Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Liturgy w/communion for February 28, 2021 (Lent 2 - B)

 Texts: Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16; Psalm 22:23-31; Romans 4:13-25; Mark 8:31-38

Call to Worship
Lent calls us to journey, this and every day,
following Jesus wherever he leads us.

Lent calls us to journey:
to the place where God covenants with us,
to receive the new names we are given.

Lent calls us to worship together,
to tell future generations the good news.

Lent calls us to practice justice,
to bring God's hope to all people.

Lent calls us to faithful living,
to trust the One who gives us life.

Lent calls each of us to take up our cross,
to trust the One who bears it with us.

Lent calls us to journey with God.

Let us worship God, who walks with us,
this and every day.

Prayer of the Day

Choosing an aged, barren couple
to parent your holy people;
calling us to set aside ourselves
and to shoulder a cross;
showering us with love and mercy,
when we do nothing to deserve these gifts:
You always act in ways
which surprise us,
God of our parents.

In hospital rooms,
where we wait in anxious expectation;
in classrooms,
where we chew on pencils while taking tests;
in this unholy mess
we call life:
you always call us
to faithfulness and trust:
Cross Bearer for us all.

In the warmth of spring's approach,
we hear your voice;
in the moonlight of winter's last night,
we see your face;
in the silence of a child sleeping,
we are breathe in your grace:
you are always with us
in the ordinary moments of life:
Spirit of Holiness.

God in Community, Holy in One,
May we see you, hear you, and know you
as we move through this Lenten season,
even as we pray as Jesus has taught us, saying,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
Given a test on our faith, would we have a passing grade?  Looking at our lives of discipleship, would we be considered good models for others?  When we fail to trust God, we discover that we do indeed lead barren lives.  Let us be honest as we stand before our God, and bring our confessions for forgiveness and hope.

Unison Prayer of Confession
  God of Sarah and Abraham, in this holy place, we know how weak is our discipleship.  We can spend hours at the computer, but only give you fleeting moments of our time.  We can talk endlessly on our cell phones, but fall silent when it comes to sharing our fears, our worries, our hopes with you.  We seek quick fixes for our problems, rather than seeking your vision and future for our lives.
   God of Peter, Paul, and the psalmist, forgive us:
      for our lack of trust;
      for our faithless living;
      for our closing our ears to the call of Jesus.
Forgive us, so we may lay aside all the keeps us from you, so we may take up the life you offer to us, through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
This is the good news:  God does not go back on the promises made so long ago.  God does not reject us, God redeems us.  God does not withhold love, God pours it into our barren lives.
Forgiven of our sins, filled with hope, living in relationship with God and one another - we are a new people.  Thanks be to God.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
May these gifts represent our willingness to deny ourselves, so others might be blessed by your grace, your peace, as well as your hope, in every moment of their lives.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
The God of the Lenten journey be with you.
And also with you.
Open your hearts to God, heirs of the covenant.
We open them to the One who fills them with promise.
Let us lift glad songs to our exceedingly faithful God.
Our praise will resound in this great congregation.

"Walk before me," you whispered
to creation, God of the covenant,
and wonders beyond imagination sprang forth:
  bees flitting from flower to hive,
  planets spun from the gases of space,
  dinosaurs plodding through forests.
All this exceeding fruitfulness was offered
to those you shaped in your image,
that we might live in relationship with you,
  but sin's praises weakened our faith,
  and we stood in awe of death.
Prophets came, calling us to set
our minds on all things divine,
  but we turned a deaf ear
  to their impassioned pleadings.
So you chose to send Jesus
to teach us your heart
by the way he lived and loved.

With those who find self-denial easy,
with those who find their cross too heavy,
we glorify you in these moments:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God who calls us by new names.
All creation praises your surpassing wonders.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes to us for our sake.
Hosanna in the highest!

You are holy, God of every promise,
and we are blessed by your Son, Jesus Christ.
He did not act as if
he had no use for us,
  but called us his sisters and brothers.
He was not grossed out
by those sins which tormented us,
  but came to heal us.
He did not turn
a deaf ear to us,
  but listened to us in a way
  no one else ever did.
He rebuked death, declaring,
"get behind me,"
  as he walked out
  into resurrection's dawn.

As we remember Jesus' ministry and death,
as we would seek to live for him,
we proclaim that mystery we know as faith:

Christ died, taking up his cross and following God;
Christ was raised, the covenant promise fulfilled;
Christ will come, declaring "God has done it!"

Because our faith depends on your grace,
pour out your Spirit upon this feast
and those you welcome to the Table.
As you nourish us with broken bread,
send us forth
  to feed the poor until they are filled,
  to clothe the naked until they are warm.
As you strengthen us
with the cup of grace,
  we will take the hand of searchers
    so, together, we may find you;
  we will welcome those rebuked
    by the world, so our hearts
    might live forever.

And when you gather your great
congregation around the Lamb's Table,
we will join our voices in proclaiming,
"You have done it,
God in Community, Holy in One!" Amen.

Go now with God, on your journey through Lent.
We will discover the new name given to each one we meet.
Go now with Jesus, walking wherever he leads.
We will put all our fears, as well as our longings, behind us.
Go now with the Spirit, who is always full of surprises.
We will share the good news called Jesus with everyone.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Liturgy with communion for February 21, 2021 (Lent 1 - B)

Texts:  Genesis 9:8-17; Psalm 25:1-10; 1 Peter 3:18-22; Mark 1:9-15

Call to Worship
Here, at the outer limits of Lent,
we are called to walk:
to the paper-thin edges which cut us
      to the soul;
to the workplaces which weary us;
to the people who confuse us;
to the faith which threatens us.
Here, at the corner of Steadfast Love
and Faithfulness, we are called to wait:
when our clenched stomachs awaken us;
in the moments of unbearable sorrow;
with the angels who would carry us.

Here, where time is fulfilled,
where God's Kingdom is as near to us
as our neighbor, we begin Lent:
with the Beloved, whose tears wash away
     our fears,
with the God who will not let go
     of our hands.

Prayer of the Day
You love us, O God.
Like a mother
who upholds her son through
the temper tantrums,
the ball-broken windows,
the smart-alecky remarks:
you love us, O God.
Like a father
who walks his daughter through
the terrible twos,
the giggling fours,
the confusion and chaos of adolescence:
you love us, O God!

You give to us, Holy Brother.
In the tears crevassing our cheeks,
in the depths of our sighing;
in moments of exquisite joy
and the lingering days of loneliness:
you give to us - yourself.
In the chorales of morning birds,
in the silent prayers of our hearts;
in a night sky splattered with stars,
in a cross stained with blood and tears:
you give to us - yourself.

You dance with us, Gentle Spirit.
In baptismal waters soaking our knees,
when desert dust chokes our hymns:
you dance with us, Gentle Spirit.
in jail cells and courtrooms,
on the journey to death,
and striding forth from the tomb:
you dance with us, Gentle Spirit.

God in Community, Holy in One,
in any season, but especially in this Holy Season,
you love us, you give yourself to us, you dance with us;
and so we lift the prayers Jesus has taught to us, saying,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
God looks at the most broken soul and sees an angel aching to take flight.  God sees our worst faults and washes them away in the waters of life.  God hears our prayers of confession, and whispers sweet grace in our hearts.  Let us pray together as we say,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
    the silly sins of childhood,
    the exuberant sins of adolescence,
    the faded sins of aging;
    the sins we shout in the streets,
    the sins we whisper to ourselves;
    the sins we didn't give a second thought to,
    the sins we plot in the middle of the night;
    the flood of sins which threaten us,
    the wilderness of sin which we offer to others,
    the sin which seeks to imprison us:

Forgive us, Good and Gentle God,
forgive us and have mercy on us,
so we might walk the path of faithfulness
with Jesus, to Jerusalem and beyond,
so we might know your steadfast love in our lives.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
What can sustain us in the days to come, what will nourish us on our Lenten journey?
Look, here is all the food we need: God's Love, God's Word, God's Hope.
Through the wilderness and into the kingdom of life, we are given daily bread for every day of the journey.  Thanks be to God.  Amen.
Prayer of Dedication/Offering
As for us, Holy God, we offer our gifts to bring healing to the broken, hope to those in despair, light to those in shadows, and grace for all your people.  In Jesus’ name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the Lord of Lent be with you.
And also with you.
People of God, lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the One who calls us 'Beloved.'
Beloved of God, give thanks and praise to the One who loves you forever.
We sing our hymns of joy to the One who leads us into the kingdom.

Hearts full of joy are lifted to you,
Crafter of Covenants.
When there was no time as we knew it,
you created Day and Night,
so we could wait for you all day long,
enjoying your grace and goodness.
   But instead of learning your ways,
   we listened to the seductive whispers of the Evil One,
   and wandered into the wilderness of rebellion and sin.
Remembering the promises
made so long ago to our ancestors,
you sent the prophets to teach us
and to show us your paths to hope,
   but we ignored their witness and their words.
Yet, you would not see us left in death's desert,
and so sent the One who could lead us back to you.

Therefore, we lift our voices
with the faithful of every time and place,
and the choirs of the kingdom,
who forever sing of your goodness and love:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God our Teacher.
All creation trusts in you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who leads us in truth.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, God of Faithfulness,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, your Steadfast Love.
In those days,
he could have remained by your side,
   but came to be by ours;
in those days,
he could have feasted on your glory,
   but came to eat and drink with sinners;
in those days,
he could have remained whole and pure,
   but died broken on a sin-stained cross,
   that we might have
   all the days of eternity with you.

As we begin that journey to Jerusalem
which will test our faith
and offer us opportunities to serve,
we remember the life, the death,
the resurrection of the One we follow.

Jesus was baptized, the Spirit resting on  him;
Jesus died, resisting the temptation to reject God;
Jesus was raised, fulfilling the time to defeat death;
Jesus will come, to fulfill God’s time for all of us.

On this day, and in this place,
God of Mystery,
pour out your Holy Spirit up us
and upon the bread we break
and the cup we share.
Through these gifts,
make us one with the Risen Christ,
and send us forth to serve the world.
Set free by the goodness of your love,
   let us proclaim liberty to the prisoners;
filled with the Bread of Life,
   let us feed the hungry of our communities;
our thirst cooled be the Cup of Grace,
   let us reach out to those
   who stumble through the desert of life;
walk with us through the wilderness of the world,
so we can gather our sister and brothers
in your love, your hope, your joy,
and journey together into your kingdom.

Then, seated around the Table you set before us,
with the Beloved of every time and of every place,
we will merge our songs of praise
with those who have shown
your steadfast love and faithfulness
to all generations,
singing our praise to you,
God of Abraham and Noah, of Rebecca and Mary;
Jesus of the poor and oppressed;
Spirit of the lost and the least:
God in Community, Holy in One.
Amen and Amen.
Trusting in God, let us go from this place.
Taught all we need, we will bring hope and peace to others.
Trusting in Jesus, let us go into the world.
Given all we need, we will go to serve those around us.
Trusting in the Spirit, we will not be tempted to stay, so let us go.
Baptized in hope, we will go to welcome others as God’s Beloved.
© Thom M. Shuman

Monday, February 08, 2021

Ash Wednesday Service in a season of pandemic

 Call to Worship

L: From the shadows of isolation and shutdowns

P: we gather to be with our God

    who brings us the light of hope.

L: From the silence of our homes

    or in socially distanced worship spaces,

P: we gather to be with Jesus,

    who will not let anything, now or ever, separate us.

L: From the hollowness of our hearts

    and the hunger for human touch,

P: we gather to be with the Spirit,

    who feeds us for the Lenten journey,

    who marks us as God’s very own.

Evening Prayer

Even if we had them

from a year ago, God of our lives,

we would not be able

to burn the palm branches,

for they would be too soaked

by the tears of loneliness, of emptiness,

of these months of so much uncertainty.


But we do bring ashes

in this moment, this day, this night,

Companion on our journey,

those ashes from an overwhelming year,

the ashes from dreams turned to nightmares,

the ashes of the jobs we lost,

the anniversaries, the birthdays, the graduations,

the weddings, the funerals we dared not attend.


So, Spirit of the silence of our days,

take these ashes of our lives

and mingle them with the dust

from our crumbled hearts

and our shattered souls, to mark us

with that hope which has never left us

even though we may not have realized

that it, like you, was as close

as the very next breath we take.


As we gather wherever we are,

as we hold out our empty hands

and our emptier hears and souls,

we would offer that prayer

we have been taught,

(The Lord’s Prayer)

Invitation to the Lenten life
It was not with great confidence

or that assurance which had no doubts,

which were companions with Jesus

as he journeyed to what awaited in Jerusalem.

It was the uncertainty of what might happen,

it was the loneliness of the pilgrimage

as he experienced more and more isolation,

especially from friends who stayed as far away as possible.

So, after our year of uncertainty, loneliness, distancing,

we may realize afresh what this season

called Lent is truly all about.

For we have been in the wilderness tempted,

like Jesus to trust in those who told lies,

who offered false hopes, who longed for us

to embrace their broken promises.

Not for the first time, yet fresh once more,
we accompany Jesus to Jerusalem.
We have known what it is like

to have to fast from human companionship,

and to struggle to find the words

to offer in prayer to our God.

We have struggled from endless day

to weeks that seemed as long as months

to keep the practices of faithful living

which would strengthen us to work

for justice, to offer hope, to not give up.


So, in these moments and in the coming days,

may we draw comfort and energy

from those timeless acts passed down to us
of silence, feasting on the word, and prayer.
As we remember our baptism into faith,
as we gather at the feast of grace,
as we are marked as Christ’s own,
we prepare ourselves to come to God,
on this holy night.

Call to Reconciliation
On this night which has seemed to last a year, we once again begin that pilgrimage toward the promised of Easter.  But, fresh as this moment and as old as the dust of the earth, we must speak of how hard it has been for us to be the faithful people God calls.  Let us pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness

   We have tried, God who knows our intentions, we have tried so hard to be your people, especially in these times of confusion, fear, and worry.  We did a good job, at first, caring for those worse off than us, but now it has become easy to care more for ourselves.  We are uncomfortable seeing ourselves as people of privilege, yet quickly cashed those relief checks when they could have gone to those in true need.  We gave in, too often and too easily, to the easy lies about how this pandemic was nothing to worry about, rather than listening to the ones who knew what they were talking about.

   Yet, while we know how badly we have tried, we know that from the ashes of our foolish choices and lives, you can create new life and hope, God of broken hearts.  You mark us as your own, so we can turn from greed to generosity, so we can move from fear to faith, so we can stand with the oppressed and forgotten, to ensure that the justice we take for granted is shared with them.  You mark us as your own, so that we might follow Jesus, who models for us how to turn away from evil to live as people of hope and grace.  Amen.   

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon

L: Here is the good news: God does not socially distance from us, but comes close to hear our prayers, to fill our emptiness, to walk through the ashes of uncertainty, to journey with us in this holiest of seasons.

P:  In the midst of a pandemic of uncertainty, we can trust in the comforting, the forgiving, the restoring heart of the God who loves us.  Thanks be to God!  Amen.

Imposition of the ashes
Perhaps we remembered to save

those palm branches from last year’s

services which had to be cancelled.

But if not, we have enough ashes,

those which come from our shriveled souls,

those which we gather up from dreams deferred,

those from the grief which is too painful to touch.


But, by the grace of our God

who has been with us in every moment,

we can take these ashes,

both real as well as metaphorical

mixing them with the oil of grace

so that we can touch our heads, our hands,

our hearts, our souls, our hopes

with them, whether real or virtual

reminding us that, from the dust

of a year which has crumbled around us,

God touches us with those never-ending gifts

of reconciliation and hope

of justice and restoration

of generosity and grace-filled hearts,

so that we might once again, and always,

live as the people God longs for us to become.

whether we are touched by another,

or mark ourselves as God’s own,

may we never forget that,

though we are dust and will return to dust,

God continues to create life and hope

from the dust of the stars, as well as us.  Amen.

(In these uncertain moments, some will be able to be marked with the ashes physically, while others may be reminded of their mortality, as well as their place in God’s heart, by making the sign of the cross on their foreheads or the backs of their hands)

Invitation to the Table

Whether at home or in an apartment,

in a college room or a socially distanced sanctuary,

you are invited to come to this feast.

This is the Table of our God,

it is not the church’s table, nor the ministers.

It is the table which reminds us

that in the uncertainty of our lives,

God’s grace has never departed.

It is the table where we are fed

by the justice, the hope, the life

which flows from the heart of Jesus.

It is the Table where every single

child of God is welcome, for here

the Spirit fills us with peace and community,

even though be may be apart from one another.

The Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
L: The God of ashes is with us in these moments.

P: And our God is with you, as well.
L: In the midst of our uncertain lives,

    may we offer God our hearts hungering for hope.

P: For God has promised to fill them to overflowing.

L: In the silence of these lonely days,

    may we find the words to praise our God.

P: Even though the words may not come to us,

    God knows our hearts and souls, and that is enough.

L: In the pandemic of chaos, you spoke,


God of amazing goodness,

   wiping out shadows with twinkling stars,   

   filling rivers and oceans with living waters,
   pouring the waters into rivers and seas,  
   sowing seeds of wonder into the fields.
You shaped us, your children,

out of the dust of the earth,

handing to us all that beauty and joy

which flows ceaselessly from your heart
   but we ground your hopes into the dirt,
   as we raced to catch up with death,

   clutching tight to temptation’s gifts.
Yet, however far we tried to go,

or wherever we thought you couldn’t find us,

you were there waiting for us,

to remind us of your great love for us,

longing to keep your promises of faithfulness.

With our sisters and brothers everywhere,
in the silence of our loneliness

and in the shadows of uncertainty,
we sing songs of praise:


P:  In the midst of uncertainty, your presence is constant.

     In the loneliness of isolation, you are by our side.

     In every moment, you do not leave us alone.

     All glory and praise is due to you, Holy and Loving God!

Your never-failing love is sealed

upon our empty hearts, God of holiness,

and Jesus is the One who reminds us

that we are never apart from you.

The struggles and worries which have

been velcroed to us this past year?

   They were his constant companion.

The isolation we have experienced

from those dearest to us?

   That was the loneliness which

   gnawed at his soul.  

The fear of death which has been

such a presence every day?

   That was the reality he faced

   as he journeyed to Jerusalem?

The hope that somehow, someway,

new hope, new life, new grace might appear?

   That was the wonder he realized

   as the tight grip of death

   was broken by resurrection love.

as we continue to walk through uncertainty,

as we would be marked with the ashes

of our loneliness, our isolation, our days,
we remember that mystery known as faith:

P: Christ held nothing back, especially his heart;

    Christ was raised, the voice for the forgotten;
    Christ will come to bring us to new life.

Now, at the Table of grace and life,

we pray you would pour out your Spirit,

not only on the gifts of the feast,

but on your children, God of our lives,

wherever we may be in this moment.

Like our dreams and hopes this past year,

the bread is broken and offered to us,

so, we pray that it might strengthen us

that we might continue to serve

   the most lonely in our midst

   the neighbors who grieve a death,

   the people struggling with injustice.

Though we have drunk many bitter tears,

in these moments we are given

the cup which overflows with grace,

so that we might be able to

   see you in the midst of our lives,

   feel you holding our hands on this journey,

   trust that you are bringing healing and hope.

And when this pandemic becomes history,

when we can once again gather in your house,

with our sisters and brothers around

the glad feast of hope and life,

we will sing your praises over and over,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.


L: This Ash Wednesday,

     we bear the smudges of uncertainty,

P: yet we will still trust in God’s promises.
L: This Ash Wednesday,

    we may share the Feast by ourselves,

P: yet we will join the Host at the Table

    in going to care for the vulnerable all around us.

    we will go out to share God’s forgiveness

L: This Ash Wednesday, we may continue

    to journey into an unknown future,

P: yet we will continue to walk in faith

    with the Spirit who lights the way.  

© 2021 Thom M. Shuman  

Liturgy w/communion for February 14, 2021 (Transfiguration - B)

 Texts: 2 Kings 2:1-12; Psalm 50:1-6; 2 Corinthians 4:3-5; Mark 9:2-9

Call to Worship
You are with us, God of sunrises:
you awaken us with each bright new day,
overflowing with promise.
You are with us, Inviting God:
calling us to respond to all the chances
to share the spirit of grace and hope.

You are with us, Glory of God:
gathering us into the presence of your peace,
listening to the deep sighs of our hearts.

Prayer of the Day
Glory of all creation:
as the sun nudges us
out of bed each morning,
so you gently lift the veil
of doubts and fears from our hearts
that we might see your joy.
At the setting of the sun,
you do not leave us alone,
but you sit with us
through the night,
sharing stories of hope.
And we do not lose heart.

Joyous Face of God:
on the peaks of promise,
we discover your grace,
sparkling with gentle delight
as it comes to rest
within our weary lives.
In the valleys of despair,
as we trudge long,
our burdens dragging behind us,
we turn to discover you
putting them on your shoulders,
the gentleness of your compassion
lighting the way to the kingdom.
And we do not lose heart.

Listening Spirit:
in the hard times
which life may offer,
you are there with us,
hearing not only our struggles,
but the hopes singing
silently in our souls.
In the barren seasons
through which we may walk,
we find you ahead of us,
planting the seeds of joy
which will once more blossom
in the springtime of God's love.
And we do not lose heart.

God in Community, Holy in One,
we lift our hearts, our hopes, our voices
as we pray as Jesus teaches us, saying,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
We can become so burned out by our hectic days that we lose sight of the One who gives us life.  We can become so impatient  waiting for God to astound us with wonders, when we have the simple pleasure of each day.  In these quiet moments, away from all those things which distract us, let us bring our brokenness to the One who listens to our hearts, and heals our souls.  Join me, as we pray, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   The radiance of your grace is poured out in every moment, Shaper of mountaintops, but we dull its luster by living in the shadows.  We indulge in fantasy games and watch shows which claim to be 'real,' but we have trouble simply sitting in your presence, in your healing silence.  We can become so infatuated with your love for us, we overlook those who hunger for acceptance and hope.
     Revealer of mystery, forgive us.  In silence, may we hear your whispers of grace.  In mercy, may we feel your forgiveness lifting the burden of guilt from us.  In trust, may we go forth to serve your world, filling it with the light and love of the One who is the Light of the world, Jesus Christ.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
The promise is true--God's Light has come into the world, and into our lives.  We are graced with glimpses of God's glory, even as we are filled with mercy and forgiveness.
Here we find the peace and quiet we need; here we are set free from all that keeps us from serving; here we are given mercy and hope.  Here we give thanks to our God.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
We could remember the giants of the past, or serve the little ones of today; we could build grand facilities, or restore neighbors; we could stay on mountaintops, or go into the valleys of loneliness with our arms full of grace.  May our lives and gifts we offer be used in your work of justice and hope, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May God be with you.
May God be with you also.
Lift up your hearts, people of God.
We open them to the One who loves us.
People of God, give thanks to the One who meets us
on the mountaintops of glory and in the valleys of service.
It is good that we offer praise and thanksgiving
to the One who is with us in every moment.

You crafted mountains on which
we might find your majesty;
you carved rivers of life
where we might bathe in your grace.
All things were shaped by you,
Bright Glory of creation,
and given that we might live
in the abundance of your hopes for us.
When we could have lived in that garden
of serenity which you planted for us,
we caught a glimpse of temptation
out of the corners of our eyes,
and sought gifts from sin and death,
who were only too eager
to offer us a double portion.
You sent the prophets to lead us out
of the valleys of despair
back to the mountaintop with you,
but we chose to remain in the company
of the false gods of this world.
But you would not forsake us,
but became one of us,
that we might be transformed
into your faithful children.

With the Breath of life within us,
with the Word of grace in our hearts,
we join all who have gone before us,
and with those who are with us now,
singing the ancient song of glory:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God of glory and grace.
Heaven and earth sing loud songs of praise to you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes to offer us
    a double portion of grace and mercy.
Hosanna in the highest!

Mighty God, lover of justice,
you summoned your Son, our Savior,
to come to us that we might be redeemed.
Coming down Glory's mountainside,
he does not remain silent about your hopes,
but calls to us to follow him into
your kingdom of mercy and love.
He carried his cross to the top
of that garbage heap called Calvary,
to be put to death beside two thieves.
Surrounded by sin and death in the tomb,
he made a path through them
into the new life given by God,
tearing their power over us into pieces.

Remembering that he could have chosen to stay
with Moses and Elijah, but came to serve us,
we proclaim our faith as we come to the Table:

In love, Christ died for us.
In joy, Christ was raised for us.
In glory, Christ will come again to us.

Now, on the gifts of the bread and the cup,
and on your children gathered in this place,
pour out your Spirit, God of Joy.
As we share the brokenness of Christ,
may we be restored to wholeness;
as we drink of his forgiveness,
may we become more gracious.
May his return in faith
find us praying for your peace;
may his return in hope,
find us working for your justice;
may his return in love,
find us welcoming all your children.

And when Christ does come again in glory,
when all have received a double portion of your grace,
when creation is made whole once again,
and joins in the glad songs of praise,
we will worship and adore you, forever and ever,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

God sends us from this sacred space.
We will go to share the good news of grace,
to offer healing to the broken.
Jesus would not have us stay here forever.
We will go to find our sisters and brothers
in the valleys of injustice and the neighborhoods of addiction.
The Spirit fills us with the gifts we need as we leave.
We will go to help rebuild the lives of those around us,
to share feasts of hope and peace with everyone.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Liturgy w/communion for February 7, 2021 (Fifth Sunday after Epiphany - B)

 Texts: Isaiah 40:21-31; Psalm 147:1-11, 20c; 1 Corinthians 9:16-23; Mark 1:29-39

Call to Worship
We gather to worship God,
whose creative imagination never fails:
For the sake of God, we will search for the outcasts.
We gather to praise our God,
whose steadfast love never weakens:
For the sake of Jesus, we will lift up all who have fallen.
We gather to offer our best to God,
who walks with us through eternity:
For the sake of the Holy Spirit, we will walk with the weary.

Prayer of the Day
You lift up those
we step over
in our race to success;
you soak our aching feet
in the waters of life;
you massage hearts
bruised by others.
We praise you,
Rebuilder of crumbling souls

You pick those not chosen
on the playgrounds of life;
you cover open sores
with your grace;
you wander our streets,
inviting those
who huddle in doorways
to feast at your Table.
We follow you,
Bread of Heaven.

You gather those
who are cast aside
by a throwaway society,
and call them by name;
you melt hearts hardened by cynicism
with the warmth of your hope;
you energize us
so we can sprint into the kingdom.
We welcome you,
Delightful Spirit.

God in Community, Holy in One,
we come to you as your people,
praying as Jesus has taught us, saying,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
We walk through life, confident, strong, boasting of all our achievements.  But God sees the hurts we have inflicted on others, the weariness in our bones from chasing after bad choices, and all the foolishness we trip over in the busyness of life.  Let us come to God, for the One who listens to our faltering words is the One who gives us the Word filled with grace and mercy.  Join me as we pray together, saying, 

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     We cannot hide from you, Everlasting God, even if we were to go from one edge of creation to the next.  you speak to us of compassion, but the ways in which we treat others show we have not been listening.  You explain your hopes to us, and we act as if we don't have a clue as to what is going on.  We run as fast, and as far, from you as we can, and wonder why we have no energy to follow Jesus.
     Yet you search for us in all the deserted places we flee to, Never-wearied God, so you can take us by the hand to show us the way to life with you.  You heal our broken hearts so we can offer them to others.  You fill us with your strength so we can bind ourselves to Jesus, our Savior, following him to serve all of your children.

Silence is kept 
Assurance of Pardon
Have you not been listening.  God never tires out, nor is there is an expiration date on God's forgiveness.  God is ever with us, healing us with mercy, and strengthening us for service.
If God numbers the stars, surely our names are known by the One who loves us and offers us grace.  This is indeed good news for all!  Thanks be to God.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
You lift us to our feet so we can walk with you, Loving God, and you fill us with your gifts so we may pour them out for those around us.  Take what we offer and use them in that kingdom work which strengthens the weary, feeds the hungry, and gives hope to the despairing.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May God be with you.
May God be also with you.
People of God, open your hearts.
We open our hearts to God and to each other.
Let us give thanks to the Living God.
With joy and praise, we offer our thanks to the One who offers abundant life.

In the morning, Awakening God,
you took creation and flung it
to the far corners of chaos,
   naming the stars twinkling in the night,
   shaping deserted places for prayers,
   feeding all the creatures in the fields.
You longed to walk with those
created in your image, so we would not weary,
   but we listened to the boasting of death,
   as it proclaimed sin's opportunities.
You sent the prophets, who cried out,
'haven't you been listening; don't you
realize what God is trying to do for you?'
   but we continued to delight
   in all which opposed you.
So, having created all things,
you became the one thing we needed,
our Savior.

With those so weary that cannot take another step,
with those revived by your grace and hope,
we lift our praises to you now and forever:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God of all knowledge.
All creation sings glad praises to you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who came for our sake.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, Star Namer,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, your Son.
He became weak,
   so the power of the world
   would be shattered;
he became poor,
   so we might be filled
   with the riches of your grace;
he went to that deserted place
we call the grave,
   so death might be
   knocked off its pedestal,
as you breathed new life
into his knackered spirit.

As we search for him in our time,
as we would proclaim the gospel,
may we find that mystery we call faith:

Christ died, not boasting in himself;
Christ was raised, the gospel lived out in him;
Christ will come to take us by the hand, giving us strength.

Here is that Bread, which though broken,
   can strengthen the powerless;
here is that Cup, which though emptied,
   can fill the weary with hope.
Pour out your Spirit not only on these gifts,
but upon your children gathered around the Table.
We come, bone-tired,
   so make us bone of your bone,
   and flesh of your flesh.
We can barely take another step,
   so empower us to walk
   beside the lonely and the homeless.
We are so fatigued by our despair,
feed us with your hope and joy,
   so we may proclaim your kingdom
   to everyone we meet.

And when the day comes
to gather with all your children
around the Feast of the Lamb,
we will join hands
and dance around the Table,
singing your praise forever and ever:
God our Creator,
Christ our Servant,
Spirit of Newness,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

God sends us forth into the world,
so we will go to walk miles in the shoes of others.
Jesus calls us to serve everyone we meet,
so we will become all things to all people.
The Holy Spirit encourages us to let go of our gospel-given rights,
so we may breathe new life into the faint.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Liturgy with communion for January 31, 2021 (Fourth Sunday after Epiphany - B)

 Texts: Deuteronomy 18:15-20; Psalm 111; 1 Corinthians 8:1-13; Mark 1:21-28

Call to Worship
We gather in this sacred space,
to offer our thanks to God with all our hearts.
We gather with this community of faith,
to follow Jesus, who longs to lead us into life.
We gather in these moments,
to learn all we can of grace from the Holy Spirit.

Prayer of the Day
You pull on your work boots,
   crafted from love;
you hang justice and peace
   on your tool belt;
you take on rebuilding neighborhoods
   when we would walk away.
What have you to do with us, Holy God?
You model compassion for us.

You take us by the hand
   to lift us to our feet;
you show us the path
   which leads to humility;
you leave a trail of grace crumbs
   so that we might follow.
What have you to do with us, Brother of the poor?
You call us to serve by your side.
You plant words of peace
   deep into our hearts;
you raise up little children
   to whisper hope to us;
you stand by the side 
   of all who look for life.
What have you to do with us, Spirit of grace?
You teach us how to build up others with love.
What have you to do with us,
God in Community, Holy in One?
Everything it turns out, everything,
as we lift our prayer to you,
(The Lord’s Prayer)
Call to Reconciliation
Though we think we know it all, our lives reflect how little we respect others, how often our words and actions damage those around us.  Let us come to our God, with our prayers as ell as our hearts, so we may be healed with forgiveness.
Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   We come on this holy day, God our God, to speak of how we live.  Politicians, celebrities, talk show folks have become our so-called gods.  Our choices often cause those around us to trip over our anger and slip on our pride.  The words we speak to others show how we really want nothing to do with you.
   Forgive us, Holy God, and have mercy on us.  May we silence our fears, so words of hope may be spoken.  May we give thanks not only with our hearts but with the grace we can share with others.  May justice and peace be the tools we use as we serve beside Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.  

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
We know who God is – the One who comes to love us, to forgive us, and to save us.
Thanks be to God.  We will spread this good news, and share this grace and hope, with everyone we meet.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
Gather our gifts, our hearts, our very lives, Loving God, and use them in your work of reconciliation, grace, and hope for all your children.  In Jesus’ name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May God be with you.
And also with you.
In this gathering of God’s people, lift up your hearts.
We offer them to our God who fills us with hope.
In this sacred space of joy, sing glad songs.
We join in giving thanks to our God.
You are indeed to be praised, O God,
for you poured your Spirit into chaos,
and with your Word raised up
   towering peaks kissing the sky,
   snowflakes blanketing the meadows,
   little birds flitting from bush to bus.
All was formed and offered to us,
your children shaped in your image,
   but we listened to sin and death,
   imposters calling themselves gods.
Because you knew us,
you continued to send prophets to us,
to call us back to you,
   but we said, ‘what do you have
   to do with us?’ ignoring their words.
So, you sent your Child to us,
so that we might know who you are.
With the upright and faithful,
with those who stumble along the way,
we will give wholehearted thanks:
Holy, holy, holy, are you, Awesome God.
All creation delights in praising you.
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is the One who teaches us with grace.
Hosanna in the highest!
You are holy indeed, Majestic God,
and you astounded us by sending Jesus,
your very Self, to be with us.
By his humility,
   he teaches us 
   to serve others;
by his weakness,
   he models the strength
   to challenge injustice;
by his silence,
   he helps us to listen
   to hearts, not just words;
by his death,
   he shows us how
   to trust in resurrection hope.
As we come to the Table,
we proclaim the mystery 
that Jesus came, not to destroy us,
but to save us:
Raised up on the cross, he died as he lived,
   trusting in you;
raised from death he points us 
   to your resurrection love;
raising us from our fears, he promises 
   to have everything to do with us.
As you pour out your Spirit
on those gathered in this place,
you provide the bread and the cup 
from the simple gifts of creation,
blessing them with your love.
As we eat of the broken bread,
may it bring us closer to all
we are called to serve:
   the hungry, the hurting,
   the cold, the oppressed.
As we drink from the cup,
may its grace raise us up
to go out and become
   carers of the forgotten,
   workers of justice,
   builders of shelters.
And when we gather in the company
of our sisters and brothers of every 
time and place around your table,
we will give thanks with our whole hearts,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.  
Now, let us go from this sacred space,
to be with the homeless on the streets,
with the lonely in the hospitals.
Now, let us leave this family of God,
to care for those who have been forgotten,
to lift those shoved aside by the world.
Now, let us set aside this holy time,
to go into the moments of hunger for little children,
to be with those whose days seem to have no end.
© Thom M. Shuman