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 where 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.


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 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

Liturgy w/communion for September 27, 2020 (Proper 17/Trinity 16/Proper 21/Ordinary 26 - A)

 Texts:  Exodus 17:1-7; Psalm 78:1-4, 12-16; Philippians 2:1-13; Matthew 21:23-32

Call to Worship
Becoming a baby,
Christ transformed all of us into his sisters and brothers.
Telling us stories we had forgotten,
God helps us to walk the paths of discipleship.
Becoming foolish in the world's eyes,

the Spirit teaches us all we need to find our way into the kingdom.

Prayer of the Day

When we think your job
is to listen to our petty quarrels,
you lean over,
put your finger to our lips,
     'let me tell you a story.'
Rock Splitter,
we worship you.

When we want to ask you
all sorts of questions,
and demand to see
your background check,
you put your arms around us,
     gently saying,
     'i want you to meet
     some friends of mine.'
Self Emptier:
we follow you.

When we are burned out
by our chronic anger,
when our throats are parched
by our litany of laments,
you take us by the hand,
     'let's go get a cold drink
     down at Rock's cafe.'
Sharing Spirit,
we adore you.

God in Community, Holy in One,
you are God, to whom we pray, 

as Jesus teaches,(The Lord's Prayer)

 Call to Reconciliation

All too often, we tell God we will do better, and be better, and then just go on living the same way we always have. Let this be the moment when we tell our God of our failures and faithlessness, so we can go forth to work in that kingdom of grace and hope. Join me as we pray,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     We would want to be fountains of hope for others, God of glory, but people find only hardened hearts. We would like to be transformed people, but our stubborn pride prevents us from bending a knee to you. We long to stand with those who are in need, but our selfishness keeps our backs rigid with judgment.
     Forgive us, God who came down to us.  Humble us, that we might be true servants to the broken and lost. Split open our
frozen hearts, that compassion might flow freely to those who are hurting.  Fill our minds with the presence of your Spirit, that we might learn how to follow Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, into
that kingdom of grace and hope.

Silence is kept

 Assurance of Pardon

This is the good news: in Christ, God's plan for salvation was accomplished.  You are forgiven, you are made new.
We will complete God's joy, by sharing compassion, forgiveness, hope, with everyone we meet. Thanks be to God. Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
May the simple gifts we offer this day become a fountain of blessings for others, bringing them hope, healing, joy, and peace.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God who comes in humility be with you!

And also with you!
Beloved, lift your hardened hearts to God.
We offer them to the One who will split them open
so grace can flow into the world.

Children of God, sing to the One who turned the world upside down.

We open our mouths, praising God who shows us the way.

Streams of water flowed forth
when you split open chaos,
God of Wonder.
     Rivers divided to create valleys and hills,
     the sun became the beacon for each day,
     the moon and stars our night lights.
You breathed your children to life,
and longed to hold us in your lap,
     telling us stories of your goodness.
But while we told you
we would always do your will,
     we went running off to join
     with sin and death
     in their quarrels with you.
You sent the prophets
to remind us of all
we had known and heard,

     but we mocked them,
     not letting them sway us.
Then you sent Jesus
to be the One
to work out our salvation.

So, with those who sing your praise,
and those who complain bitterly,
with those who wandered in the wilderness,
and those who stand in places of worship,
we lift our voices in wonder to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, Transforming God.
All creation flows toward your heart.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who stands with those who have nothing.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, God of Imagination,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, our Lord.
He put on humility's garb,
     so we might be clothed
     in the garments of grace;
he lowered himself
to walk the world with us,
     so we might be lifted
     from the depths of sin;
he suffered the death
of a common criminal,
     so we might receive
     the extraordinary gift of life
          forever with you.

As we remember his willingness to give up glory,
as we celebrate his resurrection giving us hope,
we tell of that mystery we call faith:

Christ emptied himself on the cross,
   that we might be filled with life;
Christ was called forth from the tomb,
   that we might confess him the Risen One;
Christ will come again, calling us by name,
   that God's joy be made complete.

Pour out your Spirit,
Nourishing God,
upon this Table of joy
and those who gather around it.
As you transform the simple gifts

of the bread and the cup
into grace beyond all imagining,
     may we be changed
     into fellow servants
     with Jesus Christ our Brother,
people willing to offer ourselves
in service and humility
     to those who have been
     defeated by the world.

And when all time has ended,
and we are at home with you forever,
we will gather around the Lamb's Table,
joining our hands, hearts, and voices
in never-ending praise to you,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

Go forth to share God's love with all.
We will become a river of love through the world.
Go forth to share Christ's grace.
We will be a fountain flowing in the barren places.

Go forth to share the community of the Spirit.
We will become a pool of peace where all may be refreshed.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Liturgy w/communion for September 20, 2020 (Pentecost 16/Trinity 15/Proper 20/Ordinary 25 - A)

 Texts:  Exodus 16:2-15; Psalm 105:1-6, 37-45; Philippians 1: 21-30; Matthew 20:1-16

Call to Worship
In the prayers and the praise,
in the words and the wonder:
we are given enough joy to live each day.
In the justice for the oppressed,
in the unexpected generosity for the lost:
we are given enough compassion
to use in service each day.

In the promises made to all,
in the mercy offered to each:

we are given enough grace to share each day.

Prayer of the Day
Fresh as each morning
you come to us,
Crafter of manna.
     Your grace rests
     gently upon us,
          waiting to be gathered,
          to become the bread of life
we share throughout the day.

Fresh as compassion's justice,
you come to us,
Servant of the poor.
Choosing to give
as you desire,
you show us the last,
     so we can make them first
     in our hearts and hopes.
Doing no wrong,
     you make us right
     with God for all time.

Fresh as the water
which turns a desert
into a meadowland of flowers,
Spirit of uninterrupted grace,
you come to us.
When we would grumble,
     you give us the gospel to live out;
when we would protest,
     you teach us songs of praise;
when we would utter laments,
     you fill us with God's laughter.

God in Community, Holy in One,
refresh us with your presence

as we pray as Jesus taught, saying,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation

We continue to believe that we must earn our way into God's heart. But God's grace is given to each of us, for all of us, freely, unconditionally, always. Let us open our lives to this mercy as we pray saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     It seems we cannot decide, Cloud of Glory.  We say we will live to serve others, but end up meeting only our needs. We claim to live in a way that honors Christ, but we do not take him to work, school, home.  We believe that the gospel can transform lives, (at least, for those who need it – but surely, not us).

Forgive us, Presence of Peace.
Instead of grumblers,
     may we be ambassadors of grace.
Instead of continual complaining,
     may we carry compassion to the hurting.
Instead of whiners,
     may we be workers with Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, 

to reach out and bring the kingdom of God to everyone we meet.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
This is the good news: there is no ranking in God's kingdom. God graces everyone with the same gifts: mercy, restoration, new life.
God has kept the covenant. We have been forgiven, we have been made new people.  Thanks be to God. Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
With hope in our hearts, we offer our gifts to you, O God, trusting you will use them in the work of your kingdom which welcomes all, loves all, needs all, and serves all.  In Jesus' name.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of all mornings be with you!
And also with you!
Children of God, welcome the One who shares
grace with childlike abandon.
We open our hearts so we might savor the
sweet taste of joy and wonder.
People of God, bring your emptiness to
this Table of hope and peace.

We sing praises to One who fills us with
Christ's presence for service to others.

On that first morning,
when chaos saw your glory,
you brought out creation,
     with stars and planets
          swimming in the skies,
     gazelles and giraffes dancing
           through the fields of goodness.
You shaped humankind in your mercy,
and fed us with grace, enough for each day.
Jealous that you were so gracious to all of creation,
     we grumbled that it wasn't enough,
     and went searching for sin and death.
Prophets came, telling the stories
of your wonder and presence,
     but for us, these were foolish words.
Finally, you sent Jesus
to come looking for us,
to show us your kingdom.

So, we join our voices with
wilderness wanderers and urban dwellers,
those who, in every time and place,
sing of your glory:

Holy! Holy! Holy! Glory to God's holy name!
Our hearts will seek God,
rejoicing in God's gentleness and grace.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes looking for us.
Hosanna in the highest!

You are holy, Cloud of Compassion,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, your Joy, our Hope.
Child of glory and grace,
he chose to come to us,
     working in the fields of despair.
Hearing our complaints,
he came to speak
     of your dreams for us.
Firstborn of all creation,
he came to defeat
     that last enemy, death. 

As we remember his life and death,
as we come to the Table he has prepared,
we sing of that mystery called faith:

This is the bread God gives us to eat.
This is the life Christ calls us to offer to others.
This is the journey the Spirit takes with us.

Pour out your Spirit
upon your children gathered,
and upon the bread and the cup
you have provided for us.
As you feed us with the bread,
so flood us with compassion,
     that we may go to serve
     all who are lost and broken.
As you open your heart
so that the cup of grace
might be filled with your hopes,
     send us out to bring the last
     home to your kingdom,
where they will be first in your joy.

And when all time has ended
and the whole family of God
is gathered around your Table,
we will join our voices together,
praising you forever:
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

Go now to share the love of God.
We will share it with childish abandon.
Go now to share the grace of Jesus.
We will offer this gift, fresh every morning, to all we meet.
Go now to share the generosity of the Holy Spirit.
We will hold nothing back as we embrace each person this week.

(c) 2017 Thom M. Shuman

Alternate texts liturgy w/communion for September 20, 2020 (Pentecost 16/Trinity 15/Proper 20/Ordinary 25 - A)

 Texts:  Jonah 3:10 - 4:11; Psalm 145:1-8; Philippians 1:21-30; Matthew 20:1-16

Call to Worship
We come to praise our God,
whose steadfast love is always with us.
God does not stand by idly,
but fills us with grace to share.
We are here to praise Jesus,
who chooses to be gracious with all.
Jesus does not stand by idly,
but brings justice to all treated unfairly.
We will praise the Spirit in these moments,
who is always at our side.
The Spirit is with us now and always,
so we may live as faithful people.

Prayer of the Day
All generations praise you,
Mind Changer, for every day
   your unbounded love surrounds us,
   your grace is shared abundantly,
   your unsearchable nature is revealed
      through all of creation.

All generations praise you,
Justice Singer, for in every place,
you show us the kingdom
   standing by the side of the oppressed,
   showing your concern for the last,
   always with us wherever we are.

All generations praise you,
Peace Giver, for in every time,
you do not stand idle, but
   share our struggles to be faithful,
   heal all who have been wronged,
   declare God's hopes for us.

All generations praise you,
God in Community, Holy in One,
even as we pray as we are taught,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
We think we know how God will react if we confess our lives - a rap on the knuckles, sending us to our rooms without dessert, or even an eternal time-out.  But instead, we receive forgiveness, constant love, gracious justice.  Let us lift our prayers to the One who always surprises us, as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   It is true that we grumble too much, Patient God.  We are easily stampeded by the promises of those around us, only to wonder how we end up where we find ourselves.  We see so much of everything on our devices, and become convinced we deserve more.  Though we know others have the same struggles, we have trouble standing by their side.
   Forgive us, Unpredictable God, as you continue to shower us with your steadfast love.  You as so slow to get mad, yet rush to share your grace with us.  May we continue to seek to live in the way of justice, hope, and peace shown to us through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Unlike us, God chooses not anger, but mercy; not punishment, but peace; not just what we earn, but more grace than we can begin to imagine.
Now we know what the kingdom of heaven is like - steadfast love, joy and laughter, the life for which we have yearned.  Thanks be to God, we are forgiven!  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
May we offer our gifts, not with grumbling under our breath about what you might do with them, but with thanks that you will use them to bring healing, hope, grace, and peace to all whose lives are empty of such needs.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the unpredictable God be with you.
And also with you.
Let us open our hearts to God.
We will welcome the constant love of our God.
Let us not stand idly by, but rejoice in the grace of God.
We will sing glad songs of praise forever.

When you saw chaos standing idle,
you chose to give us creation,
Imaginative God:
   squirrels chittering in trees,
   luminous rings around planets,
   glaciers carving out lochs and fjords,
   towering trees shading toadstools.
You did all this to show those created in your image
what the kingdom of heaven is like,
   but we thought we should receive more,
   so went to work in temptation's junkyards.
Prophets, both reluctant and willing,
came so we might know how gracious you are,
   yet we chose to stand side by side
   with death, grumbling every moment.
Given the chance to respond in anger,
you did not do it, but sent
your steadfast love to us in Jesus.

So with those eager to serve you,
and those pouting because of your generosity,
we bless you forever and ever:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God who cannot be predicted.
All creation sings of your justice and grace.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who continues to be with us.
Hosanna in the highest!

When you saw us standing idly by the world's side,
in your holiness, you chose to give us your heart,
Jesus, who shows us what the kingdom  of heaven is like.
When we would hoard all we have,
   he shows us how to share abundantly.
When we would mumble about life,
   he calls us to serve all
   oppressed by fear and hate.
When we would whisper behind the backs of others,
   he turns us to face them
   so we can see you staring back at us.
When we would mutter 
of how little you have done for us,
   he went into death's foul depths,
   so we might receive resurrection
   from our unpredictable God.

As we reflect on Jesus' works and words,
as we would live according to his way, 
we proclaim that mystery revealed in faith:

Living, Christ showed us how to live;
dying, Christ showed us how to trust;
raised, Christ revealed resurrection hope for all;
now and always, Christ is with us.

We would not be idle by-standers
but come eagerly to the Table
which you have prepared for us.
Here, the Spirit is poured out
on the bread and the cup
and those gathered for this feast.
Here, the bread which is broken
strengthens us so
   we may proclaim your grace
   to those forgotten by others.
Here, the cup which overflows with grace
enables us
   to give honor and hope to all
   pushed to the back of the line.

And when the evening of all time comes,
we will gather with our sisters and brothers
at your Table of eternal joy,
each receiving the same as everyone else -
the grace, the love, the peace of
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Now go to be with those forgotten by the world.
We will share God's constant love with everyone.
Now go to be generous with those around you
as well as those far away.
We will share Jesus' justice and hope 
with all who need it.
Now go to live as faithful people.
We will join the Spirit in standing side by side
with those who are lonely and afraid.

(c) Thom M. Shuman