Saturday, April 27, 2019

Liturgy with communion for May 5, 2019 (Easter 3 - C)

Texts: Acts 9:1-6 (7-20); Psalm 30; Revelation 5:11-14; John 21:1-19

Call to Worship
Now is the time to sing!
to sing the good news of God:
who awakens us with dawn’s embrace,
who surrounds us with joy and life.
Now is the time to offer praise to God,
in every place, with every voice:
to rejoice in the One who leads us through each moment
with a gentle hand and a word of hope.
Now is the time to join all creation in extolling God,
from the depths of the sea to the farthest galaxies:
We will sing the good news of Easter!
We will rejoice in the God who loves us.

Prayer of the Day
We pile our fears and worries
on the bedside table,
tossing our dreams and hopes
into the waste can to be emptied,
tangling ourselves up in the covers
as well as our fears, spending
another sleepless, endless night.
But your joy comes
in the birds that sing us awake,
in the sun which warms us,
in blue skies that mark the way,
Holy Imagination.

The day awaits us, and
we are hesitant to step out the door,
our aging bodies wearied with illness,
memory that doesn’t seem as sharp as it once was,
bullies wait to taunt us at school,
we wonder if today we will find out
that our job is no longer needed.
But your grace comes
in the laughter at lunch with friends,
in the child who tells us a silly joke,
in the touch of a loved one,
Imagination’s Child.

The evening stretches before us,
and we sit at the table
across from the empty chair,
we dread the phone call
from the ever-forgetful parent,
we weep at the images
of pain and suffering flashing before us.
But your hope comes
in the silence of healing,
in the dog who nuzzles our hands,
in the card sent by an old friend,
Spirit of wonder.

You come to us in every moment,
God in Community, Holy in One,
and so we lift our prayer to you in praise,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
We can hold on to hurt until our hands begin to cramp, and keep holding.  Though they bow our back, we refuse to set our grudges down, because we don’t know what it would feel like to have that weight off us.  And we think that is the way God operates as well.  But God’s anger lasts for just a moment, while the grace, the forgiveness, and the hope God offers never goes away.  Let us dare to bring our prayers to the One who hears us and heals us, as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   Now that Easter is done and gone, Holy One, we no longer hear the special music, but listen to temptation’s familiar refrains.  We no longer walk those straight paths of joy and wonder, but wander the crooked streets to our old haunts.  Rather than living in the newness you bring, we do things the way they have always been done.
   Fortunately, God of seaside breakfasts, you know the way out of our messy lives, and so take us by the hand to lead us.  You wipe our busy schedules off our calendars so we may spend more time with those who need our love and attention.  You challenge us to fish from the other side of our worries, so we may pull in all the grace, wonder, and mercy offered to us by Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Why should we weep?  Joy comes to us this morning, and every moment of our lives.  The Lamb of God has come, to share mercy and hope with us, so we can praise our God with joyous hearts.
We will lift glad songs of joy, for all the blessings God has given to us.  We will offer our hearts and hands in love and serve to others.  Thanks be to God, we are forgiven!  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
May the gifts we offer this day, Kind God, bring joy to those whose mornings are hopeless, feed those who noontimes are filled with hunger, and bring peace to those whose nights are surrounded by fears and worries.  This we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of morning joy be with you!
May the God of gracious moments be with you!
Lift your hearts to God, children of love and hope!
We offer them to the One who fills us with life!
Let us sing glad praises to our God!
Our voices join all creation in glad songs!

You looked, and in the midst of chaos,
you heard the Spirit singing
creation into existence, Wondrous God:
   majestic eagles and tiny hummingbirds,
   graceful giraffes and awkward aardvarks,
   earthworms and moles,
   hermit crabs and sea horses.
Dust could not praise you, so
you gathered it up, using it
to shape us in your image
that we might enjoy the gifts found
in heaven and on earth
and under the earth and in the sea,  
   but we foolishly fell into the traps
   dug by death to capture us.
You sent the prophets to us who,
through their words and actions,
reminded us that we had been shaped
to be as upright as mountains,
   but we continue to allow sin
   to form us into molehills.
Dismayed, you could have hidden your face,
but sent us your heart instead.

So with those whose nets are empty of hope,
with those whose lives overflow with grace,
we sing your praises with full voices:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God who loves us
      more than these.
Creatures of heaven, earth, under the earth,
      and in the sea join in extolling you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the Lamb who is worthy.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, God who leads us
by the hands out of our shadowed lives,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, who feeds us life.
When we cried,
   he came to wipe away our tears;
when we were speechless,
   he taught us songs of praise;
when we dressed is ashes,
   he gave us grace’s garments;
though we loved sin and death
more than we loved him,
   he went to the cross,
   filling death’s nets with his spirit,
   so its power over us
   might be emptied forever.

As we remember the Lamb who is worthy,
as we come to the Lamb’s Feast this day,
we sing of that mystery we call faith:

Christ died, as God’s heart broke;
Christ was raised, as all creation sang in joy;
Christ will come, as we are gathered
   in the fullness of time.

Lead us by the hand, gracious God,
to the Table where the bread, the cup,
and the guests all receive the Spirit
which is poured out upon them.
As we come to eat of the bread,
may its brokenness give us strength
   to stand up to persecutors
      of the most vulnerable;
   to challenge those who love themselves
      more than the frightened and lonely.
May the cup of life
fill us with the courage
   to feed those who hunger
      for grace and hope;
   to tenderly care for those
      discarded by the world.

Then, when the Lamb gathers
those of every time and place
for the Supper of Joy in eternity,
we will fall down and worship you,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Now it is time to get up and go.
We will leave in order to follow God into the world.
Now it is time to enter the brokenness all around us.
We will go to bring the healing and peace of Jesus to all.
Now it is time to bring words of hope and grace to all.
The Spirit will give us the words we need in every moment.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Friday, April 19, 2019

Liturgy with communion for April 28, 2019 (Easter 2 -C)

Texts: Acts 5:27-32; Psalm 150; Revelation 1:4-8; John 20:19-31

Call to Worship
Praise God with clapping hands;
praise God with hands comforting a child.
Praise God with silent hearts;
praise God with hearts broken for the world.

Praise God with electric guitars;
praise God with soft piano chords.
Praise God with be-bop and hip-hop;
praise God with rhythms that don't stop.

Praise God with a hallelujah chorus;
praise God with a Gregorian chant.
Praise God with dancing steps;
praise God with feet walking for justice.

Prayer of the Day

Holy God, Lover of your children:
the tomb has been opened,
     and we dance into your future.
Your life has dawned on us,
     and we surround you with our praise.
You reach out your hand,
     and lead us into joy.

Jesus Christ, Faithful Witness:
you pick open the locked doors
of our hearts
     and come in to be with us forever.

You breathe peace into our souls,
     so we may bring healing
          to a troubled world.

Holy Spirit, Breath of Peace:
you show us our hearts,
     so we may give love to others.
You show us our hands,
     sending us to serve the needy.
You show us your hope,
     so we may live in your joy.

God in Community, Holy in One,
who is, who was, and who is to come,
hear us as we pray as you have taught us,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
When we keep our faults and failures locked safely away, we have no need to confess. But God comes into our hearts when we least expect, so we can be filled with forgiveness, with hope, with peace.  Please join me as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness

God of empty tombs and emptier people:
when we hesitate to speak of your hope,
     forgive us, and give us a voice.
When we find it difficult to love one another,
     forgive us, and give us fresh compassion.
When we want to stand with the high and mighty,
     forgive us, and seat us next to the poor and oppressed.
When we stay locked behind our fears and doubts,
     forgive us, and send us out to share you grace.
When we cannot believe your Word of new life,
     forgive us, and fill us with your joy.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon

Christ comes into every shadowed corner of our lives with the light of Easter. Christ comes into the locked rooms of our faults and gifts us with grace and hope.
Christ comes to fill us with peace, so we may proclaim the good news of mercy and forgiveness for all. Thanks be to God. Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
We could keep our treasures locked up where they never see the light of your love, or we can offer them back to you so that those who live in the shadows of poverty might be fed, those who walk the streets of loneliness find a community, and those who long for peace will bind an end to the violence in their lives.  And so we open our hearts and our gifts in joyous praise to you.  Amen. 

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of resounding joy be with you!
And also with you!
Easter people, may your hearts be filled with joy!
May God fill our emptiness with the carols of angels!
Children of the resurrection, lift your praises to God!
We join with all creation in shouting our praise
to the One who loves us!

From the rubble of chaos,
you shaped a sanctuary for creation,
Surpassing God:
     trumpeter swans glided gracefully across lakes,
     tall trees waltzed across green fields,
     stars piped choruses of joy in the night.
Having formed us in your image,
your Spirit breathed peace into us,
inviting us to wander the gardens of wander.
     But we chose to hide ourselves behind
     the locked doors of sin and death.
Prophets came, to witness about your
willingness to forgive us and
to take our fears away from us.
When we would not respond
to your gracious invitations,
Jesus came, to free us from all sin.

With our ancestors in the faith,
with our children and grandchildren,
with everyone who sees you coming,
we sing our glad praise to you:

Holy, holy, holy, God of surpassing greatness.
Everything that breathes praises you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who you exalt.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, God of our ancestors,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, the first and last.
Co-creator of all that is around us,
     he came to bear witness of your promises.
Our Lord as well as our God,
     he blesses all who believe in him
          whether or not they have seen him.
Serving you in life as well as death,
     he became the first-born of the dead,
          so we might be your children through eternity.

As we remember all he did and taught,
as we celebrate the wonder of his resurrection,
we sing of that mystery we call faith:

Christ was the One who died for us;
Christ is the One who is risen for us;
Christ is the One who will come for us.

Send your Spirit of holiness
to transform these simple gifts
into your grace surpassing all fear,
and to bear witness of your enduring love.
Through the bread which is broken,
we are made whole once again,
     so we might minister to those
          who live behind the locked doors of oppression.
By the cup which is shared,
we are able to believe,
     even when we cannot see,
          that your peace is coming to everyone.

And when our lives have ended,
when we are gathered in grace and peace
with our sisters and brothers from all time,
we will join our hearts in praising you,
God in Community, Holy in One,
who was. who is, and who is to come. Amen.

God sends us forth with songs of joy in our hearts.
We will go to sing of wonder to all who are empty of life
even as we gather them close to our hearts.
Jesus calls us to step out of our fears into lives of witness.
We will go to breathe peace into all the broken places around us.
The Spirit teaches us new dance steps of grace.
We will go to take our sisters and brothers by the hand
to dance in the streets of the kingdom.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Friday, April 12, 2019

Liturgy with communion for April 21, 2019 (Resurrection of the Lord - C)

Texts:  Isaiah 65:17-25; Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24; 1 Corinthians 15:19-26; John 20:1-18 

Call to Worship 
This is the day 
angels bring light into our shadows, 
and gardeners harvest good news. 
This is the day the Lord 
awakens us with unexpected grace, 
and the sun breaks out in song. 
This is the day the Lord has made! 
The day when life triumphs over death, 
when love pushes aside fear, 
when hope walks with us in every moment. 

Prayer of the Day 
On this Easter, 
as on that very first day, 
you come, Steadfast Love, 
walking with us to discover 
the good news of the empty grave, 
so that we can run to tell 
everyone we meet. 

On this Easter,  
as on that very first morning, 
you wait and watch, 
Gardener of our hearts, 
as we seek to understand 
this mystery which leaves us 
scratching our heads, until 
we turn to you for answers 
and discover all we need to know 
when you call us by our names. 

On this Easter,  
as in these first moments, 
you whisper to us, 
Spirit of broken hearts, 
of love which rolls away fears, 
of hope which folds grave clothes, 
of grace which overturns every assumption. 

On this Easter, as on all days, 
you are our grace, our hope, our peace, 
God in Community, Holy in One, 
and so we pray as we are taught, saying, 
(The Lord’s Prayer) 

Call to Reconciliation 
On this day, as on every day, we know the ways in which we have denied God’s presence in our lives, with the words, the actions, the harm we offer to others.  Yet on this Easter, as on the first, God heals us, God fills us with grace, God calls us by name.  Let us bring all we have done, so God might forgive us.  Let us pray together, saying, 

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness 
     We think this story is so old, Imaginative God, that we cannot hear the astonishing news of triumph over death.   We are so afraid of our own shadows, that we cannot see the Light of life which is streaming all around us.  Convinced that there is nothing beyond these days we call life, we cannot sense your resurrection hope which is calling to us by our names. 
     On this day of new wonders and everlasting grace, God of our lives, may we be glad that you have not forgotten us.  May we rejoice in the ancient promises which are proclaimed afresh this morning.  May we turn with our questions, our doubts, our hearts towards Jesus, the Gardener of grace, who call us by name and pours resurrection love into us. 

Silence is kept 

Assurance of Pardon 
On this Easter, as on the first; on this day, as on every day; God turns to us, calls us by name, and plants forgiveness and hope in our lives.   
Alleluia!  This is the good news! 
Christ is our peace,  
the peace we need, 
the peace which will heal the world. 
Alleluia! Christ is Risen.  Amen. 

Prayer of Dedication/Offering 
As we turn to you, God of this morning, may we rejoice in our communities, even as we pray you would use our gifts to bring healing and new hope to them.  May we delight in those around us, even as we pray you would fill them with the grace, the peace, the life for which they are longing.  In Jesus’ name, we pray.  Amen. 

The Great Prayer of Thanksgiving 
The Risen Lord welcomes all to this Table. 
We come to be fed by grace and hope. 
Here, empty hearts are filled with resurrection joy. 
We offer them to the One whose love is ever constant. 
Here, we are taught songs of praise and wonder. 
We rejoice in our God who has defeated death. 

While there was only chaos, God of all time, 
the Spirit breathed, waters began to flow, 
and life began to stir in their depths; 
the Word whispered, mountains began to tremble, 
meadows rippled with grass, creatures began to migrate, 
and creation burst forth into beauty and wonder. 
Everything was formed and shaped 
for those who were made in your image, 
that we would rejoice in your good gifts, 
   but we placed our hope in temptation, 
   and wandered into death’s clutches. 
Women and men came to us, 
speaking, calling, hoping we  
would turn towards you, 
   but we heard sin continue to call our names, 
   believing it knew us best.   
Before you called, your Child  
was willing to become one of us, 
knowing our thoughts, our temptations, 
experiencing our death and fears. 

With those who hope in Christ, 
with those who come with questions, 
we join in our songs of praise to you: 

Holy, holy, holy are you, Steadfast love of all. 
All creation joins in Easter’s glad songs. 
Christ is risen!  Alleluia! 

Blessed is the One who has destroyed our last enemy. 
Christ is risen!  Alleluia! 

In your holiness, God who listens to us, 
you chose to forget the former things we did, 
and in your love, your Child became fully human. 
When our lives were crumbling around us, 
   he came to rebuild us as your people; 
when we were wandering aimlessly, 
   he took us by the hand to lead us home; 
when we were alone and afraid, 
   he wrapped us in your constant love; 
when everyone forgot who we were, 
   he remembered our names; 
when we knew that life ended  
when we took our last breath, 
   he challenged the power of death itself,          
   shrouded and placed in grave’s embrace, 
   so that he could come forth, and fill us 
   with the new life in the resurrection. 

As we remember his death, and hope in his resurrection. 
as we sing glad songs, and whisper of our doubts, 
we would proclaim that mystery we call faith: 

The One we thought was dead 
   is alive; 
thOne we thought was lost 
   has found us; 
the One we thought we would never see again 
   recognizes us and calls us by our names. 

On this Easter morning, pour out your Spirit 
upon this ordinary bread that it might offer life, 
and on the cup that it might overflow with grace, 
and on your people gathered in this place, 
people with great faith, and those who struggle with it; 
people who understand the mystery, and those who question; 
people who have tried to follow Jesus, and those who have failed. 
With the broken bread, you transform us 
into new people who will rejoice by 
   welcoming the stranger, 
   listening to the ignored, 
   offering hope to those who grieve.  
With the cup of grace, you nourish us 
so that we may delight in your people by 
   learning from those  
      whose stories have never been told, 
   holding the hands of those  
      whose only companion is loneliness, 
   walking with children who know 
      the forgotten trails to joy. 

And when that morning comes 
when there will be no more weeping 
but only glad songs of joy and wonder,  
we will gather with those of every time,  
with sisters and brothers from every place,  
to rejoice in the meal of grace and life,  
which you serve us in love,  
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.  

We could just return to our homes and go back to life, 
but we will go to rebuild neighbors,  
and share the light we have received.   
We could just stand around and wonder where Jesus has gone,  
but we will turn and, as he calls us by name,  
follow to bring hope and healing to our world.   
We could just keep quiet and not whisper a word to anyone,  
but we will go to tell others of the good news  
that Jesus is alive and in our midst.      

© 2019 Thom M. Shuman