Tuesday, September 29, 2020

World Communion Liturgy in a time of pandemic for October 4, 2020

Texts:  Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20; Psalm 19; Philippians 3:4b-14; Matthew 21:33-46

Call to Worship

L:         From where we are sheltering in place,

from sacred spaces where

folks are socially distancing themselves,

P:         we are gathered as God’s people,

called to the Table where brokenness

nourishes us with simple grace.

L:         From virtual communities from all over the world,

with families gathered in living spaces,

P:         we are gathered as God’s faithful community,

serving, living, caring wherever we are.

L:         From neighborhoods made up of those

of every class, every race, every branch of faith,

P:         we are gathered as witnesses to God’s hope

and peace which have not disappeared 

in every place, in every person in this uncertain time.


Prayer of the Day 

Once, you saw your children

held bondage by fear and despair

and gathered them up to journey

with them into freedom and hope.

In these days of worry and uncertainty,

continue to walk with your children

who feel captive by a virus we cannot see

Fill our hearts and souls

with sighs more precious than

all we value, Word Speaker.


Once, you came,

not with blueprints under your arms,

but with grace cradled in your hands.

You came,

not to force us to choose side

as so many these days try to do,

but to be that voice which calls us together.

You came,

so that we would not have to worry about

what lies ahead of us on these days,

but so we could see that community

of gentleness, of justice, of life you have prepared.

Fill our hearts emptied of hope

with your grace more precious

than our deepest fears, Word Bearer.


When we long to trust those promises

offered to us by those who do not care

for anyone but themselves.

when we are tempted to believe those

who say there is nothing to worry about

and no reason to look out for others,

when we hesitate to put our trust

in those who would have us care

for the forgotten, the most vulnerable,

may we be nudged into seeking 

to live out our calling to live in unity.

Fill our uneasy, shattered spirits

with your peace more precious

than the brokenness we grasp, Word of Wisdom


God in Community, Holy in One,

hear the words of our hearts

as we pray as Jesus has taught us, saying,

(The Lord’s Prayer)


Call to Reconciliation

In these confusing days, it is easy to think that there are no rules we need to follow, but we can live, act, do whatever we want. But Paul reminds us that, when we gain Christ Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we receive exactly what we need - forgiveness, grace, hope. Let us confess our foolishness to God, that we might know God's healing love for us!


Unison Prayer for Forgiveness

If we were to name all the gods we have before you, Rock of Redemption, we would be here for a very long time. We elevate politicians into saviors, though they are as broken as we are. We misuse your name so much during the uncertain and terrifying days, we have trouble speaking to you in prayer at night. We are so busy being worried and fearful, we do not notice how creation witnesses to your goodness and grace.


Forgive us, God our Hope. Even in our uncertainty, may we trust that your love never abandons us. Even in our fears, may we know that your presence never leaves our side. Even when our faith falters, may we know that your grace is the most valuable gift we have, and we can open our emptiness, our hearts, our lives to the healing and loving presence of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.  Amen


Silence is kept


Assurance of Pardon

L:         Persistently, patiently, lovingly, 

God pours out grace and joy into our lives, 

healing our brokenness, forgiving our sin.

P:         Loved, we are sent to love those who have been forgotten. 

Forgiven, we are freed to offer mercy 

to those who are cruel to us. 

Graced, we can offer our gifts to everyone we meet. 

Thanks be to God. Amen.


Prayer of Dedication/Offering

We can join in hoarding all the gifts with which you bless us, God of generosity, or we can share them with others. May what we offer in these moments be the very blessing, the very hope, the very peace others need. This we pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.


Great Prayer of Thanksgiving

L:         May the composer of hope be with you!

P:         And also with you!

L:         Beloved, God has created us to live faithfully in these times.

P:         We lift our hearts to the One 

who shapes us into communities of grace and peace.

L:         Join in singing to God, who takes away all our fears.

P:         We will dance with joy to the Table of peace and hope,

even if it is the table in our kitchen or living room.


L:         We tremble in these moments

of uncertainty, of days which seem endless,

wondering if there is any word for us.

So, remind us that you spoke

into the trembling emptiness of chaos,

and your goodness and wonder

began all those days and nights

when hope raced across the sky,

when grace bubbled up from springs,

when peace wandered the meadows.

All these gifts were, and still are,

crafted for those made in your mage, 

even when we grumble in wildernesses

or live in the exile of fear and worry,

or seek to have our way, not yours.

In every moment when your people

were alone, afraid, felt abandoned by all,

you sent prophets - women and men,

to remind us of your promises and point us

to all the ways you continue to love.

Even in these months of isolation,

even in these days which seem the same,

even in these moments we are alone,

you are with us, in the life, the promises

made known in the Child you sent

to point us to the way home to you.


So, with those who trembled at

the foot of your holy mountain,

and with those who press on to follow you,

we join our voices in praise to you:


P:         Your Word opens our eyes to all creation.

Your Word is the sweet taste of joy 

for empty hearts.

Your Word helps us to endure through every

moment which seems unbearable.

Blessed is your Word who comes in your name.

Hosanna in the highest!


L:         Though others mock us for such trust,

we continue to believe that we know

your holiness in the hope you share, God of our hearts,

and we realize how blessed we are

by the grace we have received in your Child, Jesus.

In these times when we wonder

if anyone really cares about us,

he is the One who is your love

poured out for us, each of us.

In these days when bitter voices

would seek to seduce us with anger,

he is the gentle voice which calls

us to trust in your heart broken for us.

In the moments when people seem 

not to care for the most vulnerable,

for those most at risk from this virus,

he is the living demonstration 

that death has no ultimate power

but that your resurrecting love

is the final word spoken about us.


As we would seek to model his gentleness

and grace in these overwhelming times,

as we try to let his light be revealed in us,

we would speak of that mystery we call faith:


P:         Setting aside all he valued,

Christ became our treasure,

so we might know how precious we are to God.

Setting aside his own life,

Christ rescued us from all foolishness

so we might know the One who loves us.

Setting aside our doubts and fears,

we yearn for the promised of the return

of the grace, love, and hope of Christ. 


L:         Now, around table and altars

in sacred spaces which echo with silence,

around nicked and initialized wooden tables

and glass topped tables in homes,

we pray, Redeemer of all creation,

that you would pour out your Spirit

on each and every place,

and on each and every person.

Whether it is bread that is broken,

or crackers that are split apart,

may these gifts remind us

that it is moments when we least expect,

for those people we usually do not notice,

that we are called 

to share your grace

to listen to the lonely

to welcome the heartbroken

to embrace the vulnerable.

Whether it is a mug of tea,

a glass of wine or juice,

or even a glass of water,

may this be your grace poured into us

so that we might become

people who will not give up on justice,

people who will not let go of hope,

people who will not hoard life,

people who will trust in you always.


And when this pandemic comes to an end

and we can gather once again 

with our sisters and brothers around the Table,

we will know what your promised Feast

in that place, that time, that life beyond this,

where all hurtful words silenced,

where all is pain left behind,

where hope and grace are our closest friends,

and we will join our hearts and voices

with our sisters and brothers

who forever sing of your glory,

God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.



L:         Even in this time of pandemic,

we are a blessed people.

P:         We will go to be a blessing in the world.

L:         Even when there are so many angry people around us,

we are the face of Jesus.

P:         We will go to be love and compassion to all.

L:         Even when we are isolated, quarantined,

living in lockdowns, we are the family of God.

P:         We will go to serve our sisters and brothers

wherever we may find them.


© 2020 Thom M. Shuman

Alternate texts liturgy w/communion for October 4, 2020 (Pentecost 18/Trinity 17/Proper 22/Ordinary 27 - A)

 Texts: Isaiah 5:1-7; Psalm 80:7-15; Philippians 3:4b-14; Matthew 21:33-46

Call To Worship
We come because we want to know God,
who seeks to shape us as faithful people.
Not that we already are, 
but we strive to be the community of grace.
We come because we want to know Jesus,
who would plant justice deep in our hearts.
Not that we always do, ,
but we seek to welcome each person.
We come because we want to know the Spirit,
who shines hope on all people.
Not that we always are able,
but we seek to share the light of peace in our world.

Prayer of the Day
Planter of grace and goodness:
with compassion's eyes,
you see us struggle in life
   and come to rescue us;
with the voice of hope,
you call forth communities
to live in faith and service;
with a love that never ends,
you call us to be your Body,
those who share your grace
with everyone we meet.

Wordsmith of wonder:
you shape the paragraphs
of comfort which sustain us;
you craft the poems of peace
which bring healing
into the brokenness around us;
you amend our lives
so that we might become
the people whom you imagine.

Spirit of Confidence:
you bathe us in life-giving waters,
which cleanse us of our fears;
you strike a spark in our souls
which can consume all injustice;
you are the gentle breeze of hope
which nudges us out of our comfort
into neighborhoods longing for attention.

God in Community, Holy in One, 
we come to this place in these moments
to know more about you,
even as we pray as we are taught, saying,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
The world teaches us it is all about success, measurable goals, winning at every cost.  But like Paul, we gain what it is we truly need - forgiveness, peace, and hope - when we have Jesus as part of our lives.  Let us remind God and ourselves of how human we are, so we might embrace the grace and joy God offers to us.  Join me as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   We certainly have reasons to brag, Watching God.  We know all the rules and keep them (well, most of them).  We have dotted our i's and crossed our t's, even if we have trouble with words like forgiveness and hope.  We polish our trophies and mount our diplomas on the walls, but ignore those who haven't had the advantages which were such a big part of our lives.
   Forgive us, Merciful God.  We believe we are such a rich bouquet of wine, but our tangled lives often produce sour grapes for others to taste.  Whether it is our pride, our achievements, our success which we value the most, may we let them go to grasp that which all too often eludes us - that love, that peace, that hope which Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior presses on to offer to us in each and every moment.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Let us not boast, but simply open ourselves to the grace, the forgiveness, the hope given to us by our God.  It is that faith in Christ which restores us to new life, faith beyond anything of any value.
Thanks be to God for this good news.  We are prized, we are loved, we are valued.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
We certainly have reason to boast of how successful, how well-off we are.  But in doing so, we ignore those in need of food, of shelter, of life, and of hope.  Let us close our mouths and open our resources so others might be blessed, even as we are.  This we pray in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May God be with you.
May God also be with you.
People of God, offer your hearts to the Planter of love.
May God pour the seeds of grace and peace into our hearts.
Children of God, let us offer thanks to God.
We join in glad songs of praise to the Vintner of hope.

   Stars followed by watchers
   in Bethlehem and Barcelona;
   rains which water crops
   in Cameroon and Canada;
   grass which feeds cattle in Ghana
   and cradles children in backyards,
if anyone has reason to boast,
it is you, Composer of creation.
Gently and softly, your Spirit filled the lungs
of those created in your image,

   but in our zeal to be like you,
   we gave into temptation's passions.
You gave us laws to shape communities,
   and we broke them;
you sent prophets to call us back to you,
   and we mocked them;
so finally, you gave us yourself,
pressing on to the prize of resurrection.

And so with believers here and everywhere,
with those whose voices echo off walls
and those whose hopes are never heard,
we join all creation in praising you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God of who cares for us.
All creation wants to know your love and grace.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who forgets what lies behind us.
Hosanna in the highest!

You are holiness, God of the ages,
and if anyone has reason to boast,
it is Jesus, our blessed hope, our grace.
The songs of peace and good will
sung at his birth are the songs
he would have us teach others.
When temptation's seductive whispers
echo in our hearts and souls,
this Word whispers of your life for us.
And forgetting whatever lay ahead of him,
he carried his cross to Calvary,
so we might enter into your resurrection.

As we remember his ministry, life, and death;
as we would hope to be like him in hope,
we sing of that mystery we call faith:

All that he valued,
   Jesus set aside to share in our suffering;
pressing on into death's embrace,
   you raised him to resurrection love;
wanting to know us,
   Christ will come so we will have a future with you.

If anyone has reason to boast
at this Table, it is you, God of goodness,
but instead you pour out your Spirit
on the gifts of the bread and the cup
and on those who are gathered in this place.
Through the brokenness of the bread,
may we be strengthened 
to offer ourselves to healing your creation;
through the gracious goodness of the cup,
may we be given the peace 
which we can share with everyone we meet.

And when all divisions and barriers are gone,
when harmful words and hate-filled voices are silenced,
when the hurt and shame we have caused are healed,
we will gather with our sisters and brothers
from every place and from every time,
to rejoice at your Table and sing your goodness,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.


We will go now, as faithful people,
so others might know God.
We will seek to invite others 
into this community of grace.
We will go now, as seeds of justice,
so others might know Jesus.
We will seek to welcome all 
who have been rejected by the world.
We will go now, to be lights of hope,
so others might know the Spirit.
We will seek to illuminate the shadows
of brokenness with peace and life.

(c)  Thom M. Shuman

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Alternate texts liturgy w/communion for September 27, 2020 (Pentecost 17/Trinity 16/Proper 21/Ordinary 26 - A)

 Texts:  Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32; Psalm 25:1-9; Philippians 2:1-13; Matthew 21:23-32

Call to Worship
We come, so God can teach us
goodness and love for each person
We will complete God's love
by having the same compassion as God.
We come, so Jesus can lead us
into lives of service and obedience.
We will complete Jesus' hopes 
by putting others before ourselves.
We come, so the Spirit can help us
to empty ourselves for God and those around us.
We will complete the Spirit's peace
by sharing our lives with others.

Prayer of the Day
Because all lives are yours,
Mercy Rememberer,
grace is offered
   in softened hearts
   and children wandering corn mazes;
hope is heard
   from grandparents' stories
   and parables lived out by neighbors;
wonder is found
   in scientific minds
   and builders of sandcastles.

Because all justice is yours,
Self Emptier,
transform our minds
  so we can challenge hatred;
temper our stubbornness
   and transfigure us for service;
reshape our selfish desires
   into gifts for all who have nothing.

Because all hope is yours,
Sharing Spirit,
stretch our shriveled hearts
   with compassion that does not break;
tickle our serious natures
   with lap-climbing kids who tell silly jokes;
humble our arrogance 
   with the willingness to stand
   in the muck cleaning flooded homes.

Because all is yours, even us,
God in Community, Holy in One,
we pray as we are taught, saying,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
What do you think?  Someone is always saying, 'sorry,' while doing the same foolish thing over and over.  Another never thinks they are wrong, but then God's grace transforms them and they do the completely unexpected.  Which is faithful to God's hopes for them?  Let us reflect for a few moments in silence, and then pray together the words for forgiveness.

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   We could do what you hope, God of our salvation, but we get so distracted, we don't.  We continue to fill ourselves with temptation's empty calories, and wonder why we are still hungry.  We put ourselves first, and so never notice those behind us who struggle in life.
   Forgive us, Mercy of our lives.  May we complete your love by caring deeply for those who make life so difficult for us.  May we complete your hope, by reaching out to those in need.  May we complete your grace, by emptying ourselves for all around us, just as Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, did for us.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Plant this good news deep in your thoughts: God loves you; God forgives you; God strengthens you for service.
May God's compassion make us more passionate to serve;
may God's forgiveness make us more merciful;
may God's love make us more loving to everyone.  Thanks be to God.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
As we share from our abundance, Loving God, may we empty ourselves of our desires for more, but seek to share grace, love, hope, and wonder with everyone we meet.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of truth be with you.
And also with you.
Let us offer our hearts to God.
We empty them of all our desires
so God might fill them with humility.
We will join in praising our God in these moments.
One mind, one heart, one love, 
we will offer thanksgivings to our God.

If there is any beauty 
around us, God of glory,
it is because of the creation
you crafted out of nothingness:
   sea horses and coral reefs,
   tree-lined mountain slopes,
   fields ripe with wild berries,
   falling stars streaking night skies.
All was imagined for those in human form,
named by your as your children,
   but we refused to humble ourselves,
   crossing over to be at death's side.
Women and men came again and again
to help us remember your mercy,
   but we questioned their authority
   and refused to believe them.
But you chose to remember us,
sending Jesus, whose only interest
was in being obedient to you.

We join little children and wise elders,
folks who are humble and those who serve,
in proclaiming your great goodness;

Holy, holy, holy are you, God our Teacher.
All creation is completed by your love.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who models obedience for us.
Hosanna in the highest!

If then there is any holiness,
it is found in you, God of truth,
and in your Child, who chose
to become the same as us.
If then there is any hope,
   it is found in Jesus,
   who came to serve
      the arrogant with humility,
      the fearful with faith,
      the oppressed with justice.
If then there is any grace,
   it is in Jesus dying on the cross
   emptying death of its dread power,
      and filling our empty hearts
      with your resurrection love.

As we seek to have the same mind and heart,
as we seek to be obedient and humble,
we proclaim that mystery we call faith:

On the cross, Christ emptied himself of life
      that we might know your grace;
on that third day, Christ was raised by resurrection grace,
      that we might know your love;
on that promise given to us, Christ will come,
      that we might be made complete by your hope.

If then there is any sharing,
God for whom we wait,
it is here in these moments
and with these sisters and brothers
where your Spirit is poured out on us.
Here, the brokenness of your heart
strengthens our faltering service
   so we may bend down
   to lift all who have been knocked don
   by injustice and fears.
Here, the cup of humility
nourishes our hearts and souls
   so we may remember those
   whose names have been forgotten
   by the arrogant and uncaring.

And when there is only your time,
when we are gathered with our 
sisters and brothers around your Table,
we will join in singing your praises forever,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Let us have the same mind as God.
We will see each person as God's child.
Let us have the same justice as Jesus.
We will stand with each person who struggles.
Let us have the same hope as the Spirit.
We will put others before us in all we do.

(c) Thom M. Shuman