Saturday, October 24, 2020

All Saints Day Liturgy in a time of pandemic

Texts: Revelation 7:9-17; Psalm 34:1-10; 1 John 3:1-3; Matthew 5:1-12 

Call to Worship 
L: Blessed are those who will not trade 
in their faith for a bushel of fear, 
for they know God’s heart. 
P: Blessed are those who stand alone at gravesides, 
for they are wrapped in God’s arms. 
L:Blessed are those who humbly care for the vulnerable, 
for they shall create new communities. 
P: Blessed are those who miss dinner, and happy hour each night, 
in order to care for the forgotten, 
for they shall be filled with the manna of hope. 
L: Blessed are those who are compassionate, 
even with those who rub them the wrong way, 
for they will be cared for by others. 
P: Blessed are those who look out for their neighbors, 
for they live next door to God. 
L: Blessed are the menders of brokenness, 
for they know what it is like to be reconciled to God. 
P: Blessed are those who are mocked by the rich and the powerful, 
for they know they are walking the streets of the kin-dom. 
L: Blessed are you when others mock you, 
point at your mask, think you are foolish for keeping your distance, 
caring for others, for then you know you are a sibling of Jesus. 
P: Blessed are all those who model faith for us 
in these uncertain days, weeks, months. 

All Saints Day Prayer 
we continue to bless you, our God, 
as we try to do every day, all day long. 
by your grace, 
we discover that the boasters are not 
the role models we are looking for, 
but the whisperers of grace are. 
 we look for saints in the shadows of fear 
and find a neighbor with a candle. 
we long for a saint to ease the ache in our emptiness, 
and a stranger pours love into our souls. 
we wonder if a saint might quench our thirst for life, 
and a little boy hands us a glass of lemonade. 

you surround us with saints in every moment, 
even these uncertain, confusing ones, 
if we but open our eyes to see. 

we continue to bless you, our Brother, 
as we try to do every day, all day long. 
by your grace, 
we discover that the powerful are not 
the role models we are looking for, 
but the whisperers of hope are. 
we look for a saint to spend time with us 
and a little girl asks us to play catch. 
we whisper of our shattered souls, 
 hoping to find a saintly ear, 
and a grandmother whispers, ‘I will listen.’ 
we seek a saint who will overturn injustice 
and a tired woman sits at the front of a bus. 

you surround us with saints in every moment, 
even these days which never seem to end, 
if we but open our hearts to see. 

we continue to bless you, our wise Sister, 
as we try to do every day, all day long. 
by your grace, 
we discover that the angry voices are not 
the role models we are looking for, 
but the whisperers of peace are. 
 we hunger for a saint who will feed 
our hunger for gentleness, for kindness, for civility 
and a friend packs sandwiches filled with these gifts. 
we want saints to take away our worries, 
and a grandparent laughs and pulls us up
into their lap to smother us with kisses. 

you surround us with saints in every moment, 
even these times which seem overwhelming, 
if we but open our souls to pay attention. 

God in Community, Holy in One, 
it is your hope which wipes away every tear, 
your grace which restores our souls, 
your mercy which makes us one with you, 
even as we pray as we have been taught, 
(The Lord’s Prayer

Call to Reconciliation 
God’s Table is for everyone, no matter how old one is, or young; for those we think of as saints, and those we know are foolish, because we look in the mirror. For God knows that we all try, and no matter h0w many times we mess up, God will forgive us, quickly and mercifully. I invite you to join in the prayer for forgiveness. 

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness 
   Long ago on a hillside, the Teacher spoke words for our faith, God of foolish people, and we still do not listen. Full of arrogance, we have no need for a home for our spirits. Taught to be strong, we push away your arms of comfort. Seeing how the wealthy and selfish are idolized, we want to inherit their hearts. As we pass the hungry in line at the food bank, we rush to the store to hoard more. Noticing how the kindest of people are mocked, we develop hardened hearts.
   Have mercy, God who turns stragglers into saints, when we follow the wrong people, listen to words we shouldn’t. For it is those who make peace, who know your hope. It is those whose hearts are in rhythm with yours who see the most vulnerable. It is those who care more for others than themselves, who have learned the soul behind the words of the Teacher, who would guide us to your living waters. Amen. 

Silence is kept 

Assurance of Pardon
L: lost, we find our way, as we seek God; overwhelmed by loneliness, we are heard when we cry out; stumbling over our foolish choices, we find mercy when we tell all to our God. 
P: We are no different from all we call saints, for they found life in the mercy and grace of our God. We are forgiven. Thanks be to God. Amen. 

Prayer of Dedication/Offering 
God’s love is revealed in those who seek to be faithful in sharing their gifts, so the hungry might be fed, so the lonely might be comforted, so the forgotten will be remembered, so our sisters and brothers might know God’s grace and love in their lives. Amen. 

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving 
L: The God of all people be with you in these moments. 
P: May God be with you as well. 
L: May we unite our hearts in glorifying our God. 
P: We our hearts to the One who fills them with grace. 
L: As God’s people, we join in praising our God. 
P: Our souls and voices come together in glad songs of joy. 

L: There, to the edge of chaos you came, 
God from before time began, 
and you called out in a voice of imagination 
so that all which is wonderful and goodness 
might spring into life out of the emptiness: 
   snakes wiggling across the dirt, 
   wolves watching the moon from mountaintops, 
   dolphins swimming in the ocean waves. 
From the dust of the earth, you breathed life 
into those created in your divine image, 
 not so we might be saints without blemish, 
but we would be your children, 
who would follow you in all the days your created. 
   But we were easily distracted by death, 
   and the easy promises of temptation. 
You sent women and men to us, 
not as examples of perfect humanity, 
for they mumbled and stumbled just like us, 
but to call us back into your presence. 
   But we could not resist idolizing all those 
   who would pull us away from you. 
That is when you sent Jesus to us 
as we could not save ourselves from ourselves. 

On this day of remembering all who helped to shape our lives, 
we join in singing with glad songs: 

P: Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving 
and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! 

L: Though you alone are holy, you are still the God 
who leans over to wipe the tears of this pandemic from our hearts. 
We are blessed that Jesus has come to share your love and hope with us. 
Overflowing with your power and might, 
   he embraces the poor in spirit; 
the Word which called forth life, 
   he stands with us in graveyards; 
the One of whom choirs of angels sang, 
   he shares his heritage with the gentle; 
pouring out his glory and wisdom 
   he clothes us with compassion; 
Isaiah’s true peaceful Prince, 
   he calls us to join him in reconciling our brokenness; 
charged and condemned for being God’s justice, 
   he showed us the way to God’s community; 
broken, suffering, and dying for us, 
   he defeated that power of death over all of us, 
   sharing resurrection with his sisters and brothers. 

We have no idea what the future will hold for us, 
but trusting that it will hold the life and grace 
which was poured on Jesus, 
we join in singing with our sisters and brothers 
of that mystery we call faith: 

P: Because Christ died, we have life; 
Because Christ was raised, so we might have this hope of resurrection; 
Because Christ is our guide, we will be led to the waters of life. 

L: Here at this Table, on this day of remembrance, 
we discover how much love God has for us 
 as we gather around the feast 
where those who have gone before us have been fed. 
We pray you will pour out your Spirit upon these gifts 
of the bread and the cup as well as for those 
whose hunger for justice seems to go unfilled for far too long, 
and for those who thirst for righteousness is not quenched. 
We eat this bread, hoping to taste God’s gentleness, 
to go into the world to care for those 
   who are willing to wear a mask, 
   to stay apart from others, 
   and care for strangers as much as for themselves. 
As we share the cup of grace, may we see God’s hope, 
 heading out into the world as God’s people, 
   to offer shelter to the forgotten, 
   to feed those whose hunger is still there, 
   to speak out for those who endure the great ordeal of oppression. 

And when we gather with those from every nation, 
those from all tribes and peoples and languages, 
 especially those who have gone through this pandemic, 
 washing their hands, wearing their masks setting aside their PPE, 
 as we will all be with God, no longer isolated or quarantined, 
 but worshiping day and night, God in Community, Holy in One. Amen. 

L: Let us go to be God’s saints this week. 
P: Not because we are more pious or special, 
but because we are called to care for those 
whom the world has tossed aside. 
L: Let us go now to serve with Jesus this week. 
P: Not because we are better than those around us, 
but because we are called to humble ourselves 
in serving those whom society has forgotten. 
L: Let us go now to journey with the Spirit this week. 
P: Not because we have the inside track, 
but because we have all lost our way, 
but hand in hand will be led to God’s heart. 

 (c) 2020 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Liturgy /communion for October 25, 2020 (Pentecost 21/Trinity 20/Proper 25/Ordinary 30 - A)

 Texts: Deuteronomy 34:1-12; Psalm 90:1-6, 13-17; 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8; Matthew 22:34-46

Call to Worship
We are invited to share in Christ's ministry of compassion.
We will widen our hearts so we might cradle the lost.
We are challenged to learn more about God each day.
We will open our minds so we might discern God's dreams for us.
We are summoned to let the Spirit be planted within us.
We will deepen our souls so we might grow in love.
Prayer of the Day
Every generation has found
its home in you,
God our provider,
and discovered that every moment
spent in your holy presence
lasts beyond all imaginable time.
You watch over us in the night,
cradling us in your arms
as tenderly as a nurse
cares for her children,
and her neighbor's.
Full of wisdom,
Imagination of Creation,
you humbled yourself
that we might learn
to love those
who have been swept aside
by a callous and cruel world.
Witness to God's grace,
you call us to act
in ways of love of peace
to all we meet in this life.
In the fresh breeze
on a summer's day;
in the leaves dancing
across autumn's lawns;
in the crisp, new snowfall
crunching beneath our feet;
in the new life
flowering in the spring:
from everlasting to everlasting
you proclaim God's grace to us,
Spirit of Life.

God in Community, Holy in One,
continue to be the dwelling place
of our minds, our hearts, our souls,
even as we pray as we have been taught,
 (The Lord's Prayer)

 Call to Reconciliation
We have been entrusted with the message of the gospel, but all too often act as if the memos from sin and death have more influence in our lives. Let us confess our sins, so we might know God's great love for us.

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     As you know, God our healer, we stand on the edge of your promises and hopes, yet cannot seem to let ourselves cross over into the life you intend for us. We seek praise from our families, yet are unable to tell them how much we love them; we care more about our needs and desires, than for the struggles of our neighbors; we think more about the trash we read and see than focusing on the Spirit of wisdom.
     Forgive us, Everlasting God. Renew our lives with your grace; restore our hopes with your vision of tomorrow; refresh our spirits with your joy which comes to us new in each moment in the gift of your Child, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

 Silence is kept.
Assurance of Pardon
This moment, this morning, this day, and in all the days to come, God's compassion and hope fill our lives. What joyous good news!
Our hope is not in vain. God forgives our sins, and is the dwelling place for all people. Thanks be to God. Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
As we think of our neighbors, may our souls be touched by their needs, and our hearts open our resources to offer gifts which will bring healing, peace, and grace to all.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of compassion be with you!
And also with you!
Each morning, God feeds us with steadfast love.
Each day, our hearts are filled with God's call to serve.
Children of God, sing your praises to God all our days.
We lift our joy to the One who is the dwelling place of all generations.

Refusing to let chaos
become our dwelling place,
God of the ages,
you called forth creation.
Whether in the blink of an eye,
or in moments spanning thousands of years,
deep valleys of hope were carved,
carpeted with grace renewed each morning.
You created humankind in your image,
knowing us face to face in love.
But we turned our gaze
towards that land of temptation,
chasing the false dreams offered by death.
Caring so deeply for us,
you sent prophets to call us home,
but their words withered in our hearts.
So you sent Jesus to bring
the message of good news,
and to lead us to
the promised land of eternal life.
Therefore, with those filled with the spirit of wisdom,
and those who were full of themselves,
with saints and sinners, prophets and pharisees,
we sing of your everlasting joy:

Holy, holy, holy, God our dwelling place.
You satisfy us with your love each morning,
you comfort us in your grace each night.
Blessed is the One who comes calling us to love:
     to love you without reservation,
     to love others without expectation,
     to love ourselves without self-condemnation.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, God our Peace,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, our Way of life.
Mindful of your hopes for us,
he came, so we might
discover you in our neighbor.
Soul of your soul,
he came, so we might
overflow with your grace.
Loving us more than himself,
he came, to defeat sin
and destroy death's grip on us,
so we might spend eternity
embraced in your life.
With remembrance of his life,
in the joy of the resurrection,
in anticipation of his return,
we proclaim that mystery we call faith:
Christ came, that we might know God's love;
Christ died, that our souls might be healed;
Christ will come again, that our hearts will be united with God's.

Pour out your Spirit of wisdom
on the gifts of this Table,
and on those who prepare to feast
on your bounty of grace.
As the bread fills us
with your love and hope,
we would go out to love
our neighbors with hearts
shaped by your joy.
As the cup refreshes
our minds and souls,
we would show our
everlasting love for you,
by serving the lost and forgotten
with lives molded by your compassion.
And when time, which was first wound at creation
has ticked its last moment,
when friends, neighbors, and strangers
are gathered around your Table,
we will join our voices singing your praises,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

And now go forth,
to love God with all your heart, your mind, your soul:
with passion, with prayer, with intelligence;
to love your neighbor:
with forgiveness, with service, with love;
and to love yourself:
with hope, with joy, with peace.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Alternate texts liturgy w/communion for October 25, 2020 (Pentecost 21/Trinity 20/Proper 25/Ordinary 30 - A)

 Texts:  Leviticus 19:1-2, 15-18; Psalm 1; 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8; Matthew 22:34-46

Call to Worship
We are called to love God with our hearts.
We will do so, when we welcome those 
tossed aside by the world.
We are called to love God with our souls.
We will do so, when the brokenness around us
transforms us into more compassionate people.
We are called to love God with our minds.
We will do so, when we think less of our needs,
and see each person as our neighbor, our sister, our brother.

Prayer of the Day
We are blessed when
we listen to the songs of goodness;
   when we skip down the paths of grace
   hand-in-hand with wide-eyed kids.
We are blessed when we pay attention
to the Word of life and welcome;
   when we think about it
   more than once in a while.
We are blessed when 
we put down roots in life's soil,
   watered by the Gardener
   dipping from pools of peace.
We are blessed when 
we share hope with the hungry;
   and offer cool cups of trust
   to all who are parched by the world.
We are blessed when
evil becomes dust drifting away;
   when we choose not 
   to chill with troublemakers.
We are blessed when
we play leapfrog with wonder;
   when God sits on a bench knitting
   and watching with a careful eye.

We are blessed by you, 
God in Community, Holy in One,
and so lift the prayer we have been taught,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
We know (don't we) the lives we are called to lead which could offer hope, grace, and peace with God.  Yet we choose to walk down the wrong roads, to hang out with the wrong folks.  Join me, as we confess our lives to God, praying together,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   We have so many rules in the backs of our minds for others to follow, God of grace, that we often forget to simply love them.  We are so convinced that those around us have sold their souls out of greed, that we do no notice the emptiness of our own.  We use words and actions which shatter the hearts of others, as ours slowly wither from lack of the breath of your Spirit.
   Forgive us for our choosing to live the way we want, Merciful God, rather than being the holy people of your hopes.  May we have nothing up our sleeves, but offer all we have to others.  May we speak the words you give us, as we share the good news of grace.  May we seek to love you as completely and trustingly as did Jesus the Christ, who loved us as sisters and brothers of your heart.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Nothing will deter God from sharing this good news with us: we are heard, we are forgiven, we are offered new lives of service and faith.
Thanks be to God, who offers justice not judgment; who shares grace with us, not holds grudges against us.  We are forgiven.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
The hungry, the homeless, the searching, the addicted - our neighbors are all around us, O God.  We pray that as we offer our gifts, they might be used not only to bring these sisters and brothers closer to you, but to us as well.  This we pray in Jesus' name.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of love be with you.
And also with you.
Let us offer our hearts to our God,
who will fill them so we can love others with compassion.
Join in singing glad songs of praise to God.
May our voices show how we love God with our minds and souls.

Because you are love, Tender God,
you blew away chaos on
the winds of creation as you
   plowed furrows for rivers,
   pushed mountains towards the sky,
   floated stars in winter nights.
You loved us enough to shape us
in your image, to dwell with you,
   but we listened to sin's flummery,
   trusting death's empty promises.
The prophets came time and again
to point the way to you,
   but we followed Wicked's advice
   and played in the sandbox with other scoffers.
Then Jesus came to speak to all
of your unending love for us.

With those neighbors who live next door,
and with those we may never meet,
we sing our songs of love and praise:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God who gives us courage.
All creation delights in loving you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who was not deterred
   from sharing the good news.
Hosanna in the highest!

Because your holiness mirrors your love,
your Child was willing to become one of us
so we might be sisters and brothers.
He did not trick us with words,
   but rolled up his sleeves
   to stand by us in every moment.
Like a nurse sitting by a bed,
   he brought healing and peace
   to the hurting and grieving.
Refusing the seat offered by power,
   he embraced the cross,
   walking down the path of death
   into the cold grave, until
you brought him forth
in resurrection love.

As we seek to serve with hope and love,
as we gather with our neighbors at the Table,
we proclaim that mystery known as faith:

Loving you more than himself, Christ died;
loving him more than yourself, you raised Christ to new life;
loving us and our neighbors, Christ will come for us.

As we seek to love you with
our hearts, minds, and souls;
as we gather with our neighbors,
pour out your Spirit, God of feasts,
on the gifts of the bread and the cup
and those here in these moments.
As we taste the broken bread,
may the life of Jesus be in us,
   that life which seeks justice,
   that life which shares hope,
   that life which bears no grudges.
As we drink of the grace in the cup,
may the Spirit which was in Jesus
also flow through and from us,
   that Spirit which welcomes all,
   that Spirit which loves each person,
   that Spirit which serves the vulnerable.

And when there are no more questions,
but only the answer of your gracious love,
we will gather around your Feast,
loving strangers as long-lost family,
and you with our hearts, souls, and minds,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Go now, to love God.
We will do so, not just with warm thoughts,
but using our minds to solve problems
which beset those around us.
Go now, to love Jesus.
We will do so, not just with changed hearts,
but with passion to challenge all
who would damage the lives of others.
Go now, to love the Spirit.
We will do so, not just with pious souls,
but with a willingness to serve in places we are sent.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Liturgy w/communion for October 18, 2020 (Pentecost 20/Trinity 19/Proper 24/Ordinary 29 - A)

 Texts: Exodus 33:12-23; Psalm 99; 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10; Matthew 22:15-22

 Call to Worship 
Each morning, God's grace awakens us, 
each evening, God's peace cradles us. 
Compassion is our constant companion, 
as we go through work, school, the day. 
In every moment, God is present with us; 
God whispers words which can change our lives. 
Justice is our faithful teacher, 
pointing to where we can carry out fairness. 
When we find ourselves groping in the shadows, 
God's light will provide a way home. 
We turn the corner, and hope is waiting for us; 
we return home, and find a feast prepared. 
Prayer of the Day 
Steadfast Hope: 
when we want 
to make all the rules 
so we can win every game, 
     you call us to your side, 
     put your arm around us 
          and whisper, 'play fair!' 
When we tremble in fear, 
worried that our lives 
are about to crash to the bottom, 
     you place us in 
     the hollow of your heart, 
          and give us safety. 

Word of Joy: 
when we would follow 
those who pretend 
to be our saviors 
to achieve their own ends, 
     you remind us that we have been chosen 
     to be examples of faith to others. 
When we would 
fill our pockets with 
the treasures of temptation, 
     you ask us to empty them, 
     so we can become 
     servants of hope. 

Crafter of Faith: 
when others judge us on 
our backgrounds, education, looks, 
     you teach us how 
     to treat all people as equal, 
          to welcome each person 
          as our sister or brother. 
When we wonder how 
our needs, our hopes, our lives 
will be made known to God, 
     you mention us, by name, 
     in all your prayers. 
God in Community, Holy in One, 
we know you as 
Glory, Grace, Goodness, 
and lift our prayer to you, saying, 
 (The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation 
We know, despite our sincere efforts to live in God's way, that all too easily we slip off the path to the kingdom. Trusting that God will answer our prayers and forgive us, let us confess our sins, as we pray together, 

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness 
Great Lover of Justice, hear our prayers: 
     called to treat all people equally, 
          we take sides and pick favorites; 
     chosen to be your children, 
          we arrogantly assume others are not so honored; 
      challenged to be examples of faith, 
           we reveal our worst natures to our families and friends. 

Forgive us, Giver of Rest.  Enable us to stop putting you to the test, so we can open our hypocritical hearts to your healing touch of compassion and hope. As Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, has 
given all for us, may we give ourselves to you - confidently, completely, faithfully. 

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon 
Hear the good news: the One who created goodness and beauty is also the One who shows no partiality, but offers grace and peace to all. 
God has heard our prayers and done the very thing we asked - forgiven us, healed us, restored us. Thanks be to God. Amen. 

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
You do not choose favorites, Holy God, but pour out your blessings on all your children, trusting that we will empty our hearts, our lives, our treasure in meeting the needs of those around us.  Bless these gifts, and use them to bring healing and hope to your people.  Amen.
Great Prayer of Thanksgiving 
May the exalted One be with you! 
And also with you! 
Open your hearts to the One who knows you by name. 
We offer ourselves to the One who is always with us. 
Give thanks to God, all of you, in prayer and song, in silence and service. 
We sing to the One who calls us to worship. 
Holy and Honest God: 
in establishing all that is 
beautiful and joyful, 
     your glory banished chaos 
     and your goodness became 
          the shawl which warmed all creation. 
You shaped humankind in your own image 
and called us, each by name, favoring us with your love. 
But we could not pass by sin and death 
     huddled in the cracks of chaos, 
     and turned towards them, 
         offering a safe place in our hearts. 
Because you would bring your people back to you, 
you sent the prophets 
to teach us your ways, 
     but we thought they were hypocrites, 
     speaking insincere words. 
So then you sent Jesus 
to show us your hope 
and to reveal your dreams for us. 

Therefore, we join our voices with all your people 
in every age, time, and place, 
who forever sing your praises: 
Holy, holy, holy! Lover of Justice and Peace! 
All creation sings of your hopes, 
     echoing your dreams for us. 
Hosanna in the highest! 

Blessed is the One who comes to reveal your gospel, 
     by word, by grace, by the Spirit. 
Hosanna in the highest! 

Great Giver of Joy: 
you loved the world so much 
that you sent your very heart to us. 
We did not welcome him 
as your beloved Child, 
     turning our backs as he approached us. 
His faithfulness to your way 
     revealed our idolatry of the world. 
His plain spoken truth showed the lies 
     we all too easily accepted. 
He went to the cross, 
defeating sin and death, 
     so he could claim what is yours 
     and give us back to you. 
As we offer you the gift of our prayers and thanksgiving, 
we remember Jesus, your Beloved, 
who bequeathed to us that mystery we call faith: 
We eat this bread, 
     remembering his brokenness; 
we drink this cup,   
     to be filled with his grace; 
we wait for Jesus to come again, 
     constantly proclaiming your love for us. 
Holy Goodness: 
pour out your Spirit of welcome 
on the gifts of the cup and the bread. 
Simple gifts made sacred by your presence, 
may the grain which has 
come to us from many fields 
     strengthen your people to go out 
     and serve in many neighborhoods. 
May the cup which has been filled 
by the fruit of many vines 
     nourish us with faith and hope 
     so our hearts will overflow with grace 
     to those who thirst for your presence. 
And when your people 
have been gathered together 
from every corner of creation, 
we will know one another by name, 
lifting our voices to you, 
God in Community, Holy in One, 
seated upon the praises of our hearts. Amen. 

Go forth now, filled with God's grace.
We will cradle others in God's peace.
Go forth now, with the words that can transform the world.
We will go to speak up for those who are not heard.
Go forth now, taking the Light of God into the world.
We will go into every shadowed corner with hope lighting the way.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Alternate texts liturgy for October 18, 2020 (Pentecost 20/Trinity 19/Proper 24/Ordinary 29 - A)

 Texts:  Isaiah 45:1-7; Psalm 96:1-9 (10-13); 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10; Matthew 22:15-22

Call to Worship
From the corners of worry and fear,
from the shadows where we huddle with our doubts,
God calls us to this place of sanctuary
where we can draw from Love's deep wells.
In every moment where we look for strength to continue,
in every time wonder if faith is worth it,
Jesus calls us to this time 
where we can welcome the peace given to us.
In every person who embraces us with acceptance,
in every touch that offers healing and hope,
the Spirit calls us to see those around us
as God's beloved, our sisters and brothers of grace.

Prayer of the Day
Imitator of the Holy Spirit,
you grasp our hands
so, in finding hope and love
in your gracious touch,
we may reach out to those
we see as strangers 
and welcome them as family.
You are greatly to be praised,
God who is coming to us.

Imitator of God,
you write new words for us
so, in listening to your whispers,
we may hear the voiceless,
stand with the forgotten,
and share the justice 
which as been gifted to us.
You are greatly to be praised,
Jesus, who is coming 
to teach us all we need to know.

Imitator of Jesus,
you composed new tunes
so, in the gentle breezes of the morning,
and in the chords of the stars,
we may hear the music
of peace, life, wonder, and joy
which you would have us share
with those who long for community.
You are greatly to be praised,
Spirit, who is coming
to walk with us in every moment.

You are greatly to be praised,
God in Community, Holy in One,
as we join the imitators of grace
of every time and place, praying,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
We long to be like Jesus, but all too often we imitate the foolishness we find all around us.  Let us speak of our lives to the One who forgives us and calls us by name.  Let us join together, as we pray, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   You know how insincere we are, God who is coming.  We say we want to help others, but lay traps along life's paths for them.  We pat others on the back, while plotting how to trip them so they fall flat on their faces.  We know we could speak kindly to others, but prefer to ask trick questions so their answers will make them appear foolish.
   Forgive us, God of everyone.  When we could hold grudges, help us to grasp grace.  When malice gnaws at our souls, feed us with mercy.  When we would give power control over us, pour the grace and love of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, into our empty hearts.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
God takes our malicious words and transforms them into whispers of grace.  God uses hope to fill in the traps we dig for others, so we may walk hand in hand with everyone as sisters and brothers.
Thanks be to God, who summons us to new life.  We are no longer filled with fear, but are embraced in mercy and goodness.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
As we offer our gifts and lives in this moment, may we become imitators of you, Gracious God, who holds nothing back from us, but is generous and gracious with all that is yours.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
With the Spirit plinking the notes
on an old, battered piano and
the Word penning fresh lyrics,
you sang into the silence of chaos,
Composer of creations:
   birds caroling on foggy mornings,
   kittens purring on sunny carpets,
   crickets lullabying us to sleep.
These new songs, and more,
were shape-noted for those in your image,
   but we preferred death's dirges
   and sin's siren calls.
Prophets came, always mentioning you
and your longing for us to return,
   yet we continued to plot against you,
   malice our friend from childhood.
Finally, you sent Jesus to us,
so we might know of the welcome
you offer to each and every person.

With those who know your songs by heart,
with those who have trouble reading music,
we join in praising you greatly:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God who comes.
The seas roar and fields dance with joy
   as all creation is glad and rejoices.   
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who is impartial in loving.
Hosanna in the highest!

In your holiness, Framer of Light,
we discover your goodness and love,
and Jesus imitates you in his life and service.
He took off glory's garments
   so we might be stripped
   of death's grave clothes.
He was willing to work on our behalf,
   laying the kingdom's foundations
   with honor, strength, and beauty.
He was thrown into death's prison,
   but cut through the bars of sin,
   your resurrection power 
   opening the gates of grace forever.

As we remember his life and ministry,
as we celebrate his death and resurrection,
we sing of that mystery we call faith:
Christ went before us into death.

Christ was raised, breaking the grave into pieces.
Christ will return to share resurrection's treasures with us.

Here in these moments of silence and singing,
with those gathered from every corner of life,
pour out your Spirit upon the gifts of the Table.
May that bread which is broken
become the healing strength
we can offer to all who have been excluded
by fear, prejudice, and hate.
May the grace which is poured
into the cup of mercy
become the nourishment which can transform 
broken people into communities,
shadow dwellers into light bearers,
legalists into open handed lovers.

And when we are no longer bound by time and space,
welcome us around your Table of grace,
gathering us with our sisters and brothers,
teaching us new songs we can use
to praise you forever and ever,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

From this sanctuary of song and silence,
we will go to be with God's people.
We will carry hope to the fearful and worried;
we will share light with those in the shadows.
From  this time of healing and hearing,
we will go to share Jesus' justice.
We will bring strength to those who falter;
we will walk with those weakened by the world.
From the companionship of our sisters and brothers,
we will go with the Spirit into our neighborhoods.
We will embrace the forgotten;
we will work to set the oppressed free.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Tuesday, October 06, 2020

Liturgy w/communion for October 11, 2020 (Pentecost 19/Trinity 18/Proper 23/Ordinary 28 - A)

 Texts:  Exodus 32:1-14; Psalm 106:1-6, 19-23; Philippians 4:1-9; Matthew 22:1-14

Call to Worship
Here in this place, with these people,
we come to worship the living God.
In you, O God, we hope;
in you, Creator of love, we live.
Here in this sacred space, in these very moments,
we are invited to the Table of Joy.
In you, Christ of the Way, we rejoice;
in you, dear Brother, grace is as near as your heart.
Here on this day of gentleness and beauty,
we are filled with the peace of God.
In you, O Spirit, we find our path;
in you, Teacher of hope, we learn to serve.

Prayer of the Day
When we realize how we are
blessed beyond every imagining,
     we can sing of your surprising grace
     and your steadfast presence
          to a world which has grown deaf
          from the noise of empty clich├ęs.
When we remember your love
which has no beginning and no end,
when we stand in grace's sweet waters
swirling around our hearts,
     we can rejoice in your hope
     which sees every person,
          even those we would
          never invite into our circles,
               as your beloved child.
When we remember your call
to treat every single person
with dignity, justice, and hope,
     we can share your peace
     (even when we don't recognize it)
          with a society which believes
          violence is the solution
               to every single problem.

God in Community, Holy in One,
as you live in us,
so we will live for others,
even as we pray as taught by Jesus,
(The Lord's Prayer)
Call to Reconciliation
Called to have the same mind as Christ, we often spend too much time thinking about all those ways which then lead us astray. But, if we confess our sins, God will forgive us, and strengthen us to be Christ's sisters and brothers. Join me as we pray together, saying,

 Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     You would call us to your feast, Inviting God, but our busy lives keep us from responding. You remember every word we utter, every prayer we whisper, but we forget all the little ways you care for us. You would make your gentleness known through us, but we lash out in anger and fear towards others.
     Forgive us, God of all hope, and remember your Servant, Jesus Christ. In him, we can live in your way. Through him, we can learn the dreams you have for us. With him, we can open our arms and embrace all the people we meet.

Silence is kept
Assurance of Pardon
As we are forgiven by God, we can begin to reflect on all those ways in which we can live justly, act honorably, love completely. This is indeed good news for us.
At the Wedding Feast, we are fed with grace, and nourished with joy, so we may go and bring hope and peace to everyone we meet. Thanks be to God. Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
May not only our gifts, but our lives, be the grace and hope which bring healing to the broken, as well as food and nourishment to all who hunger and thirst for justice and peace.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the One who works wonders be with you!
And also with you!
People of God, listen to the One who teaches you life.
Unlock our hearts, O God, that we might hear you.
Children of God, you are called to servanthood.
We sing praises to the One who fills us with compassion,
so we might know the deepest needs of those around us.

Silencing the noise of chaos,
God of wonder and might,
you created the heavens and earth,
     your steadfast love poured out
          into the oceans brimming with life,
     your joy flowing into every valley of hope.
Your heart melted with love
as you created us in your image,
     so we might live with you
     in that garden of peace.
But we exchanged your dreams
for the seductive lies of death,
     so we might graze in sin's fallow fields.
You longed to bring us back,
making your gentleness known
in prophets throughout the ages.
When we continued to refuse
your invitation to your heart,
you sent Jesus to us,
to round up all of your children
and lead them home to you.
So, with those who stood at the foot of mountains,
and those who continue on the journey,
we lift our hearts and voices,
praising your name forever.
Holy, holy, holy are you, God of peace and justice.
We have heard the good news of Jesus' grace;
     we have seen the service of his followers;
     we have received his hope from surprising people;
     we have learned to trust him in every moment.

Blessed is he who came to make us known to you.
Hosanna in the highest!

We praise your name, Catering God,
remembering your acts of grace.
Loving us with a passion beyond compare,
     Jesus came to fill us with compassion.
Aware of our hunger for hope,
     he feeds us with your steadfast grace.
Understanding death's grip on us,
     he came to defeat it's power,
     that we could live with you forever.
As we rejoice in the feast you provide,
as we remember the sacrifice, death and resurrection of our Lord,
we proclaim that mystery we call faith:
We celebrate the birth of the Babe of Bethlehem;
we remember the life which Jesus led;
we rejoice in Christ's coming to us in glory.
In your gentleness and wonder,
God of all joy,
pour out your Holy Spirit on us,
and the gifts of your Table.
As the bread of life
not only feeds us,
but makes us one as Christ's Body,
     may we bring healing
     to our broken world.
As the cup of grace
not only refreshes us
but unites us in the Spirit of service,
     may we go forth to be
     a river of righteousness
     flowing to those who live
          in oppression and hopelessness.
And when we gather at the Table
you prepare for us in glory,
when we feast with all
our sisters and brothers
from every time and place,
we will join our voices
and praise you forever,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

Now let us leave this place, 
to live and serve those not here, 
to share the hope of God,
to live in love with all creation.
Now let us leave this place
to offer the gifts of life and grace with all,
to bring joy to those who mourn,
to offer the heart of Christ to everyone.

Now let us leave this place
to fill our neighborhoods with peace.
to walk the Spirit's path with strangers,
to serve all as if they were family.

(c) Thom M. Shuman