Friday, January 25, 2019

Liturgy with Communion for February 3, 2019 (Epiphany 4 - C)

Texts: Jeremiah 1:4-10; Psalm 71:1-6; I Corinthians 13:1-13; Luke 4:21-30

Call to Worship
With powerful words and dramatic gestures,
with a quiet conversation and a gentle touch,
we respond to God’s call to offer
healing and hope to our world.
With courage to face the injustices around us,
with the willingness to go into the brokenness,
we fulfill the call of Jesus
to engage in faithful obedience.
With the patience of a teacher of six-year-olds,
with the gentleness of a nurse helping a patient,
we become the Spirit’s refuge
for all who live in worry and fear.

Prayer of the Day
In you, God of love,
we find that panic room
when our terrors try to
break down the doors of our hearts.
In you,
we discover the patience
to keep our expectations
from getting in the way
of the fulfillment of your kingdom.

With you, Child of our hearts,
we find the One we have leaned on
every step of our uncertain journey
even when we thought we walked alone.
With you,
we discern the passion to speak up
for the voiceless and the forgotten
who are all around us.

Through you, Gentle Spirit,
we can offer a hand
to partner with those trapped
in the tight grasp of oppression.
Through you,
we can catch on to the arrogance
which too often is our attitude
and replace it with your humility.

In you, with you, through you,
God in Community, Holy in One,
we can seek to be your people,
even as we pray as you taught us, saying
(The Lord’s Prayer)
Call to Reconciliation
Arrogance, envy, harsh words, empty hands, pleasure in doing what we know is wrong – these are what we often use to fill our lives.  Let us confess in faith, trusting in the hope that God’s love restores us and makes us whole.  Please join me, praying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   Ah, Lord God, we do not know how to speak words of hope, because we listen to the purveyors of fear.  We do not know how to be loving because our role models are ridicule and anger.  We do not know how to be faithful to you, because at an early age, we learned to trust the promises of all the false prophets who entice us with their simple thoughts.
   But you know how to forgive, God of kindness, so we pray you would pour out your mercy upon us.  May faith abide in us, so we may serve others even as you have served us; may hope abide in us, so we may surround the broken with your compassion and grace; may love abide in us, not only in these moments of brokenness, but in every moment of our life with Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, who abides in us.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
The good news is that, in our God, we find that safe place for our lives.  In God’s forgiveness, we are offered the healing we need.
In God’s acceptance, we discover the love in which we may abide in every moment of our lives.  Thanks be to God!  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
We do not need to speak in tongues, but to offer words of encouragement.  We do not have to be know-it-alls, but those who work to life the burdens off those around us.  We do not need to give everything, but we will join our gifts with those of others to reach out, in love, to those who have nothing.  This we pray in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of love be with you.
And also with you.
Do not be afraid to offer your hearts to God.
We do so, knowing they will be filled with God’s love.
Always and forever, let us praise our God.
Here, now, every day, everywhere,
we will offer our songs to the One who abides.

You could have spoken any tongue,
God of every love, but you
silenced the cacophony of chaos
with the simple words, ‘let there be,’
and creation, in all its goodness and beauty
sprang forth from the depths of your heart.
Mysteriously, you chose to create us
in your image, knowing we might reject you,
   which we did, placing our faith in death,
   learning more about death than we ever dreamed.
Empowered with your words, prophets came
to remind us of what would happen,
   but because we loved sin and death more,
   we gained nothing from their advice.
So you gave us the priceless treasure
of your heart who, filled with your love,
handed over his body so we might gain everything.

With those who worry they cannot do what you ask,
with those who believe your word is fulfilled,
we join our voices in singing your praises:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God of abiding faith.
All creation sings of its hope in you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who came as your love embodied.
Hosanna in the highest!

As patient as a cat waiting for
a sunbeam on a winter’s day,
kinder than a father teaching
his daughter how to repair a car,
   Jesus showed us love in so many ways.
He never blew his own horn or
wished he was someone else;
he never bullied the vulnerable,
didn’t whine, and let go of every grudge.
He didn’t look the other way when
we were foolish, and encouraged
everyone to own up to their mistakes.
He picked up all of our burdens,
he trusted everyone the world discounts,
he looked beyond all our fears,
   as well as his own,
taking on everything sin
and death had to offer him
in order that everyone might
experience your resurrection love.

We may not have prophetic powers,
we may not know as much as we think we do,
but we can speak of that mystery of faith:

God’s Word came, offering his life in faith on the cross.
God’s Word comes to offer resurrection hope to all.
God’s Word will come, bringing love for each one of God’s children.

Your love has never retired, Eternal God,
but your Spirit pours it out upon
the gifts of the Table and those gathered around it.
This bread, though broken, will feed us
so we might be able to
   bear the brokenness of those around us,
   believe in all those doubted by the world.
The cup, containing faith, hope, and love,
will send us into the world,
   to serve in the belief
      that justice has no future;
   to endure until peace becomes the reality
      rather than the fantasy of a few.

And when we run out of things
to say and words drift away,
when we have to more to learn,
when your fullness comes and
all the pieces of life fall into place,
your children will see you clearly,
God in Community, Holy in One,
knowing you as well as you know them,
rejoicing that
   your steadfast love,
   the grace of Jesus, and
   the Spirit’s hope
rest forever in your love
even as we all will.  Amen.

God touches our mouths,
so we may go to share the good news.
Jesus touches our hands,
so we may serve all in need of life and hope.
The Spirit touches our hearts,
so we may be a haven for those
who are longing for acceptance and love.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Liturgy with communion for January 27, 2019 (Epiphany 3 - C)

Texts: Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10; Psalm 19; 1 Corinthians 12:12-31; Luke 4:14-21

Call to Worship
Loud talkers and silent worriers,
glad-handers and lonely wallflowers:
God gathers us together to be the Body
of wonder and joy, of hope and healing.
Bystanders with hands shoved into our pockets,
fraidy-cats whose feet are frozen in place:
Jesus calls us to carry grace to outsiders,
to walk with all those left behind.
Kids who never offer answers in class,
bashful folks whose tongues tie in knots:
The Spirit anoints us to speak up for the voiceless,
to partner with the poor to discover their gifts.

Prayer of the Day
Every day sings of your glory,
each night lullabies us to sleep;
and in every moment between
your grace silently laps upon
the shores of our souls,
Imaginative God.

You fulfilled the prophet's hopes,
Faithful Servant,
your voice racing through the valleys
of our despair to bring us hope,
your feet gently walking by our side
over the dusty roads of death.

More than any prize we might win,
we long for the riches of your joy;
more than all the world's empty calories,
we hunger for the fullness of your love;
more than all the fears promised to us,
we embrace the peace of your heart,
Anointing Spirit.

You are our promise, our hope, our fulfillment,
God in Community, Holy in One,
and so we pray with one voice,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
We are afraid to join hands with others; we want to listen to those who speak falsely; we glibly offer silliness to those we love the most.  Let us share with God how we have not been that Body we are made for, that God might reshape us into that holy community, even as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   Do we make you laugh or weep, Gracious God?  We sing that we are one in your Spirit, but cannot tolerate those who disagree with us.  We talk of being one Body, but fight over music or Bible versions or carpet colors.  We affirm the giftedness of each person, but we heap honor on just a special few.
   Forgive us, Creative God, that we dismember your Body so easily.  May the words of our mouths speak peace to the brokenness in our world; may the hopes of our hearts bring wonder to those in despair; and may our love embrace all who are around us, even as we have been welcomed by your grace in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Forgiven, we are filled by God's Spirit, commissioned to be Christ's hope, Christ's people for the world.
Anointed, we can care for one another, weep with one another, serve one another, and live with one another.  Thanks be to God.  Amen.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
Though many different amounts and ways, when gathered up by you, our gifts become a food pantry, a rebuilt life, medicine for children, a caregiver to the lonely - your grace in action.  In love we offer these gifts in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the Spirit anoint you!
And you, as well!
Grace is offered to us by our God of love.
We open our hearts to receive this gift.
Join all creation in praising God.
In every moment, we sing of God's wonders.

When the time came, God of the ages,
you opened up chaos
and creation sprang forth, all
the parts arranged to work together:
   seeds burrowing into rich soil,
   water nurturing the young roots,
   the sun to raise the plants ever higher,
   animals to be nourished by such goodness.
But you were not finished, shaping us
in your imaginative likeness, so we could
be filled with your Spirit,
   but we chose to open
   the gifts of sin instead.
Prophets gathered us tie and again
to draw us back to you,
   but we paid attention only
   to the empty words of death.
So you sent your perfect Hope
to us in the birth of Jesus.

With the weak as well as the strong,
with the disreputable and the righteous,
we lift our voices as one to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, Opener of your heart.
Each day, each moment, creation tells of your love.
Amen!  Amen!

Blessed is the One who fulfills your words.
Amen!  Amen!

One in holiness with you, Joyful God,
your Child set aside glory
to become one of us.
Because we had failed to pay attention,
   he began to teach
   of your dreams for us.
Because we were so empty,
   he brought the deep riches
   of your grace to us.
Because we were held captive,
   he let sin slam the cell door
   behind him as he entered the grave,
only to be set free by you
when the time came.

Though from many places, with many hopes,
we are made one by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus,
a mystery we proclaim in every moment:

Christ died, finish his life on earth;
Christ was raised, as you accomplished life for all your children;
Christ will return, to fulfill your promises beyond this life.

Now is the time when your people
are gathered together at your feast,
so pour out your Spirit upon
the gifts of the bread and of the cup,
and on our sisters and brothers.
Strengthened by the bread of life, may we
   offer a hand to walk with those
      who cannot see the way,
   and lift oppression's burden
      off our neighbor's backs.
Filled with your grace, may we be anointed
   to carry your hopes and dreams
      to all in despair;
   to let loose all imprisoned
      by their fears.

And when there is no more time
to come but only infinite love with you,
gather us around your joyous feast,
as we join all creation in praising you,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Now, we are scattered by our God,
to go carry grace into a broken world.
Now, Jesus scatters us,
to bring justice to the outsiders,
to visit all who are alone and lonely.
Now, filled with the Spirit, we are scattered,
to gather up the dispirited,
to take hold of the lost and embrace them as family.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Liturgy with communion for January 20, 2019 (Epiphany 2 - C)

Texts:  Isaiah 62:1-5; Psalm 36:5-10; 1 Corinthians 12:1-11; John 2:1-11

Call to Worship
We come this day, Precious God,
as people in need of your steadfast love:
with you is the fountain of life;
in your Light we see light.

We gather this day, Water-changing God,
as people looking for signs:
with you is the fountain of grace;
in your Hope we see hope.

We worship this day, Gifting God,
as people who confess Jesus as our Lord:
with you is the fountain of joy;
in your Life we see life.

Prayer of the Day

With you, Enduring Joy,
we find our refuge.
In the shelter of your compassion,
we are made whole;
in the abundance of your grace,
we are fed;
in the depths of your living waters,
we are transfigured into new people.

With you, Revealer of Glory,
we are filled to the brim.
Our lips cannot contain your praise;
our hearts overflow with your spirit;
our lives are poured out for others.

Activating Spirit,
we find our common life
in this community of faith.
United by a common confession,
we take our uncommon gifts
and share them
in serving all people.

Same in love, same in grace,
God in Community, Holy in One,
hear us as we pray as Jesus taught us, saying,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
We cannot claim ignorance of our sins, for we know how we have not lived as God's
people.  But God refuses to forsake us, waiting to forgive us and call us as God's
children.  Please join me as we pray, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   Delight of the Ages, we cannot remain silent, but must speak of the ways we misuse your gifts.  In our desire to have more and more, we cause more damage to your good creation.  In our obsession with ourselves, we have desolated that lives of those around us.  When we hoard what you have given us, we cannot be a blessing to other people.
     Forgive us, Restless God, so we might be restored to life.  May your steadfast love save and strengthen us to share our gifts with others, even as you have shared the Gift of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
God delights in you.  So much, that God will not rest until you are at peace.  God will not remain silent, but will call you by name: 'My Delight.'
God's steadfast love extends to the heavens, and reaches down to touch our hearts.  Thanks be to God who forgives and saves us!  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
Sometimes, we believe the gifts we offer do not matter.  But when they are combined with all the other gifts – of healing, of hope, of compassion, of your heart – they can become rivers of grace and justice flowing through the lives of everyone around us.  We offer our gifts to you in this hope, as we pray in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of steadfast love be with you!
And also with you!
Here, we will find refuge in our God.
Here, our hearts may be offered for healing and hope.
Let us feast on the abundance of God’s grace.
We will sing glad songs as we come to this Table.

You could not rest, Steadfast Love,
until creation had emerged from chaos;
you would not keep silent
but spoke the Word which
   placed the sun like a burning torch,
   caused the moon to shine like the dawn,
   crowned the night sky with stars.
Shaped in your image, you delighted in us,
   but we forsook you for sin,
   moving into the neighborhood called Desolation.
Prophets came repeatedly, to remind us
of your never-ending delight in us,
   but we thought their words
   were of no concern to us.
So you sent your Child to us,
the One who would fill us
to the brim with your gracious hope.

So with our sisters and brothers around us,
in the midst of the richness of your gifts,
we celebrate your steadfast love for us:

Holy, holy, holy are you, Refuge of our hearts.
All creation sings of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who is the same Lord of all.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, Light in whom we see light,
and Jesus is your vindication for all to see.
He could have rested in glory,
   but came hurrying to gather
   us up in your grace.
He could have remained silent in disapproval,
   but spoke over and over
   of your steadfast love for us.
He could have joined the world
in calling us all sorts of names,
   but whispered that we are
   your beloved children.
He could have forsaken us,
   but went into death’s desolation,
   so you would rejoice over him
   on Resurrection’s morning.

As we remember the life he led and offered to all,
as we look for signs of his presence in our midst,
we would proclaim that mystery we call faith:

Christ died, faithful to the very end;
Christ was raised, your righteousness drawn
   out of the depths of death;
Christ will come, so we will no longer be alone.

The same Spirit which moved over the waters
is now poured out over the gifts
of the bread and the cup, created from
the rich variety of creation’s gifts.
This bread, though broken,
strengthens us to be your people,
   who will not remain silent,
      but will confront injustice;
   who will not rest until
      all the broken are healed.
The cup, dipped into grace’s river
and handed to us, sends us forth
to be a fountain of life,
   where empty longings might
      be filled with love;
   where desolation might be
      replaced with hope.

And when, at the end of all time,
we are gathered in Beulah land,
we will be seated with our sisters
and brothers at your Feast,
where we will discover you have save
the best until then, as we sing to you,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

God sends us out to the lonely, the forsaken.
We will go to gather them up into the heart of love.
Jesus sends us out to throw a party for those
who nibble at the stale crusts offered by the world.
We will go to sit with those who have no family,
to fill their lives with hope and grace.
The Spirit sends us forth, as transformed people,
as those who have been given new names.
We will go to those sunk deep in the muck of life,
Who long for new days, for new joy, for new wonder.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Saturday, January 05, 2019

Liturgy with communion for January 13, 2019 (Baptism of the Lord - C)

Texts: Isaiah 43:1-7; Psalm 29; Acts 8:14-17; Luke 3:15-17, 21-22

Call to Worship
Like the soft whisper of a little child singing
to herself before anyone else in the house is awake,
ever so gently, God's voice cradles us

with songs of wonder and awe.
With the persistence of teenagers and young adults,
heady with the newfound freedom of questioning everything,

God's voice rumbles like a river through our lives,
sweeping away all the boundaries between us.

Like the grandpa who passes on the secret to his bread,
like the nana who teaches her grandkids how to drive,
God's voice is always reminding us

that we are precious, esteemed, beloved.

Prayer of the Day

When we baptize ourselves
in the frigid waters of fear,
     you come to gather us up,
     drying us off with grace,
     wrapping us in the warm,
     fluffy towel of the Spirit.

When our faith becomes
as threadbare as the
carpet beneath our feet,
     you come, your work boots on,
     your tool belt around your waist,
     building a new foundation for us,
          whistling, 'my hope is built
          on nothing less . . .'

When we worry that someone
else has taken our place in your heart,

you show us where our name is etched,
     so you can always feel us
     with every beat.

God in Community, Holy in One,
we lift our prayers of joy to you,
even as we pray together saying,
 (The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
Broken? God promises to make us whole.  Lost? God promises to come and find us, gather us up, and bring us home. Confused about  tomorrow? God promises our future is grounded in love. Let us confess that, though we have heard the promises over and over, we have trouble believing them, as we pray together saying, 

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     We know what it is like to be singed by the flames of our lives, Holy God. We look for ourselves in all the wrong places - success, power, adulation. We carve our names in the granite walls of work, hoping we will be remembered when we are gone. We have gone through the waters of baptism, but live as if they have not changed us.
     We need to hear your sure word, 'do not fear,' Shaper of our lives. Our failures do not cause you to quit loving us, for you continue to claim us, gathering us up in your compassionate arms. In our baptism, we discover not the end, but the first step of our journey with Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
God's words of comfort and restoration are more powerful than any foolishness, any mistakes, any sins we commit. This is good news: we 
are God's people!

Thanks be to God! By water and word, by the Spirit of God's redeeming grace, we are marked and sealed as God's beloved children. Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
We offer our gifts in recognition that we are baptized people, transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit.  So, we will hold nothing back but will share our lives, our hearts, our energies, as well as our efforts, in ministry to the world around us.  This we pray in Jesus' name.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of glory be with you!
And also with you!
People of God, offer your hearts to God.
We give them to the One who comes to redeem us.
Sing songs of praise and joy, Children of God.
We lift our voices to the One who journeys with us through the waters of baptism,
and who feeds us at the Table of hope.

With the water of baptism
reminding us of your love for us,
Voice of Heaven,
we lift our praises to you.
Before you breathed the Word
which tamed chaos,
you named us your children,
     heirs of all the goodness
     you desired for us.
You sang to us in Eden's fields,
inviting us to glorify you forever.
     Yet, we walked into the shadows
          of the world, leaving the songs behind us.
You persisted in your hopes for us,
knowing that where
     no life is anticipated,
      no hope is expected,
      no future is seen,
it is in those barren and desolate places
that you gather your children up
to carry us into your kingdom.

So, with angel choirs in every region,
with shepherds who caroled a homeless family,
with those who came home singing from exile,
we lift our voices in joy and hope:

Holy, holy, holy, Awesome Voice of life and hope.
All creation resounds with your wondrous love.
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is the One who comes to be baptized
      with water and the Spirit.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Bearer of grace and Singer of truth.
When we lost our voice to sin,
     you sent your Word to teach us
     new songs of joy and praise.
When our feet became muddy
from playing in life's puddles,
     he stepped into the Jordan,
     so we might be cleansed of sin.
When our ears were filled
with the lies of the world,
     he spoke the truth of
     your everlasting hope for us.
When we were about to die,
     he came running to us,
     defeating sin and death,
          marking us as your own
          with the kiss of the Holy Spirit.

As we remember Christ's baptism,
as we recall his life and ministry,
as we follow him through death
into the resurrection of the new life,
we proclaim that mystery we call faith:

Baptized, Christ was called your Beloved;
dying, Christ was your heart broken for us;
risen to new life, Christ is the Voice which shatters all our fears;
coming to gather us up, Christ will bring us home to you.

Holy Spirit,
fill us with the bread of forgiveness
and with the cup of hope.
Flow through us like baptismal waters,
     so we might become
     a river of reconciliation.
Grant us your peace,
     so we might carry this gift to the world.
Set our hope on Christ,
      so we might build such hope
     in our neighbors and communities.

And when the river of time stops flowing,
when we gather as one around your Table,
we will join our voices as your children,
singing to God, Child, and Spirit,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

Baptized, we will go to share God's love with others.
We will welcome those the world rejects as our sisters and brothers.
Baptized, we will become the grace of our Lord Jesus.
We will share the waters of life with everyone we meet.
Baptized, we will become the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.
We will be a community of justice, not judgment;
we will be a household of hope, not an exclusive club for just a few.

(c)  Thom M. Shuman