Sunday, March 28, 2021

Liturgy w/communion for the Day of Resurrection in a season of pandemic (April 4, 2021)

 Texts:  Isaiah 25:6-9; Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24; 1 Corinthians 15:1-11; John 20:1-18
Call to Worship
L: Some are still staying home,
some are tiptoeing in quietly
not quite sure what they will find
in the place which has stood empty
for far too long,
but this is the day:
P: hope tiptoes us awake;
light guides us through the shadows.
L: Some are making sure to stay
more than the accepted distance away
from those they long to gather into their arms,
some are still stuck in that grave called lockdown,
but this is the day the Lord:
P: plants joy in our winter hearts;
drowns out despair’s cries with laughter.
L: We still see these days as filled
to overflowing with uncertainty,
hoping to get through today
without starting to worry about tomorrow,
but this is the day the Lord has made:
P: the day grace does cartwheels in graveyards;
resurrection wonder outshines the brightest sun;
an empty tomb fills us with good news.

Prayer of the Day
for far too long,
We have been wearing those
   Itchy hairshirts of
   burdens and worries,
but now you dress us
in joy and wonder, 
which we will wear every day!

for too many months,
we have been walking
timidly through life,
alone, apart, afraid,
that good and faithful
friend, death, always close by,
   whispering in the silence,
but now even the grave has lost its power,
for now, a new Friend walks with us!

there have been too many nights
when we have stood,
emptying our worries
out of our pockets,
dropping them, like pennies,
into that large jar,
   but now, we can go and
   cash them in for all
the love, the grace, the joy
you offer to us in these moments.

We could continue to relive
all the endless days, the empty, but
now we can sing, dance, and rejoice with you,
God in Community, Holy in One,
for resurrection life has been given to us,
and so we pray, saying,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
It is hard to step out of the shadows of these times, to try to embrace the light which is being cast upon us.  We have spent so much time searching, hoping, longing for things to change, and in the longing, the hoping, the searching, we forgot so many people, we ignored so much pain, we turned away from grief and loss, afraid it would embrace us.
Yet on this day, we are reminded that we are still Easter people, we will be Easter people again, and we are always Easter people!  Let us speak of pandemic fears which have tried to wipe away resurrection hope, as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   Whether we can gather as one today, or feel we need to stay apart; whether we continue to huddle in the shadows and take tentative steps into the light, on this day, we come to you, fear-removing God.  We would like to think we have been so distanced from you, that you have not noticed our foolishness.  During the last months, we have kept the door to hope shut so tight, afraid to open it.  So eager to go back to before this pandemic year began, we are hesitant to trust in the future you hold out to us.
   Yet, as persistent as Mary at the tomb,
   Joy of our hearts,
   you come, to open the gates of hope,
      so we might walk in the gardens of life;
   you come, to open the gates of grace,
      so we might plant peace in the wilderness of the world;
   you come, to open the gates of resurrection,
      so we might know our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
L: This is the day of resurrection and new life.  This is the day God offers us steadfast hope and love which will never end.
P: We will sing and dance on this day!  We are still, we will be again, we are always Easter people! We will rejoice and give thanks to the God who saves us.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
Together or alone, we continue to offer our gift to others – to those who hunger for hope in a time of uncertainty, to those who long for community to replace their loneliness, for those who seek faith instead of fears.  In Jesus’ name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
L: May resurrection’s God be with you!
P: And also with you!
L: This is the day to offer yourselves to God.
P: We open our hearts to the One who fills them with grace.
L: Join in the glad songs of all creation this day.
P: Our voices praise the One who opens wide the gates of life.

L: When only emptiness stretched out,
you spoke at that time, Joyous God,
and goodness and beauty sprang forth:
   swallows darting in the skies,
   young rabbits scampering in the grass,
   hippos splashing in rivers.
All this wonder and joy was your gift
to your children created in your image,
   but we ran to play with death,
   when sin opened the gates of seduction.
Time after time after time,
you sent the prophets to remind us
of your never-ending love, but
   we chose to remain in sin’s tomb,
   the stone of our rebellion locking us away.
So you sent your Hopeful heart,
your grace made flesh so
we might not be given over to death.

With those who see and believe,
with those who stand and question,
we lift our Easter songs to you:

P: Holy, holy, holy are you, God who has made this day!
All creation celebrates your constant love.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who is revealed on this morning.
Hosanna in the highest!

L: When he could have clung to your glory,
God who alone is holy,
Jesus chose to become human at that time,
so we might be filled with your grace.
When we stood against the wall
wondering if anyone noticed us,
  he came to take us by the hand
   to teach us new dance steps.
When our lives crumble around us
and we lie scattered on the ground,
   he gathers us up, reshaping us
   into your beloved community.
When we were unable to break
the power of evil over us,
   he allowed sin to toss him
   aside like a pebble in a shoe,
   until he was raised from the tomb
   because you refuse to give us
   over to death.

As we stand before the empty tomb,
celebrating the great news of this day,
we would have that faith which is a mystery:

P: Christ died, so sin could not hold on to us;
Christ was raised, so death could not hold on to him;
Christ will come, to hold us in steadfast love and hope.

L: At this time, wherever we find ourselves,
at home, in apartments, in care facilities,
or finally able to be back in sacred spaces,
pour out your Spirit upon your people
and on the gifts of the feast of the resurrection.
May the bread which is broken open like the tomb,
strengthen us so we may go
   to rebuild shattered hopes,
   to bind up the hurts of the world.
May the cup which is filled
with the fruits of your steadfast love,
nourish us to leave the shadows
of our fears and doubts
   to stand with the lonely and forgotten,
   to listen to the cries of the world.

And in that time to come,
when we will be gathered
with our sisters and brothers
of every place and of every moment,
we will sing your praises,
God in Community, Holy in One,
as you hold on to us forever.  Amen.

L: Scattered from one another, 
we can still go with God into the world.
P: We will offer healing and hope to all
who wander in the shadows of life.
L: Separated from one another,
we can still go with Jesus to serve others.
P: We will listen to the ignored;
we will speak out for the forgotten.
L: Together once again, after so long,
we can still join the Spirit in offering steadfast love.
P: We will hold on to the fallen;
we will rebuild shattered communities.
© 2021 Thom M. Shuman

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Good Friday in a time of pandemice

Call to Worship
L: Here in the midst of this pandemic,
staying as safe as we can,
we come to worship you.
P: We come with the groans of loneliness,
and the whispers of hope in our hearts.
L: Here in a season of being apart,
we come to remember you.
P: We come, hoping we have not been forgotten,
and that here, now, your presence will be felt.
L: Here in a time when almost every day
has seemed like a Holy Friday,
we come to place our broken hearts
into your shattered one, our God.
P: We come, knowing you have heard us
through every lonely day, in every moment,
never holding back your constant love.
we come, to praise you for your steadfast love.

Prayer of the Day
God who has shared
in every single one of your tears,
here in these moments of silence,
as we listen to familiar words,
you call us from these endless days,
to remember the suffering, the death
of your Child who came to carry
the pain, the loneliness,
the grief we have known
in this season of pandemic.
May we look through our weariness
to see your love poured out for us.

As we have walked
our lonesome valleys these months,
you have always been at our sides,
Grace of Calvary.
and even though we have
a greater appreciation of this
holy season of rejection and suffering,
we leave you
to carry the cross alone.
May we listen through our emptiness
to hear your anguished cries this day.

We have struggled so hard
to find words of hope, of wonder,
of trust in these uncertain times,
and we could not,
when we dared not
try to utter them,
you prayed for us, in us,
through us, to us,
Shattered Spirit.
May we open our empty hearts
to be filled with
the laments of the lonely,
to cradle the whispers
of hope from our children,
to join in setting free
all held in pandemic’s fears.

God in Community, Holy in One,
on this day of grief and loss
which may mean more to us
than ever before, we lift our prayers
to you in the name of the One
who suffered and died for us this day
and who teaches us to pray, saying,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
In these endless days of uncertainty, on this day of pain and grief, we long to know of hope, even as we bring our hearts – shattered, stained with failures, overflowing with doubt - to the One who takes them, to cleanse them with the waters of life.

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
  This past year, we have often lost our way, like kids who wander off in crowded stores, God of all our grim days, especially this one. When we focused more on ourselves than the forgotten, we betrayed you. When we kept our mouths closed instead of speaking up for justice, we denied you. When we choose not to do good for others, we turned our backs on you. When we harmed our friends, neighbors, and families, we crucified you.
  Here at the foot of the cross, where we have found ourselves so many times these last months, we stand beside all who stepped off the path of faithfulness, who forgot you, who chose to go another way than follow you. Have mercy on us, Lamb of God. Forgive us, cleanse us with the hope, the grace, the peace you poured out for us, as you gave your life for the sins of the world.

Extended silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
L: Christ did not forget us, but carried our suffering on his back, walking with all our hurts, our foolishness, the pain we caused, taking it all into the heart of our God, who takes them, and casts them into the everlasting sea of forgiveness.
P: Fed with grace, carried in God's arms, we know that we are forgiven. Thanks be to God. Amen.

Scripture Readings

Isaiah 52:13-53:12


Psalm 22


Hebrews 10:16-25


John 18:1-19-42


Intercessions for a time of pandemic
L: In these moments of uncertainty and loss,
let us remember that Jesus became one of us,
not to shame us but to save us,
to be with us in every moment,
especially in moments like we have endured.

Let us pray for believers everywhere,
for those clergy and lay leaders
struggling to be faithful,
to continue to be God’s people
in these times of fear and uncertainty,
for those churches which have closed
and for those who do not know
when they will reopen, if ever.


God, whose gift to your people
is that community of faith
which has faced challenges in every age,
we pray we may continue to serve you,
your people, and our world,
through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

P: Amen

L: Let us pray for our world,
for all the nations in every part,
for the leaders on all sides,
that they may seek to be compassionate,
that they may seek justice,
that they may pursue peace.


God, who models leadership
through your grace and compassion,
fill those who struggle to make decisions
with wisdom, justice, and hope,
especially for those who seek
to bring vaccines to those countries
who are so poor, they are at the bottom of the list.
This we pray through Jesus Christ our Lord.

P: Amen.

L: Let us pray for all who have suffered
during this season of pandemic:
for those who were infected, hospitalized,
and especially for those who have died;
for those who have lost jobs, schooling,
savings, pensions, homes, and belongings;
for those who have spent hours, days, weeks
on the frontlines in hospitals, in nursing homes,
in residential facilities and homes for the disabled;
for all who have been forgotten in these moments
and for all whose lives of injustice and poverty
are ongoing pandemics that have no end.
that they might know God’s comfort and hope,
and we may be the conduits of these graces.


Comfort of the ages,
Cradler of the lonely
Embracer of the grieving,
Strength of those too weary to take another step,
be with every person in every place,
this we pray through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

P: Amen.

L: Let us pray that out of these moment,
from the ashes of our unfulfilled dreams,
from the pain of all we have lost,
that we will not long for a return
to those days when we thought only of ourselves,
when we ignored all living if forgotten neighborhoods,
when we closed our eyes to injustices,
when we turned a deaf ear to cries for help,
when we hoarded rather than shared,
when we walked past the closed stores,
restaurants, schools, businesses
without giving a thought to those
who no longer worked there.


God who holds every day in your hands,
God who has always led your people into
new lives, new dreams, new ways of serving,
may we continue to let our compassion increase,
may we continue to stand up to the powerful,
may we continue to learn from the vulnerable,
may we continue to trust in you always,
may we continue to walk with you,
even when the way seems uncertain.

P: Amen.

(c) 2021 Thom M. Shuman

Monday, March 22, 2021

Maundy Thursday service for a season of pandemic (April 1, 2021)

Gather in silence

Call to Worship
Why is this night different?
Though we are scattered
in homes, apartments, households,
still we can gather in God’s heart.

Why is this worship different?
We cannot gather as God’s household,
yet we can still find ourselves
together in God’s heart and love.

Why is this meal different?
Alone, with family, with just our pets,
we begin to understand the weariness,
the uncertainty, the questions which
sat around that table long ago with Jesus and his friends.

Why is this night, this worship, this meal the same?
We are still God’s beloved,
who is with us in these moments, these days, these nights.
We are still the followers of Jesus,
who would wash our hearts of our doubts and fears.
We are still comforted by the Spirit,
who blesses the meal we will share this night.

Prayer of the Evening
Isolated, enslaved by fears
and anxieties, wondering what
the next day, would bring, they gathered,
in their homes, some alone, some together,
on that night so, so long ago,
for a meal which they did not understand,
and in a moment which would change
them forever, God who rescues.

Fearful, worried, isolated from
their families, friends, and neighbors
by events beyond their imagination,
they gathered so long, so long ago,
for a meal which they thought they understood,
but which you transformed that night,
Jesus, who knelt to serve them,
to prepare them for that moment
which would change them forever.

On this night, isolated, alone,
held captive by fears we don’t understand,
separated from neighbors, friends, and families,
yet we gather, scattered where we are,
drawing near to one another in your heart,
Spirit who shares these stories with us.
With your whispers of grace, you remind
us you are transforming this meal
we think we understand so well,
for through the broken bread,
we are still made one with each other,
through the blessed cup,
we continue to be grace poured out for our world.

Wherever we are,
here, is the basin with the living water
which washes away our fears and foolishness;
here is the towel we can use
to wipe the tears of all who weep
from grief, oppression, and loneliness;
here, we find that bread,
which, though broken and dropping crumbs,
feeds us with hope, fills us with strength
to serve our sisters and brothers;
here, we are offered the cup
which causes us to thirst for justice.

Those nights, this night, every night,
with our ancestors who dared to believe,
who lived through their fears and doubts,
with these symbols and gifts,
we dare to follow, foolishly and faithfully,
God in Community, Holy in One,
as we pray as our Servant, Jesus Christ,
teaches us, saying, (The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Recollection
Now, just as on those nights long ago, we face choices:
will we continue to live in fear, or step out in faith;
will we trust in the One who is with us, and listen to the hollow words around us?
Let us confess our lives, our emptiness, our worries to the One who calls us, feeds us, redeems us, as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   It has all disappeared, our God, our certainty of how life was to be, our daily activities and jobs and routines. It has all been snatched away from us, our lunches with friends, our family gatherings on porches and in backyards. It has all become so fearful, those simple things like going to a store, giving another a hug, attending a concert, a sporting event, or even a worship service.
   Yet this feeling, this uncertainty, these fears are exactly what you experienced on that night so long ago, Brother of our hearts. All your certainty dissipated as easily as that crowd that cheered you just a few days before. Your hopes, your dreams, your desires for your friends had been snatched away by those powers and circumstances beyond your control. Even a simple, last meal with your closest friends was full of doubts, questions, recriminations, as you huddled isolated from the world.
   So now, fill us with your presence, Spirit of that night and this night and all nights. Fill us with that grace which enables us to look beyond our fears, to live as people of faith. Fill us with that love, which strengthens us to care for the most vulnerable around us, rather than the most powerful. Fill us with that hope, which is never quarantined, never isolated, never separated from us, in these and all the moments to come.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
On this loneliest of nights, on this holiest of nights, here is the good news we need: God is with us, just as with those Hebrew ancestors so long ago. God is with us, just as with Jesus and his friends that night we remember tonight. God is with us . . . God is with us . . . God is with us.
In remembrance, we are together, though scattered;
in remembrance, we share bread wherever we are;
in remembrance, we drink of the cup of grace, whoever we are;
in remembrance, we will trust, we will hope, we will live, we will follow. Amen.

Exodus 12:1-14;
Psalm 116:1-2, 19-29;
1 Corinthians 11:23-26;
John 13:1-17, 31b-35

The Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
Friends, wherever you are, may our God be with you.
May our God be with you as well.
Beloved of God, lift your fearful hearts to God.
We offer them to the One who fills them with hope.
Alone, with family, with tin ears and no voice, let us sing our praises to God.
Scattered, we will join our voices in singing to God this night.

The hour came, God of imagination,
when chaos was no more, as you lifted
the cup of creation, and poured it out:
stars danced in night skies,
cattle lowed in the meadows,
rivers flowed down to oceans.
You offered us a drink from
the fountains of living water,
but we reached for the cup
of bitterness and anger which
sin and death offered to us.
You sent women and men to sing
to us of all the promises you made
but we continued to distance ourselves
from you out of an abundance of caution
taught to us be temptation and death.
That is why you decided to send your Child
to us, because we broke your heart over and over
and you are the only one who could heal it.

Therefore, with those whose are quarantined by fear,
with those we love so much, yet remain isolated from,
we join our voices in singing your praise:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God of the forgotten and afraid.
All creation teaches us how to praise your name.
Hosanna in the highest.

Blessed is the One who kneels to wash us with grace.
Hosanna in the highest.

You are holiness beyond our understanding, God of love,
and you have blessed us with the gift of Jesus.
He could have remained isolated from us,
but chose to set aside glory
to become one of us.
He could be self-quarantined himself
from our foolishness and quarrels,
but he left glory’s company,
to walk with us.
He could have worn a mask
so that he would not breathe in
our fears and confusion,
but he came into our midst
to sing songs of your.
He could have forsaken the cross,
but took it up, giving his life
so we would know that we are never alone,
even in the most isolated moments,
but are surrounded by your resurrection love
this night and in every moment to come.

As we gather in these moments of isolation,
we pray our brokenness be made whole;
as we would drink the cup of grace,
we pray that we would be filled with hope;
as we gather around coffee tables or in kitchens,
we would remember that faith is a mystery:

In remembrance, we sit at the Table with our Friend;
in remembrance, we weep over his passion and death;
in remembrance, we long to celebrate the Resurrection;
in remembrance, we look to the day when we will be gathered together.

On that night so, so long ago, you poured your Spirit
upon your children about to share a meal before
scattering from the slave masters and power brokers.
On that night so long ago, you poured out your Spirit
upon your children about to share a meal before
they scattered to leave Jesus alone to face death.
On this night, now pour out your Spirit
on the gifts of the bread and the cup
and on your children scattered in so many places.
May the bread which is broken
remind us that we are made whole by your love
even as we seek to be faithful
in caring for all those who seem
so far apart from us in these days.
And may the cup from which we drink
remind us that we are filled with your grace,
so we might be people of hope in times of despair,
so we might be people of love in times of anger,
so we might be people of peace in the face of fear.

And when these long days and nights of isolation are over
and we are once again gathered as your people,
we will join hands and dance around your Meal,
singing glory and honor and praise and love to you,
God of our hearts in every moment,
Jesus of our hopes in every night,
Spirit of our love in every person. Amen and amen.

© 2020 Thom M. Shuman



Liturgy of the palms for a season of pandemic (March 28, 2021)

Texts:  Isaiah 50:4-9a; Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29; Philippians 2:5-11; Mark 11:1-11

Call to Worship

Give thanks!

God’s love is constant and devoted to us.

Let us say over and over:

God’s hope is unfailing in caring for us,

through health care workers and researchers,

through teachers reopening classrooms,

and therapists available around the clock.

Give thanks, O give thanks!

Justice is the gate God opens to all.

Let us say over and over:

God hears the cries of those who are forgotten:

those who sleep rough in forgotten streets,

those who are most vulnerable around us,

those who have no family to care for them.

Give thanks, O give thanks, people of God!

God comes to bring us new life.

Let us say this over and over:

God takes the stone tossed aside by us

to build the foundation of salvation,

a foundation made out of grace’s gravel,

the sand of hope shaken out of Jesus’ shoes,

and mixed with the waters of life.

Prayer of the Day

After a year of weariness,

we struggle to put one foot

in front of the other, if 

we manage to pull ourselves

out of bed each morning. 

But you take us by the hand,

Steadfast Love,

as we walk through

the streets of your community

of grace and wonder,

listening to the songbirds.


After a year of endless stories

of those who refuse to be cautious,

who could care less about others,

we try to keep our ears

from being stuffed with cotton,

Word of hope for all,

so we might learn how to listen,

to the hearts which are ignored

by everyone, everywhere.


After a year of staying in place,

it is no wonder we want to run away

for the days of exhaustion,

the overwhelming worries,

the fears that are velcroed to us,

so model for us,

Peace of the weary,

how to dare to bear the injustices

of all those blamed by far too many

for these days in which we find ourselves.


Steadfast Love, Word of hope, Spirit of peace,

God in Community, Holy in One,

hear us as we lift our prayer to you,

(The Lord’s Prayer)


Call to Reconciliation

After a year of struggling to follow Jesus faithfully, we know how we have worn down others by our angry words, how we have wearied loved ones with poor choices.  Yet, we also recognize, that in every moment of every day, God has been with us with that love which never gives up, that grace which is always offered freely to us.  So, let us come with our prayers, to God's heart, so we may enter forgiveness and life anew.  Let us pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness

   We have been so busy this last year, focused on  ourselves, Enduring Love, that we have forgotten to imagine what was on Jesus' mind in those days.  We long to shout for joy on a day like this, smiling as we remember waving our palms, even as we look at our empty hands.   We harden our faces, not in discipleship, but to turn away those who are still struggling in these days.

   Yet, because he was fully human like us, God whose compassion never fades, we can be more like Jesus, if we dare.  So, as we begin our journey through another Holy Week of worshiping apart, yet strangely more together than we imagine, help us to always choose humility over hubris, weakness over strength, tenderness over bullying, and to seek to stay faithful as we can in these days.  We pray this in the name of our Teacher, Jesus.  Amen.


Silence is kept


Assurance of Pardon

God dares us to think like Jesus, because God knows that if we do, we will find the strength to live through these days, to walk with others, to offer our lives in love and service to all.

God hears our prayers, listens to our hearts, fills us with forgiveness, and walks with us in these moments and in all the ones to come.  Thanks be to God for such incredible mercy!  Amen.


Prayer of Dedication/Offering

We have discovered, in this year of pandemic, that we have more than we ever imagined, and discover we are given opportunities we never saw before to be your grace, your hope, your love in the lives of those around us, as we care for all your children in these days. In Jesus’ name, we pray.  Amen.


Great Prayer of Thanksgiving

May the God who opens the gates of justice be with you.

May God be with you as well.

Let us empty ourselves of our pride and power,

so that God can fill our hearts with humility.

Let us learn the songs of praise God would teach us,

so that we rejoice in God’s steadfast love morning by morning.


You sent Word and Spirit to gather up chaos,

as they said, “God has need of it,”

as you transformed it into creation,

   colts to carry kings and servants,

   palms to sway in breezes and wave in hands,

   stones to be used as foundations for homes,

      as well as for kin-doms.

You shaped humanity in your image,

inviting us to enter through the gate of love,

   but we longed to be filled with power and privilege,

   and so blessed sin and death as they came to us.

Those women and men we call prophets

came morning to awaken us to your call

to be sustained by your love,

   yet we continued to give new names

   to the temptations which delighted us.

So, you sent Jesus to us,

not in power and wealth,

but as one who was simply a Teacher

of steadfast love and unfailing hope.


With those who put down their hearts in welcome,

with those who clutch doubts behind their backs,

we join in songs of praise:


Holy, holy, holy are you, Stonemason of salvation.

All creation joins in recognizing this moment of grace.

Hosanna in the highest!


Blessed is the One who is peace and glory for us.

Hosanna in the highest!

Setting aside privilege and power, Holy God,

your Child, our Brother, chose to be made

in our image, so we might see you face to face.

He could have bossed us around,

telling us what to do,

   but chose to teach us compassion

   because that was what was in his heart.

He could have turned his back on us,

or kept his earbuds lodged in tight,

   but chose to listen to our stories,

   to listen to our hearts breaking.

He could have hardened his face

in judgment for our foolish choices,

   but turned it towards what awaited him

   in that place where people would reject him,

   friends would betray and deny him,

   the powers would condemn him, and

   death would claim victory over him

until you raised him to resurrection life.


As we seek to follow in the coming days,

as we remember all he said and did,

we proclaim that mystery we call faith:

Jesus died, willing to suffer for others;

Jesus was raised, exalted by God for his faithfulness;

Jesus will come, so we may once again cry,

   ‘blessed is the One who comes in peace and glory!’

Here at this Table, the weary are sustained,

the broken are offered healing,

the ignored are welcomed as family,

and the simple gifts of the bread and cup

are transformed into the treasures of your heart

as you pour out your Spirit in these moments.

As the bread whose brokenness reminds us

of the One who was willing to suffer for all,

may we be reminded that the Lord needs us

   to worship with the outcast as well as the privileged,

   to work with the hopeless as well as the arrogant,

   in every place we can, we every word we speak.

As the cup of grace is offered to us, may we remember

the One emptied himself for those around him,

and that he needs us to do everything we are asked,

as we bend our knees to reach down

   to seek justice for the oppressed,

   to cradle the heart-broken

   to hear the stories of 80-year-olds

      who are reliving their childhoods.


And when we are gathered by the One

who will come in peace and glory

to bring us to the Table of grace,

we will sing of that name above all other names,

forever praising you for your steadfast love,

God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.



Now we will set aside our palm branches,

to go and serve at God’s side

in a broken and fearful world.

Now we will pick up our cloaks

and follow Jesus wherever he leads,

to learn from those the world ignores,

to be touched by the grace within them.

Now we will sing songs of wonder,

as we work alongside the Spirit,

sustaining the weary with peace and hope.


© 2021 Thom M. Shuman


Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Liturgy of the Passion for a time of pandemic (March 28, 2021)

 Texts:  Isaiah 50:4-9a; Psalm 31:9-16; Philippians 2:5-11;Mark 14:1 - 15:47

Call to Worship
We begin the holiest of weeks this day,
seeking to discover God in the passion and grief.
Have grace on us, O God, as we listen
for words which will sustain our weariness
of the days through which we are living.
We will be invited to sit at the Table,
where Jesus welcomes friends and followers.
Have grace on us, Brother of our tears,
as we struggle not to turn our backs on you
in these days through which we are living,
but find ourselves welcome at your Table of grace.
As the days unfold, may we worry not so much
about ourselves, but for the One who stands by us.
Have grace on us, Spirit of comfort,
and hold us in every moment of this journey
through the days in which we are living.

Prayer of the Day
By your grace,
God of every moment,
you sustain the weary
with words of hope,
you heal the brokenness
caused by silly choices.

By your grace,
Brother who stands
by us in every moment,
you choose passion
when you could have
remained in glory;
you go toe-to-toe
with death for us.

By your grace,
Spirit of peace,
you refuse to forget us
like so many around do,
you offer us strength
as we journey through these days.

By your grace,
God in Community, Holy in One,
we discover we can trust you in every moment,
and so we pray, saying
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
How weary we are from these days of isolation and worry; how broken our dreams and hopes have become in these days.  But, as we offer our prayers, God will remember us – our dreams, our hopes, as well as our failings, and will restore us to new life.  Let us join our voices together, as we pray, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   Have mercy on us, God of betrayers and deniers.  We have run out of tears, weeping for ourselves, so have none for those most vulnerable in these days. We are tempted to forget those who are around us, who have no one to care for them.  We argue about who is the wisest in these days, who is offering the best advice,  and never notice those who serve with humility and grace.
   Yet we pray that you would remember us, God of the Passion, and pour out mercy on us.  May we commit our hearts into yours, so we may learn how to love as deeply as you.  May we commit our hands into yours, so we may be taught how to serve others with joy.  May we commit our spirits into yours, so we may be as trusting as Jesus, the One who was willing to believe the promises you made so long ago. 

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Our tears are mingled with those of God; our sighs are held in the heart of grace; our emptiness is filled with hope and peace.
Hesitantly, hopefully, we will walk with Jesus to Jerusalem, and beyond.  For everything is done for us, and we bend our knees in praise and joy.  Thanks be to God, we are forgiven!  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
As we offer our hearts and gifts, may we have the same mind as Christ, remembering those who have so little, thinking of all the ways we can serve, trusting completely in your love and grace, Holy God. We pray this in the name of our Brother, Jesus.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God who gives us everything we need be with you.
May God be with you, so you lack nothing.
Let us empty ourselves of the shadows within.
May God fill our empty hearts with the light of love.
Trust in God in these moments, for God is with us.
We come to the One who saves us with love.

Like wheat, you sifted chaos,
God who helps in every moment,
and creation was formed from the emptiness:
   mornings which break bright and clear,
   gentle breezes that herald spring,
   soft rain which nourishes new life.
We were shaped in your image,
and you longed to serve us with your love,
   but we cried for you to release death
   so we might welcome it with open arms.
Time and again, you sent prophets,
women and men who sought
to heal our grief with words of hope,
to wipe the tears from our cheeks,
   yet we refused to listen to them,
   mocking their words and insulting them.
Then you chose to send your Child,
the One who would not let his faith fail him,
but would follow you all the way to death.

With those who desire to feast with you,
with those whose hearts are filled with nails,
we offer our thanksgiving to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God whose heart aches with grief.
All creation mingles its tears with yours this week.
Have grace on all who journey in the coming days.

Blessed is the One who stands by your through everything.
Have grace on all who seek to find peace in the coming days.

Daring to imagine new life for your children,
God of holiness and hope,
Jesus became one of us, made in your image.
He could turn the corner
every time he sees us,
   but chooses to greet us with open arms;
he could forget about us,
leaving us alone in our fearful days,
   but he remembers us in death, and in life;
he could have hardened his face
in judgment and punishment toward us,
   but he chose to endure the Passion,
   being mocked and beaten,
   being insulted and spat upon,
   being betrayed into death’s hands.
The powerful, the bullies of the world
forgot him after his death, but you
   raised him to new life
   and new hope for all.

Though we fear to follow, we will;
though we wonder how Jesus was obedient,
still we proclaim this mystery called faith:

In every moment, Jesus knew you were with him;
in the moment of death, Jesus committed himself to you;
in the moment of resurrection, you committed yourself to him;
in the moments to come, you will commit yourself to us.

It is here at this Table that we gather,
where our tears will be wiped,
our brokenness be made whole,
our weariness transformed into service,
as you pour the gift of your Spirit on us,
and the gifts of this feast.
The bread which is broken
becomes the strength which fills
our emptiness so we can be with those
   whose sighs are not heard through angry words,
   whose closest friends are grief,
   whose lives are mocked by the powerful.
The cup which overflows with grace
becomes the nourishment we need
   to join our voices with the voiceless,
   to gather little children who are lonely,
   to listen to the hearts of all the forgotten.

And when you bring us home
at the end of all time and history,
we will join our sisters and brothers
who have been remembered by you
in every place, every moment,
in serving you through all eternity,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Let us leave with silence as our companion,
so we may hear the whispers of all
who have been forgotten, except by God.
Let us leave with service as our teacher,
so we learn the art of compassion from Jesus,
to bring healing and hope to everyone we meet.
Let us leave with surprise as our guide,
so we may be open to the promises
the Spirit speaks in the moment of our utter grief and loss.

(c) Thom M. Shuman