Sunday, November 24, 2019

Liturgy with communion for December 1, 2019 (Advent 1 - A)

Texts: Isaiah 2:1-5; Psalm 122; Romans 13:11-14; Matthew 24:36-44

Call to Worship
We may not know when,
but you are coming to us,
grace overflowing from your heart, O God.
We may not know who,
but your hope will be shared
by the least likely people, Friend of the poor.
We may not know how,
but your peace will transform
our angry words into warm welcomes,
our bitterness into cups of love, Spirit of Joy.

Prayer of the Day
In the days to come,
may we work to establish justice
   in all the places of oppression;
may we learn to set aside our differences,
   like little children on a playground
   meeting those who have just moved in;
may we awaken from our apathy,
   to discover the wonder offered to us
   by those we do not recognize as family.
Then we will find ourselves standing
within the gates of your grace, Approaching God.

In the days to come,
may we be alert to the opportunities
   we will have to welcome the stranger;
may we keep our eyes open
   for the chances to offer hope to the despairing;
may we expect to find you
   in every person we meet,
   in every place we go.
Then we will find ourselves standing
within the gates of your love, Babe of Bethlehem.

In the days to come,
may we discover that fear has fled
   as your hope draws ever near;
may we lay aside the shadows of our doubts,
   and put on the shawl of grace;
may we go take all the weapons
crafted from our fears, our anger, our regrets,
   and transform them into generous gifts
   of hope and life for all around us.
Then we will find ourselves standing
within the gates of your peace, Spirit of gentleness.

In the days to come, may we find ourselves
standing within the gates of your heart,
God in Community, Holy in One,
even as we pray the prayer of your Child,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
We may not know the time, but our every moment is held in God’s hands.  We may not do and say what we should or could, but God offers us words of forgiveness.  Join me as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   Sometimes it is hard for us to take you seriously, God of our lives.  With terrorism stalking us, how can we think of turning bombers into shelters for the homeless?  With bullies using the airwaves to threaten those around us, how could we not respond with anger and vindictive slights?  With our hopes turned to ashes, how can we become beacons of light for those in the shadows?
   Forgive us, God of holy seasons, and have mercy.  In the days to come, may we discover the grace which has always been ours, so we can share it with others.  May we taste the sweet goodness of your love, and feed those around us.  May we be filled with the peace of your Spirit, so we may expect you to come in those we least expect, in places which surprise us, in moments we overlook, just as you did in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept 

Assurance of Pardon
Reach out and touch the kingdom, for it is right next to you.  Breathe in, and feel the Spirit of peace and hope.  Trust and believe this good news: God is nearer than you might ever imagine.
Thanks be to God, we are forgiven!  We can set aside our differences and embrace everyone, we can seek peace for all in our lives, our neighborhoods, our world.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication
Our gifts seem so insignificant considering the need, so paltry when we look at the brokenness around us.  But in the days to come, you promise to take them so that others might be fed, clothed, housed, and embraced in your grace and hope.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the Approaching God be with you.
And also with you.
In the days to come, People of God,
offer your hearts to the One who comes near.
We will lay aside all that keeps us from
opening ourselves to God.
Now is the time to sing praises to the One who loves us.
We offer our thanksgiving to God,
as we find ourselves standing within the gates of Advent.

You spoke of the days to come, Architect of life,
   when anthills would erupt from dirt,
   when cattle would gather under shade trees,
   when cats would nurture little children,
   when chaos would be transformed into creation,
and we stood within your garden of goodness.
All this beauty, all the wonder, was offered
so, we might walk in your light,
   but we preferred the shadows of sin,
   opening our hearts so that thief, death,
   could come and steal us away from you.
You sent the prophets to us,
urging us to lay aside our foolishness,
   but we continued to put on
   the armor of apathy and anger
   so, we could rebel against you.
Finally, when no one expected,
you came, not in power but poverty,
a crying baby born to nobodies.

With those who worry about your return,
with those who have forgotten to tell time,
we sing of your praises:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God of the welcoming heart.
All creation sings of your great love.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes when we least expect.
Hosanna in the highest!

In the days to come, God of life,
may we be reminded of your holiness,
and the blessing of your Child, Jesus.
When we fear what lies over the horizon,
   he comes, arms filled with grace.
When worries fall like leaves on our lives,
   he stands on the front porch,
   arm in arm with hope.
When the rumblings of angry rhetoric
waken us in the night,
   he lullabies us with songs of your love.
When sin would lock us away
in the shadows of death,   
   he comes like a thief in the night,
   to steal our hearts back for you.

As we begin our journey to Bethlehem,
as we seek to be alert and awake,
we would proclaim the mystery of faith:

Christ died, seeking the good for all;
Christ was raised, putting on resurrection’s love;
Christ will come, precisely when we least expect him.

Now, pour out your Spirit upon
the gifts of the bread and the cup
and on those gathered in these moments.
Feed us with the bread which is broken,
so, in the days to come, we may
   bring healing to the shattered,
   embrace the lonely,
   invite strangers to our family feasts.
Pour the grace of the cup into us,
so, in the days to come, we may
   wrap others in warm coats,
   lay aside our differences,
   walk with others in the light of justice.

And when you come when we least expect,
to bring all history to an end,
gather us around the Table of joy,
where we will join our sisters and brothers
of every place and time in forever praising you,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen

We may not know when, but we will go,
to bring God’s grace to our broken world.
We may not know who, yet we will go,
to receive Jesus’ hope from those
we are uncomfortable being around.  
We may not know how, so we will go,
to share the Spirit’s peace
in the most unusual places.

© Thom M. Shuman

Friday, November 15, 2019

Thanksgiving Day Liturgy

Call to Worship
Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth.
We glorify our God with songs of thanksgiving and joy.
God has done great things for us, filling us with grace.
God fed our ancestors in the wilderness, God clothes us with hope.
We will offer our hearts to God, always saying, 'Thank you!'
to the One who loves us.
We will sing our praises, shouting of God's presence in our lives.

Prayer of the Day
Hot showers in the morning
and cool breezes in the evening;
work that provides for our families,
and abundance that makes us generous;
silly jokes told by third graders,
and the silent tears of a grandmother
lost in her childhood forever.
What blessings are ours, Creation's Joy!

Teachers who patiently help us with our math,
and mentors who keep us on the right paths;
friends who shovel snow off sidewalks before we waken,
and employers whose hearts are greater than their profits;
piano teachers who smile at our repeated mistakes,
coaches who teach us (one more time)
how to curl the ball into the goal.
What blessings are ours, Servant of Joy!

Dogs who bounce us awake early in the day
and cats who lullaby us to sleep at night;
grandfathers who teach us how to whittle
and sisters who give up a date to baby sit;
little boys who always forget to wipe their mouths
and folks who always remember to say 'thank you.'
What blessings are ours, Joyous Spirit!

God in Community, Holy in One,
thanksgiving is in every word we speak,
even as we pray as Jesus taught us, saying,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
We wonder what's for lunch, we worry about work tomorrow, we fret about the test that is coming up.  So much worry, so much time waster over things we cannot control.  The One who showers earth with rain, who places the stars in the autumn sky, is the same One who wraps mercy tight around you, who feeds us on healing and hope.  Let us confess how our worries keep us from trusting the God who hears us and restores us to new life.  Please join me as we pray,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     Because we live in this modern, tech-driven, twittering age, we often forget what you have done for us, God of every blessing.  We pat ourselves on the back for our ability to learn new computer skills, but have forgotten that life is more than a machine.  We have more than we could ever use yet, like squirrels, store up more and more.  Our faith is often pushed to the back of the closet, to make room for all the fears we wear so easily.
     Forgive us, Restorer of life.  As you clothe us with your grace and mercy, may we share with those who have so little.  As our hearts overflow with your love and wonder, may we offer them as gifts to everyone we meet.  As you feed us with your joy and hope, may we welcome to the Table all those who lives are filled with tears and pain.  As we gather with family and friends during this season, may we continue to give thanks for the gift of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
This is the good news: as God dresses creation in wonder, so you will be clothed in grace; as God pours out abundance upon the earth, so you will be blessed with peace and joy.
We don't say it often enough, but thanks be to God for healing, for life, for wonder, for mercy.  We are blessed, for we are forgiven.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
Our tables groan with too much food, so may our gifts feed the hungry;
we welcome family into our homes, so may we embrace the lonely;
we sleep in warm beds at night, so may we shelter the homeless;
we are blessed with more than we need, so may our gifts fill the emptiness of our sisters and brothers in need.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
The Lord of blessings be with you.
The Lord be with you, also.
Be glad and rejoice, God's people,

lifting your hearts to the restorer of lives.
We offer them to the God who clothes us in grace.
People of God, come to the Table where you shall eat and be satisfied.
With shouts of joy, we gather to praise the name of God!

Your mouth was filled with laughter,
God of our every moment,
as you sang creation into being

The heavens rang with shouts of joy,
as fruit-bearing trees sprang up,
as green pastures rippled with wonder.
Crafted in your image, you would
satisfy us with the bounty of grace,
but we chose the destroyer, death,
hanging out with the life-cutter, sin.
Prophets and psalmists were sent by you,
longing to restore us to your side,
but we put their words to shame.
So that everyone might be saved

Jesus came to be with us,
herald of your grace,
bringer of your truth.

With those who lifted thanks by crossed rivers,
with those who offered gratitude for simple gifts,
we join our voice in praising your name:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God of wonder and delight.
All creation is filled with your joy.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes to clothes us in grace.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, Restorer of broken lives,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, Mediator of salvation.
Seeing the nightmare of our lives,
he became one of us, so we
might see the dreams you have for us.
Knowing how our hearts overflowed
with fear, bitterness, and worries,
he came with peace and comfort.
Teaching that the body is more than sin,
that life is more than death,
he became our ransom on the cross,
our salvation by rising from the grave.

As we give thanks for his life and death,
as we shout with joy for his resurrection,
we speak of that mystery we call faith:

Christ died, the righteousness for all.
Christ was raised, the resurrection for all.
Christ will return, the fulfillment for all.

Pour out your Spirit
doing great things with the bread and the cup.
Empty, we will be filled
with the plenty of your grace,
the broken bread strengthening us
so we might bring healing to a world
shattered by violence and despair.
Longing for hope, we shall be satisfied
with the cup of blessing and hope,
our lives overflowing
with your love and compassion,
pouring ourselves out for the
poor and marginalized of our time.

And when all our worrying hours have ended,
when we are clothed in your mercy forever,
we will gather with our sisters and brothers,
our mouths filled with laughter,
our hearts echoing glad songs of joy to you,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

The Creator of heaven and earth sends us out,
may we go to being help to all around us.
The Bringer of grace sends us out,
may we go to offer hope and healing to the broken.
The Spirit of peace sends us out,
may we go to bring reconciliation in all the broken places.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Liturgy with Communion for November 24, 2019 (Reign of Christ; Christ the King - C)

Texts: Jeremiah 23:1-6; Luke 1:68-79; Colossians 1:11-20; Luke 23:33-43

 Call to Worship
Blessed be the Lord God who looks with kindness on us.
We are the inheritors of the promises

made long ago to our ancestors.
Blessed be the Lord God who gathers us here in this place.
From across the street, from halfway around the world,

God brings us home to the heart of grace.
Blessed be the Lord God who has remembered us.
Scoffers and singers, watchers and wigglers,

we are those redeemed by God.

Prayer of the Day

Gathering God:
when we have only
a few pennies of hope
in our pockets,
     you multiply us
     into a blessing.
When the world whispers
seductively to us,
     you tell us
     of your joy for us.
When everyone has forgotten
even who we are,
     you shout out our name
     with delight: "My Beloved!"

Dawn from on high:
when we would divide people
by class, by race, by age,
     you cast your lot
     with the outcasts of society.
When we get lost
from the muddled directions
the world gives us,
     you lead us down
     that path called Peace.

Spirit of wisdom:
when we grow impatient
with all the trivial matters of life,
     you surround us with serenity.
When the world puts us on
the route to sin,
     you transfer us
     to the streets of the kingdom.

God in Community, Holy in One,
we trust you will remember us,
even as we pray as Jesus teaches,

(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
We know that we have not lived as God hopes.  But however fragmented we become, God longs to hold us together in grace and peace. Let us come with our prayers of confession and need to the One who prepares the way for our words.

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
In these moments, Remembering God, we bring to you all the ways we have not lived as your people:
     we stand by watching
          while those in need struggle to survive;
     we cast our lots with those
          who worship power and success;
     we offer insults rather than words of grace
          to those who care for us;
     we scoff at your words
          which call us to a different lifestyle.

Forgive us, God of Mercy, for not knowing what we do to you, to others, to ourselves.  Speak to us through Jesus Christ, our King and our Savior, who bears words filled with your tender mercy and gracious hope.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
This is the good news: God remembers!  Not our sins, not our foolish lives, not our rebellion. God remembers us -  and redeems us!
God prepares the way for us - the way to grace, to hope, to new life. Joyfully, we offer our thanks to God. Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
As we offer our gifts to you, Holy God, may we remember those who are forgotten by us too many times - the hungry, the lonely, the homeless, the vulnerable - yet are important citizens in your kingdom of grace, justice, and hope.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the peace of God be with you.
And also with you.
People of God, lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the One whose has favored us with grace.
God's beloved children, sing of your hopes and dreams.
We bless the One who remembers us and redeems us to new life.

Joyfully, we lift our songs
of praise to you, O God.
From the fragments of chaos,
you created all things.
Those that are visible to us
     in the leaves drifting to the ground,
     in the children playing hopscotch,
     in the moon shimmering at night -
and those that we cannot see,
but gift our lives beyond measure:
     grace, which heals our longing;
     hope, which fills our emptiness;
     love, which embraces our loneliness.
All were shaped and blessed for us,
but we chose to cast our lots
with sin and death,
     believing their powers to be greater
     that your hopes and dreams for us.
The prophets came to speak
about the One from on high
who yearned for us to come home,
     but we grew impatient with their words
     and mocked their faithfulness.
Finally, you sent Jesus
to gather your scattered children together
and to bring us back to your heart.

Therefore, we join our voices
with rulers and reprobates,
with the fruitful and the foolish
of every time and place,
who forever sing of your joy:

Holy, holy, holy, Lord God our shelter.
All creation makes glad your heart.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who is exalted among the nations.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, God who remembers us,
and blessed is Jesus Christ,
Dawn from on high and creative Word.
Creation's true Light,
     he rescues us from the darkness of death;
speaker of promises
to our grandparents in the faith,
on the cross
     he kept the vows made to them;
the first-born of all creation,
he was born again
from the grave,
     so we could all be with you
     in eternity's kingdom.

As we reflect on his life, his ministry, his love,
we remember all that he has done for us,
that mysterious story we call faith:

Christ died, having done nothing wrong;
Christ was raised, having done God's will;
Christ will return, having reconciled us to God.

As we come to this Table of peace,
pour out your Spirit of life upon us,
and upon the gifts
of the Bread of life
and the Cup of salvation.
You nourish with grace,
     so we may go wherever
     the broken and lost live,
          that we might feed them.
You fill us with hope,
     so we would have no more fear,
     but would boldly reach out
     and gather up all
          whom the world has cast aside.

And when time has come to an end,
and all creation has been reconciled to you,
we will gather around the feast in heaven,
singing our joy and praise to you,
God in Community, Holy in One.

Let us go as inheritors of God's promises,
carrying the gifts of joy and hope to the world.
Let us go as inheritors of Jesus' grace,
to bring justice to all, to share mercy with the forgotten.
Let us go as inheritors of the Spirit's peace,
to work for reconciliation in the brokenness of our places.

(c)  Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Liturgy with communion for November 17, 2019 (Pentecost 23/Trinity 22/Proper 28/Ordinary 33 - C)

Texts: Isaiah 65:17-25; Isaiah 12; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13; Luke 21:5-19

Call to Worship
This day! This day we will give thanks to God,
who cradles us in the waters of baptism.
This day! This day we will trust in the One who has saved us,
who strengthens us.
This day! This day we dance to the fountain of life,
drinking deeply of salvation's goodness.
This day! This day we praise our God for every blessing;
telling everyone of God's amazing grace in our lives and in our world.
This day! This day we sing God's praises;
testifying to all creation of our God.
This day! This day our songs are filled with joy, for God is with us,
this day and in all the days to come!

Prayer of the Day

Creating God:

you grasp chaos
and shake it into
     new heavens brimming with light,
     new earth teeming with life.
You delight in your children so much that
     before we finish our sentences,
          you have heard our hearts;
     before we whisper our dreams,
          you fill our needs.

Word of God,
you shape our lips
and loosen our tongues
     that we might witness
     to your kingdom
          where enemies take naps together;
          where meat-eaters become vegetarians.

Spirit of Wisdom:
open us,
     that we might trust
          without fear;
fill us,
     that we might discern
          our call to faithfulness;
teach us,
     that we would make known
     our thanks to the farthest
          shores of the universe.

God in Community, Holy in One,
hear us, this day and every day,
as we pray as Jesus has taught us, saying,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
God does not take our sins and stick them up on a shelf, in order to remember them - God forgets them! God does not hold them against us, but forgives us! Join me as we pray to the One who delights in us, as we say,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
We confess that our lives weaken us, Strengthening God. We do not exercise our faith as we should, and so fatigue easily. We see houses as investment property, not as homes built on love, hope, and dreams. We whimper our petty complaints about our friends and families, rather than shouting our hosannas to heaven for the gift of their lives.
You are our hope, Tender God, so forgive us. Create in us new hearts, and fill us with new energy to serve our sisters and brothers, bringing them to the deep wells of salvation, where they can fill their parched souls, even as we have been led to them by Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is observed

Assurance of Pardon
Rather than remaining white hot, God's anger melts into streams of living water, washing us clean of our sins and refreshing our spirits with hope and joy.
This day! This day we give thanks to the God who is our strength and our salvation. Praise God! Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
Remind us, Holy God, that people draw hope, healing, feeding, reconciliation from the wells of our generosity.  So, encourage us to draw from the abundance which is ours to bless those around us, even if we do not know them.  In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
Behold, God is your salvation!
And also yours!
With joy, draw hope from our God.
We will fill our hearts with the grace of our God.
Say on this day, ‘I will give thanks to God, who loves us.”
Surely God is our song, and our salvation!

When nothingness seemed to stretch

into forever, you spoke, Mindful God,
and the days of creation sprang forth,
     throwing down all chaos,
     shaping all that is marvelous and new
          from its shattered pieces.
In our foolishness, we were led astray
     by temptation and sin's sweet words,
but the end did not follow immediately,
for you sent the prophets to sing your praises.
But though they spoke to us, we would not listen.
So you sent your Beloved Child,
rejoicing in him, so you could delight in your people.

So with busybodies and those who are never a burden,
with our sisters and brothers from every time and place,
we sing our songs of thanksgiving to you:

Holy, holy, holy is God who saves us.
All creation is glad and rejoices in your forever.

Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who makes your deeds known to all peoples.
Hosanna in the highest!

Surely you are the One who saves us, Holy God,
sending Jesus to become one of us, for us.
He did not remain idly by your side,
     but came so that we might
          no longer be children of calamity.
Betrayed by those who knew him,
he was placed upon the cross,
     but his opponents, sin and death,
     could not withstand the power of his love,
          or contradict his sacrifice on our behalf,
for by the endurance of his faith,
we gained our souls once again.

As we remember his death offered for us,
as we celebrate his life shared with us,
we speak of that mystery we know as faith:

Christ died, trusting in God completely,
Christ was raised, resurrection drawn from the springs of salvation;

Christ will return, to create us as a joy.

Pour out your Spirit of grace and hope
upon the Table and its simple gifts of life,
and upon your people gathered in this place.
On this day, as we are fed by the Bread of life,
we will give thanks to you,
     even as we go to build houses for those who have none,
     to fed all who do not have enough to nourish them.
On this day, as we drink from the Cup
drawn from the springs of salvation,
we will remember your great deeds,
     by opening our ears to the sound of weeping
     in among our friends, and those we do not know,
          offering relief to those who cry with distress.

And when all days have come to an end,
and we discover that the Holy One is in our midst,
we will cry aloud, singing out our joy to you,
God in Community, Holy in One,
forever and ever. Amen. 

Now, God who cradles us in baptism's water, sends us forth,
to drawn hope from God's heart and offer it to others.
Now, Jesus who poured the cup of grace, sends us forth,
to bring food and shelter, love and companionship to our neighbors.
Now the Spirit who teaches us songs of peace, sends us forth,
to offer reconciliation in every broken place, to every shattered person.

(c) Thom M. Shuman