Sunday, July 30, 2023

Liturgy w/communion for August 6, 2023 (Pentecost 10/Trinity 9/Proper 13/Ordinary 18 - A)

Texts: Genesis 32:22-31; Psalm 17:1-7, 15; Romans 9:1-5; Matthew 14:13-21

Call to Worship

We come to this place of worship,

to encounter the One who has called us here.

This Holy One - our God: is with us in every moment.

God is in our celebrations and joys, 

God is in our darkest nights of loneliness.

This Holy God - our God: blesses us and calls us by name.

As night fades before the coming Light,

we meet the One who saves us - even from ourselves.

This God - our Holy God: touches us with the Spirit of hope.

Prayer of the Day

In the darkest moments

of our lives, Intriguing God,

     we have struggled with you,

     believing that if we were to defeat you,

     you would have to give us whatever we want,

not realizing you have already blessed us

with everything we need in life.

When our hunger for hope

overwhelms us, Gentle Jesus,

     you fill us with your presence;

when our need for more and more

would pull us further and further away from you,

     you heal us of our desires;

when we look away from those in need,

     your tears of compassion cleanse our hearts.

We would leave our pain behind us,

and run through your streams of

living waters, Spirit of God,

     that we might embrace

     our sblings in peace,

          knowing that our broken relationships

          have been made whole.

God in Community, Holy in One,

we lift our prayers to you,

in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior,

(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation

We pick on our siblings; we argue with our partners; we fight with friends and neighbors - we all live broken lives. We even end up struggling with God, seeking to make God do our bidding. But it is God who can heal our brokenness, God who can reconcile our differences, God who can make us families once again. Let us confess our brokenness together, seeking God's promised blessing for each of us, as we pray, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness

     Here at the river's edge, Healing God, we are hesitant to cross over. For on the other side are all the people we have hurt. On that far shore is everyone we have ridiculed, scorned, ignored. Across the water stand the poor, the homeless, the lost - all those we have looked down on, believing they are beneath us. On the other bank stands the cross we must carry if we are to follow Jesus. Before we can cross, Most Holy One, we must struggle with you. We cannot meet the others, if we have not encountered you.   

     Forgive us and reconcile us, not only to them, but to yourself. Bless us, that we would be a blessing to them. Rename us and carry us across the river as faithful disciples of the One we are blessed to call our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon

Here, face to face, God meets us. Here, face to face, we can speak every longing in our heart. Here, face to face, God forgives us.

Here, face to face, we meet the One who has great compassion for us, and who forgives us of every foolish choice, word, action of our lives. Thanks be to God. Amen.

Prayer for Dedication/Offering

For those living in the shadows, may our gifts be light. For who hunger, may our gifts bring nourishment. For all in broken relationships, may our gifts start the healing. As we stand on the edge of life, wondering if we should step into the fray, may you push us and our gifts to cross over to all the places where you are waiting.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving

The God of crossings and healings be with you.

And also with you.

People of God, lift your hearts to the One 

who travels every journey with you. 

We lift them to the God who gives us rest when we are weary.

People of God, offer your praise and thanks

to the God who feeds the hungry.

It is our greatest joy to sing to the One 

who fills our emptiness with grace and joy.

Standing at the edge of chaos,

you took all the goodness in your heart,

and shaped it into the glory of creation,

God of Imagination.

Looking up, you placed

the moons, stars, and planets

     into the cradle of the sky.

You took the dust of the earth,

blessing it, and forming us

     into your image of hope and grace.

We were filled with the

abundance of your constant love,

     but we longed for the empty

     promises of sin and death,

          breaking your heart as

          we followed after them.

Prophets came to tell the truth

of your everlasting covenant,

     but we turned our backs on them.

So, to put an end to your great sorrow,

you sent Jesus to us,

bringing us all the gifts

you had stored up for us.

So, with those who stand at the edge of grace,

and with those who have crossed over to your peace,

we join our voices with all who forever sing to your glory:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God who listens to our prayers.
All creation beholds your face in righteousness.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who feeds us with grace and wonder.
Hosanna in the highest!

You are Holy, Redeemer of the lost,

and Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior,

is your true blessing and hope for us.

When he could have deserted us,

as we continued to stumble through sin,

     he was filled with compassion,

     and came to be with us in our pain.

When he could have kept silent

in response to our fears and doubts,

     he told stories of your love and grace.

When he could have detoured

around our violence and anger,

     he walked straight into death,

so we might be saved.

As we remember all the gifts he shared with us,

as we tell of his healings and feedings for all,

we speak of that faith which is often a mystery:

Christ died, compassion for us in his heart;
Christ was raised, blessing God forever;
Christ will come, so that we are never sent away.

As we gather at the edge of your kingdom,

coming once again to the Table,

we pray you would pour out

your Spirit of reconciliation upon us,

and on the gifts of the bread and the cup.

You feed us with this meal,

not that we might become gluttons,

     but so we might become servants

     in your kingdom of holiness.

Where we see only crumbs on the Table,

     you see enough leftovers for us

     to take to feed a hungry world.

Where we see only

the last few drops in the cup,

     you see enough grace for us

     to fill the empty hearts of your children

     forgotten and alone in the world.

And when we come to the edge of eternity,

all of our struggles over, all our pain left behind,

we will gather around your Table of grace,

joining with all who will forever sing of your love,

God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.


Here at the border where worship meets the world,

God sends us out to be caregivers to all.

Here, as turn our gaze from glory

to see the brokenness of our lives and those around us,

Jesus call us to follow into all

the broken places and people to bring hope.

Here, as we hesitate to cross over

to where we must meet those we have hurt,

the Spirit takes hold of our hands

so we know we are not alone on this journey.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Alternate texts liturgy w/communion for August 6, 2023 (Pentecost 10/Trinity 9/Proper 13/Ordinary 18 - A)

 Texts:  Isaiah 55:1-5; Psalm 145:8-9, 14-21; Romans 9:1-5; Matthew 14:13-21

Call to Worship
All who are thirsty, come!
God is the fountain for our lives.
All who are hungry, come!
Jesus feeds us with goodness and grace.
Rich and poor, young and old, neighbor and guest, come!
The Holy Spirit gathers everyone around the Table.

Prayer of the Day

We try to distance ourselves from you,
Loving God, and you spread a picnic of grace,
waving us over, with a big grin on your face.
We whisper our worries in the night,
and you say, "You don't have to shout!"
Your compassion is spread over our brokenness
like jam over our toast.

When we are tempted to spend
our lives on all the luxuries offered
to us by the world, Brother of the hungry,
you set up a table piled high with
grace, hope, peace, joy, and wonder
under a big sign which reads
"Clearance!  Everything 100% off!!"

When we get all in a sweat
over whether or not we can meet
all our self-imposed expectations,
you take your bandana out
of your back pocket, Spirit of peace,
wiping our faces, and handing us
a cup of cool water, whispering,
"Relax.  I've taken all that
off your shoulders."

We rejoice in your gifts which are ours,
God in Community, Holy in One,
even as we pray as we are taught,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
The Lord is not mean-spirited or vengeful.  God is gracious and merciful, always willing to listen to Our prayers, and to hear our hearts. Let us join in the prayer for forgiveness, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
We are sure we do not have enough
to end hunger in our communities, Holy God.
     Forgive us that we forget that, by your
     presence and power, very little can do
     so much.
We believe we are the only ones
who carry heartache around with us.
     Forgive us, Compassion's Heart,
     that we do not see, or embrace
     the despair of those around us.
We think we do not have the words
with which to offer hope and healing to strangers.
     Forgive us, Welcoming God, for not having
     the courage to run up to them with your grace.
We convince ourselves that we need to devote
all our time, our energy, our resources, our lives
on keeping up with others.
     Forgive us for not living that joyful,
     gracious life modeled for us by you,
     Jesus our Brother.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Listen!  Come to the One who covers us with compassion, who feeds us on grace and mercy.
What good news!  Everyone who thirsts is given water; everyone who hungers is fed; everyone Who sins is forgive.  Thanks be to God.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
May our gifts quench the thirst of those who desire hope; may our lives by spent in feeding those Whose hunger is all too real; may we always give away the blessings you have given to us, God of The Compassionate Heart.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the Table-setting God be with you.
And also with you.
Lift your hungry hearts to our God.
We offer them to the One who feeds us with grace.
God gives us all we need in every moment.
Our mouths will sing God's praise in these moments.

When the hour was late,
you spoke, Steadfast Love,
and creation sprang forth in newness:
     tadpoles stretching into bullfrogs;
     caterpillars crystallizing into butterflies;
     raindrops plopping on broad leaves;
     thunder rolling through the valleys,
and you shaped us in your image.
If we had listened to you,
we would have feasted on Eden's delights,
     but we hungered for sin's moldy bread,
     and drank death's sour wine.
With great love and unceasing hope,
you sent the prophets to us,
     but we sent them away for
     the hour was too early to follow you.
Then, in overwhelming compassion,
you sent Jesus to us.

With those who have been fed by your love,
with those who drink deeply of your joy,
we lift our songs of thanksgiving to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God of gracious love.
All creation rejoices in you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One filled with great compassion.
Hosanna in the highest!

You are gracious and merciful, Holy God,
and Jesus Christ is your heart made flesh.
He, who had everything,
     came to fill those who had nothing.
He, who lived in glory,
     came to the deserted places
     of our hearts to love us.
He, who is over all,
     came to submit to death's power,
     being cut off from you, until
     you raised him to new life.

We need not go away empty,
but are fed at the Table,
where we speak the truth in Christ:

Christ died, the witness to obedience;
God raised Christ, the witness to the resurrection;
Christ will come, the witness to the promises to us.

Here a this Table, God of abundance,
you feed us with that grace and peace
which is offered at no cost to us.
The Holy Spirit blesses the bread,
breaks it, and gives it to us
     so we might have the strength
     to hold those whose knees wobble
     from fear and despair.
The Holy Spirit blesses the cup,
pours it, and gives it to us
     so we can go to lift up
     the hopes which the world
     has dashed to the ground.
The Holy Spirit will gather up
the broken people to create
a community of wholeness.

And when the final hour is now,
when we are gathered with
our sisters and brothers of every time and place,
we will eat and be filled at the Lamb's Supper,
and rejoice with one voice
as we praise you forever and ever,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Go now, to find the thirsty.
We will show them where the living water flows.
Go now, to find the hungry.
We will share from our abundance to feed them.
Go now, to find the stranger.
We will embrace them as sister and brother.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, July 23, 2023

Liturgy w/communion for July 30, 2023 (Pentecost 9/Trinity 8/Proper 12/Ordinary 17 - A)

 Texts: Genesis 29:15-28; Psalm 105:1-11, 45b; Romans 8:26-39; Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

Call to Worship
On this day of worship, we call on God's name,
and hear our own invitation to work for the good of all.
Gathered with neighbors and strangers, we call on God's hope,
and discover that a lifetime of service seems but a few days.
In this place of praise and prayer, we call on God's love,
and receive that grace which is as old as creation,
yet as fresh as each morning.

Prayer of the Day
You shape us in your image,
not so we would puff up with pride,
    but we might humbly serve others.
You have chosen us,
not because we are so special,
    but that we might become hope
    to a world bloated on despair.
Searcher of hearts,
we would tell of all your wonders.

You went and sold your life,
    so you could buy us back
    from sin and death.
You planted seeds of grace,
    so that the lost, the little,
    the least, the last, and even we

     could make our homes in you.
Bearer of God's Heart,
we would tell all your stories.

You offer sighs from the depths
of the very heart of God,
    when we cannot shape words.
With peace in your hands,
you step in to help resolve
    all of our broken relationships.
Heart of reconciliation,
we would listen to your hopes.

God in Community, Holy in One,
we would tell of your presence in us,
even as we pray as Jesus teaches us,

(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
We spend so much time accusing ourselves, judging ourselves, punishing ourselves for what we have done, or not done. But God would draw us closer to the Heart of forgiveness, that we might be filled with healing and grace. Join me, as we pray together,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
    What then are we to say about our lives, Searcher of our hearts? We know how often we have duped others with our deceit. We remember how often we promise one thing, only to do the opposite. We struggle to trust you, while we so easily listen to the promises of those who would pull us away from you.
    Forgive us, Heart overflowing with mercy.  Your grace is more powerful than any of our sins, your hope is more durable than our silly choices, your love will traverse anything, and everything, which separates us from you. In Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, we are forgiven!

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Hear the good news: the One who could accuse us, saves us from sin and death.  The One who could condemn us, cradles us in grace. The One who could punish us, prays for us.
Now we know, there is nothing, not a  thing, that can separate us from God. Thanks be to the One who forgives us. Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering

Homelessness, hunger, injustice, polarization - there is so much we seem to be able to do anything about. So, we offer our gifts, our hearts, our energy, our lives in the hope that nothing will get in the way of your Beloved Community continuing to be in our world. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the Lord of the kingdom be with you!
And also with you!
Children of God, offer your hearts to the One
who calls us to serve the world.
We embrace the God of the loving heart.
God's people, sing praises forever and ever.
We rejoice in the One who will not allow anything,
not a thing, to keep us apart.

Hearts overflow with praise,
Good and Generous God,
for from you comes all that we need.
You gathered up all your dreams
and shaped them into the gift of creation:
    bright blue skies that flow forever,
    kittens chasing butterflies in backyards,
    children whose hopes know no end.
The seeds of grace and peace
blossomed into that garden
which could have been our home,
    but we chose to go out and buy
    the fallow fields of sin and death,
          to harvest the pearls of rebellion.
Prophets came, to tell us of hearing
the deep sighs of your broken heart,

    but we thought their words
    to be flights of foolish fantasy.
Your heart set so that nothing
might ever separate us from you again,
you sent Jesus to bring
your treasure of grace to us,
a treasure as old as the universe,
as new as your joy for each of us.

So, we join our voices with Jacob and Leah,
with Rachel, Laban, and all your children,
forever singing our praises to you,

Holy, holy, holy are you, word-keeping God.
All creation tells of your wonderful deeds.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who is the treasure of your kingdom.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, Covenant Rememberer,
and blessed is Jesus Christ,
the great Treasure of your heart.
He could have stayed at your side,
    but came to cast his net to gather
    sinners into your kingdom.
He could have shaken his head in silence
at all the foolish choices we make,
    but told us stories of the One
    whose heart overflows with mercy.
He could have left us on our own,
trying to make ourselves right,
    but gave himself up to death,
    to prove that nothing, nothing,
    can separate us from your love.

As we remember his life, his teachings,
his death, and his rising to new life,
we would speak of that mystery we call faith:

Christ died, with love more powerful than hate;
Christ was raised, with life too strong for death;
Christ will come, with grace too deep for words.

Heart of goodness and joy,
send your Spirit upon us now,
that She might enliven this bread,
    so that fed, we might spend
    the rest of our lives
    in service to your children.
Immerse your Spirit
in the cup of mercy,
    so that as we drink from it,
    we may go forth to be poured out
    in lifetimes of compassion and caring
    to those who hunger for hope and healing.

And when that moment comes,
and you gather all your people
from every place and time,
to feast at the Table of grace,
we will lift our voices in praise to you,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.


Now in this moment, God calls us to go forth.

We will let nothing get in the way

of working for the good of all.

Now in the place, Jesus sends us out.

We will let nothing get in the way

of sharing hope and justice with all.

Now as all of God's people, the Spirit scatters us.

We will let nothing get in the way

of being that grace which is as old as creation,

as fresh as our next breath.

(c) Thom M. Shuman