dialect, we rejoice and give thanks.  We are forgiven by our God of grace and wonder.  Amen. 

Prayer of Dedication 
As we offer our gifts here, a family is placing its tithe in another church.  As we write our checks, a little child dumps coins from piggy bank into the basket passing down the row.  As we, and they, and our sisters and brothers everywhere respond to your blessings in our lives, may you gather them all up and use them in acts of kindness, of goodness, of justice, and of grace.  This we ask in the name of Jesus.  Amen.  

Invitation to the Table
Some come from towns we have trouble pronouncing, 
others have walked across the street; 
some gather with strangers, 
others are with old friends and family; 
some hold the bread with trembling hands, 
others pass the cup with a strong grip; 
some need to taste hope and grace, 
others long for a community which welcomes them with open arms.  
And all, all of us, are welcomed to this Table 
and every Table where the Holy Meal is celebrated this day.  
For this is not the clergy’s table, this is not the church’s table; 
this is God’s Table, and God turns no one away.  
Come, people of God; come and taste the goodness of the Lord.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving 
May the God of all be with you! 
May that God be with you, as well! 
We will join our hearts with all of God’s people, 
offering them to the God who loves us. 
God fills our hearts, our lives, with overflowing grace. 
With voices in every tongue, of every faith,  
we will sing our praises to God. 
We offer glory and thanksgiving to our God. 

When there was nothing but your imagination,  
God of Wonder, you thought,  
and the Spirit began to twinkle chaos  
   with stars, moons, and planets.   
You spoke, and the Word began to call to life  
   centipedes to march across the ground,  
   sparrows to dart across skies,  
   and little kittens to lap milk.   
You laughed, and shaped us in your image,  
to offer all these things and more to us.   
But we were convinced we did not need you,  
   and so chose to stay wrapped in our little cocoons  
   spun by sin and death.   
Over and over, in dusty streets and urban centers,  
your prophets call us back to you,  
   but we were set in our ways,  
   not wanting to walk by your rivers of life.   
So that we might finally have life with you,  
you sent your Child to us,  
so that all the world might be redeemed.   

With those whose hearts are filled with joy,  
with those whose lips tremble with questions,  
we lift our praises to you: 

Holy, holy, holy are you, God of all, God of each. 
All creation everywhere joins in praising you. 
Hosanna in the highest! 

Blessed is the One who calls us to the Table of life. 
Hosanna in the highest! 

In your holiness, God of creation,  
you could have stayed aloof,  
letting the world drift back into chaos.   
But you became one of us,  
in a little child born in a place no one imagined,  
and to a family none would have picked.   
A little child,  
   Jesus knew the hunger and fears of poverty and despair.   
A young boy,  
   Jesus knew the doubts and questions  
   of wondering about the future.   
A worker,  
   Jesus knew the struggles to put food on the table.   
A storyteller,  
   Jesus knew how to reach the deepest  
   depths of the human heart.   
A servant,  
   Jesus was willing to take on our death for us,  
   so that in the power of the resurrection,  
   sin and death lost their power over us. 

As we gather in grand churches and in open fields, 
as we feast on the finest bread, and drink from crystal cups, 
we join our sisters and brothers in every place, proclaiming the mystery: 

Jesus died, so we might know the depths of love; 
Jesus was raised, so we might know the strength of love; 
Jesus will come, so we might know God’s steadfast love for us.

At altars carved from marble and tables shoved together, 
with people who are at the feast every time it is served,  
as well as those just stopping in,  
we pray that you would pour out your Spirit  
upon your children and on the gifts gathered  
from the simple goodness of creation and set aside for holy use.   
In the bread which is broken,  
may we be reminded of those places  
   like Palestine and Israel torn apart  
   by ancient and modern fears;  
may we be strengthened to bring hope and help  
   to flooded communities;  
may we become willing to listen to those  
   who tell stories of unspeakable horrors from decades ago.   
In that cup which is filled with grace,  
   may we be called to welcome those  
   who have been forced to flee from the neighborhoods  
   they loved, but now fear;  
may we gather up children who have been forgotten,  
   to be blessed by their resilience;  
may we commit ourselves to ending injustice  
   in every place, in every person.

And when all time has ended and the world 
as we know it is made complete, 
we will gather around that One Table
of grace, hope, peace, and love with
sisters and brothers of every time and place,
forever praising your name,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

We will go now to share God’s love with all.  
Whether in our neighborhoods or in other places, 
we will care for others in God’s name.  
We will go now to join in offering the grace of Jesus to all.  
We will join the Servant of all in seeking 
justice and hope for everyone.  
We will go now, knowing we are one people in the gift of the Spirit.  
We will bring peace to places torn apart by violence; 
we will help to rebuild lives damaged by fear and hate.  

© 2018 Thom M. Shuman