Sunday, May 28, 2023

Liturgy w/communion for June 4, 2023 (Trinity Sunday)

Texts:  Genesis 1:1 – 2:4a; Psalm 8; 2 Corinthians 13:11-13; Matthew 28:16-20

Call to Worship
God, whose imagination saw all
that is good, beautiful, and loving,
continues to see us as beloved
children in the divine family.
The Word which called forth
the stars in every universe,
speaks to us of giving ourselves
through the baptismal life.
The Spirit, which moved over creation,
breathing life into all things,
fills us with peace and patience,
with hope and healing to share.

Prayer of the Day
Like creation on that first morning,
may we tingle with anticipation
of your goodness and wonder
flowing into our lives,
God who shapes all things.
May we join all creation
in worshiping you,
who is as close as a heartbeat.

As God whispered into the silence,
you ran forth with creatures
of every size and shape at your side,
Word of wonder,
as river filled the valleys and ran to seas,
as flowers sprang forth in meadows,
as grace unfathomable sprang forth.
May we join all creation
in emulating you,
who is as close as our flesh
which you wore.

As God’s mind overflowed with dreams,
you brooded over the waters,
stirred the clouds with your wind,
breathed life into all that is,
Spirit of fanciful faith,
planting the seeds of peace.
May we join all creation
in dancing with you,
who is as close to us
as every breath we take.

May we join all creation
in worshiping, emulating, dancing
as we offer our prayer to you,
God in Community, Holy in One,
as we have been taught, saying,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
We know too well our foolishness, our brokenness, our human ways of doing things.  But God knows our hearts, our hopes, our desire to be made new.  As we offer our prayers of confession, let us open ourselves to God, who will forgive us and give us new life.

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   We have been created for goodness by you, Artist of all things, but we continue to be filled with bitterness.  Your Word would enable us to speak of joy to others, but we offer only judgment.  The Spirit which breathes hope into us could be shared with everyone we meet, but we are tempted to hold our breath until we turn blue, rather than giving peace to those around us.
   But you have said that everything created is good, even we foolish children of yours, God of wonder and grace.  With the Spirit as our sister, we know we can bring healing and hope to those who need it most.  With your Word, Jesus Christ, as our brother, we know we can tell others of your mercy and of our love for them in every moment.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
By God’s grace, our chaotic choices become creative grace for others; our foolishness can be transformed by God’s goodness; our lives can become new by the Spirit of our God.
The good news is as true as it was on creation’s first morning: Creator God is the redeeming Word who is the Breath of life for all people, even us.  Thanks be to God for forgiveness and grace in our lives.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
Like the gifts of creation, we are but steward of all we possess.  And like the gifts of creation, they are not to be hoarded, but shared with the hungry, the lonely, the lost, the struggling.  As we offer our gifts, receive our thanks and praise in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
I pray God in Community be with you!
And also with you!
May the Holy Three who are One be in your hearts.
May we be filled with imagination, with words, with life itself.
Let us sing our praises to God who makes us one with all people.
We join all creation in singing glad songs to our God.

You poured your imagination into chaos,
stirring all your dreams and hopes and,
placing them on that palette called your heart,
began to paint on the blank canvas of creation,
   azure for clear morning skies,
   bright yellows for marigolds,
   deep green for grass in the meadows,
   red and orange tickling lazy sunsets.
Simply, faithfully, graciously, all
was offered to those created in your image,
   but we preferred the absence of color in sin,
   and would paint our lives in death’s greyness.
You sent prophets and artists,
singers and poets, to point up
back to your beauty and art,
   but we preferred the bleak mirages
   offered by temptation and foolishness.
Finally, you appealed to your Word
to bring us the good news
of your salvific heart.

With those who see and worship,
as well as those who doubt and despair,
we offer our songs of praise to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, Majestic Name.
All creation joins in praising your goodness and wonder.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who is with us to the end.
Hosanna in the highest!

Word of justice and love,
you pointed to the Holy One
in every word and deed, even
as God blessed your every step and breath.
A baby,
   you showed us God’s vulnerability;
a young child,
   you taught us to draw closer to God;
a storyteller,
   you reminded us of the One
   who would run to scoop us up
   in arms of love and welcome;
a lover,
   you enter into sin’s embrace,
   taking the kiss death intends for us,
   so that, as resurrection’s hope,

      you offer us life with you forever.

As we struggle to understand such a gift,
as we seek to live such faithfulness,
we live in that mystery called faith:

Christ died, your Word silenced by the world;
Christ was raised, your Word singing of resurrection joy;
Christ will come, the Word which will call us home to you.

Like a storm, you blew over creation’s oceans;
with a gust, you blow open our shuttered souls;
with a light breath, you give us life, so now,
Breath of God, Spirit of all that exists,
touch the simple gifts of the bread and the cup
with the sacredness of your peace,
and stir us all from our fear and apathy.
The bread which is broken is filled with your strength,
   so that we can go and offer freedom to the prisoner,
   so that we can breathe hope into our dying neighborhoods,
   so that we can be peace for an angry world.
The cup is never drained of your grace,
   so that we may silence all hatred,
   so that we might put evil in the past,
   so that we might renew your fragile creation.

And when we are gathered in that place
to which you will direct us at the end of time,
we will join with our siblings 
in forever praising your glory, your love,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Created and called to be faithful stewards,
we are sent forth by our God.
We will take all that is good to places of brokenness,
all that is beautiful to those who live in despair.
Called and commissioned to be faithful disciples,
we are sent forth by Jesus, Word of hope.
We follow Jesus to every place he would lead us,
to every person who will bless us.
Called and filled with the very breath of peace,
we are sent forth by the Spirit, God’s grace.
We will join the Spirit in bring life where there is fear,
in offering love where hate seeks to take hold.
And now,
may the peace of creation’s Imagination,
the peace of grace’s Word,
the peace of hope’s Spirit,
and the deep, deep peace
of God in Community, Holy in One,
be with you this day and for always.  Amen.

©  Thom M. Shuman    

Sunday, May 21, 2023

Liturgy w/communion for May 28, 2023 (Day of Pentecost - A)

Texts:  Numbers 11:24-30; Psalm 104:24-34, 35b; Acts 2:1-21; John 20:19-23

Call to Worship
On this day, may Grace’s breath
shatter the shutters of our hearts.
On this day, may we step out of our fears
to welcome the new life gifted to us.
Here, in the midst of our siblings of every age and place,
may our frozen souls be enflamed by justice’s Spirit.
As we catch a glimpse of the dreams of those around us,
as we listen to the voices of the oppressed in every language.
In the days to come, may we speak
of God’s love and the Spirit’s peace for all.
So that people will find a community awaiting them,
even for those rejected by everyone else.  

Prayer of the Day
Give us just a spark
on this day, Imaginative God,
to kindle our smoldering apathy
until we burst into bonfires
to melt all the injustice
which threatens to consume the world.

Give us just a word
this day, Poet of Pentecost,
that we might be the voice
   of those dispersed by fears,
that we might proclaim the good news
   to all we would meet.

Give us a cool breeze
this day, Shattering Spirit,
stirring and shaking us
until we become a storm
of hopes to clear the despair
from all our neighborhoods and lands.

Give us yourself this day,
God in Community, Holy in One,
even as we pray as we are taught,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
When our lives remain hidden, when are hearts are shuttered, when our souls are fill with fear because of all we have done and said, God comes, breathing new life, blowing away our failings, restoring us to new hope.  Please join me, as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   Spirit of Pentecost, would that all might tell of your wonders in our lives, your overflowing grace – but we are too busy complaining of someone’s social media post.  Would that we might share the Spirit which has transformed our lives, but we bottle it up, hoping to sell it on the internet.  Would that we might let go of all the envy we have about others, but we let it erode our souls day by day.
   Forgive us and pour your mercy into the closed rooms of our hearts.  Breathe your peace upon us, that we might be healers of brokenness.  Breathe your hope upon us, that we might open ourselves to the lonely.  Breath your love into us, that we might be as generous and welcoming as Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.     

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Listen!  This is the good news spoken long ago, yet brought fresh to us by the Holy Spirit.  God forgives us and fills us with all things new.
Thanks be to God!  God gives us new hope, new joy, new life – this day and in all the days to come.  Amen.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
Blow the dust off our fears, Generous Spirit, so we might be more giving people.  Blow the dust off our material gifts we think are so paltry, so we might realize how they can bring hope and life to others.  Blow the dust off our mistaken views of others, so we might see them as our siblings, ready to grace us, even as we may bless them with these offerings.  In Jesus’ name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the Spirit of Pentecost touch you this day.
And touch you, as well.
May the fresh breeze of love fill your hearts.
We open them to the Spirit who would overflow from our hearts.
May the words of Pentecost offer you new songs.
We will sing praise and thanksgiving to our God.

Wow!  What you do,
God of imagination and wonder!
You breathe your Spirit into chaos,
shattering the emptiness and
shaping all that is beautiful;
you speak your Word into silence, and
   rivers flow down mountainsides,
   creepy crawlies inhabit the grasslands,
   monarch butterflies dance with flowers,
   blue whales leap out of the oceans.
Like them, you would feed those created
in your image with goodness and grace,
   but we run off with temptation,
   locking ourselves in death’s upper room.
Because your glory is eternal,
you continued to send women and men
to tell your words of forgiveness and welcome,
   yet we continue to huddle in fear
   with sin and its disciples.
So you sent Jesus to us,
to breathe your peace upon us
and to bring us back to you.

With those who continue to live in fear
with those who share the Spirit with others,
we will sing your praise forever and ever:

Holy, holy, holy are you, Shattering Spirit.
All creation will sing until it has no more breath.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who stands in our midst speaking peace.
Hosanna in the highest!

Like your glory, may your holiness be eternal,
God of wind and flames,
and may your Child, Jesus, bless us
with words of wonder and joy.
Though we would close our hearts,
   he comes to open them with love;
though we would shutter our souls,
   he comes to throw them wide open
   with laughter and love;
though we would remain hidden away
in death’s cold upper room,
   he enters to take away its power
   over us, so that the bright flames
   of the resurrection might dance
   over our lives bringing us hope.

As we would open our hearts to the Spirit,
as we would welcome the peace and power,
we tell of that faith grounded in Pentecost’s mystery:

Drawing his last breath, Christ died for us;
with the sudden breath of the resurrection,
   Christ was raised;
Christ will return, to breathe the Spirit into us forever.

Here in this place, with people gathered in this space,
may you pour the Spirit of Pentecost
upon the simple gifts of the bread and the cup.
with the brokenness of the bread,

we pray hope might dance upon our souls
   so we will rush out like a mighty wind
   to bring healing to our shattered world.
Drinking from the cup of grace,
we pray it flow through us
   to become a fountain
   of unending generosity
      to parched people
      thirsting for life.

And when that day comes
when we no longer need
to huddle under the covers of fear,
you will gather us around the Table
with our siblings of every time, 
of every place, of every language,
breathing the Spirit upon us,
telling us the Word of grace and hope,
as we sing our thanks forever and ever,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

The shutters of our hearts have been flung open
by the fresh breath of God!
We will go to offer God’s love to everyone around us.
Our souls have been set on fire
by the justice of the Brother of the poor.
We will go to share visions of hope,
to listen to the dreams of the oppressed.
Our loneliness and fears have been set aside
by the Spirit of inclusion creating community.
We will speak words of peace to all we meet,
we will open ourselves to the gifts of others.

© Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, May 14, 2023

Liturgy w/communion for May 21, 2023 (Easter 7 - A)

 Texts:  Acts 1:6-14; Psalm 68:1-10, 32-35; 1 Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11; John 17:1-11

Call to Worship
At the presence of God, we rejoice:
glorifying the One who is Parent of all orphans.
In the presence of Jesus Christ, we listen:
to the Voice who calls us to humbly serve others.
Through the presence of the Holy Spirit, we speak:
making God's love known to the world-forsaken in our midst.

Prayer of the Day
Giver of power and strength,
you take a rag-tag bunch
of denying disciples and
feckless followers,
creating a new community
of servants who seek
to do your will.

Keeper of all time,
you are enthroned on the
rubble of death's shattered power,
calling us to your side
and giving us a new vocation,
by which we serve the
broken of the communities
in which we live.

Constant Presence of hope,
you strengthen us so
we never give in while
confronted by evil;
you continually pray for us
that we never quit when
faith proves to be more
of a challenge than we imagined.

God in Community, Holy in One,
we lift our hearts to you,
as we pray as we are taught,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
We know what we should do, yet don't.  We know the words people need to hear, but utter the ones that hurt them.  Yet, we also know that if we confess our failings to God, we will receive forgiveness and hope.  Please join me as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     God of glory: we are so busy watching the skies for signs of your presence that we forget to look around to see those we can serve in your name.  We are so intent on finding just the right way to tell off someone, that we forget the words of reconciliation you have taught to us.  We are so convinced we can figure out your schedule that we forget to open ourselves to the presence of your Spirit within us.
     Mighty source of our lives, forgive us for all that we have done to others.  Fill us with the wisdom to resist evil in our lives and strengthen us in that faith which is given to us through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Beloved, do not be surprised.  Our God is gracious to all, restoring us to new life.
This is the good news which is for us, and for everyone we will meet in the days to come.  Thanks be to God.  We are forgiven.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
Loving God, you pour out your grace upon us without reservation; help us to be as gracious and generous with our gifts and resources, so others might know you hope, your healing, your presence in their lives.  This we ask in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May Easter's God be with you.
And also with you.
People of God, exult before the Lord.
We lift our hearts to the One who showers us with that grace which never ends.
Sing to the One who blesses you, Beloved.
Glad songs of thanksgiving are offered forever.

You would break the grip of chaos,
Worker of Wonders,
and so you uttered a Word
     and cattle gaze up at the rain
          falling from the sky,
     while rabbits play leapfrog
          in green meadows.
You shaped us into the exact image
of yourself, so we might be your people,
living with you forever.
     But we wandered down to the
     basement where sin and death
     lurked in the shadows to steal us away.
You stood firm in your belief
that we would return, and sent prophets
who called us to humble ourselves.
     Yet we were convinced that
     it was not time to come back to you.
Then, you sent Jesus,
the Pascha of our salvation,
to come to us, to reveal your heart.

So with those who always keep an eye on you,
and with those who look around wondering
if anyone will notice their presence,
we rejoice in your gracious presence:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God of all grace.
All creation sings loud songs to you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who will come again.
Hosanna in the highest!

You are the One only holy God,
and Jesus Christ is the Brightness of your glory.
Looking around at all the places
where we had wandered,
     he came to bring us home to you.
Hearing our cries of loneliness,
     he came to be one of us,
     so we might all belong to him.
Seeing sin rejoicing in our suffering,
     he went to the cross
     on our behalf, dying
     and then being raised to new life.,
baffling death with your gracious love.

As we remember Christ's life and ministry,
as we rejoice in the hope which is ours in him,
we celebrate that mystery called faith:

Christ died, that we would know that sin is death;
he was raised, so we would know that new life is;
he will come again, in the same way he went into heaven.

In fulfillments of Christ's promise,
pour out your Spirit on us
and the gifts which grace your Table.
We eat the Bread of life
so we might be strengthened
     to spend ourselves so others
     might be made rich in your grace.
We drink deeply from the Cup,
knowing you thirst for self-surrender,
so we might offer ourselves
as a fountain of faith
to be poured out for the world,
     especially the we-forsaken
     who are all around us.

And at the Great Wedding Feast of the Lamb,
we will gather around your abundant table,
our sisters who suffered for you on one side
and our brothers who humbled themselves
to lift others to their feet,
we will join hands, hearts, and voices
in forever singing your glad praises,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

The hour has come to go into the world,
where our worship of God will continue
in every moment of our lives.
The hour has come to serve those around us,
to shoulder the burdens of our sisters,
to ease the pain of our brothers.
The hour has come to glorify God,
with our prayers as well as our praise,
with songs as well as acts of service.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, May 07, 2023

Liturgy w/communion for May 14, 2023 (Easter 6 - A)

 Texts: Acts 17:22-31; Psalm 66:8-20; 1 Peter 3:13-22; John 14:15-21

Call to Worship
Come to worship, people of God, with praises on your lips.
We glorify the One who holds our hands when we slip.
Come into the presence of the One who calls us into this sacred space.
Where the doors to grace are thrown open so all may enter.
Come and hear the stories of the One who loves you.
We will tell of the joy and of the love,
of the peace and of the hope which is ours.

Prayer of the Day
When it doesn't seem
to do any good, Creator God,
we dare to be your people,
     to love those the world
          would have us reject;
     to be just in the face
          of every reason to mistreat;
     to be unafraid
          of whatever awaits us.

When all the odds seem
stacked against, Jesus our Savior,
we dare to live as
your siblings, your family,
     serving others
          with our hands and hearts;
     sharing in the burdens
          of our world;
     refusing to leave justice
          orphaned with no hope.

When the wind seems to be
knocked out of us
by the blows of life, Eternal Companion,
we dare to breathe
     joy upon those
         caught in the net of hopelessness;
     peace into all
         the broken places around us;
     wonder for all those
          who have lost sight of you.

In you, we dare to live and breathe and be,
God in Community, Holy in One,
even as we pray as we are taught,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
What is our hope?  Simply put, it is that God does not give up on us.  With such good news, we can dare to bring our prayers to the One who will not cast aside our words or our hearts.  Please join me as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     We admit, Knowing God, that from plastic cards to websites, from handheld devices to stock options, we are surrounded by a variety of gods who demand our worship.  We can all too easily believe that work is our life, that wealth is the reason for our being, and that success is the very air we breathe.
     Forgive us, God of mercy.  You are not found in a computer chip, but in the child who holds our hand.  You are not a chatbot note, but the Word that can transform our very lives.  You are not a disembodied, constantly recalculating voice, but the One who calls us to life, through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.  Amen.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Despite everything we do, God loves us.  This grace is why we can dare to hope.
We will witness to this hope in every word we speak to every person we meet.  Thanks be to God, we are forgiven.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
Abandoned by hope, forsaken by others, left behind by those who said they loved them - there are orphans all around us, Holy God.  May the gifts we offer be a home, a family, a rest, a respite for them and all the others around us.  This we ask in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God who knows us be with you.
And also with you.
Lift your hearts to the One who will not leave you stranded.
We offer ourselves to God who is always with us.
Bless God, all you who love the Lord.
We sing praises to the One who loves us.

You gathered that orphan, chaos,
into your heart, God of wonder,
and with a simple Word created a family:
     with horses munching meadow grasses;
     birds gliding gently on summer winds;
     snails, snakes, and tree-climbing squirrels.
Gathering up handfuls of dirt, you shaped us,
and with a simple breath, gave us life
so we might be with you in wonder,
     but we crawled out of our strollers
     and toddled off after temptation.
You did not panic, but sent prophets
to come to us and show us the way,
     but the smoke of our offerings to sin
     kept us from seeing them.
Refusing to leave us as orphans,
you sent your Child to us
to reveal your true Self.

With those who praise you every day,
with those who have lost all hope,
we would bring our songs to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God our joy.
All creation pays their vows to you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who is our salvation.
Hosanna in the highest!

You cannot be contained by any human
imagining or endeavor, for your are the Holy God,
and your Son, Jesus Christ, is our hope in life.
When we could have been left
as orphans in sin's foster home,
     he came to reveal himself
     as our sibling, our parent,
     our community, our life.
When despair threatened
to take away all our strength,
     he came to plant hope
     deep within us.
When we thought death
was our final destination,
     he came to show us
     the Resurrection Way home.

As we remember the grace with which he loved us,
as we welcome the Comforter he sent to us,
we proclaim that mystery which is faith:

Christ died, doing what was right for us;
Christ was raised by the One who was in him;
Christ will come, just as the hope within us witnesses to us.

As your Spirit of truth comes in these moments
to transform the bread and the cup
and those gathered around the Table,
you show us how much you love us.
As we are strengthened by the broken Bread,
you would send us
     to plant hope in all the places
          where pessimism has taken root;
     to help love stand on the corners
          where hate's gangs hang out.
As you nourish us with the Cup,
you would have us
     take peace into the
          warzones on human hearts;
     bring healing to
          all the broken ones around us.

And when we gather around that Table of love,
with our siblings in grace, our enemies and friends
seated side by side, as we pass grace to one another,
we will join in forever singing your praises,
as we celebrate your being in us as we are in you,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Go from this place, speaking of what God has done.
We will remind everyone that, despite everything, God loves us.
Go from this place, singing of what God is doing.
We will rejoice that God has not left us orphaned,
but makes us one with everyone around us.
Go from this place, imagining what God will do.
We will witness to that hope which seems to distant,
yet is as close to us as our hearts.

(c) Thom M. Shuman