Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Liturgy w/communion for Lent 5 - B in a time of pandemic (March 21, 2021)

Texts: Jeremiah 31:31-34; Psalm 51:1-12; Hebrews 5:5-10; John 12:30-33

Call to Worship:
L: Even in these uncertain times,
especially in these endless days,
P: God is fulfilling the promise of the new covenant.
L: Wherever we are, wherever we worship,
at home, outside, in every sacred space,
P: may our hearts be filled with love.
L: Through quarantine and lockdowns,
through lonely days and hopes that fizzled,
P: God has held tight to our hands to lead us through.
God's Word continues to shape us, to encourage us,
to challenge us to faithful lives in these times.
L: In new ways, sometimes uncomfortable, we have learned
to reach out to neighbors, friends, family, even strangers.
P: Beyond these moments and days, we remain ready
to serve all of God's people, to share in this covenant of grace.

Prayer of the Day
In these uncertain times
of empty moments and foggy brains,
we are reminded that you forget
more than we will ever remember,
you forgive so much more
than we are capable of messing up,
you crack open our hardened hearts
to write your name on them.
Redeemer of all,
we praise you.

In the blazing heat
of a summer filled
with empty backyards
you cooled us
with the shade of life.
In the fall of our fears,
when worries knocked on doors,
yelling, 'trick or treat!'
you kept us safe by your side.
In the winter of our despair,
you gathered us into
the warmth of your heart.
And now, in the spring of hope,
you plant those seeds of life and grace.
Jesus of the tears,
we praise you.

When we were afraid
to even venture outside,
you stayed at our side.
When we took those tentative walks
around our neighborhoods,
your held our hands.
When we stared at the ceiling
on those long, lonely nights,
you would point to your watch
and remind us that the hour
was coming, and waited with us.
Generous Spirit,
we praise you.

God in Community, Holy in One,
we open our mouths to sing your praise,
even as we pray as we have been taught:
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
We say we want to see Jesus, but too often, we are looking in the wrong places, not listening to the right people, not noticing all the grace around us. As we reflect on our lives, join me, as we come to the One who will forgive us.

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   You are the Heart which seeks ours, God of the new covenant, yet we turn away from you time and again. We have had so many chances to care for others in these days, yet know we have focused on ourselves too much. We have filled our endless days with the empty calories of fear and worry. We have paid more attention to the ramblings of politicians and celebrities, not your Word of hope.
   Now, in these moments, and especially in the silence, come and make us new people. Write the new covenant of grace on our hearts, so we become more forgiving; write mercy, so we might become more compassionate; write hospitality, so we might include all people, just as Jesus welcomes us into the company of people who try to follow him. Amen.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
L: A new heart with grace, mercy, hospitality, justice written upon it. That is God’s gift to us.
P: A new heart, a new spirit, restored and forgiven, we can go to share this good news with all people. Thanks be to God. Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
As you write upon our hearts, soften their hardness with your love. As they become softer, may we become more aware of the needs of all around us, in every part of our world. As our eyes and ears and heart open, may we become as generous as you, loving God, in sharing from our gifts. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
L: May the Lord of Lent be with you.
P: May the Lord of Lent be also with you.
L: People of God, lift up your hearts.
P: We lift our hearts to the One who writes a new covenant upon them.
L: Give thanks to the God who makes you new.
P: We open our lips to sing praises to the One who sustains us with a generous spirit.

L: Even in these continuing
days of uncertainty,
you fill our hearts with joy
Maker of covenants.
You shaped us in your image,
and like a gardener planted
seeds of love, hope, grace
deep into our very souls.
But we preferred to play
in the barren dust of the world.
you refused to give up
on your love for us, despite
our continuing rebellion and foolishness,
sending prophets to call us back,
and when we continued down
the paths of stubborn denial,
Jesus came to put us on another path.

Thus, we join our voices
in singing songs of praise,
with the faithful from every time and place,

P: Holy, holy, holy are you, Writer upon our hearts.
All creation is draws close to your side.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who has compassion on us.
Hosanna in the highest!

L: You alone are holy, Beloved God,
and Jesus is your heart of love.
Named your Beloved at baptism,
he was one of us,
choosing to share our life completely.
living in a pandemic of oppression,
he spoke truth to power
and called all to accountability.
Though uncertain as to what
might happen when his hour came,
he went to the cross.
The Word who had spoken
life into being during creation,
he was broken to make us whole,
experiencing our death, and
planted like a seed in the empty tomb,
he burst forth into resurrection life,
so, we might all know this promise.

Now, as we prepare to come to
this Table of life and hope,
we remember all that he has done
and we proclaim the mystery of our faith:

P: Christ died, lifted up for all people.
Christ was raised, called forth from death for all.
Christ will come, the source of eternal life for all.

L: In these continuing uncertain
times, wondering what lies ahead,
we come to the Table
filled with the gifts of your grace,
praying you will pour out your Spirit
upon the bread, the cup, and ourselves.
May the bread which is broken
become those seeds of life
which we can share with
those who continue to be afraid,
those whose only friend is loneliness,
those who long for an end to endless days.
As we drink from the cup,
may the nourishment of its grace,
strengthen us to care for
those who hope for work,
for teachers and students,
for those hoping to be vaccinated.

And when all time comes to an end,
and we are gathered with sisters and brothers
from every time and place,
we will be seated at the Table of grace,
where we will sing your praise forever,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

L: With the covenant of grace written on our hearts, let us go forth
P: to share compassion with those
who struggle in these endless days.
L: With the covenant of hope written on our hearts, let us go forth,
P: to continue to care for the hungry,
to comfort the lonely and grieving,
to become a family for the forgotten.
L: With the covenant of peace written on our hearts, let us go forth,
P: to be serenity in moments of despair,
to whisper words of gentleness to all.

(c) 2021 Thom M. Shuman