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