Sunday, February 24, 2019

Liturgy with communion for March 3, 2019 (Transfiguration - C)

Texts: Exodus 24:29-35; Psalm 99; 2 Corinthians 3:12 – 4:2; Luke 9:28-36 (37-43)

Call to Worship
From a cloud, and in a crowd, God speaks to us.
Calling us to be lovers of justice, to share hope with the broken.
On mountaintops, and in neighborhoods, Christ calls to us.
With a word, and with wonder, molding us into who we are.
On the playground, and at the workstation,

the Spirit whispers in our hearts.
Gathering up our fears, as well as our dreams,

and offering them to God.

Prayer of the Day

Listener of our souls,
when we would
become adept at chicanery,
     you hand us the rule book
     on fair play you have written.
When we would brag
about all our achievements,
     your glory silences our prattling
     so we can hear your
     soft whispers of wonder.

Listener to our hearts,
when we memorize all
the goals and objectives
taught to us by sin and death,
     you become the nemesis
     of our mismanaged lives.
When we become so
hard-headed we butt at grace,
     you soften our pride with
     the warmth of your grace.

Mirror of God's love,
when our lives are veiled
with pride and ignorance,
     you turn us inside out
     to reveal who we truly are.
When we turn our hearts
this way and that,
thinking that God's glory
resembles some abstract art,

     you pull out a snapshot
     of Jesus from your purse.

God in Community, Holy in One,
with you we never lose heart,
even as we pray as we are taught,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
Sometimes we wait for God to astound us with whirlwinds of wonders, while God silently offers us grace. God waits to forgive us, so let us hold nothing back, but place our trust in the One who listens to our prayers and answers us with mercy.

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     We admit that we are often afraid to come near you, Glorious Creator. For if we do, you might see how our faces darken with anger as we speak hurtful words, or whiten with fear of those who are different, or redden from the depths of our desires. We can spend so much time gazing in the mirror of our longings, that we are unable to see the faces etched with loneliness, hollowed by hunger, overshadowed by hopelessness.
     You reveal the mystery of your grace, Holy One, by pouring out mercy upon us. As you bend down to listen, may we speak your love to all those around us.  As you call us into your presence, you send us out to do your justice which brings hope to the world.  This we pray in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord, our Savior, our Love, our Justice.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
On mountaintops and in valleys, in our hopes and in our hearts, God knows us better than we know ourselves, and God forgives us when we cannot forgive ourselves!
By God's mercy, we are forgiven; by God's mercy, we are made whole; by God's mercy, we are equipped to serve others. Thanks be to God! Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
We have stood on the high crests of hope, and wandered through the valleys of loneliness.  And so, we know what peace, hope, grace, and wonder can mean to others.  As we offer our tangible gifts to you, we would also share these blessings with those we will meet in the days to come.  We pray this in the name of Jesus, Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving

May the God of mountaintops be with you!
And also with you!
People of God, lift up your hearts to the One who calls to you.
We open our hearts to the One who invites us to listen.
Beloved of God, offer praise to the One who is with you in this moment.
Our voices unite in thanking our God who loves us.

Overshadowing chaos, you spoke,
Awesome Creator,
     and mountains were topped with mist,
     singing brooks meandered through fields.
Created in your image, we had
the audacity to demand our way,
     tempted by sin and death who came
     to us masked as life and joy.
You did not turn your face away,
sending the prophets into all
those ordinary places we lived
to call us back to you.
Though they spoke boldly of your hope,
     we did not listen to a single word.
So you sent Jesus, your glory,
to become flesh and blood

so we might be reshaped
as your beloved children.

With those in every time and place,

with those gathered here,
at this moment, we sing of our joy to you:

Holy, holy, Holy! God who listens to our cries!
All creation trembles with hope and joy.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes with words of life.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, Wonders of wonders,
and your Beloved reigns in peace.
He set aside his glory
     to load us down with the riches*
         of your grace and peace.
He silenced our silly complaints,
     so we might hang on to every
          word of hope, of joy.
He went to the cross,
ripping the mask off death,
     so we could see the face
          of an empty threat.

As we celebrate your naming him your Chosen,
as we prepare to listen to him with our lives,
we speak of that mystery we call faith:

Christ died, to pull aside the curtain of d
Christ was raised, to reveal the promise of new life;
Christ will come, to show us the face of God.

As we gather around your Table,
pour out the blessings of your Spirit,
transforming the simple gifts
into that grace which changes our lives.
As we feed upon the Word
which is broken for us,
we would go forth to speak boldly:
     reading a story to a lonely child,
     advocating for the voiceless,
     telling your good news to those who wander in despair.
As your Cup of peace fills us,
we would go out into the world,
learning that where we do justice
     for the oppressed and rejected,
     we find ourselves in your presence.

So then, when all time comes to an end
and we are gathered in your glory
with our sisters and brothers
around the Feast of Grace and peace,
we will sing your grace forever and ever,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

Go forth now, as lovers of the justice of our God.
In cyber clouds, and in crowds of those searching for grace,
we will offer the hope of the One who cares for all.
Go now, as those who have been with Jesus on the mountaintop of wonder,
to serve others in the broken valleys of life.
With words of life on our lips, with the wonder of laughter in our hearts,
we will follow Jesus to all who seek healing and love.
Go now, as those who would offer the Spirit's peace to those around us.
Teaching games of cooperation and not competition to kids,
listening to the lonely whispers of those with whom we work,
we will bring reconciliation to those who are strangers to hope.

(c) 2019 Thom M. Shuman

* - kabod, the Hebrew word for glory, literally means
"to be loaded down with riches."

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Liturgy with communion for February 24, 2019 (Epiphany 7 - C)

Texts: Genesis 45:3-11, 15; Psalm 37:1-11, 39-40; 1 Corinthians 15:35-38, 42-50; Luke 6:27-38

Call to Worship
We come, those who seek to trust in God.
We commit ourselves to do as Jesus would do for those around us.
We come, delighting in all the wonders God provides for us.
We would not worry, but open ourselves to God’s heart.
We come, waiting patiently for God to speak.
We will be still, listening for God’s words of hope, of peace.

Prayer of the Day
     You Are
our heart’s Desire,
who chooses grace over grudges,
who provides rather than withholding,
who creates community with us
     rather than standing isolated from us.

     You Are
our Brother and Servant,
who delights in those who resist you,
who cradles the fists of hatred
          in your scarred hands,
who does good to those who do evil.

     You Are
the Breath of wonder,
who blows death’s dust off our shoulders,
who fills our empty souls with resurrection life,
who whispers words of peace
          into hearts full of anger.

God in Community, Holy in One,
You Are for whom we wait patiently, even as we pray,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
Over and over we are told how simple life with God can be: trust, do good to others, take delight in the wonders God provides for us.  But we simply have trouble living such a life.  Let us confess the struggles we have, as we bring our prayers to God, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     In this season of light, Revealing God, we find ourselves wandering the shadows of the world.  In this time when we focus on Jesus’ ministry of healing, we hold tight to all those emotions – hatred, fear, worry – which continue to damage us.  in these days when we are invited to listen to Jesus’ teachings, we confess it is easier to hear the seductive words of sin.
     Forgive us, Resurrecting God, for trusting in promises which are short-lived, rather than in your Word which endures forever.  You have sent Jesus before us so that, as we follow him, we might travel from that far country of fear and doubt to that better country of resurrection life.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Take delight in the good news, dear friends.  Salvation is from our God, who restores us to new life.
God chooses to be gracious; God longs to give us our heart’s desires; God provides healing and hope to all.  Thanks be to God, we are forgiven!  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
You pour out grace upon us, Loving God, not so we might be filled, but we might empty ourselves for others.  Take these gifts we offer in these moments and use them to bring new life and hope to all around us.  This we pray in Jesus' name.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of Epiphany be with you!
And also with you!
Be still.  Wait patiently for the One who loves you.
Our hearts rest in that peace which God offers to us.
Trust in God, who delights in you.
We rejoice in the One whose Light shines in our lives.

At the first moment of creation,
you spoke, God of still silences,
and all that was good shone
in your glory and wonder.
You created us in your image,
giving us your heart’s desires,
     so we might live as your children.
But we dishonored your hopes,
     committing ourselves to sin’s ways.
You sent the prophets before us,
who reminded us that salvation is from you,
     but we continued to play
     in death’s dusty streets.
Choosing to be ever gracious,
you sent Jesus to us,
not withholding anything from us.

With all who hunger for your hope,
with all who thirst for your salvation,
we join our voices in singing your praise:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God our delight.
Creation sings your glory in every moment.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes to provide life for us.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, God of every moment,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, our Savior.
Having shared in creation with you,
     he came to remind us that,
          by the gift of resurrection, we cannot destroy
          ourselves or anything which you called into being.
Loving us, even when we were enemies,
     he came to do good to those who hated him.
Giving his other cheek to sin and death,
     he did for us what we could not do ourselves,
          defeating their power over us.

As we seek to walk in the Light which he brought,
as we would remember his self-giving love and service,
we would proclaim that mystery called faith:

Christ died, praying for those who harmed him;
Christ rose, doing to death what we could not do;
Christ will return, not withholding resurrection from us.

From the grain of the fields,
you shape the Bread of life
          for us;
from the fruit of the vine,
you fill the Cup of grace
          for us,
pouring out your Spirit
          upon these gifts
and upon those who gather
          around your Table.
You provide that brokenness
which makes us whole enough
to go and serve a hungry world.
You do not withhold anything from us,
but pass us that Cup of simple grace
which cost everything that was dear to you,
so we could love those,
     who are not easy to love;
so we could pray for those
     who would speak hate to us;
so we could do to others
     as you have done for us.

And when our journeys have come to an end,
when we are gathered with our sisters and brothers
around that resurrection Table of wonder,
we will sing your praises forever,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

We leave, our hearts filled with God's love.
We will go to offer the wonders of laughter    
and hope to everyone we will meet.
We leave, following Jesus into the world.
We will serve alongside him in the brokenness                                     
of our neighbors and our communities.
We leave, having heard the whispers of the Spirit.
We will speak justice to those                                                            
who would hoard it only for themselves.

(c) 2019 Thom M. Shuman

Friday, February 08, 2019

Liturgy with communion for February 17, 2019 (Epiphany 6 - C)

Texts:  Jeremiah 17:5-10; Psalm 1; 1 Corinthians 15:12-20; Luke 6:17-26

Call to Worship
Blessed are those who trust - in God! 
We come in trust, to be grounded in God's love.
Blessed are those who hope - in God!
We come in hope, trusting in the One who gives us life.
Blessed are those who delight - in God's Word!
We come to hear God speak, hoping for healing and joy.

Prayer of the Day
God of our wonder,
Heart of creation:
we are blessed when
we feast on your Word:
     that Word which embraces us;
     that Word which teaches us;
     that Word which transfigures us;
     that Word which grounds us.
Give us your Word this, and every, day.
Jesus Christ,
Heart of God's children:
we are blessed when
we have your compassion:
     that heart for the poor;
         for the hungry;
         for those who weep;
         for those left out.
Give us your heart this, and every, day.

Holy Delight,
Grace's Heartbeat:
we bear fruit when
we overflow with your spirit:
     that spirit of generosity;
     that spirit of pouring ourselves out in service;
     that spirit of bearing another's burden.
Give us your spirit this, and every, day.

God in Community, Holy in One,
may our hearts beat as one with your heart,
even as we pray as Jesus has taught us,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
Now, if what we hear from the world is true, we would have no need to come before God. But in fact, the witness of scripture, and of the faithful, is true. God is to be trusted with every secret of our hearts, as well as offered our brokenness. Join me as we pray to the One who waits to forgive us.

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     We confess what we are afraid to face, Blessing God, that the seductions of this world gnaw away at our hearts. We have more and more to choose from at the market, and so we forget those whose only choice is hunger. Our sense that we are your favorites causes us to make fun of those we are convinced are not. We are so consumed with saving enough for the future, we overlook those who have so little this day.
     Forgive us, Heartbroken God, for thinking we are the center of your world. Pour your living water into us, so we might send down roots deep into your heart, and so become those people who are blessings to others, as we have received the gift of new life from Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Blessed are you: for God forgives you and restores you to new life. Rejoice in this day and dance for joy!
Thanks be to God! Our faith is true, and our hope is grounded in the promises of the One we can trust not only on this day, but in every day to come.  Amen.
Prayer of Dedication/Offering
You pour out your abundance on us, Loving God, as we can alleviate the sufferings of others, turn their woes into blessings, and their emptiness into overflowing grace and life.  Take the gifts we offer and use them in the work of your new life which is in our midst.  In Jesus’ name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of blessings be with you!
And with you!
Let us lift our hearts to the One who plants us by living water.
We open our hearts, to be filled with God’s grace.
Let us sing glad songs to God, who takes delight in us.
We will sing of our blessings to the One we trust in all things.

You opened your heart,
God of every wonder,
and creation flowed forth
transforming chaos into a garden of delights:
     trees stretching to touch the sky,
     rivers tickling the floors of valleys,
     stars twinkling your message of joy
           to those staring into space.
Your Spirit of generosity offered
all these gifts to those shaped in your image,
     inviting us to picnic by the waters of life.
But we chose to sink our roots
in the sandy clay of sin and death,
     taking our places at the scoffers’ table.
You blessed the prophets with your words,
sending them to proclaim your healing words
     to all who would come and listen.
But when our hearts refused to budge,
you sent Jesus, your Hope, your Life
to become one of us.

Preparing to come to your Table,
we join our voices with all who delight
in you, in every place and time:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God who blesses.
All creation trusts in your goodness.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who has been raised from the dead.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, God of living waters,
and you bless us through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Gardener of your grace, he came,
     so we would not be like lonely
     desert shrubs with no relief.
Word of your heart, he spoke,
     blessing us as your beloved children.
Bearer of your life, he went
     into the unpitying arms of death,
     so we would not be imprisoned
     by sin forever.

As we remember the blessings he has brought to us,
as we recall the curses he endured for us,
we speak of that mystery we call faith:

Christ died, trusting himself to your love;
Christ is risen, so we can trust in resurrection faith;
Christ is with us, trusting us to proclaim the good news.

Here at this Table of life,
your spirit flows into the gifts
of the bread and the cup,
your grace, your joy, your peace
seeping and trickling into all gathered,
so we become trees planted by your waters,
     sharing your kingdom with the poor,
     feeding all who hunger,
     wiping away the tears of all who grieve,
     lifting up all despised by the world.

And when our journeys have ended in you,
gathered with our sisters and brothers
around the feast prepared for all time to come,
we will join in singing our praise to you,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Grounded in God’s love, we are sent out
to share abundance with those who have so little.
Blessed with Jesus’ hope, we go forth
to fill the emptiness of those longing for justice.
Blessed with the Spirit’s delight, we dance into the world
to take the hands of our sisters and brother,
and gather at the edge of living waters for a picnic.

(c)  Thom M. Shuman

Saturday, February 02, 2019

Liturgy with communion for February 10, 2019 (Epiphany 5 - C)

Texts:  Isaiah 6:1-13; Psalm 138; 1 Corinthians 15:1-11; Luke 5:1-11

Call to Worship
L:    It is by grace that we are who we are:
P:    people who are called by Jesus, yet fearful to follow.
L:    It is by God's grace that we can become followers:
P:    people who are fearful, yet gifted with courage beyond wonder.
L:    It is with God's grace that we become who we might be:
P:    people who step out in faith, sharing the good news generously.

Prayer of the Day
Holy God, by your grace:
you touch our fears
with the fire of your compassion;
you touch our brokenness
with the fire of your forgiveness;
you touch our hearts
with the fire of your love.

Jesus Christ, by your grace:
you step into our lives
and an unpredictable journey begins;
you challenge us to new thinking,
with overflowing results;
you so confront our doubts
that we can cast away our fears.

Holy Spirit, by your grace:
you give us eyes
to see the emptiness of the world;
you give us ears
to hear the cries of the hungry;
you give us gifts
to bring hope and healing to all.

God in Community, Holy in One,
by your grace we are who we are,
your children, your people, your church,
praying together as Jesus has taught us, saying,
(The Lord's Prayer).

Call to Reconciliation
It is so simple to say, yet so difficult to live out - 'do not be afraid!'  Yet, whatever fear burdens us, God will lift from our souls.  Whatever foolishness we have uttered, God whispers mercy to us.  Whatever wrong we have done, God's forgiveness is poured out upon us.  I invite you to join with me as we pray to the One whose love is constant in every moment, in every place, of our lives.

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   God of wonder and joy, we look in the mirror and do not see holiness reflected back.  We long to be sisters and brothers with others, but don't want to be an intrusion in our friends' lives.  We yearn to be more compassionate, yet it is often spite and malice we offer to someone else.  We are so busy listening to those internal i-pods, that we have trouble hearing the cries of loneliness coming from those around us.
   Forgive us, God who longs to be enthroned in our hearts.  You call us to different lives, so we might make a difference for all who hurt.  You invite us into your kingdom, so we might show the others the way.  You challenge us to take a risk by following Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, so we might become your children once again.

Silence is observed

Assurance of Pardon
L:  The One who alone is Holy became wholly human so we might see the face of grace.  The One who is seated in the heavens endured the cross so we might see the face of salvation.  This is our good news:  we are forgiven!
P:    By God's grace, with God's grace, we are who we are meant to be: forgiven, restored, called people.  Thanks be to God.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
God who alone is holy, we offer our gifts, our lives, our compassion, our service to others, and to your creation.  Bless all that we offer, so that we might be blessings of hope, peace, and grace.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
L:    May God be with you.
P:    And also with you.
L:    Beloved of God, lift up your hearts.
P:    We lift them to the One who knows us and loves us.
L:    Beloved of God, give thanks to the Lord our God.
P:    Our praise is continually offered to our Hope, our Trust, our God.

In that time when there was only You,
you walked in the midst of chaos,
shaping all that is good and beautiful.
In that place where there was only your Love, you stretched out your hands scooping up the dirt off earth's floors, shaping us in your image, breathing Spirit into our lungs.
In that silence where there was only your Hope, you called us to be your people, God of glory and wonder.
But the world sang its seductions,
sin called us to follow its despair,
death blinded us to the life you offered.
And so, pouting and stamping our feet
because you would not give us our way,
we turned away going down another path.
You would not pay attention
to our foolish tantrums,
nor would you leave us
in the grasp of death and sin,
trusting that if we encountered
the grace wrapped in your holiness,
we would turn to you in joy.

And so, believing that you have reached out and called us to service with you, and touched our lips with songs of hope, we join our voices with those who, in every time and in every place sing of your ways forever:

P:    I bind unto myself today
        your power, O God, to hold and lead,
        your eye to watch, your might to stay,
        your ear to hearken to my need,
        your wisdom, O my God, to teach,
        your hand to guide, your shield to ward,
        your living Word to give me speech,
        your heavenly host to be my guard.
            (The Breastplate of St. Patrick)

Holy are you, Sanctuary of our hearts,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, Word of joyous grace.
In that time when we had lost our way,
he called to us,
so we could follow him into your joy.
In that time when all hope had died,
he touched our lips
with the bright fire of your love.
In that time when death's cold grip
wrapped tightly around our hearts,
he came,
to surround us with your live.

While we cannot understand the mysteries of your wonder and grace,               when we are called to Christ's side                                                                        we can only cry, 'here we are; we will follow'
even as we hope for that faith which was his.

P:    We adore you, Lord Jesus Christ,
        in all the churches of the whole world,
        and we bless you, for by means of your holy cross
        you have redeemed the world.
            (Francis of Assisi)

In this time of silence, Spirit of God,
may this bread which is broken
become our wholeness.
In this time of grace,
may this cup which is poured
touch our lips with healing.
In this time when we feel the brush
of your fingertips caressing us,
may we believe that your justice and peace are to be shared with all people; that our hearts can bear the burdens of others; that we may bring joy to the lonely and suffering.

Then, when our journey is ended,
and we have followed you into eternity,
we will gather around your Table
in that silence, which is only your grace;                                                           
in that place, which is only your heart;
in that time, which is only your love,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

L: Filled with God's grace, we will go,
P: to share hope with those in despair,
    to befriend the lonely and afraid.
L: Filled with God's grace, we will follow Jesus,
P: to offer justice to those forgotten by the world,
    to embrace those filled with grief and loss.
L: Filled with God's grace, we are empowered by the Spirit,
P: to bring peace into all the brokenness around us,
    to walk in faith beside our sisters and brother.

(c) 2019 Thom M. Shuman