Saturday, February 29, 2020

Liturgy w/communion for March 8, 2020 (Lent 2 - A)

Texts:  Genesis 12:1-4a; Psalm 121; Romans 4:1-5, 13-17; John 3:1-17

Litany for Lent
Christ of the comfortable,
you would call us
from our security and sameness,
down that unknown path
which leads to God's heart:
with trust, we would place
our hands in yours, and follow.

Companion of our sleepless nights,
you would beckon us
out of the shadows of our fears,
calling us to bring our doubts
and questioning hearts along:
with humility, we would listen
to those answers we do not
expect, or even understand.

Word which creates out of nothingness,
you would fill us with life
where we see only emptiness,
you would keep your promises
when all ours lie littered on the ground:
we would let your grace transform
us into faithful disciples.

Silence is kept

Keeper of every moment,
walk with us, we pray.
Watcher in the night:
stay with us, we pray.
Spirit of new life:
be in us, as we pray together saying,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
When we least expect it, even when we are not ready, God comes to us, calling us to trust, calling us to follow, calling us to set aside our foolish lives, for the grace-full ones which are offered to us.  Let us confess how often we choose not to follow, as we pray together saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     We are all too human, Faithful God, and so think we have nothing to learn from others, and thus discount ancestors in the faith like Nicodemus or Sarah.  We look for an answers online, convinced that we can trust whatever we find.  We close tight the shutters of our souls, so the Spirit can only rattle us, but not get in to transform our lives.
     Yet you continue to keep watch of us, Promise Giver, whether it is when we swagger through the sunshine of our lives, or in those shadowed moments of uncertainty in the night.  You will not stumble as you continue to come to us, to lead us into your kingdom.  You will always be our help, whether or not we recognize it or accept it, even as you remained faithful to Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Our hope, our help, our peace, our joy?  All come from God, the One who loved us, and the world so much, that Jesus came to bring us salvation.
Keeper of our souls, be with us;
Watcher of our days, lead us;
Salvation of our lives, have mercy on us.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
You trust us enough to place your blessings in us, so may we be as faithful in offering them back to you, so others might be kept in their loneliness, might be fed in their emptiness, might receive hope in their despair.  This we ask in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving

May the God of great adventures be with you!
And also with you!
It is God who is able to keep our hearts filled with hope and peace.
We will offer our hearts to the One who is our Keeper.
Trust in the promises whose fulfillment we cannot see.
We lift our songs to the One who is always with us.

You went into the shadows of nothingness,
bearing your Light of creation, Keeper of all,
so that life might burst forth where there was none:
     white sands at the edge of blue green seas,
     shale formed under the crust of the earth,
     warm mornings and frigid nights to mark the seasons.
You blessed your children with creation's gifts
so we might prove to be a blessing to others,
     but we watched the comings and goings
     of sin and death, allowing ourselves
     to be blown about by them.
Prophets responded to your call to them,
daring to bring us those words we did not want to hear,
calling us back to a way of life we had abandoned,
     but we knew that we preferred life
     in the absence of your presence.
For this reason, you sent Jesus into the world,
so that we, along with all creation, might be saved.

With those who toss and turn in the night,
with those who have responded to your call,
we lift our thanksgivings to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, Who neither slumbers nor sleeps.
All creation blesses your glorious name.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes to answer our questions.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy One, you are the God of blessings,
and Jesus Christ is your Faithful One.
The One who could truly boast,
     he humbled himself to become like us.
The One who was truly righteous,
     he emptied himself to fill us with grace.
The One who had spoken life into existence,
     he embraced death on the cross,
     so that we might be justified
     through your grace and wonder.

As we continue on the journey to Jerusalem,
as we seek to leave our comfortable lives to follow,
we would talk about that mystery we call faith:

Christ died, faithful to the end;
Christ was raised, so all creation might be saved;
Christ will come, to bring us to that home he will show us.

What then are we to say, Keeper of our lives?
It is your Spirit poured out upon us
and upon the gifts of the Table
which brings us new life.
It is the brokenness of the bread
which gives us life, that life
     poured out for those who have no hope,
    for those who wander in the shadows.
It is the grace of the cup
which overflows with your gifts,
     so we might go to be a blessing
     to all forsaken by the world.

And when our journey has ended
and we find ourselves in that land
which you have prepared for us,
we will sing our glad songs to you forever,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Now go with the Spirit, from the comfort of this place,
so we may go to bring hope to the world.
Now carry the Light of Christ with you,
we will go into the shadows with this gift.
Now trust in God who is always with you,
we will follow that life called discipleship.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Liturgy with communion for March 1, 2020 (Lent 1 - A)

Texts:  Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7; Psalm 32; Romans 5:12-19; Matthew 4:1-11

Litany for Lent
Jesus of the temptations,
you enter the wilderness
   of our hungers,
   our lust for power,
   our eagerness to test God:
be with us on our journey to Jerusalem, we pray.
Jesus of hopes,
you set aside your glory,
choosing to cradle us
in your scarred hands:
hold us in your tender embrace, we pray.
Jesus of the Feast,
you are broken
   so we might be healed,
you pour our your self
   so we might be drenched in your grace:
feed us from the simple gifts of creation, we pray.

Silence is kept

Lamb of God:
have mercy.
Servant to the poor:
have mercy on us.
Free gift of our righteousness:
have mercy on us, even as we pray, saying,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
We are easily seduced by the temptations all around us.  But if we are willing to trust God and offer our confessions, God is quick to forgive us and fill us with hope.  Join me, as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   Led by the crafter of lies, Lord God, we wander into the wasteland of wrong-doing.  We hunger for more and more, and feel emptier and emptier.  We seek power, especially over others, only to do harm.  By our choices, we worship the false gods of success, wealth, and spectacle.
   Have mercy on us, God of love, and forgive us for the power we give to temptation in our lives.  Help us to become as vulnerable as Jesus, for in that vulnerability, we find the humility to trust you in all things; in that trust, we discover the grace which sets us free from the grasp of the shrewd one; in that freedom, we can leave our badlands behind, in order to follow Jesus in this life, and into the next.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Be glad and rejoice! Give thanks with shouts of joy!  Grace abounds for everyone.
With glad cries of deliverance, we offer our thanks to God who loves us and forgives us.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
Too often, we give into the temptation to keep everything for ourselves.  But you would have us notice those how hunger for hope, as well as bread; those who are caught in the injustices of the world; those who struggle to find themselves.  And in noticing, we become generous and loving, even as we have been graced by our Brother and Savior, Jesus, in whose name we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of discipleship be with you.
And also with you.
Let us begin our Lenten journey with open hearts.
We offer them to the One who walks with us.
Let our voices resound with thanksgiving to the One who shows us faithful care.
We rejoice in our God of hope and love.

You held nothing back,
Gardener of grace,
as the Spirit led creation
into the hinterlands of nothingness:
     spreading rich soil in the valleys,
     planting seedlings and flower bulbs,
     making mountains from river clay,
     sprinkling water over everything.
Mornings came in Eden's beauty,
all that wonder and goodness
given for your children,
     but we listened to evil's whispers,
     believing those lies so easily told.
Like a crew launching in boat
to rescue those who are adrift,
prophets came, counseling us
to let go of our stubbornness
and return to your side,
     but with our eyes wide open,
     we followed that path which
     took us away from the middle of the garden.
So you sent Jesus to us,
that free gift of grace for all.

With the faithful who have gone before us,
with companions through this journey today,
we offer glad songs of deliverance:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God of steadfast love.
Creation sings your praises as on that first morning.
Hosanna in the highest!

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

You alone are holy, Hope of our lives,
and Jesus Christ is your blessed righteousness.
When we got what we wanted
in knowing both good and evil,
     he came, so we might receive
     what we need most - your grace.
When we left the garden
to enter the deserts of temptation,
     he came , to show us
     the path back to your heart.
When we had given control
of our lives to sin and death,
     he came, to break their hold on us
     as he was resurrected from the grave.

As we begin to follow him to Jerusalem,
as we would choose to embrace his suffering,
we speak of that free gift called faith:

Christ died, going into the wilderness of the grave;
Christ was raised, shattering the grip of sin and death;
Christ will come, so we might follow him to the New Jerusalem.

You hold nothing back from us
as the Spirit comes to rest
on the gifts of the bread and the cup,
so that those gathered might be fed.
Like your heart, the bread is broken,
so we might be made whole and,
     by our healing, go forth
     to bring hope to those around us.
Like your Child, the cup is poured out,
so we might be filled with your grace, and
     go out into the world
     to empty ourselves for others.

And when our journeys in and out
of the wildernesses of the world are ended,
you will gather us around the
great Feast of the Lamb,
where we will sing glad songs of joy to you,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

May God lead us to all who are afraid.
We will follow God into the barren spots of our world.
May Jesus lead us to all who look for a friend, a companion in this life.
We will follow Jesus into all the places where the lonely live.
May the Spirit lead us to all who are tossed aside by the world.
We will follow the Spirit to the neighborhoods filled with injustice, to bring hope.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Liturgy with communion for February 23, 2020 (Transfiguration - A)

Texts:  Exodus 24:12-18; Psalm 2; 2 Peter 1:16-21; Matthew 17:1-9

Call to Worship
It is good to be here in this sacred space,
in the shelter of God’s love and hope.
It is good to be here with folks we know well, as well as with new friends,
joining with all of God’s beloved, sisters and brothers of Jesus.
It is good to be here, where we can hear God’s voice,
calling us to be eyewitnesses to the Spirit’s presence.

Prayer of the Day
We could build grand edifices
crafted out of our opinions
of how you should act and be,
God of mountains,
   or we could gather up
   all the broken dreams
   of the most vulnerable
to build a more just world.

We could join the denigrating
chorus which ridicules all
who have been pushed aside
by those climbing to the top,
Dawn of Hope,
   or we could hear songs
   of reconciliation and hope
   in the lingua franca
   of all who seek peace.

We could avert our gaze
from those who have fingers
pointed at them because
of where they come from,
Spirit of love,
not who they are,
   or we could catch
   a glimpse of you
   coming down from the
   closet shelf where we put you
      so you can be with us.

When we could stay on the mountaintop,
take us by the hand to lead us into service,
God in Community, Holy in One,
even as we pray as we have been taught,
(The Lord’s Prayer)
Call to Reconciliation
We wait for God to show up, and while waiting, do not notice the words we might have spoken, the good we could have done.  Let us confess to our God, who waits to surround us with grace and hope, as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   Our judgment often becomes clouded by our foolishness, Sheltering God, and so we make all the wrong choices.  We let fancy philosophies draw us away from your grace.  The flowery words of politicians can lead us into valleys of worry and despair.  Our fears can convince us that those around us are conspiring against us.
   You can take all our foolishness, Creative God, and make us wise enough to see you among us.  You take the shards of our broken lives to recast us into a faithful people.  You speak gently to us, so we can listen to your dreams of our seeing each person as your beloved, even as Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, sees us through such eyes.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
On mountaintops and in valleys, in moments when our lives are shrouded and as well as when we reflect Christ’s light, God is with us, declaring we are the beloved!
In this moment, in every moment, may we glimpse the grace of God which comes and transfigures our lives.  Thanks be to God, we are forgiven!  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
Let us not keep our treasures stored in the mountaintops of our fears of how others might use them, but pour them out so they might be used to transform all those who find themselves in the valleys of hunger, of loss, of loneliness, and of injustice.  This we ask in the name of your Beloved.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of each dawn be with you.
And also with you.
Let us open our hearts to God who gathers us at this Table.
We delight in the grace which fills our lives.
May we offer our praise to the One who calls us the beloved.
We give thanks to our God of holiness.

You took the shards of chaos,
Repairer of all brokenness
and transfigured them into
   mountains where we could draw closer to you,
   valleys where we could serve your people,
   bright stars of each morning.
These gifts, and so many more, were offered
to the children of dust you call Beloved,
   but we joined death and sin
   in their conspiracy to make themselves
   more important than you in our lives.
You waited for us to return to you,
sending invitation after invitation
through men and women of every age,
   but we continued to plot,
   listening only to sin’s foolish words.
When you could no longer wait,
you sent Jesus to us,
so we might take shelter in you.

With those who have seen your glory,
with those who hunger for your grace,
we join in praising your name:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God who offers shelter.
We join all creation in glorifying you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the Morning Star of salvation.
Hosanna in the highest!

You alone are holy, God who laughs
at our foolish posturing,
and blessed is Jesus Christ,
who came to tell everyone of your love.
He could have remained seated in glory,
   but chose to walk with us
   down this path called life.
He could have remained on the mountaintop,
   but came down to minister
   to all in despair’s empty valley.
He could have simply told us
how we should live,
   but demonstrated genuine love
   by dying on the cross, so
      death’s power might be broken
      by the grace of the resurrection.

As we rejoice in your heart’s Beloved,
as we would listen to him with our souls,
we speak of that transfiguring mystery called faith:

Christ died, breaking sin’s power forever;
Christ was raised, as love conquered death;
Christ will return, to gather all the beloved to God.

Overshadow us with your grace, we pray,
as the Holy Spirit is poured out on us
and the gifts of this holy table.
As you give us the broken bread
to strengthen our service to others,
   may we offer hop to all
   surrounded by injustice.
As your cup of life nourishes us,
   may we see each person,
   not as a stranger or outsider,
   but part of your beloved family.

And when the waiting is ended,
when the stars of mornings and evenings
shine the way to your holy feast,
we will join our sisters and brothers
in forever singing your praises,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

God sends us from this experience of worship
to serve all those around us.
We will go to take the light of hope
into the shadowed corners in our midst.
Jesus, the Beloved, invites us to join him
in everyday life, in everyday service.
We will go to be blessed by all those
overlooked by the world.
Glory’s Spirit takes us by the hand
to lead us down path of humility.
We will enter into the mists of mistrust,
so we can offer hope to many.

© Thom M. Shuman

Saturday, February 08, 2020

Liturgy with communion for February 16, 2020 (Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany - A)

Texts:  Deuteronomy 30:15-20; Psalm 119:1-8; 1 Corinthians 3:1-9; Matthew 5:21-37

Call To Worship
As we offer a welcome to stranger and friend,
as we are embraced in their kindness,
we choose to be people of life and blessing.
As we serve others in God's name,
as we receive blessings from those we do not know,
we choose to walk in God's way.
As we forgive those who have hurt us,
as we reach out to those we have harmed,
we choose to be reconciled to our sisters and brothers.

Prayer of the Day
You do not stand there
with a ruler in your fist,
ready to smack our hands
whenever we do wrong,
but are that gentle Parent
who wants only the best
for your children always.

You do not look at us
through the lenses of judgment,
Servant of all,
but see us as your
sisters and brothers
who have wandered away,
and so you reach out
and take our hands so
we might walk together.

You do not hold anything back,
Spirit of goodness,
but you fill our empty lives
with the waters of grace and peace,
so we might overflow with
love, wonder, joy, and hope,
true blessings to the world.

God in Community, Holy in One,
may we choose always and in all ways
to be your people, even as we pray,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
With every choice we make, we show how faithful we are to God's hopes for us.  Yet, despite the mistakes we make, the missteps we take, God remains forgiving and gracious.  Let us come to our God, speaking honestly about our lives, as we pray, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     How often we make the wrong choices, God of our lives!  We look at others through the prism of lust, distorting who they really are.  We let our 'mad' feed us with bitterness and hurt.  We toss about harmful words like so many snowballs on a winter's day.  We would rather insult those around us, than to lift them up.
     Have mercy on us, God who is everywhere.  May we set aside our quarreling natures to be united in common worship, common service, and a common purpose, as we follow Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Christ came, so we might be healed by God's tender touch.  Christ came, so we might be reconciled to one another.
Thanks be to God!  As risky, as hard as it may be, we will choose to be God's people.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
When we could choose to be selfish, may we share from our abundance;
when we could choose to be hoarders, let us give away all we have;
when we could choose to be broken, let us be reconciled with those around us.
Bless our lives, as well as these gifts, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May our reconciling God be with you.
And also with you.
Come to the One who loves you always.
We choose to offer our hearts to God.
Come to the Table with glad hearts.
We will offer God praise in these moments.

Heaven and earth are witnesses
to your creation, God of forever,
as you chose to bring forth
life, goodness, and beauty
out of the empty canyons of chaos.
Soft winds rippled grains in meadows,
thunder and lightning echoed your praise,
insects chattered away in hidden places.
All these were blessings - for us, those
who have been crafted in your image,
     but we turned away from you,
     led astray by sin to worship false gods.
You commanded the prophets to speak,
your words inviting us back to you,
     but we chose not to listen.
You sent Jesus to us then,
the One who walked that path called Blameless,
so we might know the way.

So with those who are mature in the faith,
ad those who are just starting the journey,
we lift our songs of thanksgiving:

Holy, holy, holy, Lord God who is everywhere.
All creation offers praise to you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who reconciles us to you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Seeking to be obedient to you,
God of every good choice,
Jesus came,
     so we might walk
     in his footprints on
     that path to life.
He came,
     so we could pay
     attention to you,
          yet not neglect our
          sisters and brothers.
He come,
     choosing to confront sin
     and death on the cross,
so we might receive the
blessing of resurrected life.

As we seek to mirror his faithfulness,
as we would choose to follow him,
we proclaim that mystery called faith:

Though he did not wrong, Jesus died for us;
though we thought him dead, Jesus has risen;
though we have our doubts, Jesus will come again.

It used to be that we had no hope,
but now, at this Table of bread and cup,
your Spirit of grace and joy is poured out.
Filled with the bread which
symbolizes your brokenness,
     may we choose to be
     reconciled to one another,
     honoring all relationships.
As we are transformed by the cup,
     may we choose to work together,
     so all may be blessed
     by your love and peace.

And when you choose to end time,
gathering us together around your Table,
we will join with all those around us,
forever singing your praises,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Go now, with God's love,
we will choose to be a blessing to others.
Go now, with Christ's hope,
we will choose to serve all in need.
Go now, with the Spirit's peace,
we will choose to share life in every moment.

© Thom M. Shuman

Saturday, February 01, 2020

Liturgy with communion for February 9, 2020 (Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany - A)

Texts:  Isaiah 58:1-12; Psalm 112:1-10; 1 Corinthians 2:1-16; Matthew 5:13-20

Call to Worship
Called to be light,
we would carry God's hope into
the shadows of the world.

Called to be salt,
we would enhance the lives
of those around us, with joy.

Called to live in God's reality,
we would welcome everyone
as sisters and brothers in faith.

Prayer of the Day

When we see the hungry
     and refuse to pass them by;
when we humbly notice
     those walking shoeless
          in winter
     before we repair the holes
          in our souls,
we will worship you truly,
God of the Feast and the Fast.

When we think the line workers
     are as valuable as the CEOs;
when we give our
     in-law apartment
     to a homeless family,
we will follow you faithfully,
Servant of the oppressed.

When we mend fences
          with our siblings
     and build bridges
           to our enemies;
when our cries for justice
     are louder than a
we will proclaim your hopes,
Spirit of justice.

Then we will be like
a royal botanical garden
watered by that grace
which never runs dry,
God in Community, Holy in One,
even as we pray as we are taught,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
This is what God hopes for us - that we will speak of the mistakes we make, so we might be forgiven.  Relying on the Spirit for the right words, let us pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     It is true we break your commandments, God of our lives.  Much worse, we break your heart when we point the finger at those who are different from us; when we gossip about our friends and neighbors; when we think everything is all about us.
     Forgive us, Loving God, we pray.  We long to know your ways, so open our ears to hear those words we always ignore.  We search for you each day, so open our eyes to your wonders so we may see them anew.  We would believe in your promises, so fill our hearts with the presence of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
God will show us the way to God's realm. Gracious, merciful, and righteous is our God of salvation!
God rebuilds our lives, repairs our mistakes, fills our emptiness with hope and joy.  Thanks be to God, we are forgiven!  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
May the gifts we offer, Loving God, be used to fix breakfast for hungry children, to shower others with grace, and to patch the potholes poverty has created in the roadways of the kingdom.  This we ask in Jesus' name.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of the Table be with you.
And also with you.
This is the fast God chooses for us as we come to the Feast,
that we empty our hearts in service, so they may be filled again.
This is the way God offers to us,
We will sing our praises as we journey to the realm of hope and love.

When you came proclaiming creation,
God of wonder,
you brought forth what no eye had seen:
     snowflakes drifting in a meadow,
     hawks floating lazily in the sky.
You whispered what no ear had heard:
     whale songs in the deeps,
     a coyote caroling the moon.
You established what no heart believed:
     justice for the most vulnerable,
     healing for the broken.
Day by day, you called us to your side,
but when evening fell, we slipped
     into sin's enticing shadows,
     dashing your dreams for us.
You sent the prophets to us,
relying on the Spirit
to give them the right words,
     but we did not notice
     as we practiced hubris.
So you asked Jesus to come,
dashing the hopes of the wicked.

So with those who do not fear
the good news which he brought,
we lift our voices in glad shouts of joy:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God who shows the way.
Creation joins in praises to you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who knows your mind.
Hosanna in the highest!

He came proclaiming your salvation,
God of Holiness,
your Child of salt and light.
For those in the shadows
of mourning,
     he brought light.
For those whose lives
have crumbled around them,
     he rebuilds their hopes.
For those who are separated
by the chasms of fears,
     he stretches a bridge
     so they can meet each
     other in harmony.
For all who face death's
     he went into that unknown,
     coming forth to reassure us
that its power had been broken.

As we seek to seem him in our midst,
as we try to hear your Word of life,
we trust in that faith which is mysterious:

Christ died, showing us the way to death;
Christ was raised, showing us the way to new life;
Christ will come, to show us the way to your heart.

Here at the Table of grace,
the Holy Spirit proclaims life,
transforming these simple gifts
and the people gathered in this place.
As we taste the hope in the broken bread,
we would go to
     break the bonds of injustice,
     and free the oppressed.
As we are filled with the cup,
we would be light to the world,
     opening our pantry to the hungry,
     wrapping a naked child in our love.

And when God's time is fulfilled
and we are gathered together
with our sisters and brothers
in the kingdom of heaven,
we will not keep any thing bottled up,
but will shout our praises to you,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

To those huddled in the shadows of fear and worry,
God sends us to be light.
To those whose lives and hopes have lost all flavor,
Jesus sends us to be salt.
To a society where love is tossed aside as easily as a food wrapper,
Spirit sends us to be faithful carers of everyone we meet.

(c) Thom M. Shuman