Sunday, April 24, 2022

Liturgy w/communion for May 1, 2022 (Easter 3 - C)

 Texts: Acts 9:1-6 (7-20); Psalm 30; Revelation 5:11-14; John 21:1-19

Call to Worship
Now is the time to sing!
to sing the good news of God:
who awakens us with dawn’s embrace,
who surrounds us with joy and life.
Now is the time to offer praise to God,
in every place, with every voice:
to rejoice in the One who leads us through each moment
with a gentle hand and a word of hope.
Now is the time to join all creation in extolling God,
from the depths of the sea to the farthest galaxies:
We will sing the good news of Easter!
We will rejoice in the God who loves us.

Prayer of the Day
We pile our fears and worries
on the bedside table,
tossing our dreams and hopes
into the waste can to be emptied,
tangling ourselves up in the covers
as well as our fears, spending
another sleepless, endless night.
But your joy comes
in the birds that sing us awake,
in the sun which warms us,
in blue skies that mark the way,
Holy Imagination.

The day awaits us, and
we are hesitant to step out the door,
our aging bodies wearied with illness,
memory that doesn’t seem as sharp as it once was,
bullies wait to taunt us at school,
we wonder if today we will find out
that our job is no longer needed.
But your grace comes
in the laughter at lunch with friends,
in the child who tells us a silly joke,
in the touch of a loved one,
Imagination’s Child.

The evening stretches before us,
and we sit at the table
across from the empty chair,
we dread the phone call
from the ever-forgetful parent,
we weep at the images
of pain and suffering flashing before us.
But your hope comes
in the silence of healing,
in the dog who nuzzles our hands,
in the card sent by an old friend,
Spirit of wonder.

You come to us in every moment,
God in Community, Holy in One,
and so we lift our prayer to you in praise,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
We can hold on to hurt until our hands begin to cramp, and keep holding.  Though they bow our back, we refuse to set our grudges down, because we don’t know what it would feel like to have that weight off us.  And we think that is the way God operates as well.  But God’s anger lasts for just a moment, while the grace, the forgiveness, and the hope God offers never goes away.  Let us dare to bring our prayers to the One who hears us and heals us, as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   Now that Easter is done and gone, Holy One, we no longer hear the special music, but listen to temptation’s familiar refrains.  We no longer walk those straight paths of joy and wonder, but wander the crooked streets to our old haunts.  Rather than living in the newness you bring, we do things the way they have always been done.
   Fortunately, God of seaside breakfasts, you know the way out of our messy lives, and so take us by the hand to lead us.  You wipe our busy schedules off our calendars so we may spend more time with those who need our love and attention.  You challenge us to fish from the other side of our worries, so we may pull in all the grace, wonder, and mercy offered to us by Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Why should we weep?  Joy comes to us this morning, and every moment of our lives.  The Lamb of God has come, to share mercy and hope with us, so we can praise our God with joyous hearts.
We will lift glad songs of joy, for all the blessings God has given to us.  We will offer our hearts and hands in love and serve to others.  Thanks be to God, we are forgiven!  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
May the gifts we offer this day, Kind God, bring joy to those whose mornings are hopeless, feed those who noontimes are filled with hunger, and bring peace to those whose nights are surrounded by fears and worries.  This we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of morning joy be with you!
May the God of gracious moments be with you!
Lift your hearts to God, children of love and hope!
We offer them to the One who fills us with life!
Let us sing glad praises to our God!
Our voices join all creation in glad songs!

You looked, and in the midst of chaos,
you heard the Spirit singing
creation into existence, Wondrous God:
   majestic eagles and tiny hummingbirds,
   graceful giraffes and awkward aardvarks,
   earthworms and moles,
   hermit crabs and sea horses.
Dust could not praise you, so
you gathered it up, using it
to shape us in your image
that we might enjoy the gifts found
in heaven and on earth
and under the earth and in the sea,  
   but we foolishly fell into the traps
   dug by death to capture us.
You sent the prophets to us who,
through their words and actions,
reminded us that we had been shaped
to be as upright as mountains,
   but we continue to allow sin
   to form us into molehills.
Dismayed, you could have hidden your face,
but sent us your heart instead.

So with those whose nets are empty of hope,
with those whose lives overflow with grace,
we sing your praises with full voices:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God who loves us
      more than these.
Creatures of heaven, earth, under the earth,
      and in the sea join in extolling you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the Lamb who is worthy.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, God who leads us
by the hands out of our shadowed lives,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, who feeds us life.
When we cried,
   he came to wipe away our tears;
when we were speechless,
   he taught us songs of praise;
when we dressed is ashes,
   he gave us grace’s garments;
though we loved sin and death
more than we loved him,
   he went to the cross,
   filling death’s nets with his spirit,
   so its power over us
   might be emptied forever.

As we remember the Lamb who is worthy,
as we come to the Lamb’s Feast this day,
we sing of that mystery we call faith:

Christ died, as God’s heart broke;
Christ was raised, as all creation sang in joy;
Christ will come, as we are gathered
   in the fullness of time.

Lead us by the hand, gracious God,
to the Table where the bread, the cup,
and the guests all receive the Spirit
which is poured out upon them.
As we come to eat of the bread,
may its brokenness give us strength
   to stand up to persecutors
      of the most vulnerable;
   to challenge those who love themselves
      more than the frightened and lonely.
May the cup of life
fill us with the courage
   to feed those who hunger
      for grace and hope;
   to tenderly care for those
      discarded by the world.

Then, when the Lamb gathers
those of every time and place
for the Supper of Joy in eternity,
we will fall down and worship you,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Now it is time to get up and go.
We will leave in order to follow God into the world.
Now it is time to enter the brokenness all around us.
We will go to bring the healing and peace of Jesus to all.
Now it is time to bring words of hope and grace to all.
The Spirit will give us the words we need in every moment.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Monday, April 18, 2022

Liturgy w/communion for April 24, 2022 (Easter 2 - C)

 Texts: Acts 5:27-32; Psalm 150; Revelation 1:4-8; John 20:19-31

Call to Worship
Praise God with clapping hands;
praise God with hands comforting a child.
Praise God with silent hearts;
praise God with hearts broken for the world.

Praise God with electric guitars;
praise God with soft piano chords.
Praise God with be-bop and hip-hop;
praise God with rhythms that don't stop.

Praise God with a hallelujah chorus;
praise God with a Gregorian chant.
Praise God with dancing steps;
praise God with feet walking for justice.

Prayer of the Day

Holy God, Lover of your children:
the tomb has been opened,
     and we dance into your future.
Your life has dawned on us,
     and we surround you with our praise.
You reach out your hand,
     and lead us into joy.

Jesus Christ, Faithful Witness:
you pick open the locked doors
of our hearts
     and come in to be with us forever.

You breathe peace into our souls,
     so we may bring healing
          to a troubled world.

Holy Spirit, Breath of Peace:
you show us our hearts,
     so we may give love to others.
You show us our hands,
     sending us to serve the needy.
You show us your hope,
     so we may live in your joy.

God in Community, Holy in One,
who is, who was, and who is to come,
hear us as we pray as you have taught us,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
When we keep our faults and failures locked safely away, we have no need to confess. But God comes into our hearts when we least expect, so we can be filled with forgiveness, with hope, with peace.  Please join me as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness

God of empty tombs and emptier people:
when we hesitate to speak of your hope,
     forgive us, and give us a voice.
When we find it difficult to love one another,
     forgive us, and give us fresh compassion.
When we want to stand with the high and mighty,
     forgive us, and seat us next to the poor and oppressed.
When we stay locked behind our fears and doubts,
     forgive us, and send us out to share you grace.
When we cannot believe your Word of new life,
     forgive us, and fill us with your joy.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon

Christ comes into every shadowed corner of our lives with the light of Easter. Christ comes into the locked rooms of our faults and gifts us with grace and hope.
Christ comes to fill us with peace, so we may proclaim the good news of mercy and forgiveness for all. Thanks be to God. Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
We could keep our treasures locked up where they never see the light of your love, or we can offer them back to you so that those who live in the shadows of poverty might be fed, those who walk the streets of loneliness find a community, and those who long for peace will bind an end to the violence in their lives.  And so we open our hearts and our gifts in joyous praise to you.  Amen. 

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of resounding joy be with you!
And also with you!
Easter people, may your hearts be filled with joy!
May God fill our emptiness with the carols of angels!
Children of the resurrection, lift your praises to God!
We join with all creation in shouting our praise
to the One who loves us!

From the rubble of chaos,
you shaped a sanctuary for creation,
Surpassing God:
     trumpeter swans glided gracefully across lakes,
     tall trees waltzed across green fields,
     stars piped choruses of joy in the night.
Having formed us in your image,
your Spirit breathed peace into us,
inviting us to wander the gardens of wander.
     But we chose to hide ourselves behind
     the locked doors of sin and death.
Prophets came, to witness about your
willingness to forgive us and
to take our fears away from us.
When we would not respond
to your gracious invitations,
Jesus came, to free us from all sin.

With our ancestors in the faith,
with our children and grandchildren,
with everyone who sees you coming,
we sing our glad praise to you:

Holy, holy, holy, God of surpassing greatness.
Everything that breathes praises you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who you exalt.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, God of our ancestors,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, the first and last.
Co-creator of all that is around us,
     he came to bear witness of your promises.
Our Lord as well as our God,
     he blesses all who believe in him
          whether or not they have seen him.
Serving you in life as well as death,
     he became the first-born of the dead,
          so we might be your children through eternity.

As we remember all he did and taught,
as we celebrate the wonder of his resurrection,
we sing of that mystery we call faith:

Christ was the One who died for us;
Christ is the One who is risen for us;
Christ is the One who will come for us.

Send your Spirit of holiness
to transform these simple gifts
into your grace surpassing all fear,
and to bear witness of your enduring love.
Through the bread which is broken,
we are made whole once again,
     so we might minister to those
          who live behind the locked doors of oppression.
By the cup which is shared,
we are able to believe,
     even when we cannot see,
          that your peace is coming to everyone.

And when our lives have ended,
when we are gathered in grace and peace
with our sisters and brothers from all time,
we will join our hearts in praising you,
God in Community, Holy in One,
who was. who is, and who is to come. Amen.

God sends us forth with songs of joy in our hearts.
We will go to sing of wonder to all who are empty of life
even as we gather them close to our hearts.
Jesus calls us to step out of our fears into lives of witness.
We will go to breathe peace into all the broken places around us.
The Spirit teaches us new dance steps of grace.
We will go to take our sisters and brothers by the hand
to dance in the streets of the kingdom.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, April 10, 2022

New Liturgy w/Communion for April 17, 2022 (Easter - C)

 Texts:  Isaiah 65:17-25; Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24; 1 Corinthians 15:19-26; John 20:1-18 

Call to Worship 
This is the day 
when God shines the way out of pandemic's worry,
and grace offers bouquets of good news.
This is the day the Lord 
sings songs of wonder to awaken us
and life teaches us new dance steps.
This is the day the Lord has made! 
The day when hope pushes aside
the stone of our months of fear,
when love takes our hand so
we can walk together into life.

Prayer of the Day 
On this Easter, 
as on that first day long ago,
you come, Steadfast Love,
continuing to walk with us
on this strange pilgrimage
of worry, fear, and loss, 
showing us the good news
of the empty tomb, calling
us to run and tell everyone
of the new life which is ours.

On this Easter morning,  
as on that early first morning, 
you wait and watch, 
Gardener of the seeds of
love, hope, and grace you
planted deep within us,
as we stand amazed at
the harvest of hope and life
which is handed to us this day
as you call us by our names.

In those early morning moments,
Spirit of the broken hearted friends,
you whispered of that love
which cannot be held behind
the stones of our fears and doubts,
of that hope which puts grave clothes
into bandages for the hurting,
of that grace which turns cartwheels
in the gardens of our hearts,
even as you whisper them to us.

On this Easter, as on every day, 
your grace, your peace, your love 
gives us new life and hope,
God in Community, Holy in One, 
and so we pray as we are taught, saying, 
(The Lord’s Prayer) 

Call to Reconciliation 
We don't have to tell you, but we need to remind ourselves, of how our actions, words, inattention cause harm to others.  Yet, this is the day, as on every day, when God calls us by name, filling us with grace, and making us whole.  Let us bring all we have done to God, for mercy and hope.  Let us pray together, saying, 

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness 
   In our foolishness, we think this old story has nothing to do with us, God of Imagination, and so we miss the incredible news that love has triumphed over hate, goodness has defeated evil, that life has broken the power of death and the grave.
   Yet, this is a day of joy, of wonder, of grace which never ends, God of every life, God of very life.  So, may we push aside the stone of indifference we have rolled across our hearts, so we may be reminded that this old story is new every moment, that those ancient promises still hold true, that we are the ones by called by the Gardener of grace, Jesus our Brother, who calls us by name and anoints us with resurrection love.  Amen.
Silence is kept 

Assurance of Pardon 
On that first day, and the next, and every day until now and beyond, God turns, calls us by name, planting mercy and life into our hearts.
Alleluia!  This is the good news! 
Christ is our peace,  
the peace we need, 
the peace which will heal the world. 
Alleluia! Christ is Risen.  Amen. 

Prayer of Dedication/Offering 
You plant the seeds of grace, peace, love, and justice into our hearts, God of every morning, and with the tangible gifts we have as well, we can offer new hope and healing to those around us. In Jesus’ name, we pray.  Amen. 

The Great Prayer of Thanksgiving 
It is the Risen Lord, who welcomes us to this Meal.
We come to feast on life and peace. 
Here, the Gardener of life plants seeds of hope and wonders. 
We nourish them to produce bouquets of grace for others. 
Here, the Singer of lyrics of goodness teaches us new songs. 
Songs of how death has no more power over us.

There was only chaos, when there was no time,
but you breathed your Spirit, God of wonder,
and watched waters flow, and life emerge.
You whispered through your Word
and clapped as mountains grew tall,
grass rippled across meadows,
cattle and other creatures roamed,
and creation's beauty shown in wonder.
The breath, the words, the created 
were brought forth for all made in your image,
   but temptation infected us with the virus
   of arrogance and rebellious natures.
You would not give up on us,
but sent those women and men
who kept calling to us, encouraging us
to turn away and come back to you,
   but the soft seductive songs 
   of sin knew our names all too well.
You called your Child's name
who immediately stepped forward
to become one of us, for our sakes.

With all who hope in Christ,
with all who continue to question,
we sing songs of praise to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, Love which never ends. 
All creation sings Easter cantatas.
Christ is risen!  Alleluia! 

Blessed is the One who has destroyed death. 
Christ is risen!  Alleluia! 

In the chaotic times and place long ago,
you listened to your people, God of all lives,
and choosing to forget all our pasts
you sent your Beloved Child to become one of us.
Into shattered lives,
   he came rebuilding your people;
seeing those who wandered alone,
   he took us by the hand to lead us home;
noticing those quarantined by hate and fear,
   he went to their hearts to care for them;
realizing how many had been forgotten,
   he called us by name; 
when everyone forgot who we were, 
   he remembered our names; 
when it seemed that the pandemic
called death would have its way,
   he became your clinical trial,
   proving that resurrection love
was the vaccine which would protect us
from the very power of death itself.

As we proclaim his death,
as we hope in the promise of resurrection,
as we join in glad alleluias on this day, 
we proclaim that faith which is a mystery: 

The One thought dead, lives;
thOne thought to be lost, finds us; 
the One we think we will never see
   will call us by name to bring us home. 

On this Easter morning, we pray 
you would pour out your Spirit 
upon this bread that it might give us strength 
and on that cup overflowing with grace.
Pour out your Spirit, we pray as well,
on your family gathered in these moments: 
people with great faith, yet who struggled
not to lose it these past years; 
people who lived through loneliness,
and hungered for community; 
people who have tried to be compassionate
yet who were wearied by worry and fear.
As we eat this broken bread, transform us 
into those who will
   welcome the stranger,
      for we have known loneliness,
   listen to the ignored,
      for we have lived in silence,
   care for the forgotten,
      for we have struggled to be remembered. 
As we drink of the cup of grace,
we pray you would nourish us
so we may learn from those
   whose lives were not noticed,
   whose fears were not alleviated,
   whose needs were not met

And when that morning comes 
when we finish this pilgrimage of life,
being welcomed by the Gardener of grace,
along with our sisters and brothers
of every time and place, we will sing
of our love for you, forever and ever,  
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.  

We could just return to our homes,
slipping back into pandemic mode, 
but we will go to rebuild communities,
to care for those who are still so lonely.   
We could stand looking around,
wondering if Jesus has left us on our own,  
but we will turn and, seeing our neighbors,
we will call them by name and embrace them with hope.  
We could keep our lips sealed, not telling anyone 
of what we have heard and seen, 
but we will run to tell others, 
grabbing them by the hands to go 
and meet the Gardener of grace.   

© 2022 Thom M. Shuman