Saturday, March 30, 2019

Liturgy with communion for April 7, 2019 (Lent 5 - C)

Texts: Isaiah 43:16-21; Psalm 126; Philippians 3b-14; John 12:1-8

Call to Worship
We come to this place
because we want to know God,
who helps us set aside the past,
to walk the path to new life.
We come in these moments
because we want to know Jesus,
who anoints us with the resurrection,
who shares our lives with us.
We come with these people
because we want to know the Spirit,
who shapes us for life with God,
so we may praise God forever!

Prayer of the Day
You have done great things
for us, God of great love.
You make a way through our brokenness,
so hope might be restored;
you loosen our grip on fear,
so we might take hold of the One
who cradles us in the palms of grace.

You are doing great things
through us, Brother of the poor.
You make a way through our doubt,
so we may have the faith to follow,
as well as to serve by your side;
you gather up our tears,
turning them into fountains of joy.

You will do great things
in us, Anointer of our hearts.
You make a way through
our hardened hearts, melting them
into rivers of wonder for all;
you touch our tongues so
they tingle with delights, and
laughter tumbles out of our mouths.

Continue to make a way through us,
God in Community, Holy in One,
as we pray together, saying,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
As we offer our prayers of confession, remember that God chooses to forget about our past, forgiving us so we may embrace the new life and new hope offered to us in grace.  I invite you to join me, as we pray together,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   Like Judas, God of new things, we like to complain about your generous ways, rather than living in your grace.  The poor are always with us, we believe, which justifies our ignoring them.  In our memories, we see a perceived golden past, and so close our eyes to the new things you do in our midst.  We are so enamored with our achievements that we are not willing to throw them away in order to follow Jesus.
   Forgive us, Restoring God, and help us to notice the kingdom springing forth in our midst.  By your grace, may our fears turn to faith, our seeds of grief produce a bumper crop of joy, and our tears turn into torrents of tenderness as we journey with Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, to Jerusalem.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Making a way through all the foolishness and mistakes of our lives, God leads us into new life, where we are restored to grace, to hope, and to peace.
Do we notice what God has done for us, what God is doing in us?  This is good news for everyone.  Thanks be to God, we are forgiven!  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
If we want to know you, Generous God, we must see you in those all around us.  If we want to serve you, we must give up that which is most important to us, even our material resources, so that blessings of hope and life might be offered to the needy, the lonely, the hungry all around us.  Receive our gifts, we pray, so that others might be transformed even as we are.  In Jesus’ name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of all new things be with you.
And also with you.
Let us offer our hearts to the One who restores us to new life.
May we empty them of all that holds us back,
so God may fill the emptiness with grace.
May our hearts overflow with praise to God.
May joy and laughter resound in our words and lives.

You made a path through the emptiness
of chaos, God of every imagination,
sending creation to spring forth as
   grass carpeted empty fields,
   trees stretched their branches to the sun,
   animals curled up by cool pools of water.
You even shaped us for life with you,
so we might share in this beauty and goodness,
   but we threw aside all these gifts
   in order to know sin and death.
You sent prophets to us,
who encouraged us to let go of the past
and to return to your side,
   but we didn’t care about their words,
   thinking such a life to be too costly.
So you sent Jesus to us,
setting aside your grieving heart
so we might be restored to you.

So with those who long to know you,
with those who run to be with you,
we offer our songs of thanksgiving:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God of new things.
All creation honors you with praise and joy.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes to take hold of us.
Hosanna in the highest!

Though you are holy, God of restoration,
you were willing to set aside all we had done,
so that Jesus might anoint us with new life.
He could have clung to his glory,
   but set it aside to become one of us;
he could have maintained all power,
   but became weak and foolish for us;
he could have been surrounded by your love,
   but walked into the forest of our fears,
   to make a way out for us;
he could have avoided pain and suffering,
   but went into sin’s cold embrace,
   to bring back death’s captives,
his tears sowing the seeds of hope
which brought forth a bouquet of grace.

As we long to want to know Jesus more,
as we seek to be restored to life by you,
we speak of that mystery we call faith:

Christ lost his life so we might find ours;
Christ was raised, his resurrection life springing forth in us;
Christ will come, that we might gain eternity with God.

We pray that you would anoint
this Table and its gifts of the bread and cup
with your Spirit of life and love,
which are offered to the people you love.
When we take the bread
which has been broken and eat of it,
   we forget about our past
   and embrace your kingdom
   where we share in the sufferings
   of our sisters and brothers everywhere.
When we drink from the cup,
the fragrance of your grace fills us
to go and serve your people:
   the poor who do not always need to be,
   the lonely who can be offered a family,
   the grieving who can be cradled in love.

And when the past is finally behind us
and we are gathered in the new Jerusalem
with our sisters and brothers of every time and place,
we will join our hands around your feast,
and sing your praises from the depths of our hearts,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

And now, God sends us out into our communities,
not to cling to a faded past,
but to share all the new things God is doing.
And now, Jesus calls us to notice those around us,
to shower them with hope,
to feed them from our deep pantries,
to welcome them as family.
And now, the Spirit anoints us with grace,
to make a way through the injustices around us
so we might walk with our sisters and brothers
into the kingdom springing forth in our midst.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Friday, March 22, 2019

Liturgy with communion for March 31, 2019 (Lent 4 - C)

Texts: Joshua 5:9-12; Psalm 32; 2 Corinthians 5:16-21; Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32

Call to Worship
Do you feel it? God's kingdom is beneath our feet.

We live in the new creation shaped by God out of our brokenness.
Do you know it? God's reconciling love in Christ
has shattered our ways of viewing people.
No longer do we label our sisters and brothers,
we welcome them with open arms.

Do you believe it? God has made everything, including us, new,
and sends us forth to share this good news with everyone!

Prayer of the Day

Holy God, Word Shaper:
you are not our accountant,
     but our lover;
you are not angry at us,
     but you forgive us;
you are not our enemy,
     but the One who runs towards us
     with wide open arms,
throwing steaks on the grill
to celebrate our newness!

Jesus Christ, Shaper of our story:
you travel to that distant country called our sin
     to bring us home once again;
you share your inheritance with us
     so we might be blessed;
you know the famine of our spirits
     and fill it with your hope.

Holy Spirit, Life Shaper:
surrounded by your grace,
     we offer glad cries of salvation;
encircled by your constant love,
     we shout for joy;
enclosed in your comforting arms,
     nothing can overwhelm us.

God in Community, Holy in One,
from now on we will remember our life in you,
even as we pray as Jesus taught us,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation

We know our faults -- the way we have treated others, our alienation from God, our unwillingness to be faithful people. We will not hide our sin or remain silent, but confess them to the One who surrounds us with steadfast love. Please join me as we pray, saying,

Unison Prayer of Confession
   On this very day, Waiting God, we admit all the lengths to which we go so we might avoid you. You offer us that kingdom of joy and wonder, yet we would hide in places where temptation waits. You invite us to feast on your grace and peace, but we stubbornly refuse, because you also welcome those we call 'outsiders.' We are quick to see all the mistakes that those around us make, but hope you will ignore our foolish choices.
   Celebrating God, before we come to our senses, we find you running towards us, sweeping us up in your arms, tears of grace mingling with our cries of confession, a mighty river washing away our sinful ways to restore us to new life.  In Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, we find no limitations on your grace, no reservations about your love, but a feast that overflows with wonder, a place we can finally call home.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
God rolls away everything that stands in our way - our past, our sin, our pain, our hesitation, and reshapes us into new people living in the new creation. What wonderful grace. We are forgiven!
Broken, we are made whole;
lost, we are brought home;
empty, we are filled with songs of gladness.
We rejoice and give thanks to God who has graced us with mercy. Amen.

 Prayer of Dedication/Offering
May we not be like the older brother, grumbling and resentful of your generosity.  Rather, with joy and hope, we offer our gifts that others might be swept up in your loving and gracious arms.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving

May Abba our God be with you!
And also with you!
Lift your hearts to the One who welcomes us home.
We open them to our God, who runs to embrace us with grace.
Sing glad songs to the One who provides this feast.
We join in singing to God, who throws a party for us in this place.

On those days you called creation
from the hiding places of your imagination,
     mighty rivers rushed down to the seas,
     a rainbow of produce sprang up in fields,
     day and night rippled with your beauty.
All this was from you, God of Wonder,
gifts for those created in your image.
But we demanded our share,
     traveling to that far country called death,
     squandering everything in sin's hidden shadows.
Longing for us to come home,
you sent the prophets to surround us
with glad songs of deliverance,
     but we regarded their words as empty husks,
     continuing to waste away all our days.
So you sent Jesus, your Son,
to lead us back from the dead
so we might celebrate your life.
With all the prodigals as well as the pious,
with all the saints as well as the sinners,
with all the faithful, we sing to you:

Holy, holy, holy, God who reconciles us to yourself.
All creation is glad and rejoices.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who finds the lost and guides them home.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, God of prodigals,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, in whom there is no deceit.
Coming to that far country we call life,
     he shared the gifts of grace and peace;
telling us stories of families reunited,
     he points us to you sitting by the kingdom's window;
seeing us green-eyed with jealousy,
     he hands us the glasses of reconciliation
          so we might see others in a new way;
going to the cross and dying,
     he comes to life in joy,
          surrounded by your glad cries of resurrection.

As we remember how he welcomed those we overlook,
as we celebrate at the feast which is offered in his name,
we would reflect on that mystery we call faith:

Christ died, to be our salvation;
Christ was raised, to be our reconciliation;
Christ will return, to lead us home.

On this day, Parenting God,
pour out your Spirit
on the gifts of the bread and the cup,
the celebration of our new life with you.
In this feast you provide,
     we find the healing we hunger for
     in the bread which is broken for us.
At this table of peace and joy,
in the deep richness of grace's cup,
we receive new sight,

so we can see our sisters and brothers in a new way,
not strangers,

     but siblings,
not outsiders,

     but members of the family.

And on the very day when all time will end,
we will gather with your family around your table,
our voices singing through all eternity glad songs to you,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

God sends us forth,
to be reconcilers of the broken and oppressed.
Jesus, our Brother, sends us to welcome everyone.
We will embrace the prodigals with joy,
we will make a feast for all of God’s people.
The Spirit sends us with arms full of healing.
We will go to bring hope to all we meet.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Liturgy with communion for March 24, 2019 (Lent 3 - C)

Texts:  Isaiah 55:1-9; Psalm 63:1-8; I Corinthians 10:1-13; Luke 13:1-9
Call to Worship
We come, because we seek our God.
Every morning, every day, every evening,
every moment, God is with us.
We come, because we hunger for Christ.
Jesus will feed us with hope,
will replace our emptiness with grace.
We come, because we thirst for the Spirit.
Who fills our yearning for peace,
who ends the drought of justice.
Prayer of the Day
God of steadfast love,
Imagination of the ages:
you offer to all that world where
   all thirst is quenched,
   all the hungry are fed,
   all strangers become family.
Jesus, friend of the poor,
Brainstormer of the kingdom:
you dare to envision that world
where we do not waste a single person,
   but offer hope to those in despair,
   bring light into every shadow,
   embrace the lonely and broken.
Spirit of discernment,
Artist of our lives;
you inspire us not to toss aside
any of the gifts of God, but
   to offer peace to angry hearts,
   to share joy with mourners,
   to welcome those whose ways are not ours.
God in Community, Holy in One,
continue to nurture us with steadfast grace,
even as we pray, saying,
(The Lord’s Prayer)
Call to Reconciliation
Do you think that because you have spoken hurtfully, or failed to help, or left God behind as you travel through each day, that God forgets you?  God’s love is as constant as the sun; God’s forgiveness is as sure as the stars in the night sky.  Let us join together, as we pray, saying,
Responsive Prayer for Forgiveness
The thirsty come,
   and we offer lead-filled water;
the hungry come,
   and we offer a single can from
   our overflowing pantries;
the lonely come,
   and we cling to our cliques;
the broken come,
   and we hand them an aspirin;
the needy come,
   but we have wasted everything
   on stuff we do not need.
Have mercy on us, Steadfast love, and pour your heart into our grace-parched souls.  As you have been with us in every moment, may we go to be with all around us.  May we listen to the needs and hearts of others, even as you lean down to listen to us in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.  Amen.
Silence is kept
Assurance of Pardon
In every moment, God seeks what is best for us, continually offering us peace, hope, and forgiveness.
We will bless God in every moment, rejoicing with the One who fills us with steadfast love.  Thanks be to God, we are forgiven.  Amen.
Prayer of Dedication/Offering
Having been blessed by you, Loving God, we will not waste our gifts but offer them back to you, so the parched throats might be soothed by your grace, the hungry feed on your bounty, and the stranger welcomed as family who have been away for too long.  This we pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of the Table be with you.
And also with you.
Seek God with all your hearts.
We bring them to the One who fills them with life.
Join all creation in praising our God.
We lift glad songs to the One whose love is constant.
At the very time there was nothing,
you let your imagination roam free
through chaos, Steadfast Love,
   pouring water into oceans and lakes,
   planting crops in fields of rich soil,
   letting galaxies whirl through space,
as creation’s goodness sprang from your heart.
You shaped us in your gracious image,
so we might cling to you, heart and soul,
   but we chose to waste our lives
   purchasing worthless gifts from sin.
Prophets appeared, calling to the thirsty,
the hungry, the lost to come to you,
   but we could not forsake the foolishness
   which fed us on its empty calories.
So you chose to send your Child,
your desire for our return so great
you could almost faint.
With the hungry and the thirsty,
with those who seek you in every moment,
we sing our joy to you:
Holy, holy, holy are you, God of constant compassion.
All creation hungers and thirsts for you.
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is the One who watches over us.
Hosanna in the highest!
You have been, are, and will be our help,
God with a holy heart filled with love,
and we know this because we are blessed
by Jesus, who was sent because
we refused to come back to you
despite repeated invitations.
When he saw our parched souls,
   he handed us cups filled to the brim
   with the waters of your life.
When he heard our empty hearts
rumbling with hunger,
   he fed us on your hope,
   spread thick with your sweet grace.
When sin and death chose
to put you to the test,
   he went to the grave,
   erasing all their questions,
and offered your new answer
known as the resurrection.
As we prepare to receive the spiritual food and drink,
provided by your never-ending love,
we sing of that faith which fills us:
Christ died, his love for you constant to the end;
Christ was raised, your love for him
   revealed in the empty grave;
Christ will return, gathering us up in your eternal love.
We hunger, not just for spiritual food,
   but for that hope which strengthens us as your people.
We thirst, not just for spiritual refreshment,
   but for that grace which fills us
   so we can overflow in service.  
So pour out your Spirit upon
the gifts of the bread and the cup
and on your children gathered here.
We would not waste your gifts
of grace and hope,
   but share them with those
   who hunger for them in their lives.
We would not hoard your gifts
of peace and justice,
   but use them to lift up
   all tossed aside by the world.
And when we no longer have to seek you,
but are found with our sisters and brothers
gathered around the Lamb’s Feast,
we will praise you with joyful lips,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.
God sends us out to empty our gifts for others.
Letting us charge whatever we need to grace’s account.
Jesus sends us out to find those who are thirsty and hungry.
Giving us the water for parched children,
filling our arms with bags of groceries for the hungry.
The Spirit sends us out to search for those who long for community.
Taking us by the hand when we grow weary,
so we might continue to welcome the stranger.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Saturday, March 09, 2019

Liturgy with communion for March 17, 2019 (Lent 2 - C)

Texts: Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18; Psalm 27; Philippians 3:17-4:1; Luke 13:31-35

Call to Worship
Today, God comes to us,
to gather us in worship:
to wait in silence for the Word,
to sit at the Table of grace.
Tomorrow, the Word of God comes,
calling us to go forth to serve:
to bring hope to those who have none,
to love all tossed aside by indifference.
The next day, and the next day,
the Holy Spirit will come:
so we might discover the gift of peace,
and offer it to our broken world.

Prayer of the Day
Today, you are on your way,
Reckoner of the righteous,
gathering your children into your arms
and offering them to us as precious gifts,
   so, through our sisters and brothers,
   we might be blessed.

Tomorrow, you are on your way,
Pilgrim of the Passion,
looking back to see if
we will dare to follow you,
   imitating your every act
   of compassion and justice.

The next day, you will be on your way,
Spirit with confidence in us,
   transforming our humiliation
      into grace,
   sheltering fear-filled people
      under the wings of your peace.

Today, tomorrow, and the next day,
we will seek to be faithful,
God in Community, Holy in one,
even as we pray, saying,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
Join me in imitating all who have gone before us, who trusted that if they spoke of their misdeeds and hollow hearts, God would not only hear them, but forgive them.  Let us pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   Offered a feast at grace’s table, God of the covenant, we choose to gorge ourselves on the empty calories of greed.  Invited to live in your house, we move into death’s fear-infested boarding house.  Though you promise to be with us, we toss you aside, chasing after those who will abandon us at the first chance.
   But you will not let the foxes of foolishness devour us, Mothering God, but will gather us under the shelter of your love.  You do so in order to give us that peace which heals us, that wonder which surprises us, and that faith which enables us to let go of the present to walk into the covenant of grace made possible through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. 

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
God does not abandon us.  Like a border collie, God gathers us up, leading us to that shelter of love and life.
Today, tomorrow, and the next day, God’s grace rests upon us and gives us hope and mercy.  Thanks be to God!  We are forgiven.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
As you have blessed us beyond all expectation and need, we would join in imitating you, by offering gifts which will bring hope, healing, and help to those who struggle in this life.  In Jesus’ name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May God gather you around this Table.
And you as well.
Let us bring our hearts to our God.
We offer them to the One who hears us when we sigh.
Rejoice in the One who shelters us with grace.
Our heads and hearts are lifted in glad cries of joy.

Spoken into the silence,
God of shelter,
your Word came with generous gifts:
   snow to frost hills and valleys,
   birds to tease cats staring out windows,
   butterflies to herald spring.
This refuge of creation was for those
you created to be citizens of grace,
   but our hearts questioned your motives,
   as we foolishly cast our votes for sin.
Prophets came to remind us of your ways,
   but we continued to walk
   the crooked paths leading to death.
So you gave us your Child,
the One who came
so we might see your face.

As we seek to set aside our fears,
as we would be gathered to you,
we offer our cries of joy:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God our shelter of grace.
All creation makes melody to you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest!

You are holy, Speaking God,
and your Word comes in Jesus.
With your forever and ever,
   he left your side
   to gather us from all
   the foolish places we had wandered.
Though we were anything but,
   he reckoned us to be righteous,
   heirs of the covenant.
Knowing us as sisters and brothers in grace,
   he faced our enemy sin
   on the cross, having the faith
   to let go of the present
   to walk into God’s covenant
   we know as the resurrection.

Today, tomorrow, the next day and the next,
as we seek to follow Jesus on the way,
we proclaim that mystery we know as faith:

Christ died, gather up our sins to take them away;
Christ was raised, gathered up from the grave;
Christ will come, to gather us up in God’s love forever.

Here, in the bread and the cup,
anointed by your Holy Spirit,
the Word comes, calling us
to taste life and to drink of grace.
The brokenness of the bread
is what makes us whole
   so we might challenge the ‘foxes’
   of our time and break their power
   over the vulnerable and voiceless.
The richness of the cup’s hope
fills us with your gifts to share:
   hope for those who despair,
   comfort for all who grieve,
   justice for the oppressed.

And when all our words have turned to dust,
your Word will come again,
to gather us up in the shelter
of your eternal grace and glory,
where we will forever sing your praise,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Today, tomorrow, and the next day, go with God:
we will take the Word of grace into our world.
Today, tomorrow, and the next days, go with Jesus:
we will shelter those who have nowhere else to go.
Today, tomorrow, and all the days to come, go with the Spirit:
we will gather the forsaken into our hearts.

(c) Thom M. Shuman