Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Liturgy w/communion in a time of pandemic for August 30, 2020 (Pentecost 13/Trinity 12/Proper 17/Ordinary 22 - A)

Texts: Exodus 3:1-15; Psalm 105:1-6, 23-26, 45c; Romans 12:9-21; Matthew 16:21-28

Call to Worship
Some of your people gather in sanctuaries
while others create sacred spaces
in their living rooms or back yards.
Yet, all join to worship you,
God who is with the scattered and gathered.
Some of your followers are going out to serve and work,
while others stay at home,
helping children and grandchildren learn virtually.
Yet, all seek to follow your example,
Jesus who calls the scattered and gathered.
Some care for others by shopping for them,
while plant seeds of peace and hope.
Yet, whether gathered or scattered,
all seek to live out your gifts, Spirit of us all.

Prayer of the Day
In days of uncertainty,
it is to focus only on what
we need to get done each day,
so, call us to turn
and see your compassion
burning (but not reduced to ashes)
for those living in loneliness.
When we drag our feet,
help us to remover all
which we believe protects
us from the heat of your justice,
so that we can feel the warmth
of your heart for the forgotten.
YOU ARE the One we search for,
God of all held captive by fear.

In these days of isolation,
it is easy to become stumbling blocks
to your longing for the most vulnerable.
So, polish our hardhearted resistance
that we can become those smooth pebbles
you use to pour a path to your community.
When we think you only have time
to listen to our disrupted lives,
you open your heart to us,
so we can see it’s brokenness,
for the lost, the least, the little,
that we can care for them
as deeply as do you.
YOU ARE the One
who leads us to freedom,
Servant of the poor.

In the cacophony of angry voices
and words dripping with bitterness,
we wonder how we can dare
to speak of you peace and hopes.
So, fill us with such a harvest of words,
that they will spill out of our hearts
and tumble out of our mouths.
When we are tempted to close our eyes
because of all the cruelty and pain
taking root in our neighborhoods,
fill our hands with grace and love
to share with all your children.  
YOU ARE the One who
teaches us new ways,
Impassioned Spirit.

God in Community, Holy in One,
and we lift our prayer to you, saying,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
In stories and in stores, in sandy deserts and in rocky roads, in our homes and Sunday worship, we encounter God.  We meet the One who fills every moment with the sacred.  We confess our sins, in trust that we can turn aside and notice God welcoming us with forgiveness and hope.

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
God of Moses and Mary,
we could live at peace with others,
   but we choose to do wrong to them.
we could welcome those we do not know,
    but choose to close our hearts.
we could make outsiders our best friends,
    but choose the safety of our cliques.
Forgive us, Genuine Love, for our foolish choices.
Hold on to our shaky lives,
    until we learn to clasp your goodness to our hearts,
    that we can give it away to those around us.
Whisper your grace and hopes to us,
    until we can stop cursing our enemies,
    and bless them as our friends.
Polish the rough edges of our arrogance,
    until we become smooth enough
    to win the gold in being honorable.
Then, we would put aside our stumbling blocks to discipleship, so we can follow Jesus Christ,
our Lord and Savior, as he leads us to your way of denial and life.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
In our love for others, we discover God's love for us.  In our forgiving of others, we learn once more how deeply God has forgiven us.  Friends, this is the good news offered to us!
We are God's children, called to be different, called to act different, called to live as new people.  Thanks be to God.  We are forgiven.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
May the gifts we offer, Loving God, feed those who are hungry, as you have fed us with your Word.  May these gifts give those who thirst for hope a cup which is overflowing.  May our gifts be used to welcome all those who are your children, our sisters and brothers in this life.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May God be with you.
May God be with you.
Lift your hearts to our God.
We offer them to the One who loves us.
Let us join in glad songs of praise.
Gathered or scattered, we sing our thanksgivings to our God.

In just a moment, creation sprang forth
from the emptiness of chaos,
and you began to pour out
all your goodness and genuine love,
God of all moments.
In just a moment, or so it seems,
uncertainty and fear sprang forth
from everything that we call normal.
Yet, in these continuing times
of isolation, distancing, wearing masks,
the earth continues to rejoice
with sunsets which take our breath away,
the winds continue to whisper
us to sleep as the drift through the trees,
the kindness and generosity
of neighbors as well as strangers,
remind us that, in those moments,
when all hope seemed to be lost,
that is when you sent your Beloved
to come, to be us, to walk with us.

So, we will join our voices with those
who continue to follow faithfully
as well as with those who stumble,
singing our praises to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God of Wonder.
In moments of confusion, you make clear your grace.
In days which seem endless, you hold our times in your hands.
In the midst of fears and worries, you watch over us.
Hosanna in the highest!

Yes, you are holy, God of all creation,
yet you listen to the prayers of the forgotten,
sending Jesus to come and share your love with us.
knowing the cracks in our broken hearts,
   he came to craft stained glass windows of grace.
seeing our shattered relationships,
   he came to make us whole.
experiencing the fear of death
which is especially profound these days,
   he came to defeat its supposed power.
hearing the silent whispers of our fearful hearts,
   he comes to remind us of the love
   which was revealed in the resurrection
   and which remains the promise to us.   

in these days of wondering and wandering,
we seek to remember, not just his words, his life,
but the trust he had in you in every moment,
even as we speak of that mystery we know as faith:

In moments of grief, Jesus weeps with us.
In moments of despair, Jesus hopes with us.
In moments of fear, Jesus walks with us.
In moments of uncertainty, Jesus comforts us.

Whether gathered in a sanctuary
at a safe distance from each other,
or at a table in the kitchen,
or a desk sitting in front of a device,
we pray you would pour out your Spirit
upon all your people everywhere
and the gifts to be used for this feast.
As we prepare to gather around
your Table, God of Love,
pour out your Spirit upon us,
and on the gifts of the bread and cup.
Though broken, the bread is the rich food
of grace and mercy,
strengthening us so we may go forth
to continue to care for friend and stranger,
to feed those we love and those we distrust.
With the cup of grace and justice,
we pray you would quench our thirst for power,
transforming us into the rich, full wine
of servanthood, so we might choose,
caring over cruelty,
denial over fame,
humility over pride,
peace over anger,
love over evil.

And when you gather all our sisters and brothers
from every scattered time and place,
we will join our hearts singing your praise,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Whether gathered in a sanctuary
or scattered wherever we live,
we will take the love of God into the world.
In these uncertain times, we will share the steadfast love of our God.
Whether from familiar places we call home,
or from sacred places we have not visited in a long time,
we will take the grace of Jesus into our neighborhoods.
For all the lonely, the forgotten, the scared,
we will share the justice and compassion of Jesus.
Whether on our own, or joining with friends,
whether serving those we know, and especially those we don’t,
we will be the people of the Holy Spirit.
We will open our arms wide,
even from a safe distance,
to welcome all of sisters and brothers.

(c) 2020 Thom M. Shuman

Alternate texts liturgy with communion for August 30, 2020 (Pentecost 13/Trinity 12/Proper 17/Ordinary 22 - A)

Texts:  Jeremiah 15:15-21; Psalm 26:1-8; Romans 12:9-21; Matthew 16:21-28

Call to Worship
Even when we encounter folks who
are mean, dishonest, hateful,
we are called to respond with
that love which is true and sincere.
God calls us to love all people as if
they were our siblings,
for God seeks to weave us into one family,
tearing down all the barriers between us.
No matter how weary we become
from our loneliness, our struggles, our service,
God challenges us to be patient,
to rejoice, and to never stop praying.
Why should we do all things?
Because we are God's people,
called to lives which are different,
and which make a difference!

Prayer of the Day
God our Creator,
you are alive:
     in the singing of geese flying south,
     in the leaves gently stirring in the breeze,
     in the stars that dance at night.

Jesus, Brother to the poor,
you are in our midst:
     in the lap of a grandmother,
     in the cries of a newborn,
     in the stillness of dawn.

Spirit of God,
you make all our places holy:
     the classrooms where we fidget,
     the sidewalks where we meet neighbors,
     the grass in our backyards.

God in Community, Holy in One,
make us aware of your presence in every moment,
even as we pray as we are taught, saying,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
If God is in every person we meet, what does that say about the harmful words we speak, the hurt we cause to others in our lives?  We are invited to bring our faults and foolishness, our brokenness and bitterness to our God, confessing such lives, so we might be made new.  Join me, as we pray together saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     You know us, Watching God.  You know who we are, people who find it easier to hold on to all we do that is wrong, rather that clinging to goodness.  You know what we do, when we ignore the poor, or refuse to live at peace with others.  You know why we do all these things, for we continue to set our  minds on all those temptations which insinuate themselves into our lives.
     You do indeed know us all too well, Steadfast Love.  Yet, you continue to be patient with us and forgiving towards us. Yet, you would embrace as we turn towards you in repentance, rather than washing your hands of us.  Yet, you would continue to call us to follow Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, so we might find our life with you.  Amen.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
This is the good news for us, my friends.  God remembers us and forgives us, so we might live as people of love and hope.
We will sing our praises to the One who has made us whole.  Thanks be to God!  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
May the gifts we offer, Loving God, feed those who are hungry, as you have fed us with your Word.  May these gifts give those who thirst for hope a cup which is overflowing.  May our gifts be used to welcome all those who are your children, our siblings in this life.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May our God of goodness be with you.
And also with you.
Offer your hearts to God and rejoice in hope.
We bring them to the One who blesses us with love.
Join in singing thanksgivings to the One who calls us to this feast.
We praise our God who feeds us with peace.

Reaching into your imagination, God of wonder,
you wove that community we call creation:
     your steadfast love swimming in the waters,
     your joy teaching songs to the birds,
     your peace placing stars in the skies.
You made ready your guest room
for those shaped in your likeness,
     but we set our minds on sin's things,
     wanting to walk down the road to death.
You sent prophets to offer us your words
so that they might delight our hearts,
     but we would not even try a taste,
     preferring to party with hypocritical temptation.
You would not wash your sins of us,
but sent your Child into our world,
to be with us, to save us.

With all those who cling to goodness,
with those who long to live in harmony,
we sing aloud our thanksgivings:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God who knows us.
All creation rejoices in your hope.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who walks in integrity.
Hosanna in the highest!

In Jesus, you walked faithfully
toward us, God of holiness,
     so we might see your love
     wherever and whenever we looked.
In Jesus, you sat down with those
considered worthless in the world's eyes,
     so we might feast on your words
     of mercy and hope.
In Jesus, your reached out
     to pry us out of Wicked's hands,
     to break Ruthless's grip on us.
In Jesus, you showed us the cost
of delivering us, as he lost his life
so we might be saved by grace.

Because we want to follow Jesus,
because we want to be your people,
we would proclaim our faith:

Taking up his cross, Christ died for us;
overcoming death with life, you raised Christ from the grave;
Christ will come with the angels, to reveal your glory.

Pour out your Spirit upon
the gifts of the Table,
and on the people being woven
into your community in this place.
As we eat of the bread,
may we find that life of serving
     the poor, the hungry,
     the lost, the hopeless.
As we drink from the cup,
may we find the strength
to lose our selves
     in sharing your peace,
     in giving water to the thirsty,
     in becoming friends with the oppressed.

When this journey through life has ended,
and we gather in your house around your table
with those of every place, and of every time,
we will sing your praises forever,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Take the love of God into the world.
We will be genuine in sharing this 
with everyone we meet.
Take the grace of Jesus into your communities.
We will share the joy of those who rejoice, 
we will mingle our tears with those who weep.
Share the Spirit's community with all this week.
We will welcome everyone, 
especially those who feel alone and afraid.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Liturgy with communion for August 23, 2020 (Pentecost 12/Trinity 11/Proper 16/Ordinary 21 - A)

Texts: Exodus 1:8 – 2:10; Psalm 124; Romans 12:1-8; Matthew 16:13-20

Call to Worship
In a time of bitterness and pain,
God raised up Moses,
and changed the lives of a people.
From the shadow of death,
God raised up Jesus,
and changed the lives of all people.
In every time, and in every place,
God raises up witnesses,
people whose lives are changed forever.

Prayer of the Day
Like Miriam with Moses,
you watch over us,
Ever-seeing God.
You do not leave us
to drift on the currents
of the world.
you will not give us over
to the power of evil.
you have not left us alone,
but gifted us with your Body,
the church.

Christ of Compassion:
you could have used the wise,
but you work through the foolish.
you could have chosen
the most gifted talkers,
but you speak through children.
you could command us
to do anything you wish,
but you beg us
to open our lives
to God's Wisdom.

Helper Spirit:
when we are reluctant
to part with our treasures,
you fill us with generosity.
when we are hesitant
to help others,
you make us passionate to serve.
when we are lonely and afraid,
you surround us with loving
sisters and brothers.

God in Community, Holy in One,
hear us as we pray as we have been taught,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
We are so much like Peter.  Jesus tells us what it will take to follow him, and we want to argue.  Jesus shows us the way to the Kingdom, and we seek a smoother path.  Let us put down all that keeps us from following Jesus, as we confess our sins to God.

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   We confess our struggle to be transformed into disciples, God of mystery.  The desires of the world would shape us into people you would not recognize.
The demands of our society pull us away from your heart.  Our culture values the rich, the powerful, the successful, but you are on the side of the weak, the poor, the outcast, the oppressed.
   Forgive us, Merciful God, for looking for you in the wrong places.  Reawaken us with your voice that calls us to service; revive our weary hearts with your vision of creation; refresh our fatigued spirits that we might boldly proclaim Jesus as our Lord and as our Savior, and go forth to serve your people in Christ's name.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
It's too easy to think like the world, that money will give us happiness, that power will earn us grace.  But Paul reminds us that if we think like Christ, and live like servants, we will find true freedom.
Not only our minds, but our hearts and spirits will be transformed into the likeness of Christ, enabling us to be faithful disciples.  Thanks be to God.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication
We will not proclaim our faith with our words only, but with our lives and these gifts we offer to you, O God, we pray that others might be transformed by your grace, your hope, and your peace.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
God watches over everyone, including you.
May God watch over you.
Let us open our hearts to the God of Miriam and Moses.
We lift our hearts to the God who changes all lives.
People of God, let us sing to the God of Jesus and Peter.
In this time and this place, we sing glad songs
to the One who is with us in every place, in every moment.

Chaos thought it more powerful
than you, God of the forgotten,
but you were on the side of all
that is beautiful, true, and gracious,
and so, through the water of your creation,
rivers thundered beneath mountains,
drenching soil with all which would bring forth
life in abundance, and hope overflowing.
Scooping up dust from earth’s floor,
you shaped us in your image and soul,
so we might live with you.
Death and temptation yearned for us
to follow them down foolish paths,
and we raced behind them.
Prophets came, to be midwives
of hope, of grace, of wonder to us,
but we turned our backs in anger
as they tried to bring us home to you.
We ignored Miriam and Moses,
forgot the songs of Hannah and Isaiah,
and so, you sent Jesus to us,
to throw open the gates
to the kingdom of your heart.

So, with those who long to remain faithful,
with those who proclaim who Jesus is,
our voices are joined as one in praise to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, ever-watchful God.
Creation sings praises to you in every moment.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who never gives up on us.
Hosanna in the highest!

Your imagination mirrors your holiness, O God,
and your Word is made human in Jesus, our Brother.
He came to be on our side,
to show us paths of grace and hope.
You could have been judgmental,
but he came to share your compassion.
You could have been stingy with mercy,
but opened up your heart.
You could have left us in the grip of death,
but he walked into the grave,
sweeping it’s power away from us,
as he was raised to new life
by your love and hope.

So, come to be at his side
around this table of life and joy,
we sing of that mystery called faith:

Jesus died, taking our side against sin.
Jesus was raised, God taking his side against death.
Jesus will come, taking us home at his side.

If the Spirit were not with us,
this bread and the cup would mean nothing,
but you pour the Spirit out on our side,
so that we might be transformed by these gifts.
Filled with the bread broken for us,
the Spirit sends us out
so we might empty ourselves
for those forced into hunger and despair.
Handing us the cup of grace,
the Spirit nourishes us
so we might be at the side of the forgotten,
challenging all who would feed
your children on injustice and hopelessness.

And when the final moments come and
and all oppression, all evil, all cruelty
has gone the way of chaos at the beginning,
we will join our voices with our sisters and brothers
in forever singing your praises,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

We are called to do God’s work in our communities,
and so, we go out on God’s side to love others.
We are called to serve every person, in every place,
and so, we go to work at the side of Jesus in the world.
We are called to proclaim peace, and live it in our lives,
and so, we go to be on the Spirit’s side.

© 2020 Thom M. Shuman