Monday, May 11, 2020

Liturgy in a time of pandemic for May 17, 2020 (Easter 6 - A)

Texts: Acts 17:22-31; Psalm 66:8-20; 1 Peter 3:13-22; John 14:15-21

Call to Worship
Come to worship, people of God, with praises on your lips.
Even when we are feeling isolated and fearful,
we can glorify the One who holds our hands in our loneliness.
Come into the presence of the One who makes holy
every place, every space, holy and sacred.
Even where we continue to stay safe in our homes,
the doors of grace are flung wide open for us.
Come and hear the stories of the One who loves you.
In living rooms, on laptops and devices,
We will sing our songs and tell those tales
of the peace and of the hope which is ours.

Prayer of the Day
When it does not seem
to matter to many, Creator God,
we will dare to be your people,
  to love those the world
    would have us reject,
  to be just in the face
    of every reason to be cruel,
  to be unafraid
    of whatever awaits us.

When all the odds seem
stacked against us, Jesus our Savior,
we still dare to live as
your sisters and brothers,
  serving others
    even from the safety of our homes,
  sharing in the burdens
     of our neighbors,
  refusing to leave the lonely
    orphaned with no hope.

When the props are knocked
out from under us
by fears and worries, Faithful Spirit,
we dare to breathe
  joy upon those
    caught in the net of hopeless,
  peace into all
    the quavering hearts around us,
  wonder for all those
    who look for you but do not see.

In you, we dare to live and breathe and be,
God in Community, Holy in One,
even as we pray as we are taught,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
What is our hope?  Simply put, it is that God has not abandoned us.  With such good news, we can dare to bring our prayers to the One who will not cast aside our words or our hearts.  Please join me as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     We must tell you, God who knows us better than we think, how easy it is to put our trust in those who offer easy fixes, quick solutions, cures and tests and false hope in these days.  it is easier to believe the glib words of politicians, the conspiracies of all the theorists, rather than to those who are rational and based in science.  All too easily, we can buy into the notion that the economy is more important than safety, that jobs matter more than the lives of the most vulnerable, that our so-called rights trump the need to be a community of compassion and grace.
     Forgive us, God of mercy.  You are not found in political rhetoric, but in the child who holds our hand.  You are not a simple tweet, but the Word that can transform our very lives.  You are not a disembodied, constantly recalculating voice, but the One who calls us to life, through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.  Amen.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Despite everything we do, God loves us.  This is grace, pure and simple.  This grace is why, when everything says we should not, we can dare to hope.
We will witness to this grace with every breath we take, with every gift we offer, with every word we share with others.  Thanks be to God, we are forgiven.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
Abandoned by hope, forsaken by others, left behind by those who said they loved them - there are orphans all around us, Holy God.  May the gifts we offer be a home, a family, a rest, a respite for them and all the others around us.  This we ask in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God who knows us be with you.
And with you.
Lift your hearts to the One who will not leave you stranded.
We offer ourselves to God who is always with us.
Bless God, all you who love the Lord.
We sing praises to the One who loves us.

You gathered that orphan, chaos,
into your heart, God of wonder,
and with a simple Word created a family:
     with horses munching meadow grasses,
     birds gliding gently on summer winds,
     snails, snakes, and tree-climbing squirrels.
Gathering up handfuls of dirt, you shaped us,
and with a simple breath, gave us life
so we might be with you in wonder,
     but we crawled out of our strollers
     and toddled off after temptation.
You did not panic, but sent prophets
to come to us and show us the way,
     but the smoke of our offerings to sin
     kept us from seeing them.
Refusing to leave us as orphans,
you sent your Child to us
to reveal your true Self.

With those who praise you every day,
with those who have lost all hope,
we would bring our songs to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God our joy.
All creation pays their vows to you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who is our salvation.
Hosanna in the highest!

You cannot be contained by any human
imagining or endeavor, for you are the Holy God,
and your Son, Jesus Christ, is our hope in life.
When we could have been left
as orphans in sin's foster home,
     he came to reveal himself
     as our brother, our sister,
     our mother, our father.
When despair threatened
to take away all our strength,
     he came to plant hope
     deep within us.
When we thought death
was our last stop,
     he came to show us
     the Resurrection Way home.

As we remember the grace with which he loved us,
as we welcome the Comforter he sent to us,
we proclaim that mystery which is faith:

Christ died, doing what was right for us.
Christ was raised by the One who was in him.
Christ will come, just as the hope within us witnesses to us.

As your Spirit of truth comes in these moments
to transform the bread and the cup
and those gathered around the Table,
you show us how much you love us.
As we are strengthened by the broken Bread,
you would send us
     to plant hope in all the places
          where pessimism has taken root,
     to help love stand on the corners
          where hate's gangs hang out.
As you nourish us with the Cup,
you would have us
     take peace into the
          warzones of human hearts,
     bring healing to
          all the broken ones around us.

And when we gather around that Table of love,
with our sisters and brothers, with our enemies and friends
seated side by side, as we pass grace to one another,
we will join in forever singing your praises,
as we celebrate your being in us as we are in you,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Wherever you are, continue to speak of what God has done.
We will remind everyone that, despite everything, God loves us.
Wherever you find yourself, continue to sing of what God is doing.
We will rejoice that God has not left us orphaned,
but makes us one with everyone around us.
Whenever you can, continue to imagine what God will do.
We will witness to that hope which seems to distant,
yet is as close to us as our hearts.

© 2020 Thom M. Shuman