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