Monday, May 30, 2022

Liturgy w/communion for June 5, 2022 (Pentecost - C)

 Texts:  Genesis 11:1-9; Psalm 104:24-34, 35b; Acts 2:1-21; John 14:8-17, 25-27

Call to Worship
Come, Holy Spirit,
with your language of wonder:
so we may mingle our words together
to scatter the gospel of grace to all around us.
Come, Holy Spirit,
with the music of your heart:
so we may sing songs filled with memories,
and listen to the new carols sung by children.
Come, Holy Spirit,
to rattle the windows of our souls:
to burst through the closed doors of our hearts,
and dance with us in the fire of renewal.
Come, Holy Spirit, we pray!
Come, Holy Spirit, to us this day!

Prayer of the Day  
What you do, Amazing God,
what you do all around us!
You plant the seeds which
blossom into tomatoes and corn;
you stir the breezes to cool us
on warm, summer days;
you float the snowflakes through the air,
so children can build snow people;
you feed the humpback whales in the oceans
and the hummingbirds at feeders.

What you do, Friend of the fearful,
what you do for all of your family!
You whisper in our ears 
of God's love for us, and
challenge us to be as daring
in caring for those around us;
you share the Spirit with us,
knowing there will be those moments
when we need a Comforter, and
those days when we look for an Advocate
to be on our side against evil.

What you do, Spirit of Pentecost,
what you do in these moments!
You send flames of hope to dance
upon those whose hearts are frozen
with fear and doubts;
you breathe new life into all
who have come to believe
there is no future for them;
you break into our closed-off souls
to fill us with joy beyond imagination
and peace which transforms us.

What you do, for us, in us, through us,
God in Community, Holy in One!
And you will continue to do all this
and more, and so we pray, saying
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation   
We still don't get it - this gift called grace, this mercy called forgiveness.  So, we want more signs, more proof, more evidence that God loves us.  Yet, all we have to do is what Jesus did - trust in God: completely, foolishly, daringly.  Let us pray, telling God how hard such trust is for us, hoping that God's gracious Spirit will dance in our hearts.  

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness  
   We look for tongues of fire to dance upon us, God of Pentecost, but hold only the ashes of our broken promises.  We long to speak simply and clearly so that everyone, everywhere, might understand your love for them, but we scatter our words to the wind with our inability to care for others.  We want you to show us the secrets of the kingdom, never noticing they are revealed in the songs of children, the memories of older folks, the dreams of the young all around us.
   Have mercy on us, and pour out your Spirit, God of amazing days.  When we pull the shutters of our souls shut, fling them open with the breath of wonder.  When we turn out all the lights and huddle in the shadows of fear, illumine our hearts with the dancing flames of the Spirit's joy.  When we find it impossible to come up with the language of love, pour your Word, Jesus Christ, into our emptiness so we may fill others.


Assurance of Pardon 
Hear the good news for us.  God pours the Spirit upon us in these moments - the Spirit which comforts us, which encourages us, which transforms us through God's grace.
Thanks be to God!  The Spirit brings us peace, comforts our hearts, and fills us with hope.  We are forgiven and made new.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering   
As you would transform our doubts and set us free from our fears, so we pray these gifts we offer might bring hope to those who despair, might feed those who hunger for hope as well as food, and might gather them into your community of wonder and joy.  We pray this in Jesus' name.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
On this day of Pentecost,
may the Spirit dance with you!
May the Spirit dance with you as well!
May God's grace be poured into your hearts.
Come, Holy Spirit, 
to fill our hearts with love.
May God's Word become your language of praise.
Come, Holy Spirit, to teach us
new songs of thanksgiving.

With a Word, you scattered chaos,
God of wonder and joy,
creating everything imaginable, 
and those things only you could envision.
Pouring out your Breath of life,
   dolphins frolicked in seas,
   dogs chased their tails in circles,
   songbirds twittered to welcome the sunrise,
and we were shaped in your image,
so we might enjoy life with you in goodness.
But we tried to build a tower
   to reach those temptations just out of our reach,
   convinced they would make us happier than your joy.
Old men and women, young girls and boys,
those we call prophets and those we call meddlers,
came speaking your words of invitation
so we might return to you,
   but we thought they were drunk,
   or foolish, or didn't have a clue 
   as to what is really important in life.
So you chose to send us your Child,
who spoke of your whispers to his heart,
calling us to trust in your once again.

With those who dare to imagine your wonder,
with those who wonder what is going on,
we sing of the thanksgivings filling our hearts:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God who would gather us.
All creation joins in praising you this day.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who sends the Advocate to us.
Hosanna in the highest!

God of every moment, you alone are holy,
and your Heart, Jesus, comes to bring us
new life, new hopes, new spirit.
As the Spirit rested upon him at baptism,
   so he calls us Beloved;
as the Spirit accompanied him in the wilderness,
   so he is with us in moments of struggles;
as the Spirit anointed him to serve,
   so he gives us the words to challenge injustice,
   the courage to resist easy choices,
   the determination to be faithful in welcoming all people.
And as the Spirit strengthened him
to confront the fear of death and abandonment,
   so the Spirit opens our closed hearts
   to the gracious news that death is no more,
   defeated once and for all by your resurrection love.

As we come to this Table, we remember
the Spirit which was poured out at our baptism,
the Spirit which fills us with new hope and life,
the Spirit which transforms us into faithful people,
and so we share that mystery we call faith:

Jesus gave his life, entering the silence of death;
Jesus was raised, as resurrection's new song was sung;
Jesus will come, and so we sing as long as we can,
   with the breath of the Spirit filling us.

Once again, as you did so long ago,
pour out your Spirit upon those
gathered in this place, as called by you,
and upon the gifts gracing this Table.
With the bread, you feed us,
as you feed all creation, 
so we can go forth, each day,
   to offer hope to those who are forgotten,
   to share joy with those who grieve,
   to be the words of love for those who hear
      only judgment and hate.
With the cup, you nourish us,
as you fill all of creation,
so we can be poured out, each day,
   for the children bullied in schools,
   for the seniors mistreated by society,
   for the most vulnerable who bear the brunt
      of budget and tax cuts.

And when your Spirit comes at the end
of all time and space, gather us
with our sisters and brothers
around the Table of grace and wonder
where we will be filled with the Spirit's breath
so we can sing your praises for all eternity,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

We have heard the voice of God,
who scatters us to gather the world
into the community of grace and hope.
We will go to fill the emptiness of others,
to bring fresh air into all the stagnant places
of our neighborhoods and world.
We have heard the words of Jesus,
who calls us to share the whispers
of healing, of reconciliation, of renewal.
We will go to comfort those hiding in shadows,
to be the breath of kindness to the ridiculed,
to share in the silence of the broken and grieving.
We have heard the rush of the Spirit's wind,
who would shatter our complacency,
and give us voices for justice and righteousness.
We will go to sing songs of strength to the weak,
to whisper words of love to those who know only hate,
to shout for the renewal of all people everywhere.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, May 22, 2022

Liturgy w/communion for May 29, 2022 (Easter 7 - C)

 Texts: Acts 16:16-34; Psalm 97; Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21; John 17:20-26

Call to Worship
We come to this place of prayer,
for here we can bring our hopes and dreams,
our hidden fears and the doubts we dare wear on our sleeves.

We come to this place of grace,
for here we learn compassion and joy,
and discover how deeply we are loved.

We come with these people called the church,
to be blessed by the variety of gifts,
to live as one for our God.

Prayer of the Day

In your presence,
Creator of the Universe,
     mountains melt into
          muddy puddles
     and stars whisper
          your name to us.
Faithfulness and justice
     are the scuffed shoes
          you put on each morning,
clouds are your prayer shawl
     in the evening.

When you could have
kept God's glory in your pocket,
Servant of the poor,
     you took it out
     and spent it on us.
Confident in that love
which was yours before
the world began spinning,
     you came to walk
     the dusty path of death.

Spirit of Blessing,
like a crossing guard

you keep your eyes on us
as we cross the busy streets of life,
     ready to pull us out of the way
          of oncoming sin.

You take us by the hand
     to lead us to the shade
          of the tree of life.

God in Community, Holy in One,
make us one Body from many individuals,
as we pray as Jesus teaches us, saying,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
Plastic cards, shiny cars, brick and glass homes - what idols we fashion with our hands, how much energy and time serving them occupy our hearts!  Let us confess how we have misplaced our priorities, and seek the One who asks us to be first in our lives.

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     Enslaved to sin, we cannot see the lives we lead, God of Glory. Each day, and every day, there are those times when we ignore you and your dreams for us. Each week, and every week, we find the time to ridicule others, when we could have affirmed them. Each moment, and every moment, though we do not want to admit it, we seek our own way rather than skipping down your path of joy and obedience.
     We come asking forgiveness for our foolish lives, Eternal Blessing. Deliver us, and break the chains of sin and death which hold us captive. Open us to that grace you offer, and give us the gift of the Spirit so we may live as people of the Risen Lord, Jesus Christ.

Silence is observed

Assurance of Pardon

In the beginning was God, and at the end will be God, and in every moment in between, there is God: creating, redeeming, and sustaining us.
And through Christ, gracious love is poured into our empty souls; through the Spirit, peace becomes the gift we can share with those around us. Thanks be to God. Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
We cling so tightly to our worthless idols, Holy God, and so have trouble sharing from the abundance with which you have blessed us.  Unclench our hands, our hearts, our spirits, so we may be as generous with those who need healing, feeding, loving, caring, far more than we do.  In Jesus’ name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of wonder be with you.
And also with you.

Lift your hearts to the One who invites you to this Table,
calling, "Come, Come!"
Thirsty for life and hope, we bring our hearts to this feast.
Rejoice in the Lord, all you people!
We sing glad songs of thanks to God's holy name!

Disturbing chaos at the very beginning,
Dawn for the righteous,
you created wonder and beauty.
Coastlands were filled with life's abundance,
     clouds scudded across the skies,
     justice became the foundation for hope.
Crafted in your image to behold your glory,
     we believed the boasts of worthless idols,
          bowing down to worship sin and death.
Prophets came, speaking your word,
but we accused them of disturbing our peace.
When you saw no hope
of our returning on our own,
you sent Jesus, who came,
not only on behalf of those who knew him,
but also for all who would believe in him.

So with those who thirst for righteousness,
and with those who hunger for justice,
we lift our voices to you:

Holy, holy, holy, Joy of the upright in heart.
All creation beholds your glory.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who testifies to all things.
Hosanna in the highest!

You are most high over all Creation, Holy One,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, your Joy, our Hope.
You gave him your glory,
which he shares with all your children.
The Bright Morning Star, he came
     to illumine the shadows of our lives.
Bringing the testimony of your salvation,
     he proclaimed the good news to all who listened.

Desiring that we might be with him wherever he is,
he went to the cross,
     throwing open death's imprisoning doors,
         that we might have life eternal.
As we celebrate his life and love,
as we testify to his peace and hope,
we witness to that mystery called faith:

Christ died, that we may enter the holy city by the gates;
Christ was raised, that we may receive the water of life as a gift;
Christ will come soon, your grace calling us home.

Come, Holy God, come,
pouring out your Spirit upon this feast,
transforming your children
with the simple gifts of the bread and cup.
As we eat of the bread,
we find you within us,
     uniting us, wherever we are divided;
     healing us, where we are broken;
     sending us, when we are reluctant;
          to throw open wide all that imprisons
          our sisters and brothers throughout the world.
As we drink from the cup,
we realize how deeply we know you,
     and will go forth to witness to all around us,
          that the love with which you have loved us
               may be in them, and we in them.

And when the end of all time has come,
when the Alpha and Omega invites us to "come,"
we will gather around your Table in the holy city,
clothed in your grace with all the saints,
we will sing your praises forever and ever,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

We leave this place of prayer,
to join God in listening to the hopes and dreams,
the hidden fears and the doubts of our neighbors.

We leave this place of grace,
to share the compassion and joy of Jesus with others,
so they will discover how deeply they are loved.

We leave to be with the people of our world,
so the Spirit might bless us with their rich gifts,
so we may discover our oneness in God.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Monday, May 16, 2022

Liturgy with communion for May 22, 2022 (Easter 6 - C)

 Texts: Acts 16:9-15; Psalm 67; Revelation 21:10, 22 – 22:5; John 14:23-39

Call to Worship
God calls us to this place, a haven for healing and hope.
We come, with the pain of our burdens,
we come to hear God's Word of hope for us.

Together, we will sing songs of joy;
each of us will hear God whisper our name,
'Beloved of my heart.'
We join our voices in prayer and praise;
we sing of our longing for new lives.

Here, our shadowed corners are filled with Light;
here we discover that God dwells in us.
And not just us, for God would teach all to love;
God's Spirit would lead all peoples in peace.

Prayer of the Day
Lord God the Almighty,
you bless us with all
that you have created:
     you teach us to swim
         in the bright crystal water of life;
     you cook breakfast for us
         in that eternal city;
     you open your heart to us
         and will never close its door.
We worship you.

Jesus Christ, Lamb of God:
you stand at the door,
     your hand on the knob,
     your coat over your arm,
     ready to go away.
Yet you do not leave us
but fill our emptiness with your peace.
We praise you.

Holy Spirit, God-sent Gift:
you come to our defense
     when we are falsely accused;
you rescue us

     from the school yard bully
     who always picks on us;
you sit by our beds
     and comfort us
     when the nightmares of life
     keep us awake.
We open our hearts to you.

God in Community, Holy in One,
we sing for joy to you, even as we pray with all people
as Jesus taught us, saying,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
How easy we can learn of God's love - but how hard it is to live it! The world distracts us with its easy choices, while we know how intentional we must be to love one another. Join me as we confess our failures to love and we open our hearts to God, saying,

Unison Prayer of Confession
     Because you dwell in our hearts, Eternal God, you know how the anger, the pain, the bitterness of our lives try to crowd you out. The noise of the world deafens us to that Word which can heal us. We want our children to be good, kind, and gentle to others, and then they hear us call others names, and speak of them with demeaning words. Our desire for revenge towards those who have hurt us shows that your peace, indeed, is not in us.
     You promise a new heaven and a new earth, so create new spirits and new lives within us, Healing God. Shattered by our sin, your heart can still heal our brokenness. Your Spirit, living deep within our souls, can teach us faithful ways.  Your Word, Jesus Christ our Lord, whispers to us of your mercy, your hope, your love.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
The Word which can transform us is not some idle gossip, but good news for us. It fills us with forgiveness, equips us for service, and sends us forth to love others as God loves us.
In our midst, the Holy Spirit teaches us all we need to know, gives us what we need in order to be faithful, and fills us with peace. Thanks be to God. Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
We do not only offer our gifts to you, but our community to all who are lonely, our hearts to all who are grieving, our hope to all who have lost their way, our lives to all who are tossed aside by the world.  This we pray, in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May God be gracious to you.
And also to you.

Children of God, offer your hearts to the One who saves you.
We open our hearts to the Alpha and Omega,

the beginning and the end of hope, life, grace.
As God's people, sing for joy to the One who is with you.
We join all creation in lifting our praises to our God.

God of all beginnings,
you spoke a Word, your Spirit acted,
     calling forth the first heaven and the first earth.
Rivers teeming with life flowed to the seas,
holiness roamed the hills and valleys,
     peace was planted deep in the heart of creation.
To your children created in your image,
you made the promise to be our God,
     but we heard sin and death calling to us
     and crossed the boundary into their power.
You did not turn your face away from us
but longing to be gracious to us,
     you sent your messengers to invite us
     back to your heart, where we might live.
When we continued in our foolish ways,
you sent Jesus to us, in your name,
to remind us of all the promises you have made.

So, with those who have been called home to you,
and with those who continue to journey your way,
we join the peoples in praising you:

Holy, holy, holy, God whose face shines upon us.
All the ends of the earth bless your name.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes to give us peace.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, God who makes all things new,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, our Joy, our Savior.
Hearing our cries for help in the dark nights of the soul,
     he came bringing the light of your love;
finding us living in sin's squalor,
     he came to make a home for us;
Going to the cross for us,
     he went into death's cold tomb,
so we might not be afraid,
but cradled in the warmth
of the power of the resurrection.

As we remember his promise to always be with us,
as we celebrate his saving power among all nations,
we speak of that mystery we call faith:

Christ died, so death would be no more;
Christ was raised, so the first things might pass away;
Christ went away, and will come to us to take us back to you. 

Here at this table of grace and wonder,
where the simple gifts you have prepared
are set aside for sacred use,
your Spirit is poured out upon them
and your children gathered in this place of prayer.
As we eat of the bread broken for us,
     we feast on the promises that, one day, pain will be no more,

          that our tears will mingle with the waters of life.
As we drink deeply from the cup of peace,
     we are filled with the joy of your grace,
          and hearing the cries of those around us,
          we go forth to serve them with your hope and justice.

And when the first things have passed away,
when we wander down the streets of the new Jerusalem,
we will find you waiting for us,
our sisters and brothers gathered together
around the Table of glory and wonder,
where we will sing our praises to you forever,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

Our God, who is gracious, sends us out to be a blessing.
With our hearts, we will sing God’s praises;
with our hands, we will serve God’s people.
Jesus, who is our Brother, sends us to be with others.
We will comfort all whose hearts are troubled;
we will go to help all who cry out to us.
The Holy Spirit, who is our Advocate, sends us into a broken world.
We will work for justice for all who are oppressed;
we will teach songs of hope to all who despair.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, May 08, 2022

Liturgy w/communion for May 15, 2022 (Easter 5 - C)

 Texts: Acts 11:1-18; Palm 148; Revelation 21:1-6; John 13:31-35

Call to Worship
Praise God, all people!
Praise the Lord, all creation!

Whales doing backflips in the air,
squid and octopi dancing on the ocean floor;
giant redwoods stretching to the sky,
tomato vines cuddling around a stake.

Mountains blocking the sunrise,
moles tunneling through our front lawns;
5-year-olds sitting in a story-time circle,
grandparents singing 'their song.'

Redbuds decorating our backyard,
grass growing faster than our children;
seals getting a suntan on the rocks,
teenagers knotted together at church.

Praise the Lord, all creation!
Praise God, all people!

Prayer of the Day

Vision-Giving God,
when you put bandages
     on skinned knees;
when you hold the hand
     of a teenager
          grieving unrequited love;
when you wipe away the tears
     of parents at graduation day:
you show us
your new creation.

Brother to little children,
when you hang out
     with the world's outcasts;
when you stay a little longer
     with those we rush past;
when you will not take sides
     in our petty little games:
you show us
the new earth.

Holy Spirit,
when you turn on the
     'no vacancy' sign
          as death comes our way;
when mourning becomes
     a distant memory;
when pain is found
     only in dusty history books:
you show us
the new heaven.

God in Community, Holy in One,
make us new,
as we pray as Jesus teaches, saying,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
We show others who we are by the lives we lead, the words we speak, the actions we undertake.  Let us confess how we have not been God's little children, when we fail to love as we have been loved.

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
Who are we to get in your way, Holy God?  We put people into neat, little boxes, but you rip them open, so folks can dance in your joy. We imprison others with our unmet expectations, and you set them free with a Word. We build walls around those we don't know, and you tear them down, so they can run wild in the kingdom.
     Who are we to get in your way, Saving Power, especially in the way of your forgiveness offered to all! Give us your vision that sees everyone as equal - forgiven, graced, loved - even as we seek to follow our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
We know who God is by the love shown to us in Christ Jesus.
We will show others who we are - and Whose we are - by the loved poured out by our lives.  Thanks be to God, we are forgiven! Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
You bless us in so many ways and with so many gifts, Loving God.  As we praise you, may we offer our gifts so those who have so little may be fed, clothed, healed, restored, and graced.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May God be with you.

And also with you.
Little children, lift your hearts to God.
We lift them to the One who loves us forever.
Let us glorify the One who has raised Jesus to new life.
We sing praises to God, who makes all things new.

You commanded, Holy God,
and chaos yielded to your Word,
so all that is beautiful and good
     might be created by your grace.
The sun and moon were shaped
so we would have days and nights
     in which to praise you,
but we spent our time
denying your dreams for us,
     living each moment for ourselves.
You fixed the boundaries for your Garden,
where we could have life and joy with you,
     but we chose to play
          on the garbage dumps of sin.
You told the prophets to 'Go!'
to bring your vision
of healing and restoration,
     but we thought them to be fools,
     standing on the edges of our lives.
When we had decided
to have nothing to do with you,
you chose to become one of us,
living, calling, creating once again
through Jesus the Christ.

Therefore, with those around the Throne,
and with those in every time and place,
we sing our praises to you:

Holy, holy, holy, God who makes all things new.
The height, the depth, the breadth, the width

     of creation praises you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes, the Alpha and Omega.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, Creator of the Universe,
and blessed is Jesus, your Son, our Lord.
When he could have left us

to deal with sin and death on our own,
     he came to live with us;
when he could have chosen
the path to power and fame,
     he walked the deadly road to Calvary;

when he could have called down
the angels to save him,
     he cried out for forgiveness
          for all your children.
When you could have left him
alone and forsaken in the grave,
     you graced him with new life.

So as we sing our Easter Alleluias,
we echo that mystery we call faith:

Christ died, that death would be defeated.
Christ was raised, that God would be glorified.
Christ will come again, that we would be led to life.

Pour out your Spirit
upon this Bread and this Cup, O God,
that they might become
your grace and peace for us,
     so we might become your servants
     of hope and joy to our world.
As we come to your Table,
remind us of your promises
that when the sea is no more,
     you will flood us with your grace;
that when the earth is a hollow husk,
     you will walk with us
     through the streets
          of the New Jerusalem;
that when the sun, moon, and stars
have burned out in space,
     the Light of your love
          will shine for us forever.

And when we sit down
at the Feast of the Lamb,
receiving grace from those we loved,
and passing it on to those we feared
until all people are served,
we will sing with one heart and voice:
"Glory to the One who makes all things new -
     even us;
Glory to the One who comes in the name of the Lord -
     for us;

Glory to the One who makes no distinction -
     among us!'
Glory to God in Three Persons, now and forever. Amen.

Let us go now to praise God with our hearts.
To see the imagination of God in every moment of creation,
in every person we meet in the days to come.
Let us go now to praise Jesus with our lives.
To bring justice to those who are oppressed,
to bring hope to those who live in despair and worry.
Let us go now to praise the Spirit with our lips.
To speak peace into all the broken places of our communities,
to whisper grace to all those forgotten by the world.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Monday, May 02, 2022

Liturgy w/communion for May 8, 2022 (Easter 4-C)

 Texts:  Acts 9:36-43; Psalm 23; Revelation 7:9-17; John 10:22-30

Call to Worship
Frayed and frazzled, our lives jangling
with tension and anxiety,
we gather to find that place of peace
which God offers to us.
Awash in worries and doubts,
drowning in a sea of fears,
we gather beside the still waters
where Jesus offers us a cup of grace.
Weakened by the burdens of life,
wandering as if lost in a wilderness,
we gather so the Spirit can restore our souls
and show us the path to the kingdom.

Prayer of the Day
Whenever we find ourselves
waist deep in stress,
you float us on your living waters
until we are at peace.

As we try to race down
every road and alley
of endless meetings,
you put up a detour sign
directing us to your joy.

When we find ourselves
empty from chasing down
the shadows of sin and death,
you are setting out a picnic
in grace’s garden of delights,
handing us a slice of bread
spread with hope’s sweetness.

Though we try to flee
from the very life we are
longing to discover,
you slow us down until
mercy and goodness can catch
up with us so, hand in hand,
we can race to your house
where we are welcomed
in all the moments to come.

Be our Shepherd in this life,
God in Community, Holy in One,
even as we pray, saying,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
We have no time for rest, or to sit by calm oases of grace, or find the right paths to follow, and so we hurt people with our words and deeds, we turn away from the One who seeks to feed us with goodness and mercy.  Let us come to our God, who longs to anoint us with forgiveness, as we offer our prayers, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   God who shepherds us, you must wonder how long we will continue to live the way we do.  We snatch hope out of the grasp of those who need it most.  Our acts of kindness are offered only to those we think to be deserving of our generosity.  We gather around to watch endless reality shows, while those whose real lives are filled with struggle and loss are ignored.
   Yet you refuse to keep forgiveness a mystery, Gracious God, but offer it to us without any hesitation.  You gather us in the green pastures of mercy, so we might find hope; you offer us a drink of the living waters so we might become still enough to listen to your heart; you send the Spirit to take us by the hand to lead us on the paths of justice; the goodness and mercy of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, follow us all the days as we seek to be faithful in our calling to serve him.  Amen.

Silence is kept
Assurance of Pardon
Hear the good news: God will lead us into places of hope; God will give us the waters of life to strengthen us; God will be with us in every moment, in every place of our lives.
Anointed with grace, fed with joy and wonder, we offer blessing and thanksgiving to the One who forgives us now and forever.  Thanks be to God.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
There are those who have no place to rest, may our gifts provide shelter.
There are those who are parched for justice, may our generosity quench their thirst.
There are those who wander the streets alone and afraid, may our blessings provide a way.
There are those who are in the valleys of suffering, may offer ourselves as companions on the journey.  In Jesus’ name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May our Shepherd be with you.
And also with you.
Come to the Table prepared for all of God’s children.
We bring our hearts to be anointed with grace and hope.
Join in singing praise to the One who leads us through the kingdom.
We hold hands with goodness and mercy in giving thanks to God.

The warmth of creation was breathed
into the bitter winter of creation,
God of new life,
   planting grassy meadows for picnics,
   pooling clear waters for floating,
   spackling starry skies for gazing,
   a great multitude of creatures too many to count.
You shaped us in your image
so we might not ever want,
   but we let death anoint us
   with sin’s slick temptations.
You sent women and men to us,
who encouraged us to get up
and to return to your side,
   but we refused to walk
   in the light of your hope.
So you sent Jesus to us,
that we might hear his voice
and believe his plain spoken words.

With those worship you in every moment,
with those who hunger and thirst for you,
we offer thanksgiving and praise:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God of glory and honor.
All creation falls down to worship you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who gives us eternal life.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, God of wisdom and thanksgiving,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, the Lamb become Shepherd.
When we fear everything imaginable (and un-),
   he comes to anoint us with hope;
when our hearts are empty,
   he fills them with your love;
when the world mocks us,
   he comforts us with your grace;
when sing and death pretend
to be our only companions,
   he sends goodness and mercy
   to be our lifelong friends.

As we continue to follow the Risen Lord,
as we listen to the voice of our Shepherd,
we would speak of that faith which is a mystery:

Christ died, walking through death’s shadows;
Christ was raised, goodness and mercy following
      him into new life;
Christ will come, that we might dwell in God’s house forever.

You have prepared this Table for us,
so now anoint the meal with your Spirit,
as well as those gathered in this place.
We are fed the bread in its brokenness,
so we might go
   to restore fractured relationships
      with those we do not like;
   to comfort the grieving with
      your love and hope.
Through the cup, your grace
overflows into us so
   we might anoint the lost and lonely
      with your goodness and mercy;
   we might lead the oppressed
      out of the valleys of injustice.

And when you lead us into your house
at the end of all time,
we will join our sisters and brothers
around the Table prepared for us,
worshiping and praising you day and night,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.    

Gathered for worship, we are now sent to work,
to find God in all the broken places
and serve with healing and hope.
Having gathered in silence, we are now sent to speak,
to share the words of Jesus
about justice and inclusion of all.
Gathered for prayer, we are now sent to live,
to take goodness and mercy and anoint
everyone with these gifts of the Spirit.

(c) Thom M. Shuman