Monday, July 19, 2021

Alternate texts liturgy for July 25, 2021 (Pentecost 9/Trinity 8/Proper 12/Ordinary 17 - B)

 Texts:  2 Kings 4:42-44; Psalm 145:10-18; Ephesians 3:14-21; John 6:1-21

Call to Worship
God comes with hands filled with grace;
God offers justice like a neighbor with tomatoes from the garden.
For this reason, we come to worship our God.
Jesus comes to hold up those whose legs wobble;
Jesus picks up all who stumble over their faith.
For this reason, we come to follow Jesus.
The Holy Spirit comes, as close as every breath we take;
the Spirit makes clear God’s hopes for us.
For this reason, we come to learn from the Spirit.

Prayer of the Day
We fill sacks with groceries
and hand them out to
hungry neighbors and strangers;
we run, walk, wheel
with kids and teens
to help pay medical bills
for one of their friends;
and you strengthen our faith
with these and so many other
ways to serve, Holy God.

A couple hold their grandchild
for the first time as she
beams up at them;
a carer holds our hand
as we prepare for another round
of treatments which weaken us;
and you dwell in us
through these and so many others,
Jesus our Companion.

You awaken that dormant
commitment to peace and justice
which has been gathering dust;
you till our souls with
goodness and compassion
so we can welcome refugees
into our communities;
and you continue to plant us
deep into the rich soil of hope,
Spirit of wonder.

Through these ways and opportunities,
these people and challenges,
you show us the dimensions of your love,
God in Community, Holy in One,
and we lift the prayer you have taught, saying,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
We get out our yardsticks, our calculators, our laser distance measurers, determined we can figure out just how many square feet of grace we can expect.  But the dimensions of your love cannot be figured out, any more than the depths of your mercy.  And so, we know we can bring our prayers for hope as we speak of those foolish lives we have been leading.  Hear us, as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   Believing you exist to save us, Holy One, we think we can do anything we want, no matter the consequences; we can speak any words that are on our lips, no matter how much they hurt those we love; we can hoard everything, and anything, we wish, no matter how much need others have in their lives.
   Yet you choose to redeem us, God of imaginative justice, not so we can keep living the lives we have, but we might be transformed into those who praise you, not just with our songs, but with hands that lift others to their feet, with hearts that love those ignored by the world, and with hope that has been planted deep within us by the Master Gardener, Jesus Christ, our Brother.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
There is more than enough grace for everyone.  We may not understand why, or how, or when; but God will make it happen.  And that is all we need to know.
When it comes to grace, hope, peace, forgiveness – there are so many leftovers from God’s abundant heart, that we can put them in to-go boxes to share them with everyone we meet.  Thanks be to God, we are forgiven!  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
When we worry about having enough to feed the hungry, to clothe the cold, to shelter the homeless, to embrace the lonely, you simply ask us to share but some of our abundance, and you will multiply it beyond every expectation.  Receive our gifts, and use them we pray in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God who feeds us be with you.
May God be with you as well.
Let us open our hearts to the One who fills us with grace.
We lift them to our God who touches us with hope.
Let us join our voices in praising our God.
Taught by the Word, we sing the melodies of the Spirit.

Gathering up the fragments of chaos,
Innovative God,
you took them and, giving thanks,
shaped them into creation’s wonders:
   little children willing to share with everyone;
   little birds that swirl in autumn breezes;
   lightning bugs twinkling over summer lawns.
You even crafted us in your image of love and hope
so that we might live in joy with you,
   but we withdrew into the embrace of death,
   preferring to sail sin’s tossing seas.
Giving them your words of faith,
you sent prophets to call us back,
   but we did not think it was enough
   to keep us from ignoring you.
So, you chose to send your grace to us,
becoming one of us so we might
be brought back to your heart.

With those who have been fed by your grace,
and those who hunger for hope,
we sing our praises to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God who knows our hearts.
The faithful join all creation in glorifying you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who feeds the hungry.
Hosanna in the highest!

You could choose to stay apart
from us, God of all that is good,
but you cross to the other side of your holiness
to become one of us in Jesus.
In him, you became weak,
   so that we might be pulled up
   from where we have fallen;
in him, you became a laughing stock,
   so that we our tears could be wiped away
   by your grace and hope;
in him, you took on death,
   breaking its power once and for all,
   and denying sin’s claim on us,
   as you raised him from the grave.

As we remember his compassion for the most vulnerable,
as we prepare to receive the gifts of life and grace,
we sing of that faith which knows no reason:

For this reason, Jesus set across the rough seas of fear and death;
for this reason, Jesus was raised in resurrection love;
for this reason, Jesus will return to gather us in hope.

As your people gather at this Table,
where the Holy Meal awaits,
pour out your Spirit on the gifts
of the bread, the cup, and your children.
As we eat of the bread
which is as broken as your heart,
may its love and hope
not become leftovers we throw away,
   but strength for those broken by life,
   peace for those torn by conflicts,
   wonder for those dulled by disappointment.
And may grace filling this cup
not be poured down the drain,
but be offered in love
   to those who have no friends,
   to those who long for justice,
   to all who listen for words of affirmation.

And when you have accomplished more
than we could ever dare imagine,
gather up all of us from every time and place,
so that together we may forever praise you,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

With words and whispers of the heart,
God has spoken to us in these moments.
For this reason, we shall go out to share good news with everyone we meet.
With ways to care for others, with bread for the journey,
Jesus sends us to care for those around us.
For this reason, we shall go out to be
with the hungry, the broken, the lonely.
With seeds of hope planted deep within us,
the Spirit prepares us to be hope and peace to others.
For this reason, we shall go to the places we try to avoid,
to serve those we usually ignore.  

© Thom M. Shuman