Sunday, April 03, 2022

Liturgy of the Passion for April 10, 2022

 Texts:  Isaiah 50:4-9a; Psalm 31:9-16; Philippians 2:5-11; Luke 22:14 – 23:56

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.
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.
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.

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 the foolish choices we make, how broken our lives become when we rely on pride, strength, bullying.  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 damaged by life.  We forget those who are around us, as if they have died, rather than caring for them.  We argue about who is the wisest, strongest, greatest, 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 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 have turned the corner
every time he saw us,
   but chose to greet us with open arms;
he could have forgotten us,
leaving us alone in our foolishness,
   but he remembered 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.

© Thom M. Shuman