Sunday, February 26, 2023

Liturgy w/communion for March 5, 2023 (Lent 2 - A)

 Texts:  Genesis 12:1-4a; Psalm 121; Romans 4:1-5, 13-17; John 3:1-17

Litany for Lent
Christ of the comfortable,
you would call us
from our security and sameness,
down that unknown path
which leads to God's heart:
with trust, we would place
our hands in yours, and follow.

Companion of our sleepless nights,
you would beckon us
out of the shadows of our fears,
calling us to bring our doubts
and questioning hearts along:
with humility, we would listen
to those answers we do not
expect, or even understand.

Word which creates out of nothingness,
you would fill us with life
where we see only emptiness,
you would keep your promises
when all ours lie littered on the ground:
we would let your grace transform
us into faithful disciples.

Silence is kept

Keeper of every moment,
walk with us, we pray.
Watcher in the night:
stay with us, we pray.
Spirit of new life:
be in us, as we pray together saying,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
When we least expect it, even when we are not ready, God comes to us, calling us to trust, calling us to follow, calling us to set aside our foolish lives, for the grace-full ones which are offered to us.  Let us confess how often we choose not to follow, as we pray together saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     We are all too human, Faithful God, and so think we have nothing to learn from others, and thus discount ancestors in the faith like Nicodemus or Sarah.  We look for an answers online, convinced that we can trust whatever we find.  We close tight the shutters of our souls, so the Spirit can only rattle us, but not get in to transform our lives.
     Yet you continue to keep watch of us, Promise Giver, whether it is when we swagger through the sunshine of our lives, or in those shadowed moments of uncertainty in the night.  You will not stumble as you continue to come to us, to lead us into your kingdom.  You will always be our help, whether or not we recognize it or accept it, even as you remained faithful to Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Our hope, our help, our peace, our joy?  All come from God, the One who loved us, and the world so much, that Jesus came to bring us salvation.
Keeper of our souls, be with us;
Watcher of our days, lead us;
Salvation of our lives, have mercy on us.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
You trust us enough to place your blessings in us, so may we be as faithful in offering them back to you, so others might be kept in their loneliness, might be fed in their emptiness, might receive hope in their despair.  This we ask in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving

May the God of great adventures be with you!
And also with you!
It is God who is able to keep our hearts filled with hope and peace.
We will offer our hearts to the One who is our Keeper.
Trust in the promises whose fulfillment we cannot see.
We lift our songs to the One who is always with us.

You went into the shadows of nothingness,
bearing your Light of creation, Keeper of all,
so that life might burst forth where there was none:
     white sands at the edge of blue green seas,
     shale formed under the crust of the earth,
     warm mornings and frigid nights to mark the seasons.
You blessed your children with creation's gifts
so we might prove to be a blessing to others,
     but we watched the comings and goings
     of sin and death, allowing ourselves
     to be blown about by them.
Prophets responded to your call to them,
daring to bring us those words we did not want to hear,
calling us back to a way of life we had abandoned,
     but we knew that we preferred life
     in the absence of your presence.
For this reason, you sent Jesus into the world,
so that we, along with all creation, might be saved.

With those who toss and turn in the night,
with those who have responded to your call,
we lift our thanksgivings to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, Who neither slumbers nor sleeps.
All creation blesses your glorious name.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes to answer our questions.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy One, you are the God of blessings,
and Jesus Christ is your Faithful One.
The One who could truly boast,
     he humbled himself to become like us.
The One who was truly righteous,
     he emptied himself to fill us with grace.
The One who had spoken life into existence,
     he embraced death on the cross,
     so that we might be justified
     through your grace and wonder.

As we continue on the journey to Jerusalem,
as we seek to leave our comfortable lives to follow,
we would talk about that mystery we call faith:

Christ died, faithful to the end;
Christ was raised, so all creation might be saved;
Christ will come, to bring us to that home he will show us.

What then are we to say, Keeper of our lives?
It is your Spirit poured out upon us
and upon the gifts of the Table
which brings us new life.
It is the brokenness of the bread
which gives us life, that life
     poured out for those who have no hope,
    for those who wander in the shadows.
It is the grace of the cup
which overflows with your gifts,
     so we might go to be a blessing
     to all forsaken by the world.

And when our journey has ended
and we find ourselves in that land
which you have prepared for us,
we will sing our glad songs to you forever,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Now go with the Spirit, from the comfort of this place,
so we may go to bring hope to the world.
Now carry the Light of Christ with you,
we will go into the shadows with this gift.
Now trust in God who is always with you,
we will follow that life called discipleship.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Liturgy w/communion for February 26, 2023 (Lent 1 - A)

Texts: Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7; Psalm 32; Romans 5:12-19; Matthew 4:1-11

Litany for Lent
L: O Christ,
led by the Spirit
to wander temptation's wilderness,
you show us how
to turn our backs
on the wrong ways of the world,
so we can follow you faithfully:
P: Walk with us, Lord Jesus.
L: O Christ,
Wellspring of wonder,
you let go of your glory,
so you might hold
our shattered hearts.
P: Cradle us, Lord Jesus.
L: O Christ,
grace-full and truth-full,
you empty yourself
to fill us with the bread
which makes us whole,
with the living waters
which burst the banks
of our faded dreams.
P: Fill us, Lord Jesus.
L: O Christ,
Shatterer of sin's deathgrip,
into our despair, you bring hope;
in our fear, you come with peace;
in our loneliness, you become our sibling.
P: Save us, Lord Jesus.
L: Jesus Christ, Lamb of God
P: have mercy on us.
L: Lamb of God, who takes awa
the sins of the world:
P: pour our your grace upon us
L: Jesus Christ, gift of salvation:
P: grant us your peace.

Silence is kept

L: You hold nothing, nothing!
back from us, Gardener of Grace.
Your very self came to us,
your very heart was broken for us,
your life was poured out for us,
in Jesus, our Brother, our Savior.

We seek to do your will,
to share your truth,
to sing of your faithfulness,
to proclaim the good news,
as we follow Jesus
into the wonder of your kingdom,
praying as he taught us, saying,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
Like a parent, God seeks to set boundaries for the children of God. And, like children, we are stubborn enough to want to do things our own way. So, we become easy prey for the evil one. But Jesus, our Sibling, shows us how to find the will, the strength, to resist and to know the mercy of God. Together, let us confess our sins, so God might fill us with hope and joy.

Unison Prayer for Forgivness
   God of Eden's morning, we know that Lent is a hard time for us. In a culture which showcases  success, you call us to sacrifice ourselves for others. In a world which promotes power, you invite us to deny ourselves. In a society which encourages us to 'feel good,' you point us to the struggles of siblings, the burdens others bear.
   By your mercy, forgive us, Hope of our lives. Remind us that as we journey with Jesus, we learn 
the steps of discipleship. As we listen to his call to obedience, may we learn how to say 'no' to all 
that tempts us. As we see his suffering, may we live out the good news which has come to us through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon

L: By ourselves, we would be easily controlled
by sin and temptation. But God has given us
the free gift of grace, and so we are set free
to live as disciples.
P: This is the gift which brings us hope;
this is the gift which brings us joy;
this is the gift which brings us life.
Thanks be to God, we are forgiven! Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
May the privileged always share with the forgotten, may the powerful learn the grace of humility, and may our generosity reveal our gratitude for all the blessings we have been given so we can share them with others.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
L: The Lamb of God be with you!
P: and also with you!
L: All who search for God, lift your hearts.
P: We offer them to the One who comes searching for us in the
wilderness of life.
L: People of God, sing praises to the Lord.
P: We worship our God, and will serve God alone.

You tilled the barrenness
of chaos, Gardener of Genesis,
freely giving life to all
that is good and beautiful.
Shade trees with ripe fruity,
flowing streams, and creeping things,
skies bright with your joy,
clouds scudding across your hopes -
all were formed for our safe keeping.
But what was a delight in your eyes,
was a disappointment in ours,
and so we looked to the world,
finding the bread which
cannot fill our emptiness,
drinking from temptation's cup,
which only increases our thirst.
You sent the prophets
to lead us out of our wilderness,
but we clung to the rocks
which gave us no foundation.
Then you sent Jesus,
to carry the free gift of grace
into our hearts.

Therefore, with all those
who have journeyed with you
in every time and place,
we lift our glad cries of deliverance:

Sung: Creator of the stars of night,
Your people's everlasting light,
O Christ, Redeemer of us all,
We pray you hear us when we call.

Holy are you, God of goodness and glory,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, your Holy Child.
Fluent in the language of grace,
he speaks to us of
your steadfast love for us;
passing every test and temptation
offered to him,
he teaches us
obedience and faithfulness;
willing to be the one
to carry the sins of others,
he went to the cross,
faithfully serving only you,
even into suffering and death.

Risen in glory from the grave,
he welcomes us to this Table,
even as we sing of that mystery called faith:

Sung: At your great name, O Jesus, now
All knees must bend, all hearts must bow:
All things on earth with one accord,
Like those in heaven, shall call you Lord.

Pour out your Spirit
upon the bread and the cup,
and upon your children
gathered around this Table.
As we turn towards Jerusalem,
may we reject the temptation
to focus only on ourselves,
but engage in
radical acts of obedience:
feeding the hungry around us,
nurturing the children left behind,
comforting the lonely and ignored,
picking up the brokenness
and restoring our world
with your peace and reconciliation.

Then, when our journey has ended,
and we are surrounding your Table in glory,
we will welcome our family and friends,
as we share peace with our enemies,
singing through all eternity
of the One who has brought us home:

Sung: To God the Father, God the Son,
And God the Spirit, Three in One,
Praise, honor, might, and glory be
From age to age eternally. Amen.

(sung responses are from a Latin hymn
dating back to the 9th century "Creator
of the Stars of Night")

L: with the bread which is broken,
P: we will go forth to bring healing to the brokenness of our world.
L: with the cup of grace poured into us,
P: we will go out to share hope and justice with our siblings.
L: with the life which is planted in us,
P: we will go forth to serve all the forgotten of our communities.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Monday, February 13, 2023

Liturgy w/communion for February 19, 2023 (Transfiguration - A)

 Texts:  Exodus 24:12-18; Psalm 2; 2 Peter 1:16-21; Matthew 17:1-9

Call to Worship
It is good to be here in this sacred space,
in the shelter of God’s love and hope.
It is good to be here with folks we know well, as well as with new friends,
joining with all of God’s beloved, siblings of Jesus.
It is good to be here, where we can hear God’s voice,
calling us to be eyewitnesses to the Spirit’s presence.

Prayer of the Day
We could build grand edifices
crafted out of our opinions
of how you should act and be,
God of mountains,
   or we could gather up
   all the broken dreams
   of the most vulnerable
to build a more just world.

We could join the denigrating
chorus which ridicules all
who have been pushed aside
by those climbing to the top,
Dawn of Hope,
   or we could hear songs
   of reconciliation and hope
   in the lingua franca
   of all who seek peace.

We could avert our gaze
from those who have fingers
pointed at them because
of where they come from,
Spirit of love,
not who they are,
   or we could catch
   a glimpse of you
   coming down from the
   closet shelf where we put you
      so you can be with us.

When we could stay on the mountaintop,
take us by the hand to lead us into service,
God in Community, Holy in One,
even as we pray as we have been taught,
(The Lord’s Prayer)
Call to Reconciliation
We wait for God to show up, and while waiting, do not notice the words we might have spoken, the good we could have done.  Let us confess to our God, who waits to surround us with grace and hope, as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   Our judgment often becomes clouded by our foolishness, Sheltering God, and so we make all the wrong choices.  We let fancy philosophies draw us away from your grace.  The flowery words of politicians can lead us into valleys of worry and despair.  Our fears can convince us that those around us are conspiring against us.
   You can take all our foolishness, Creative God, and make us wise enough to see you among us.  You take the shards of our broken lives to recast us into a faithful people.  You speak gently to us, so we can listen to your dreams of our seeing each person as your beloved, even as Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, sees us through such eyes.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
On mountaintops and in valleys, in moments when our lives are shrouded and as well as when we reflect Christ’s light, God is with us, declaring we are the beloved!
In this moment, in every moment, may we glimpse the grace of God which comes and transfigures our lives.  Thanks be to God, we are forgiven!  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
Let us not keep our treasures stored in the mountaintops of our fears of how others might use them, but pour them out so they might be used to transform all those who find themselves in the valleys of hunger, of loss, of loneliness, and of injustice.  This we ask in the name of your Beloved.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of each dawn be with you.
And also with you.
Let us open our hearts to God who gathers us at this Table.
We delight in the grace which fills our lives.
May we offer our praise to the One who calls us the beloved.
We give thanks to our God of holiness.

You took the shards of chaos,
Repairer of all brokenness
and transfigured them into
   mountains where we could draw closer to you,
   valleys where we could serve your people,
   bright stars of each morning.
These gifts, and so many more, were offered
to the children of dust you call Beloved,
   but we joined death and sin
   in their conspiracy to make themselves
   more important than you in our lives.
You waited for us to return to you,
sending invitation after invitation
through people of every age,
   but we continued to plot,
   listening only to sin’s foolish words.
When you could no longer wait,
you sent Jesus to us,
so we might take shelter in you.

With those who have seen your glory,
with those who hunger for your grace,
we join in praising your name:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God who offers shelter.
We join all creation in glorifying you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the Morning Star of salvation.
Hosanna in the highest!

You alone are holy, God who laughs
at our foolish posturing,
and blessed is Jesus Christ,
who came to tell everyone of your love.
He could have remained seated in glory,
   but chose to walk with us
   down this path called life.
He could have remained on the mountaintop,
   but came down to minister
   to all in despair’s empty valley.
He could have simply told us
how we should live,
   but demonstrated genuine love
   by dying on the cross, so
      death’s power might be broken
      by the grace of the resurrection.

As we rejoice in your heart’s Beloved,
as we would listen to him with our souls,
we speak of that transfiguring mystery called faith:

Christ died, breaking sin’s power forever;
Christ was raised, as love conquered death;
Christ will return, to gather all the beloved to God.

Overshadow us with your grace, we pray,
as the Holy Spirit is poured out on us
and the gifts of this holy table.
As you give us the broken bread
to strengthen our service to others,
   may we offer hop to all
   surrounded by injustice.
As your cup of life nourishes us,
   may we see each person,
   not as a stranger or outsider,
   but part of your beloved family.

And when the waiting is ended,
when the stars of mornings and evenings
shine the way to your holy feast,
we will join our siblings 
in forever singing your praises,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

God sends us from this experience of worship
to serve all those around us.
We will go to take the light of hope
into the shadowed corners in our midst.
Jesus, the Beloved, invites us to join him
in everyday life, in everyday service.
We will go to be blessed by all those
overlooked by the world.
Glory’s Spirit takes us by the hand
to lead us down path of humility.
We will enter into the mists of mistrust,
so we can offer hope to many.

© Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, February 05, 2023

Liturgy w/communion for February 12, 2023 (Epiphany 6 - A)

Texts: Deuteronomy 30:15-20; Psalm 119:1-8; 1st Corinthians 3:1-9; Matthew

Call to Worship
You could have stayed in bed,
you could be eating breakfast out.
We have chosen to be in this place,
feasting on God's words.

You could give a cold shoulder to your neighbors,
you could warm yourself in front of the fire.
We have chosen to see God with more
than just a sliver of our hearts.

You could be chasing after the world's idols,
you could be listening to television's talking heads.
We have chosen to serve the One
who blesses us with life.

Prayer of the Day

Mothering God,
you nurse us with the milk
of blessing and joy,
so we may grow in faith
to feast on grace and hope.
You plow the fields of our hearts,
planting the seeds of love,
so we may be your people.
We hold fast to you,
God of Choices.

You provide the road may
for our journey, so we will not
wander down blame's alleys.
When we choose sides
by our quarreling and cliques,
you reconcile us to each other
with your words which are true.
We hold fast to you,
Jesus of Reconciliation.

Blessed with the fresh breeze
of your presence and power,
we will continue to follow you,
trusting that you will lead us
into making the right choices
as the disciples of Jesus.
We hold fast to you,
Transforming Spirit.

God in Community, Holy in One,
we hold fast to you, even as we pray,
as Jesus has taught us, saying,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation

Following God is not like flipping a coin, and choosing sides. It is intentional; it is difficult; it is risky. That is why we know all the ways we have failed in our discipleship and need to come to God. We choose to confess, so we might embrace the forgiveness God offers to us. Please join me, praying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   Invited to walk in your footsteps, Wanderer of the Universe, we turn away to play hopscotch on the sidewalks of seduction. Given the chance to watch you work wonders of grace and renewal, we fixate on the idols of success and power. When you want to tell us stories of healing and reconciliation, we decline to hear your gentle voice.
   Have mercy on us, God of Blessings, and help us to choose to hold fast to your hand; to walk your
streets of wholeness and hope; to follow our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, into the life you intend for us.  Amen.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
God's forgiveness dwells in our hearts; Christ's love fills us; the Spirit's peace guides our steps.
Our feet are set on the journey. Waling in faith and hope with our God, we will be servants to the world.
Thanks be to God, we are forgiven! Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
Help us to share from our abundance, rather than choose selfishness.
Help us to be incredibly generous, rather than choose to be misers.
Help us to seek reconciliation, rather than choosing to remain broken.
This we pray in Jesus' name.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of life be with you!
And also with you!
People of God, come to the Table of blessing.
We seek God's grace whole-heartedly.
Draw near to the word of wonder and hope, children of God.
We praise God with our lips, serving others with our hearts.

You set before us those first days, Faithful God,
the goodness, the beauty,
the wonder, the mysteries of creation,
blessing beyond compare,
all given in hope and love to us.
Created to be with you, invited to walk with you,
our hearts turned away from yours,
being led astray by sin's desires,
bowing down at the altar of death.
You sent the prophets to us,
setting before us blessings,
challenging us to choose life.
But we would not listen to them,
but let lust continue to clog our hearts.
So you sent your Beloved to us,
letting your words be your Word,
your Servant of salvation for all.

We join our voices this day with all
who have faced the choices before us,
seeking your heart and singing your praise:

Holy, holy, holy, God of the blameless way.
All salvation holds fast to your Word.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes to reconcile us to you and others.
Hosanna in the highest!

Our eyes are fixed on you, Holiness of the ages,
as we follow Jesus Christ, our Savior, our Teacher.
Setting aside his place with you and the Spirit,
he became flesh, fully human like us,
so we might grow in your faith.
Seeing the broken pieces of our lives
scattered at our feet around us,
he came to putt us back together,
making us one with you.
Knowing we were not ready
to look sin square in the eye,
he chose death on the cross,
so we might be blessed
with your life forever.

As we remember how Jesus remained faithful,
as we seek to walk in his blameless ways,
we tell of that mystery of faith:

Christ has died, seeking God whole-heartedly;
Christ was raised, God's Word being kept for us;
Christ will return, so we might not be put to shame.

Here in this place, with your people,
you set before us the blessings
of the Cup and of the Bread,
pouring out your Spirit
on your children and your feast.
As we eat the brokenness which makes us whole,
we will choose to follow your ways,
into the streets of the world
to bring justice and hope to all
who have been put to shame.
As we drink from the cup of life,
we will choose to be servants,
working together to bring reconciliation,
and peace to all shattered by violence.

And when you choose to bring time to a close,
when you choose to gather us around you,
we will join our siblings
from every time, and from every place,
who will forever sing your praises with upright hearts,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

Let us go into the world with God's love,
choosing to share it with everyone we meet.
Let us go into our neighborhoods with Jesus' hope,
choosing to care for all who are in need.
Let us go with our lives full of the Spirit's peace,
choosing to offer it in all the broken places around us.

(c) 2023 Thom M. Shuman