Sunday, January 26, 2020

Liturgy with communion for February 2, 2020 (Fourth Sunday after Epiphany - A)

Texts: Micah 6:1-8; Psalm 15; 1 Corinthians 1:18-31; Matthew 5:1-12

Call to Worship
When we seek justice for the other,
when we love kindness more than ever,
we live as God asks us to live.
When we walk humbly through life,
when we offer mercy to those who hurt us,
we are the blessing God hopes we will be.
When we are willing to look foolish by following Jesus,
when we choose weakness rather than power,
we reflect the One who is in our midst.

Prayer of the Day

In the intricacies
of a spider's web,
   an OS designer is
   put to shame.
In the songs
of a meadowlark,
   talk show hosts are
   stunned to silence.
In the practical joke
played on Easter,
   is knocked off its
         lofty perch.
In the foolishness of your salvation,
God of tenderness,
you bring us new life.

In your execution
as a common criminal,
   rather than dying
   as a hero;
in sticking your foot out
to trip the wise,
   so the unaware can go
   to the front of the line;
in sharing your kingdom
with the outsiders,
   while the boasters
   fall strangely silent,
your foolishness in becoming human,
Servant of the Blesseds,
transforms our lives.

In those words
which offer hope
   to the despairing,
in the quiet whispers
which fill the emptiness
   of all who yearn for
in the gentle songs
which can comfort
   those whose hearts
   overflow with grief,
you are foolish enough
to teach us to speak,
Wisdom of God's Heart,
not with sophisticated logic,
but the simple language of

Continue to call us to foolishness,
God in Community, Holy in One,
even as we pray as we are taught,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation

If we want to truly live in God's presence, we must live as God's faithful people.  Let us begin by
confessing all the mistakes we have made, the wrongs we have done, the people we have hurt. Join me as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     What have we done to you, dear God?  We dishonor you every time we treat another with disrespect.  We shatter your heart when we find it easier to break our word, then to take the risk to keep it.  We fill your ears with the gossip, lies, and slander we speak about those around us.
     You are wise enough to forgive our foolishness;
     you are strong enough to overcome our weakness;
     you are loving enough to heal the hurt we cause to you and to others.  And so you give us new hope and new life in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
What has God done to us - shown mercy!  What has God done for us - forgiven us!  This is the good news for us.
We will not boast, for it is not our doing.  We will give thanks to God for such grace and hope. Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
May we always be foolish enough to offer our gifts to you, Generous God, for you use them to bring justice to the oppressed, to bring laughter to those who mourn, and to offer wonder to little children.  This we pray in Jesus' name.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving

May the God of foolishness be with you.
And also with you.
People of God, open your hearts.
We offer them to the God who transforms us.
Join in singing praises to our God.
With joy and wonder, we lift our voices.

You were foolish enough
to overcome chaos, Wise God,
   speaking to hills blanketed with snow,
   pleading your hopes before the mountains,
   spinning planets into the night sky -
creating all that is wonderful,
including us, people shaped in your image.
But we thought we knew better than you,
   running after death's false wisdom,
   chasing sin's silly teachings.
Miriam and Moses, Hannah and Micah
were among those your sent
to call us back to your heart,
   but we boasted of our exploits,
   drowning out their impassioned pleas.
So you sent Jesus to us,
the source of our life and hopes.

With those who wonder what to offer,
with all who seek to worship you,
we sing songs of praise to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God of the Blesseds.
All creation rejoices in your saving acts.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One whose weakness is our strength.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holiness is your nature, God of our lives,
and Jesus Christ is your gift of salvation.
Foolishness enough to become one of us,
   his wisdom filled every word,
                                 every action.
He left your side in glory,
   so we might realize we could build
   our lives in your neighborhood.
Weakened by dying on the cross,
   he went into the grave,
   your resurrecting love strengthening him
   to defeat the power of sin and death.

As we seek to comprehend his life,
as we are transformed by his grace,
we speak of that mystery we call faith:

Christ died, humbling himself on the cross;
Christ was raised, filled with your righteousness;

Christ will come, so we may inherit your kingdom.

Here around the Table,
with our sisters and brothers beside us,
your Spirit comes, foolishly transforming
simple, everyday elements into sacred gifts.
We eat the Bread which is broken,
   so we can serve your children,
   refusing to harm neighbor or stranger,
   seeking to treat others fairly.
We drink from the Cup which is blessed,
   so we may be foolish enough
   to comfort all who mourn,
   to believe that peace can be a reality.

And when all human wisdom
is supplanted by the foolishness
of eternal life with you in your kingdom,
we will join with those of every time and place
in singing your glorious praise,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

We have been nourished by God's grace and hope,
and so we will go to those who hunger for justice,
as well as to those who thirst for reconciliation.
We are called to follow the One who is weak and powerless,
and so we will bring healing to the broken among us,
as well as comfort to those who grieve in every moment.
We learn what is right and good from the Holy Spirit,
and so we will go as fools to be blessings to the wise,
as well as to do not what is easy, but what is difficult.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Liturgy with communion for January 26, 2020 (Third Sunday after Epiphany - A

Texts: Isaiah 9:1-4; Psalm 27:1, 4-9; 1st Corinthians 1:10-18; Matthew 4:12-23

Call to Worship
Come out of the shadows and into God's light!
We will not play hide and seek,
but will make a pilgrimage to God's heart.

Lay down all which is a burden to you!
We will give our fears to God,
who is our help in every moment.

Follow the One who will lead you to new life!
We long to live in God's presence
every day of our lives.

Prayer of the Day

Your heart is the shelter
     for our weary souls.
You will not push us away,
     but clasp us tight in your embrace.
You refuse to abandon us,
     standing by our side all our lives.
Time Reaper,
you are our Hope!

When others try to tear us apart,
     you pick up the pieces,
     making us whole.
When we wonder what
the day might bring,
     you whisper, 'follow me,
     I will make you
          readers to little children,
          bandagers of bruised hearts,
          lovers of the forsaken,
          pilgrims who show the way
                    to others.'
Time Shaker,
you are our Dawn.

You appeal to us
to set aside all that divides us,
     so we might be one.
You send us to proclaim good news,
not with silver-tongued sophistication
     but with simple words:
     which bring light to the shadows.
Time Keeper,
you are our Joy.

From the former times to the latter,
we lift our prayers to you,
God in Community, Holy in One,
even as we offer the words Jesus taught us,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation

If we come to God with open hearts and honest words, we will not be pushed away, but wrapped in God's loving and forgiving embrace.  I invite you to join me as we confess our lives to God, praying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     We admit, God our Light, that we do indeed try to tear Christ apart - a piece of him here to support our politics, a part of him to undergird our economic views, the rest of him to bolster our fears of others.  We could leave immediately to follow him, but need to wait until we see where he might lead us.  We want you to look upon us with favor always, but have no trouble turning our backs on those around us.
     Hear us, God our Deliverer, as we speak of our failures!  Have mercy on us, we appeal to you, have mercy!  May your love become the core of our hearts, may your compassion become the words we speak, may your hope illuminate the ways in which we serve others, even as we seek to follow the One who calls us to new life, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
God is our help, so why should we be afraid?
God keeps us safe, there is nothing to dread!
This is good news for all of us.
Sheltered in God's gracious heart of mercy
and love, we raise shouts of joy: thanks be
to God, we are forgiven!  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
Use our gifts, Loving God, so others might not be scared by life; so they may be sheltered in the blanket of your grace; so they might find a home with us as their family.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving

May the God of all time be with you!
And also with you!
God asks one thing, that we offer our hearts.
We lift them to the One who does not abandon us.
Do not turn your backs upon the One who loves you.
We will join in glad songs of joy and wonder to our God.

In that former time, you brought
into creation all that existed
in your imagination, Dawn of Life.
The sun, moon, and stars
     illumined the shadows of chaos;
melting snow trickled into creeks
     which joined together to rush
     to the seas;
every living thing multiplied in wonder,
     increasing your joy.
You did this for us, those
shaped in your image and heart,
     but when we heard sin calling,
     we immediately left your side,
          following down death's dusty road.
Longing for us to return to you,
you sent the prophets to us,
proclaiming the hopes of your heart.
     Yet we did not listen,
     letting evil continue to tear us apart.
Then you sent Jesus to us,
proclaiming that your kingdom had come.

With those who are of the same mind,
with those who long for your presence,
we sing our songs of thanksgiving:

Holy, holy, holy are you, Keeper of our hearts.
All creation joins in shouts of joy to you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who calls us to follow.
Hosanna in the highest!

You are holy, Shelter of our lives,
and Jesus Christ is your blessed Child of grace.
When he heard your call,
     he immediately left glory's side,
     to make a pilgrimage to our lives.
When he could have played
hide and seek with us,
     he revealed himself as
     the Dawn of our salvation.
When he could have abandoned
us to the yoke of sin and death,
     he took it from our shoulders,
     breaking it over his knees,
     shaping it into the cross where
          he broke their power forever,
as he calls us to follow him
into resurrection's new light.

As we seek not to divide Christ,
as we long to have the same mind,
we proclaim the gospel which is often a mystery:

Christ died, taking our sins upon him;
Christ was raised, casting off the yoke of death;
Christ will come, so we may live in your presence forever.

We appeal to you, God of our lives,
to send your Spirit upon us,
and upon the gifts of the Table.
As we eat of the bread,
we ask but one thing,
     that we might go forth
     to proclaim your kingdom with our lives.
As we drink from the cup,
we would make a pilgrimage
     to the broken of the world,
     so they would know they
     have not been abandoned by us,
          or by you.

And when the last moments come,
and we are gathered around
that great feast of the Lamb,
our hearts will rejoice in you,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Let us take God's light into the world.
We will go to join others in pilgrimage of trust.
Let us go to gather the burdens of others.
We will take away their fears and offer them to Jesus,
who helps everyone in every moment.
Let us go to live in the Spirit's presence.
We will follow the Spirit into the peace
which is offered to all of God's people.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Liturgy with communion for January 19, 2020 (Second Sunday after Epiphany/Ordinary 2 - A)

Texts:  Isaiah 49:1-7; Psalm 40:1-11; 1st Corinthians 1:1-9; John 1:29-42

Call to Worship
We wait patiently for our God.
We will sing, we will sing new songs
of the One who calls us here.
We will not chase after other gods.
We will sing, we will sing new songs
of the One in whom we can trust.
We will tell of all God has done for us.
We will sing, we will sing new songs
of the One whose salvation is for all.

Prayer of the Day
There is none like you,
God of infinite patience.
You promise to listen to us,
You speak more words
     of hope and grace
and offer more acts
     of mercy and hope
then we can count
on the fingers and toes
of every person who ever lived.

There is none like you,
Shaper of servants.
Gathering up all the words
     we should never have spoken,
  you rearrange them into
     stories of peace and reconciliation.
Sweeping up the messes
      we leave littered behind us,
   you recycle them into gifts
      which soften the hardest hearts.

There is none like you,
Ever-listening Spirit.
You gather up all our cousins
      scattered throughout the earth,
   bringing us to the Table of life.
You point the way to Jesus
      when we have lost sight of him
   on the fog-filled days of our souls.

There is none like you,
God in Community, Holy in One,
and our hearts will sing new songs
even as we pray, saying,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
It is clear that God wants to hear our prayers and forgive us, for God is willing to lean close to our hearts to listen to our failures, our poor choices, all the things we have done wrong.  Please join me, as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   You are faithful, Patient God, even as we continue to live in the shadows of life.  We could delight in your hopes for us, but choose to do things our way.  We could serve the most vulnerable around us, but long to pal around with the powerful.  We could share the glad news of deliverance, but prefer to swap stories and gossip.
   There is none like you, Redeemer of all your children.  You lean over to listen to our prayers, and whisper forgiveness to our souls. You lift us out of the holes we dig for ourselves, and set us on hope's solid ground.  You strengthen our weak faith with the life, grace, and love of Jesus Christ, our Lord, our Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Come, dear friends and receive God's grace; see all the God is doing for you; follow Jesus, as he leads you closer to God.
I will sing of God's love for me;
I will sing a new song of hope and wonder.
Thanks be to God.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
May these gifts we offer, God of new ways, bring comfort to those who grieve; hope to those who live on the streets of despair; peace to all the broken places; and grace to all who long to draw closer to you.  In Jesus' name.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of patience be with you.
And also with you.
Offer your hearts to the One who waits for you.
We open them to God, who is our Life.
Come and sing new songs to our God.
We will praise the One who dwells in our hearts.

You saw the emptiness of chaos,
God of before-time,
and so the Spirit and Word came
bearing the gifts of creation:
   coastlands lapped by ocean waves;
   goats playing king of the mountains;
   children laughing in summer showers.
You shaped us in your image, hoping
we would see you wonders,
and stand up to walk with you.
     But we chose to follow
     those false gods, sin and death.
Women and men came trying
to call your children back home,
     but we would not listen to them.
Then you sent Jesus to us,
the Faithful One pointing
out the way for us.

Together with all around us,
with those in every place, from every time,
we will sing our songs to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, Redeemer of all.
Creation joins in praising your name.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who invites us to 'come and see.'
Hosanna in the highest!

You are the Holy One of all time,
and Jesus is the Lamb who takes
     away the sins of the world.
He would not remain in glory,
     but came to gather us up
     and bring us home to you.
He would not hoard,
     but poured out your grace
     on everyone he met.
He would not remain silent,
     but told us of your kingdom
     in our midst.
Despised by evil, abhorred by death,
     he defeated their power
     by dying on the cross and
     being raised to new life for us.

Called to be faithful as he was,
sanctified by his grace and love,
we sing a new song of the mystery called faith:

Christ died, blameless in God's eyes;
Christ was raised, honored in God's sight;
Christ will return, so we will be seen as without fault.

Here your children are gathered, where
the gifts of the Table are offered for all.
Here  you bring us together
from every place on earth,
where the Spirit transforms
simple gifts into sacred us.
Here where the bread is broken,
     we are strengthened to go
     and bring the good news to all.
Here where salvation is poured out,
     we are called into fellowship
     with those despised by the world,
     with those who live in the shadows,
     with those who long for someone
          to listen to their pain.

And when you have brought all time to an end,
when you gather your children home,
seating us around the great Feast of the Lamb,
we will sing that new, new song of praise to you,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Having learned new words from our God,
we will go to warm others in the bleak midwinter of life,
to whisper to them of grace and hope.
Having learned new ways to serve from Jesus,
we will go to clear paths for those lost in oppression,
to wait with those in hospital rooms and job lines.
Having learned new songs from the Spirit,
we will go to sing of peace in all the broken places,
to light the way out of the shadows of injustice.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Friday, January 03, 2020

Liturgy with communion for January 12, 2020 (Baptism of the Lord - A)

Texts:  Isaiah 42:1-9; Psalm 29; Acts 10:34-43; Matthew 3:13-17

Call to Worship

Baptized to begin lives of faith,
we would witness to all you do
in our communities, in our midst, in our world.

Baptized to serve,
we would speak up for the voiceless,
we would bring justice to those who have none.

Baptized to speak,
we would heal, and not hurt;
we would bless, and not curse.

Baptized to do what is right,
we would not play favorites,
but treat each as your Beloved.

Prayer of the Day

Your voice thunders in the night,
     and sings love songs
     in the morning.
Your voice tumbles raging rapids,
     and ripples pools of peace.
Your voice snaps trees in two,
     and can mend broken hearts
     with a sigh.
We give glory to your name,
God of our lives.

Guided by grace,
     you became the champion
     of justice.
Beloved of the sightless,
     you release those
     we would shackle.
Broken for our sake,
     you shape our souls
     into silhouettes hanging
     in the Hall of Servants.
We give glory to your grace,
Child of the waters.

You cup your hands
around our flickering faith,
     breathing us to new life.
You call us to work for justice,
     teaching us intentional
     acts of service.
You immerse us in courage,
     daring us to speak
     words of hope.
We give glory to your love,
Spirit of wonder.

We give you the glory now and always,
God in Community, Holy in One,
even as we pray as we are taught, saying,
Our Father . . .

Call to Reconciliation

Can you imagine a God who would rather forgive us than punish us, who calls us 'my delight,' rather than chiding us for being so foolish and wayward?  This is why Jesus came, so we might know of God's tender mercy toward us.  Let us confess our lives to the One who fills us with hope, as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     We try to stop Jesus from coming into our lives, Patient God, for we know how disruptive he can be.  He wants us to preach the gospel with our lives, but we prefer to complain how hard that is to do.  He wants us to do what is right, yet wrong-doing comes so easily for us.  He would like us not to give up until justice is done, but we just don't seem to have the time.
     We confess because we know we need to be forgiven by you, Glory and Grace.  Bathe us in the life giving waters of your mercy so we can come up from the water, ready to do good for others, to give you all the praise, to learn justice, grace, and hope from your Servant, Jesus Christ.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
You are God's Beloved.  You delight God's heart. Believe this good news, my friends!
The Spirit of God rests upon us, anointing us with mercy and peace.  Thanks be to God!  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
We leave the waters of baptism to offer grace to others;
we give from our abundance to bless others with hope and healing;
we offer our lives to you and others in serving with love and mercy. 
In Jesus' name, we pray you will bless these gifts and us.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving

May the impartial God be with you!
And also with you!

Lift your hearts to the One who anoints you with the Spirit.
We come to God, our hearts' true delight.

Sing praise to God, who calls you to the waters of life.
Songs of thanksgiving are lifted to the One who prepared this Table for us.

In a wild whisper
you spoke to chaos,
God of the waters of life,
and your Spirit raced forth,
playing tag with the Word,
     mountains shook with thunder,
     whales whispered in the oceans,
     hawks floated lazily in the skies,
     and kittens chased butterflies in fields.
You created us from the dusty earth,
placing us in your garden on wonders
so we might delight in you, and in each other.
But we wandered away from you,
     as sin and death took us by the hand,
     teaching us to do all that is wrong.
Prophets came in every age
to testify about your hopes,
     but we did not want to be
     set free from our captivity.
So Jesus was sent, your future
coming over the horizon to us
to be baptized as your Beloved.

With those who bend but do not break,
with those who long to do what is right,
we lift our thanksgiving songs to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God of impartial love.
All creation gives you the glory
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who is your heart's true delight.
Hosanna in the highest!

We glorify your name, Holy God,
and bless Jesus, your Child, our Savior.
Lord of all,
     he came, not with shock and awe,
     but with gentleness and patience.
Light of the world,
     he came to fan the spark of justice
     until it ignites throughout the world.
Bearer of our sins,
     he died on the cross,
     snared in death's embrace
     until the tomb opened up
     and the Spirit came down,
     lifting him up, as you proclaimed,
'here is my Son, the Resurrected One.'

As we remember our baptism
into the life and death of Jesus,
we speak of our faith as a mystery:

Christ came, to show us God's love;
Christ was baptized, inviting us into the waters of life;
Christ died, to fulfill all righteousness;
Christ was raised, to set us free from death;
Christ will come to take us by the hand
     and never let go.

You spread the Table before us,
the Spirit anointing the bread and the cup
and those gathered in this place
of water and of the Word.
We take the broken bread,
it's healing grace strengthening us
     to open eyes blinded by hate,
     to free all imprisoned by fear,
     to feed those who hunger for justice.
We share the Cup of salvation,
it's tender love nourishing us
     to offer balm to the hurting,
     to bring light to those who lose their way,
     to not give up on the oppressed
          until justice is served.

Then, when all righteousness is fulfilled
and we are gathered with our sisters and brothers
from all times and from every place,
we will join our voices to give you the glory,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Baptized, let us go to live in faith.
We will bring healing to the broken
and offer God's joy to those who grieve.
Baptized, let us go to serve.
At the side of Jesus, we will serve the hungry,
we will give shelter to the homeless.
Baptized, let us go to be a voice.
We will echo the Spirit of calling for peace,
we will never stop speaking against injustice.
Baptized, let us go to do what is right.
Finding you, God in Community, Holy in One,
waiting for us to join you beside all your Beloved children.

(c) Thom M. Shuman