Wednesday, April 15, 2020

liturgy for Easter 2 - A in a time of pandemic (April 19, 2020)

Texts:  Acts 2:14a, 22-32; Psalm 16; 1 Peter 1:3-9; John 20:19-31

Call to Worship
Christ is risen! 
Christ is risen indeed!
Though we find ourselves isolated
in homes, apartments, and residential places,
yet, we would listen to the birds singing,
reminding us that the whole creation
rejoices in the love of our God.
Though we cannot reach out and touch
our friends and neighbors,
we would rejoice that Jesus is in our midst,
holding out hands of grace and hope to us!
Though we have to stand at a safe distance
from others, whispering hello through masks,
we know that the Spirit is all around us,
breathing peace on us in these moments,
surrounding us with grace and hope.

Prayer of the Day
Though our lives seem
so lonely and empty these days,
yet there is the sun in the morning,
the moon and stars at night,
the wonder of creation unfolding
before our eyes and hearts, reminding us
that we have nothing apart
from you, God of Easter.

When we need to maintain
boundaries and safe distancing,
when we realize how much
we miss human touch (yes,
even us introverts),
you invite us to touch your
loneliness with our own,
your sorrow and scars
with our own, Brother of our souls.

When we find ourselves huddling
in the locked rooms of our hearts,
the doors and shutters of our souls
securing us from the fears that are outside,
you come, Spirit of hope,
to breathe peace upon us,
to always surround us with hope,
to never abandon us to our loneliness.

God in Community, Holy in One,
remind us we are never, ever, apart from you,
even as we pray as we are taught,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
Like those disciples of long ago, we are filled with uncertainty, wondering what the next piece of news will bring, what awaits us today, tonight, tomorrow.  Let us confess how hard it is to believe in the resurrection life and hope offered to us, by the One who offers us peace and healing, as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     Hear the echoes of our locked hearts, Path of Life.  We isolate ourselves from the struggles of the world and wonder if we will ever find our way back.  Even in these moments, we could do more for others, but multiply their sorrows by our focusing more on ourselves and our needs. We see the ones who are risking their lives to care for those they don’t even know, and grumble that they could be doing more.
     Have mercy on us, God whose Breath gives us life.  Walk through the closed doors of our worries and doubts to stand in our midst, offering us that grace which can heal us, that hope which can enliven us, and that faith which enables us to follow Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
It is God's great mercy through the resurrection of Jesus which gives us that hope which lives within us.
Thanks be to God for this precious gift by which we are able to believe and rejoice in our inheritance.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
May the gifts we offer be used to open doors closed to strangers, hands shut tight against generous giving, and hearts frozen by fears of the unknown.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of mornings be with you.
May the God of evenings be with you.
Do not fear but open your hearts to God.
We offer them to the One who is our living hope.
Rejoice!  The Lord of life is always with us.
We sing glad thanksgivings to our God.

In the evenings of creation,
Loving God, you looked and saw
all that was good and beautiful:
     loblolly pines reaching to the sky,
     lochs and glens brimming with life,
     chains of islands in the warm seas.
The Holy Spirit breathed upon us,
whispering, 'receive creation,' as your gifts
were entrusted to our care,
     but sin enticed us into its
     closed room of fears, turning
     the key of death in the lock.
Prophets came, standing among us,
speaking of your invitation to come home,
     but we refused to listen
     to what they had to say.
Determined never to abandon us,
you sent Jesus, to make known to us
the ways of life which your offer.

With those who saw and witnessed,
with those who have not seen, yet believe,
we sing with glad hearts to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God of our evenings.
All creation rejoices in the good news of Easter.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who stands among us.
Hosanna in the highest!

In the evenings, your holiness never rests,
and Jesus Christ, the risen One, is ever with us.
Into the closed rooms of our lives, he comes,
     breathing Spirit's peace;
using grace and hope, he picks
     the locked doors of our hearts
     that he might be with us;
showing us his hands and side, he reminds
     us that death can no more cling
     to us, than it did to him,
for you will never abandon us.

As we believe, though we have not seem;
as we rejoice in that living hope which is ours;
we speak of faith, that mystery more precious than gold:

Christ died, believing what he could not see.
Christ was raised, becoming our living hope.
Christ will come, bringing our inheritance kept for us.

In the evenings of our lives,
you send the Spirit to fill us with peace,
as the bread and the cup
are filled with the life and grace of Jesus.
Cradling the broken bread
in his nail-scarred hands,
Jesus shows us
     his grieving brothers,
     his hungry sisters,
           so we may go to serve them.
Handing us the cup of living hope,
we are invited to drink deeply
and then go into the world
     to offer peace to those wearied by war,
     to give freedom to all who are oppressed,
     to share grace with those who need it most.

And when the last evening comes, you will
gather us in that upper room called your heart,
where we will feast with all your children,
forever singing our praises to you,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Go forth in the love of God.
We will take this love into unlovely parts of the world
even while we stay isolated at home.
Go forth in the grace of Jesus Christ.
We will look for him in the faces of every person we meet,
even at a distance, even through social media.
Go forth in the peace of the Spirit.
We will share this hope with the brokenness all around us,
that we might offer healing to everyone.

(c) 2020 Thom M. Shuman