Monday, December 06, 2021

Liturgy w/communion for December 12, 2021 (Advent 3 - C)

 Texts: Zephaniah 3:14-20; Isaiah 12:2-6; Philippians 4:4-7; Luke 3:7-18

Call to Worship
Come, let us rejoice this day in the God 
who is near in everyone around us.
We will sing glad songs of the One
who is rebuilding neighborhoods in our midst.
Come, let us rejoice always in Jesus 
who baptizes us with hope and compassion.
We will join in choruses of praise of the One
who brings justice to the forgotten in our midst.
Come, let us rejoice again and again in the Spirit
who offers us new life in every moment.
We will sing full throttle of the One
who fills us with gifts to share with everyone in our midst.

Prayer of the Day
Holy God,
when we believe it is enough
that we have sung in choirs,
remind us that it is
the lullabies to little children,
the acceptance sung to teenagers,
the welcoming songs to strangers,
the oldies hummed with older folks
that matter the most.

Jesus, our uncomfortable Brother,
when we believe it is enough
to have been in church every week
remind us that it is
the kindness we share on Monday,
the justice we work for on Tuesday
the tutoring we offer on Wednesday,
the meals we serve on Thursday,
the blood we donate on Friday,
the rides we give on Saturday,
the grace we live every day
that matter the most.

Spirit of wisdom,
when we believe it is enough
to have taught Sunday School
for so many years, remind us that it is
the words of forgiveness we offer,
the books we open for children,
the skills we share without recompense,
the arms we open to others
that matter the most.

When we believe our lives faithfulness are enough,
remind us that there is always more we can do,
God in Community, Holy in One,
even as we pray as we are taught,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
Why should we fear? Whatever we have said or done; whoever we have neglected or whatever we refused to do, surely God has washed away with the waters of life, flowing into that crystal sea of forgiveness.  Let us bring our lives to the One who comes to give us hope and life, in this and in every season, as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   We admit, God of Advent, that it is easier to trust a politician's glib words than yours which were spoken so long ago.  We know how afraid we are of tomorrow, because of what we do today, ignoring what you brought about so long ago.  We, who have been given so much from your heart, find it hard to share even a smidgen from  our abundance.
   Forgive us, God our hope, and have mercy on us.  Lift us to our feet; draw us close into your loving embrace; drench us the buckets of grace drawn from the deep wells of life, so we will have the courage to declare you as our God, as we follow Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with the Holy Spirit.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
As plain as the heart in our chests, the good new is this: God is our hope.  God is our life.  God is our future.
We will sing aloud, our voices at full throttle.  We are forgiven, we are saved!  Thanks be to God.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
We will not be afraid, Loving God, to offer our hopes, our hearts, our treasures to you, but do so willingly, trusting that you will use them to bring life, joy, grace, and peace to all around us.  We pray in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God who saves us be with you.
May the God of redemption be with you.
Let us offer our hearts to our God of grace.
We open them that God may fill them with life and hope.
Come and sing glad praises to the God who is with us.
With great joy and hope, we join in glad choruses of praise.

Out of the dried up well called chaos,
Divining God, you brought forth
creation gushing with living waters,
   that ran through valleys towards oceans,
   that sprinkled flowers on forest floors,
   that gave nourishment to birds, to animals
and to those shaped in your image,
who were offered all the gracious gifts
which flowed from your heart.
We could have lived with you 
in that garden of wonder and delight,
   but we listened to the temptations
   offered to us by death and sin,
   choosing to share our lives with them.
The prophets came, time and again,
their words sung full throttle
in the courtyards of cities and
from the rooftops of villages,
   but we were like those trees
   which look so healthy on the outside,
   but are hollowed out by decay.
In your love, and with your hope,
you chose to become one of us,
Jesus being born into our lives.

With those who rejoice always and again,
with those who long to be brought home,
we lift our voices to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God who saves us.
We rejoice with all creation in praising you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes to baptize us 
   with new life and with the Spirit.
Hosanna in the highest!

Though you are holy being knowing,
God of this season, you chose hope
to be embodied in Jesus, your Child.
Rejecting power,
   his weakness raises the fallen to their feet;
refusing to be afraid,
   he whispers to us to trust as deeply
   and faithfully as he did;
unable to exclude the forgotten,
   he welcomes his sisters and brothers
   shoved to the side and forgotten by us;
doing all he could for others,
he finally let his executioners 
untie the thongs of his sandals,
so that by his death and resurrection,
we might be shod in resurrection love,
walking home to be with you at last.

Surely his resurrection gives us new hope and life,
surely we bear the fruit of his grace and life,
even as we proclaim that mystery we call faith:

Surely, on that day, Jesus gave his life for those he loved;
surely, on that morning, Jesus was raised to new life;
surely, in that time to come, Jesus will gather us to new life.

O holy God of the ages, may your Spirit
descend upon those of us gathered 
and on the gifts which fill the sacred table.
Here, may the broken bread feed us
and reshape our fragmented lives
so we may see those around us,
   giving our extra clothes
      to those who have too few;
   emptying our pantries
      to feed those who are hungry.
Here, may we draw compassion 
from the deep wells of the cup of grace,
so we may go forth to serve others:
   as crossing guards at schools,
   as caregivers for the vulnerable,
   as your peace which brings healing.

And when all time and history has ended
and we are brought home at the last,
we will sing full throttle with our sisters and brothers,
with great joy, hope, wonder, and praise
of your enduring goodness and grace,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Setting aside our fears and worries, let us go.
We will go as God's people on this day,
to remind everyone that God is as close
to them as the beats of their hearts.
Setting aside our prejudices and assumptions, let us go.
We will go as Jesus' followers this day,
to gather up the forgotten and bring them home,
to embrace the lonely as sisters and brothers.
Setting aside our expectations and demands, let us go.
We will go as those graced by the Spirit,
to share with others the waters from grace's deep wells,
to offer that peace which never comes to an end.

(c) Thom M. Shuman