Sunday, October 27, 2019

All Saints - Year C

Texts:  Daniel 7:1-3, 15-18; Psalm 149; Ephesians 1:11-23; Luke 6:20-31

Call to Worship
We gather, with the company of the faithful:
those who know the way to the kingdom
and those who are just beginning their pilgrimage.
We gather, remembering the ones we call saints:
those who made compassion their day job,
and those who have no day named after them.
We gather, praising God for all who have shaped our faith:
those who showed us the dance steps of heaven,
and those who taught us to play the instruments of joy.

Prayer of the Day
If we would but listen, we could hear them:
   the bus driver who sang school songs with us,
      and the coach who whispered encouragement
      before sending us in to play.
   the teacher who never gave up on us,
      and the friend who talked to us when no one else would.

If we would but look, we could see them:
   the grandfather with dimpled knees from playing marbles
   with the neighborhood kids,
      and the nana with nicked hands from hammering
      nails for affordable housing;
   the crossing guard who always stepped in front
   of traffic before we could,
      and the couple who have not stopped holding hands
       Since they first said “I do.”

If we would but pay attention, we could learn from them:
   the single mother who opened up the world
   of reading to a new generation,
      and the nurse up sat by our child’s bed
      after her shift ended;
   those who fought dragons in ancient tales,
      and those who face drug dealers on street corners.

The saints are all around us, so make us mindful of them,
God in Community, Holy in One,
As we pray as Jesus has taught us, saying,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
We only have to look in the mirror, recall the hurtful words we spoke this week, remember he person in need we hurried past, to know that we are no saints.  Yet like them, it is us – with our failings and foolish lives – called by God to carry the good news into the world.  Let us confess our sins, that we might set them down and pick up the gospel, as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   On this long journey we call life, Holy God, we fail to live as your people.  Too often, we do not in glory shine, but dig through the garbage of life.  We are too busy in our pursuits for more and more to rest in you.  We prefer our own company rather than that blessed communion of your household of faith.
   Have mercy and forgive us, Creator of life.  While we are born of dust, we are nursed by your grace, so that we might share pictures of your kingdom which is unfolding in our midst, so we might tell the stories of your wonder which wraps around us like warm shawls, and so we might sing of the One who has come to transform us from sinners into saints, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Do you see them, there out of the corner of your eye?  The people to your right and left, in front of you as well as behind?  They, like you, are God’s saints – ordinary, everyday, forgiven people of God.
Baptized, called, gifted -- we will go to share the Christ-flame with everyone we meet, for we are God’s children, forgiven and made whole.  Thanks be to God!  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
We could lock away our inheritance of grace, hope, peace, and life so that no one else might ever touch them.  Or we could simply share them with others through you, Gracious God.  Take the gifts we offer in this moment and bless all who are looking for your gifts, your presence in their lives.  In Jesus’ name, we pray.  Amen. 

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of all saints be with you.
May God bless you as well.
Children of God, offer your hearts to the One who loves you.
We will empty ourselves so we can be filled with grace.
People of God, sing your praises to the One who loves you.
We will offer the new songs taught to all creation.

You approached chaos, Troubled God,
with visions of all which could be good
and beautiful in your imagination.
You spoke a Word and
      gazelles danced in fields,
      elephants trumpeted their joy;
your Spirit stirred in the cosmos and
      stars sang your praises,
      winds whistled through canyons.
All these gifts were the inheritance
for your children created in your image,
   but we dreamed that such power could be ours,
    and listened to death’s lies uttered by sin.
Minor and major, women and men,
you sent the prophets to us
to remind us of your hopes for us,
   but we chose to cling to the temptations
   which had enticed us away from you.
So you sent us the One who invited us
to receive the kingdom you offered to us,
Jesus, the Child of your heart.

With those we call martyrs because of their struggles,
with those we call saints because of their lives,
we join in offering our thanks to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God of saints and sinners.
New songs are sung to you by all creation.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who offers us your kingdom.
Hosanna in the highest.

We have heard of your holiness, God of Wonder,
from the One who came bearing the gifts
which you would offer to us in every moment.
Jesus came, to those who had forgotten you,
   so we might remember your joy in us;
Jesus spoke, to those who heard only curses,
   so we might hear the blessings your speak;
Jesus came, to those who hungered for hope,
                     to those who thirsted for justice,
   so death might be destroyed
   by the life he offered for us,
      and the power of sin over us
      might be broken forever.

As we remember the blessings he offered to the poor,
as we seek to offer the gifts with which we have been blessed,
we would sing of that mystery we call faith:

Christ died, loving those who had been his enemies;
Christ was raised, giving everyone resurrection life;
Christ will come again, so we might receive your kingdom.

Here at this Table, gathered with our sisters and brothers,
we pray you would pour out your Spirit
upon us as well as the bread and the cup.
It is the bread, in all its brokenness
which is our true inheritance,
   the weakness which overwhelms all power,
   the meekness which welcomes the weak and lonely.
It is the cup, with its grace overflowing,
which is your greatest blessings,
   filling us with peace and reconciliation
   so we might pour ourselves out for a broken world
even as did all those saints and sinners
who have gone on before us.

And when we are gathered at the end
of all time and history with our sisters and brothers
from every time and place, we will join
all creation in forever singing you praise,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

God has fed us on grace,
so let us go to share the kingdom with everyone around us.
Jesus has filled us with compassion and grace,
so let us go to be with others in the days to come.
The Spirit has poured hope into our lives,
so let us go to be a blessing to those in our world.
© Thom M. Shuman

Liturgy with communion for November 3, 2019 (Pentecost 21/Trinity 20/Proper 26/Ordinary 31 - C)

Texts: Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4; Psalm 119:137-144; 2 Thessalonians 1:1-4, 11-12; Luke 19:1-10

 Call to Worship
We gather in awe
standing in the presence of the One
who crafted the stars, the mountains, the seas.
We gather in faith,
trusting that the One who has held little children
holds our lives in the heart of God.
We gather in need,
seeking the One who longs for justice
to grace each and every person in creation.

Prayer of the Day

You stirred the dust
     and created us for service;
you breathed into our lungs
     so we could share your good news;
you shape our hearts
with the tools of compassion
     so we will seek justice for all.
We thank you, God of gifts.

In the hospitality of Zaccheus,
     we see your openness
          for all who are different;
in the grumbling of his neighbors,
     we hear the echoes
          of our own prejudices and fears;
in his transformation
into a new person,
     we see your grace
          which is prepared for us.
We thank you,
Companion of the poor.

You cradle us in the peace
     of the resting night;
you awaken us
     with the light of dawn
          and the warmth of your gentleness;
you walk with us through each day,
     nudging us to be that blessing
          we are called to be to others.
We thank you,
Surprising Spirit.

God in Community, Holy in One,
we lift our thanks to you,
even as we pray as Jesus teaches,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
How patient is God! We run around trying to do everything our way, and God just waits. We try to buy life and happiness, and God waits. We hurt others and walk away from those in need, and God waits. God waits, and upon hearing our heartfelt prayers and cries for help, God touches us with forgiveness and new life. Come, join me as we pray to the One who waits to hear - from us!

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     Surrounded by so many seductions, Patient God, we find it difficult to see you in our lives. Justice has a hard time surviving when there is so much persecution and affliction towards the little ones of the world. Our neighborhoods, our families, even our churches, are filled with strife and contention.

     We cry for help, Listening God; forgive us! As we wait for your grace to fill our lives, may we open our hearts to your hope and healing, always giving thanks for Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Rich, poor; young, old; sinner, saint. We are all God's children, and God transforms each of us into the people we are meant to be.
Broken, we are mended; separated from others, we are made one; longing to serve, we are sent forth. Thanks be to God, we are forgiven. Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
How easily we overlook the Zaccheus in our midst - the father short of money, the woman short of hope, the children short of food.  As we offer our gifts, we pray you would open our hearts to recognize all around us, especially those looking for you in us.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving

May the God of all hope be with you.
And also with you. 
Lift your hearts to the One who comes to feast with you.
We offer our hearts to God who is in our midst.
Children of God, sing praises to the One
who feeds you with goodness and hope.
Our hearts and voices resound with joy.

In your heart, God of wonder,
you wrote the vision of creation,
and the Word shaped the mountains
     from the rich loam of the valleys,
your Spirit breathed life into every
     which sprang forth from your imagination.
Welcomed into your garden with hope,
we forgot your words of hospitality,
     running to catch a glimpse of the parade
     of seductions sin and death brought to town.
Prophets came, your vision written on their hearts,
your voice standing behind their words
which sought to bring us back to you,
     but we took no delight in their invitations.
So you sent your Beloved, Jesus the Christ,
to be the guest of sinners in every time and place,
that we might receive the gift of salvation.

So, with reformers and saints who have gone before us,
with friends and neighbors sitting around us,
we lift our songs of praise to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God of justice and righteousness.
All creation keeps watch for your justice.

Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes to call us home.
Hosanna in the highest.

In your heart, Forgiving God,
you wrote the vision of redemption,
and sent Jesus, your Servant of righteousness,
to your people at the appointed time.
When our zeal for sin consumed us,
     he came to feed us with the bread of life;
when our souls were emptied out
by the corruption of death,
     he came to grow abundant faith in us;
when we saw only destruction on the horizon,
     he came to stand at his watchpost,
          defeating sin and death so they could
          never harm us again,
and inviting us to find life and peace
in your heart's home for all eternity.

As we remember his life, his teachings, his words,
as we celebrate the good news of his resurrection,
we speak of our faith, which often seems a mystery:

Christ died, faithful to the end;
Christ was raised, your righteousness come true;

Christ will return, our hope and peace.

In your heart, Blessing God,
your wrote the vision of a community
which would live out your kingdom here on earth,
pouring out your Spirit of life and grace
upon the gifts of the Bread and Cup,
and on your people gathered for your Feast.
As we are fed by your Word become life,
     give us understanding so we might hear
          those who are crying out for hope;
as we are nourished by your Spirit of peace,
     may we go to all who live surrounded by oppression,
          bringing justice to every place
          where it has never prevailed.

And when we are gathered in that vision
of life forever which is written in your heart,
we will join our sisters and brothers
from every time and place, forever praising you,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

God gives us the vision,
so let us go to see others as our sisters and brothers.
Jesus gives us the eyes,
so let us look in all the unexpected places
to welcome all into our lives.
The Spirit calls us to watch,
so let us bear witness to the justice and hope
coming into our shattered world.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Liturgy with communion for October 27, 2019 (Pentecost 20/Trinity 19/Proper 25/Ordinary 30 - C)

Texts: Joel 2:23-32; Psalm 65; 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18; Luke 18:9-14

Call to Worship
This is the day the Lord has made:

a day for praise and prayer;
a day for gratitude and generosity.

This is the time God has given us:

a time for singing and silence;
a time for speaking and listening.

This is the life to which God calls us:

a life of humility and service;
a life of faith and trust.

Prayer of the Day
Pour out your Spirit
upon us as we gather,
God of our salvation:
so your grace
      might strengthen us
          for service;
so your peace
     might calm
          our troubled souls;
so your hope
     might mend
          our broken hearts.

You poured out your life
     that we might be filled
     with the gift of salvation.
You humbled yourself
     that we might be raised
     to eternal life.
Take hold of our hands,
Servant of the world,
     so we might cross
          the finish line together.

You are in our midst,
Spirit of wholeness.
You enabled us
to cling to faith,
     when hope runs
      through our fingers like sand.
You open the gateways
of our hearts
morning and evening,
     that we might sing
     our praises with all creation.

God in Community, Holy in One,
we pour out our hearts to you,
as we pray as Jesus taught us,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
When we pray to God, do we do so with pride in what wonderful people we are, or with that humble hope which recognizes how we have not lived as God’s children, and how we need God’s forgiveness and grace in our lives? Join me as we pray to our God, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     Watching God, like the Pharisee, we think we can stick our thumbs into life, pull out a prayer, and congratulate ourselves for being such good Christians. Then, we remember the harsh words we have spoken this week, the hurt we have inflicted on someone we loved, the lack of compassion we failed to offer to someone who needed our help.
     Forgive us, God of Grace, and deal gently with us. May we become more like the tax collector - humble, penitent, acknowledging our faulty lives to you. Then, may we receive the mercy promised to us through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Forgiven and healed, we open ourselves to the grace, the peace, the hope offered to us through our loving God. This is the good news we have received!
Graced and blessed, we are able to live our lives for others, taking them by the hand to reach that finish line called the Kingdom. Thanks be to God. Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
If our lives, our love, our gifts are not shared with others, the words we offer in prayer and praise are hollow.  So receive what we offer, Holy God, and bless them in the work of that kingdom which values the people we ridicule, lifts up those we have stepped over, and brings hope and healing to all.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the Lord our God be with you!
And also with you!
Rejoice, O children of God, and open your hearts to our God.
Our hearts are overflow with the hope God has poured into them.
Rejoice, O children of God, and be glad!
We sing to the One who has dealt wondrously with us.

Your heart opened, Amazing God,
and abundant rain flowed forth
on that early morning of creation.
Caring and loving beyond all hope,
     the earth's floors were filled with grain
          and the plenty of every good thing;
     valleys overflowed with oil and wine.
Ever ready to crown us with your blessings,
your heart broke as we allowed sin
to cut out your hopes for us,
     as we welcomed death, who came
     destroying your intended life for us.
You sent the prophets into our midst,
to bring us back to live in your courts,
     but we preferred the hollow promises
     of temptation and seduction.
So you sent Jesus into our lives,
pouring your Spirit on his flesh,
so we might see you face to face.

So, with those who have finished the race,
with those who are only at the starting line,
we sing our praises to you:

Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of all.
The gateways of morning and evening shout your joy.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who stands by us, giving us strength.
Hosanna in the highest!

Praise is due to you, Holy One,
for there is no other god like you,
and no Lord and Savior like Jesus Christ,
     who ran the race when we stumbled,
     who kept the faith when it slipped through our fingers.
When sin’s unceasing passions
created a drought in our lives,
     he opened the channels of your river of life
     to flow through us, washing us clean
     and giving us new hopes and dreams.
When death held the deeds of our sins,
threatening to foreclose on our lives,
     he came to purchase them back,
     so we might live free and clear forever.

As we remember how he poured himself out for us,
as we celebrate the new hopes which fill our hearts,
we proclaim that mystery we call faith:

Christ died, rescuing us from every evil;
Christ was raised, saving us for your kingdom;
Christ will come again, to pour your spirit into us.

Pour out your Spirit upon all people gathered
around your Table, filled with the gifts of creation.
From the plenty of the Bread of life,
     we will be fed until we are hungry
          to serve your children in every need;
from the sweet river which flows from the Cup,
     we will be humbled into your people,
     that we might exalt all who have been
          cast aside by the world around us.
For here at this Table of grace and joy,
     little boys and girls will tell stories
          of peace and hope;
     young women and men will envision
          lands where oppression has been destroyed;

     old women will recall dreams of justice,
          and work to turn them into reality;
     old men will prepare meals and serve them
          to all who hunger in every place.

And when the time of our departure comes,
and all who have longed for your appearing
are gathered around your river of life,
we will join our hearts and voices
in praising you forever and ever,
God in Community, Holy in One, Amen.

We have offered praise and prayer to our God,
who sends us out to offer peace and hope to others.
We have heard the call of Jesus in the silence and singing,
and we will join him is speaking for the voiceless.
Filled by the Spirit with faith and trust,
we go to serve others, humbly and lovingly.

(c) Thom M. Shuman