Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving for World Communion Sunday

 Great Prayer of Thanksgiving

May God be with you.
And also with you.
People of God, lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the One who cradles our hearts in loving hands.

People of God, let us give thanks to the God who sets a Table for us.
We praise the Lord our God who welcomes us with open arms.

How lonely was chaos, Gardener of the Universe,

until you spoke a Word, and your Spirit created:

   leaves that burnish gold and red in autumn,

   snow that drifts lazily in winter skies,

   frozen brooks that burst in spring,

   ponds splashing with children in summer.

You planted the seeds of joy in our ancestors

hoping they would pass them onto us,

   but they walked sin’s lonely streets

   and drank the bitter tears death offered.

Though the prophets came

to remind us of your great faithfulness,

   we continued to feast on the

   wormwood and gall offered by the world.     
But you would not forget us,

and so sent Jesus to bring us home to you.

Therefore we join our voices,

as we sing of your mercies

made fresh in every moment

Holy, holy, holy God of power and might,
Heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

You alone are holy, heart Speaker,

and we are blessed through Jesus, life’s Promise.

When we would wander the lonely streets of the world,

   he would take us by the hand,

   to lead us into your joy.
When others would pass on

bitterness and hate to us,

   he fills us with the gifts

   of hope and love.

Splashing in sin's puddles,
    he washed our feet
    and dried them with his love,
         leading us into the kingdom.
Daughters of despair, sons of sadness,
orphans of woe -
     he gathers us all up
     in his arms of mercy
          wiping out death,
     and sits us down
          at the family Table.

As we remember his grace and love,
as we dare not forget his sacrifice for us,
we sing of that mystery we call faith:

When we eat this bread and drink this cup,
We proclaim your death, Lord Jesus,
Until you come in glory.

Holy Spirit,
as we offer the gifts
of the bread and the cup
for your blessing,
so we present ourselves:
     our accomplishments, our failings,
     our hopes, our realities.
Make us weak,
     so we might rely
          on your strength.
As we have heard the Word,
     may we listen
          to the cries of the poor.
As we are family
with those sitting beside us today,
     may we love our sisters and brothers
          in every corner of creation.
As you hold out
the bread and the cup to us,
     may we reach out to enemies
          to clasp hands as friends.

God in Community, Holy in One,
all honor and glory are yours,
as we sing our praises through all eternity:

(c) Thom M. Shuman


Friday, September 22, 2023

Liturgy w/communion for October 1, 2023 (Pentecost 18/Trinity 17/Proper 21/Ordinary 26 - A)

  Texts:  Exodus 17:1-7; Psalm 78:1-4, 12-16; Philippians 2:1-13; Matthew 21:23-32

Call to Worship
Becoming a baby,
Christ transformed all of us into his sisters and brothers.
Telling us stories we had forgotten,
God helps us to walk the paths of discipleship.
Becoming foolish in the world's eyes,

the Spirit teaches us all we need to find our way into the kingdom.

Prayer of the Day

When we think your job
is to listen to our petty quarrels,
you lean over,
put your finger to our lips,
     'let me tell you a story.'
Rock Splitter,
we worship you.

When we want to ask you
all sorts of questions,
and demand to see
your background check,
you put your arms around us,
     gently saying,
     'i want you to meet
     some friends of mine.'
Self Emptier:
we follow you.

When we are burned out
by our chronic anger,
when our throats are parched
by our litany of laments,
you take us by the hand,
     'let's go get a cold drink
     down at Rock's cafe.'
Sharing Spirit,
we adore you.

God in Community, Holy in One,
you are God, to whom we pray, 

as Jesus teaches,(The Lord's Prayer)

 Call to Reconciliation

All too often, we tell God we will do better, and be better, and then just go on living the same way we always have. Let this be the moment when we tell our God of our failures and faithlessness, so we can go forth to work in that kingdom of grace and hope. Join me as we pray,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     We would want to be fountains of hope for others, God of glory, but people find only hardened hearts. We would like to be transformed people, but our stubborn pride prevents us from bending a knee to you. We long to stand with those who are in need, but our selfishness keeps our backs rigid with judgment.
     Forgive us, God who came down to us.  Humble us, that we might be true servants to the broken and lost. Split open our
frozen hearts, that compassion might flow freely to those who are hurting.  Fill our minds with the presence of your Spirit, that we might learn how to follow Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, into
that kingdom of grace and hope.

Silence is kept

 Assurance of Pardon

This is the good news: in Christ, God's plan for salvation was accomplished.  You are forgiven, you are made new.
We will complete God's joy, by sharing compassion, forgiveness, hope, with everyone we meet. Thanks be to God. Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
May the simple gifts we offer this day become a fountain of blessings for others, bringing them hope, healing, joy, and peace.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God who comes in humility be with you!

And also with you!
Beloved, lift your hardened hearts to God.
We offer them to the One who will split them open
so grace can flow into the world.

Children of God, sing to the One who turned the world upside down.

We open our mouths, praising God who shows us the way.

Streams of water flowed forth
when you split open chaos,
God of Wonder.
     Rivers divided to create valleys and hills,
     the sun became the beacon for each day,
     the moon and stars our night lights.
You breathed your children to life,
and longed to hold us in your lap,
     telling us stories of your goodness.
But while we told you
we would always do your will,
     we went running off to join
     with sin and death
     in their quarrels with you.
You sent the prophets
to remind us of all
we had known and heard,

     but we mocked them,
     not letting them sway us.
Then you sent Jesus
to be the One
to work out our salvation.

So, with those who sing your praise,
and those who complain bitterly,
with those who wandered in the wilderness,
and those who stand in places of worship,
we lift our voices in wonder to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, Transforming God.
All creation flows toward your heart.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who stands with those who have nothing.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, God of Imagination,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, our Lord.
He put on humility's garb,
     so we might be clothed
     in the garments of grace;
he lowered himself
to walk the world with us,
     so we might be lifted
     from the depths of sin;
he suffered the death
of a common criminal,
     so we might receive
     the extraordinary gift of life
          forever with you.

As we remember his willingness to give up glory,
as we celebrate his resurrection giving us hope,
we tell of that mystery we call faith:

Christ emptied himself on the cross,
   that we might be filled with life;
Christ was called forth from the tomb,
   that we might confess him the Risen One;
Christ will come again, calling us by name,
   that God's joy be made complete.

Pour out your Spirit,
Nourishing God,
upon this Table of joy
and those who gather around it.
As you transform the simple gifts

of the bread and the cup
into grace beyond all imagining,
     may we be changed
     into fellow servants
     with Jesus Christ our Brother,
people willing to offer ourselves
in service and humility
     to those who have been
     defeated by the world.

And when all time has ended,
and we are at home with you forever,
we will gather around the Lamb's Table,
joining our hands, hearts, and voices
in never-ending praise to you,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

Go forth to share God's love with all.
We will become a river of love through the world.
Go forth to share Christ's grace.
We will be a fountain flowing in the barren places.

Go forth to share the community of the Spirit.
We will become a pool of peace where all may be refreshed.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Alternate texts liturgy for October 1, 2023 (Pentecost 18/Trinity 17/Proper 21/Ordinary 26 - A)

 Texts:  Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32; Psalm 25:1-9; Philippians 2:1-13; Matthew 21:23-32

Call to Worship
We come, so God can teach us
goodness and love for each person
We will complete God's love
by having the same compassion as God.
We come, so Jesus can lead us
into lives of service and obedience.
We will complete Jesus' hopes 
by putting others before ourselves.
We come, so the Spirit can help us
to empty ourselves for God and those around us.
We will complete the Spirit's peace
by sharing our lives with others.

Prayer of the Day
Because all lives are yours,
Mercy Rememberer,
grace is offered
   in softened hearts
   and children wandering corn mazes;
hope is heard
   from grandparents' stories
   and parables lived out by neighbors;
wonder is found
   in scientific minds
   and builders of sandcastles.

Because all justice is yours,
Self Emptier,
transform our minds
  so we can challenge hatred;
temper our stubbornness
   and transfigure us for service;
reshape our selfish desires
   into gifts for all who have nothing.

Because all hope is yours,
Sharing Spirit,
stretch our shriveled hearts
   with compassion that does not break;
tickle our serious natures
   with lap-climbing kids who tell silly jokes;
humble our arrogance 
   with the willingness to stand
   in the muck cleaning flooded homes.

Because all is yours, even us,
God in Community, Holy in One,
we pray as we are taught, saying,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
What do you think?  Someone is always saying, 'sorry,' while doing the same foolish thing over and over.  Another never thinks they are wrong, but then God's grace transforms them and they do the completely unexpected.  Which is faithful to God's hopes for them?  Let us reflect for a few moments in silence, and then pray together the words for forgiveness.

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   We could do what you hope, God of our salvation, but we get so distracted, we don't.  We continue to fill ourselves with temptation's empty calories, and wonder why we are still hungry.  We put ourselves first, and so never notice those behind us who struggle in life.
   Forgive us, Mercy of our lives.  May we complete your love by caring deeply for those who make life so difficult for us.  May we complete your hope, by reaching out to those in need.  May we complete your grace, by emptying ourselves for all around us, just as Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, did for us.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Plant this good news deep in your thoughts: God loves you; God forgives you; God strengthens you for service.
May God's compassion make us more passionate to serve;
may God's forgiveness make us more merciful;
may God's love make us more loving to everyone.  Thanks be to God.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
As we share from our abundance, Loving God, may we empty ourselves of our desires for more, but seek to share grace, love, hope, and wonder with everyone we meet.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of truth be with you.
And also with you.
Let us offer our hearts to God.
We empty them of all our desires
so God might fill them with humility.
We will join in praising our God in these moments.
One mind, one heart, one love, 
we will offer thanksgivings to our God.

If there is any beauty 
around us, God of glory,
it is because of the creation
you crafted out of nothingness:
   sea horses and coral reefs,
   tree-lined mountain slopes,
   fields ripe with wild berries,
   falling stars streaking night skies.
All was imagined for those in human form,
named by your as your children,
   but we refused to humble ourselves,
   crossing over to be at death's side.
Women and men came again and again
to help us remember your mercy,
   but we questioned their authority
   and refused to believe them.
But you chose to remember us,
sending Jesus, whose only interest
was in being obedient to you.

We join little children and wise elders,
folks who are humble and those who serve,
in proclaiming your great goodness;

Holy, holy, holy are you, God our Teacher.
All creation is completed by your love.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who models obedience for us.
Hosanna in the highest!

If then there is any holiness,
it is found in you, God of truth,
and in your Child, who chose
to become the same as us.
If then there is any hope,
   it is found in Jesus,
   who came to serve
      the arrogant with humility,
      the fearful with faith,
      the oppressed with justice.
If then there is any grace,
   it is in Jesus dying on the cross
   emptying death of its dread power,
      and filling our empty hearts
      with your resurrection love.

As we seek to have the same mind and heart,
as we seek to be obedient and humble,
we proclaim that mystery we call faith:

On the cross, Christ emptied himself of life
      that we might know your grace;
on that third day, Christ was raised by resurrection grace,
      that we might know your love;
on that promise given to us, Christ will come,
      that we might be made complete by your hope.

If then there is any sharing,
God for whom we wait,
it is here in these moments
and with these sisters and brothers
where your Spirit is poured out on us.
Here, the brokenness of your heart
strengthens our faltering service
   so we may bend down
   to lift all who have been knocked don
   by injustice and fears.
Here, the cup of humility
nourishes our hearts and souls
   so we may remember those
   whose names have been forgotten
   by the arrogant and uncaring.

And when there is only your time,
when we are gathered with our 
sisters and brothers around your Table,
we will join in singing your praises forever,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Let us have the same mind as God.
We will see each person as God's child.
Let us have the same justice as Jesus.
We will stand with each person who struggles.
Let us have the same hope as the Spirit.
We will put others before us in all we do.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, September 17, 2023

Liturgy w/communion for September 27, 2023 (Pentecost 17/Trinity 16/Proper 20/Ordinary 25 - A)

  Texts:  Exodus 16:2-15; Psalm 105:1-6, 37-45; Philippians 1: 21-30; Matthew 20:1-16

Call to Worship
In the prayers and the praise,
in the words and the wonder:
we are given enough joy to live each day.
In the justice for the oppressed,
in the unexpected generosity for the lost:
we are given enough compassion
to use in service each day.

In the promises made to all,
in the mercy offered to each:

we are given enough grace to share each day.

Prayer of the Day
Fresh as each morning
you come to us,
Crafter of manna.
     Your grace rests
     gently upon us,
          waiting to be gathered,
          to become the bread of life
we share throughout the day.

Fresh as compassion's justice,
you come to us,
Servant of the poor.
Choosing to give
as you desire,
you show us the last,
     so we can make them first
     in our hearts and hopes.
Doing no wrong,
     you make us right
     with God for all time.

Fresh as the water
which turns a desert
into a meadowland of flowers,
Spirit of uninterrupted grace,
you come to us.
When we would grumble,
     you give us the gospel to live out;
when we would protest,
     you teach us songs of praise;
when we would utter laments,
     you fill us with God's laughter.

God in Community, Holy in One,
refresh us with your presence

as we pray as Jesus taught, saying,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation

We continue to believe that we must earn our way into God's heart. But God's grace is given to each of us, for all of us, freely, unconditionally, always. Let us open our lives to this mercy as we pray saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     It seems we cannot decide, Cloud of Glory.  We say we will live to serve others, but end up meeting only our needs. We claim to live in a way that honors Christ, but we do not take him to work, school, home.  We believe that the gospel can transform lives, (at least, for those who need it – but surely, not us).

Forgive us, Presence of Peace.
Instead of grumblers,
     may we be ambassadors of grace.
Instead of continual complaining,
     may we carry compassion to the hurting.
Instead of whiners,
     may we be workers with Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, 

to reach out and bring the kingdom of God to everyone we meet.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
This is the good news: there is no ranking in God's kingdom. God graces everyone with the same gifts: mercy, restoration, new life.
God has kept the covenant. We have been forgiven, we have been made new people.  Thanks be to God. Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
With hope in our hearts, we offer our gifts to you, O God, trusting you will use them in the work of your kingdom which welcomes all, loves all, needs all, and serves all.  In Jesus' name.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of all mornings be with you!
And also with you!
Children of God, welcome the One who shares
grace with childlike abandon.
We open our hearts so we might savor the
sweet taste of joy and wonder.
People of God, bring your emptiness to
this Table of hope and peace.

We sing praises to One who fills us with
Christ's presence for service to others.

On that first morning,
when chaos saw your glory,
you brought out creation,
     with stars and planets
          swimming in the skies,
     gazelles and giraffes dancing
           through the fields of goodness.
You shaped humankind in your mercy,
and fed us with grace, enough for each day.
Jealous that you were so gracious to all of creation,
     we grumbled that it wasn't enough,
     and went searching for sin and death.
Prophets came, telling the stories
of your wonder and presence,
     but for us, these were foolish words.
Finally, you sent Jesus
to come looking for us,
to show us your kingdom.

So, we join our voices with
wilderness wanderers and urban dwellers,
those who, in every time and place,
sing of your glory:

Holy! Holy! Holy! Glory to God's holy name!
Our hearts will seek God,
rejoicing in God's gentleness and grace.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes looking for us.
Hosanna in the highest!

You are holy, Cloud of Compassion,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, your Joy, our Hope.
Child of glory and grace,
he chose to come to us,
     working in the fields of despair.
Hearing our complaints,
he came to speak
     of your dreams for us.
Firstborn of all creation,
he came to defeat
     that last enemy, death. 

As we remember his life and death,
as we come to the Table he has prepared,
we sing of that mystery called faith:

This is the bread God gives us to eat.
This is the life Christ calls us to offer to others.
This is the journey the Spirit takes with us.

Pour out your Spirit
upon your children gathered,
and upon the bread and the cup
you have provided for us.
As you feed us with the bread,
so flood us with compassion,
     that we may go to serve
     all who are lost and broken.
As you open your heart
so that the cup of grace
might be filled with your hopes,
     send us out to bring the last
     home to your kingdom,
where they will be first in your joy.

And when all time has ended
and the whole family of God
is gathered around your Table,
we will join our voices together,
praising you forever:
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

Go now to share the love of God.
We will share it with childish abandon.
Go now to share the grace of Jesus.
We will offer this gift, fresh every morning, to all we meet.
Go now to share the generosity of the Holy Spirit.
We will hold nothing back as we embrace each person this week.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Alternate texts liturgy w/communion for September 24, 2023 (Pentecost 17/Trinity 16/Proper 20/Ordinary 25 - A)

  Texts:  Jonah 3:10 - 4:11; Psalm 145:1-8; Philippians 1:21-30; Matthew 20:1-16

Call to Worship
We come to praise our God,
whose steadfast love is always with us.
God does not stand by idly,
but fills us with grace to share.
We are here to praise Jesus,
who chooses to be gracious with all.
Jesus does not stand by idly,
but brings justice to all treated unfairly.
We will praise the Spirit in these moments,
who is always at our side.
The Spirit is with us now and always,
so we may live as faithful people.

Prayer of the Day
All generations praise you,
Mind Changer, for every day
   your unbounded love surrounds us,
   your grace is shared abundantly,
   your unsearchable nature is revealed
      through all of creation.

All generations praise you,
Justice Singer, for in every place,
you show us the kingdom
   standing by the side of the oppressed,
   showing your concern for the last,
   always with us wherever we are.

All generations praise you,
Peace Giver, for in every time,
you do not stand idle, but
   share our struggles to be faithful,
   heal all who have been wronged,
   declare God's hopes for us.

All generations praise you,
God in Community, Holy in One,
even as we pray as we are taught,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
We think we know how God will react if we confess our lives - a rap on the knuckles, sending us to our rooms without dessert, or even an eternal time-out.  But instead, we receive forgiveness, constant love, gracious justice.  Let us lift our prayers to the One who always surprises us, as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   It is true that we grumble too much, Patient God.  We are easily stampeded by the promises of those around us, only to wonder how we end up where we find ourselves.  We see so much of everything on our devices, and become convinced we deserve more.  Though we know others have the same struggles, we have trouble standing by their side.
   Forgive us, Unpredictable God, as you continue to shower us with your steadfast love.  You as so slow to get mad, yet rush to share your grace with us.  May we continue to seek to live in the way of justice, hope, and peace shown to us through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Unlike us, God chooses not anger, but mercy; not punishment, but peace; not just what we earn, but more grace than we can begin to imagine.
Now we know what the kingdom of heaven is like - steadfast love, joy and laughter, the life for which we have yearned.  Thanks be to God, we are forgiven!  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
May we offer our gifts, not with grumbling under our breath about what you might do with them, but with thanks that you will use them to bring healing, hope, grace, and peace to all whose lives are empty of such needs.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the unpredictable God be with you.
And also with you.
Let us open our hearts to God.
We will welcome the constant love of our God.
Let us not stand idly by, but rejoice in the grace of God.
We will sing glad songs of praise forever.

When you saw chaos standing idle,
you chose to give us creation,
Imaginative God:
   squirrels chittering in trees,
   luminous rings around planets,
   glaciers carving out lochs and fjords,
   towering trees shading toadstools.
You did all this to show those created in your image
what the kingdom of heaven is like,
   but we thought we should receive more,
   so went to work in temptation's junkyards.
Prophets, both reluctant and willing,
came so we might know how gracious you are,
   yet we chose to stand side by side
   with death, grumbling every moment.
Given the chance to respond in anger,
you did not do it, but sent
your steadfast love to us in Jesus.

So with those eager to serve you,
and those pouting because of your generosity,
we bless you forever and ever:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God who cannot be predicted.
All creation sings of your justice and grace.
Hosanna in the highest!

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

When you saw us standing idly by the world's side,
in your holiness, you chose to give us your heart,
Jesus, who shows us what the kingdom  of heaven is like.
When we would hoard all we have,
   he shows us how to share abundantly.
When we would mumble about life,
   he calls us to serve all
   oppressed by fear and hate.
When we would whisper behind the backs of others,
   he turns us to face them
   so we can see you staring back at us.
When we would mutter 
of how little you have done for us,
   he went into death's foul depths,
   so we might receive resurrection
   from our unpredictable God.

As we reflect on Jesus' works and words,
as we would live according to his way, 
we proclaim that mystery revealed in faith:

Living, Christ showed us how to live;
dying, Christ showed us how to trust;
raised, Christ revealed resurrection hope for all;
now and always, Christ is with us.

We would not be idle by-standers
but come eagerly to the Table
which you have prepared for us.
Here, the Spirit is poured out
on the bread and the cup
and those gathered for this feast.
Here, the bread which is broken
strengthens us so
   we may proclaim your grace
   to those forgotten by others.
Here, the cup which overflows with grace
enables us
   to give honor and hope to all
   pushed to the back of the line.

And when the evening of all time comes,
we will gather with our sisters and brothers
at your Table of eternal joy,
each receiving the same as everyone else -
the grace, the love, the peace of
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Now go to be with those forgotten by the world.
We will share God's constant love with everyone.
Now go to be generous with those around you
as well as those far away.
We will share Jesus' justice and hope 
with all who need it.
Now go to live as faithful people.
We will join the Spirit in standing side by side
with those who are lonely and afraid.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Liturgy w/communion for September 17, 2023 (Pentecost 16/Trinity 15/Proper 19/Ordinary 24 - A)

Texts: Exodus 14:19-31; Psalm 114; Romans 14:1-12; Matthew 18:21-35

Call to Worship
In sacred times of word, wonder, and awe,
in ordinary days of work and play:
in every moment, God is with us.
Whether we are stuck in doubt's mud,
or standing on faith's shoreline:
in every place, God is with us.
In those who teach us
and those who trouble us;
in those who surprise us,
and those who forgive us:
in every person, God is with us.

Prayer of the Day

When we look over our shoulders
at fear shadowing us today,
you go before us into tomorrow,
making a path through
the sea of yesterday's doubts.
When our legs tremble
from the effort of standing up
for what you hope for all creation,
you are at our side,
offering your heart's strength.
Cloud of Grace,
we offer our love to you.

When we turn our hearts
into deserts of stony bitterness,
you transform them
into oases of joy.
When we come up
with all sorts of rules
for those who come to us
seeking to find you,
you tear up the list,
stretching wide your arms
in welcoming grace.
Servant of all,
we offer our lives to you.

When we would clasp
old worries to our hearts,
you open our eyes to that hope
which paves the path ahead of us.
When we spend each day
consumed with doubts and fears,
you remind us that this day
is the time to honor God,
by serving God's children.
Mist of Mercy,
we offer our hearts to you.

God in Community, Holy in One,
as you are all to us,
so we would offer all we are to you,
even as we pray as Jesus taught us,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation

As we stand before God, we think of all the ways we bicker with others, all those times we have not shown mercy and grace to those around us. Let us bow our hearts and confess our sin to God, as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness

It is never easy for us to confess
but deep down inside, we know that
we have trouble
being grace-full to others;
we are eager to judge
and punish all who hurt us;
we find ways to put restrictions
on people we fear.

Forgive us, Servant God. You show mercy more often than we deserve; you pardon us more times than we can count. And why? Because we are the Lord's - siblings of Jesus Christ, who died and lived again, so we might live beyond death with you.  Amen.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon

God's hand of mercy is stretched out to us, making a way through all that
threatens us, to touch us with grace and hope.
We stand before our God, singing praise to the One who turns our despair into joy, our fears into faith. Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
We are all different, yet the gifts you give us are all the same - grace, hope, love, kindness, and so much more.  May we not hoard them, but be as generous with sharing them as you are in offering them to us in the first place.  In Jesus' name we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of hope be with you!
And also with you!
God, our God, leads us through the flood of fears
into the future of wonder and hope.
We open our hearts to the One who journeys
with us, in the past, in the present, into tomorrow.

God goes before us, preparing the Table piled high
with grace and peace.
We sing songs of glad thanksgiving to the One
who fills us with goodness and mercy.

You stretched out your hand,
Cloud of Glory,
parting a way through chaos,
so your goodness might come forth.
You looked, and laughed out loud,
as seas ran forth in joy,
mountains played leapfrog,
and hills hopscotched with valleys.
Creation became a sanctuary
for those created in your image.
But we decided to live for ourselves,
every day becoming one in which
we could turn your dreams to ashes,
your overflowing love into
dust bowls of despair.
Out of pity, you sent the prophets,
those pillars of faithfulness,
but we wrangled with their gentle words.
So, you sent Jesus,
to lead us through evil's deeps,
to that freedom found only
in your kingdom of life.

Therefore, on this day,
when we stand in your grace
around your Table of life,
we join our voices with all
who offer praise to the One who saves:

Living, we serve others in God's name;
serving, we die unto ourselves;
dying, we are given life eternal with God.

Blessed is the One who comes forgiving us
more times than we can count.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, Cloud of Joy,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, your Son, our Servant.
When we were weak in faith,
he came to strengthen us
with your everlasting hope;
when we were slaves to sin,
he came to lead us into
the promised land of mercy;
when our hearts became like flint,
he softened them with compassion;
when we could only focus on ourselves,
he came to die for us.

As we gather at your Table,
we remember his love for us,
his patience with our failings,
his hope in our willingness to follow,
his trust in that mystery we call faith:

Baptized in Christ, we would live for him;
forgiven through Christ, we would emulate him;
putting on Christ, we wait for his return.
Alleluia! Amen!

Creator God,
send your Spirit in peace
upon us and these simple gifts
of the bread and of the cup.
As we share the bread,
we share the presence of Christ,
strengthened to go out
with forgiveness in our hearts.
As we pass the cup,
we share Christ's Spirit
with our neighbors,
and are called to welcome all
as our sisters and brothers,
especially those held captive
by the bitterness of the world.

As you gathered your children
to lead them to that promised land,
so you will bring all your children
from the very ends of time itself,
to seat us around your heart,
where we will feast on your grace,
lifting our hearts to praise you forever:
God our Maker,
Christ our Brother,
Spirit our Compassion,
one God, now and forever. Amen.

We could stay here, ready to argue
with God about the unfairness of grace.
But we will go out to share ours 
with those who have waited for it
for so long while we ignored them.
We could want to start a debate
with Jesus over logic of his story.
But we will go to listen to the empty
hearts and souls of those longing
to be heard by the privileged.
We could hold our breath until 
the Spirit realizes what real life is like.
But we will go to bring peace
to the brokenness of the world
and to welcome te forgotten as family.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Alternate texts liturgy for September 17, 2023 (Pentecost 16/Trinity 15/Proper 19/Ordinary 24 - A)

 Texts: Genesis 50:15-21; Psalm 103:1-13; Romans 14:1-12; Matthew 18:21-35

Call to Worship
Disciples and doubters,
faithful and feckless,
we are God's, 
who welcomes us all.
Followers and those who lag behind,
open-hearted and close-minded,
we are the Lord's,
who is always patient with us.
Reconcilers and rabble-rousers,
foolish and fearless,
we are the Spirit's,
who encourages us in every moment.

Prayer of the Day
You are our forgiveness,
Gracious God,
not because you should,
but because it is what you desire:
   to offer us that compassion
   which welcomes all 
   who have been tossed aside.

You are our justice,
Brother of the forgotten,
welcoming all those
   weakened by oppression,
   hungering for hope,
   who have been judged but never heard.

You are our healing,
Spirit of comfort,
bringing peace where
   we would do violence;
offering hope to all
   we choose to despise;
remembering everyone
   we have forgotten.

God in Community, Holy in One,
our Forgiveness, our Justice, our Healing,
hear us as we lift our prayer
as we have been taught,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
We do not have to beg God to forgive us, but simply confess our foolish words, our mistaken acts, our grudging hearts.  Please join me as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   We could have mercy, Compassion's heart, but we judge others by those standards we cannot even meet.  We could welcome all around us as siblings in God's grace, but hold them at contempt's length away from us.  We could have patience with family and friends, but tap our feet and drum our fingers until they do what we want.
   In your forgiveness, Tender God, you wipe the board clean of all our poor accounting.  You don't deal off the bottom of the deck to us, but turn up the ace of grace for us.  You gather up all our foolishness and hurl it beyond the edge of the universe, so the healing you intend for us through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, will take place.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Here is the good news.  God does not hold a grudge against us.  God lets go of anger to welcome us as siblings of Jesus.
We will not be afraid, but will open our hearts and lives to God's compassionate grace.  Thanks be to God, we are forgiven!  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
May these simple gifts offer a welcome to the friendless, a meal for the hungry, shelter for those in disasters, and hope for all who are despised in our times.  In the name of Jesus, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of compassion be with you.
And also with you.
Children of grace, lift your hearts to God.
We bring them to the One who has mercy on us.
Join in glad songs of thanksgiving, God's people.
We lift our voices in praise and hope.

We bless you, O God,
for you would not welcome chaos,
but brought forth all creation:
   summer breezes over beaches,
   leaves changing colors in autumn,
   brittle stars for crisp winter nights,
   butterflies over spring's flowers.
You crowned all this goodness
with those created in your image,
so we could be with you forever,
   but we had no patience for your hopes,
   choosing the gifts offered by temptation.
You sent the prophets to us,
hoping their words would help us
to realize the harm our lives caused,
   but we continued to despise
   your steadfast love and mercy.
So you came to us in Jesus,
that we might not live for ourselves,
but live for your and others.

Realizing your intentions for us
are compassion and grace,
we lift glad songs of praise:

Living, we seek to follow you;
following, we share our lives with others;
sharing, we receive unexpected gifts.

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

We bless you, O God, for your
compassion flows from your holiness
and is shared with us
through Jesus, our Lord and Savior.
   he showed us how to serve others;
   he poured your words of hope
   into those despised by others;
   he gave us the model
   for all who would be faithful;
   he revealed your compassion
   for all of you children
   as he was brought out of
   the desperate grasp of death.

As we gather at your Table of mercy
to feast on your steadfast love,
we proclaim that mystery we call faith:

Christ died, trusting in your love;
Christ was raised, your resurrection grace
   entrusted with him;
Christ will come, so where we live or die,
   we are yours forever.

We bless you, O God, for you
pour out your Spirit on
the gifts of the bread and the cup
and on your children in this place.
Here, may the broken bread
heal us so we may
   forgive those who hurt us,
   even as we are forgiven by you.
Here, may the cup of compassion
humble us so we may
   serve everyone we meet
   with grace and hope.

And when all time has ended
and you gather us at the Lamb's Table
with our siblings from every place and moment,
we will sing of your love and mercy forever,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Whether we believe or whether we struggle,
we are God's.
Let us go out to welcome
the doubters and disciples around us.
Whether we live or whether we die,
we are the Lord's.
Let us go to embrace all
who have been abandoned by the world.
Whether we are brave or quake at the knees,
we are the Spirit's.
Let us go to encourage
our sisters and brothers who struggle.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, September 03, 2023

Liturgy w/communion for September 10, 2023 (Pentecost 15/Trinity 14/Proper 18/Ordinary 23 - A)

Texts: Exodus 12:1-14; Psalm 149; Romans 13:8-14; Matthew 18:15-20

Call to Worship
When two or three gather, Christ lives in every moment,
where two or three gather, Christ is present with them.
Where two or three gather to worship God,
glad songs of praise are lifted, hearts are filled with hope.
When two or three gather to serve God's creation,
Christ is feeding the hungry, Christ is building shelters of peace.

Prayer of the Day
When we hold out our hands
to be cuffed by loneliness,
    you clasp our wrists
    to pull us into your heart.
When our lives are shattered
by the injustices done to those
passed over by the world,
    your love puts us back together,
    so we can serve them with your hope.
Emancipating God,
we praise you!

When we would build walls
between us and our neighbors,
    you come to be the welcoming gate.
When we would curse someone
who has hurt us in our souls,
    you sing us songs of blessing.
When we would focus only
on our needs and our desires,
    you hand us the dinnerware
    and ask us to set the Table.
Ever-near Salvation,
we would follow you!

When we would feed on
our bitter brokenness,
    you would offer us
    the Bread of reconciliation.
When we would grasp
the Cup of peace,
and drink it to the last drop,
    you whisper, 'offer some
    to those you don't like.'
Liberating Spirit,
we would be filled with you!

God in Community, Holy in One,
free us of all fears and doubts,
as we pray as Jesus has taught us,

(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
All we are called to do is to love - everyone.  Yet, as simple as it sounds, by our actions and our words, we show how difficult a task it is.  Let us confess our failings as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness

    You do not ask much of us, Guardian of hope -  to love, to serve, to welcome.  Yet too often, it is words of bitterness we speak to friends and family.  It is our stiff-with-judgment backs we offer to those looking for help. It is our hardened hearts people find, when they reach out, hoping to touch grace.
    Love lived as Compassion, forgive us. We are broken, so make us whole through the life of Christ. We are empty of peace, so fill us with the reconciling Spirit of Christ. We are alone, so take us by the hand and lead us into your kingdom of joy and grace, brought to us through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Amen.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Gathered as God's people, we hear the good news: God has forgiven us, God has made us whole, God sends us to serve.
We will not wear jealousy or resentment, but put on the garments of peace and hope.  We are forgiven by our God. Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering

We would take our wrinkled bills, our plastic cards, our tarnished coins and give them to you, Loving God, so those who are oppressed might be set free, that those who are hungry would be fed, that those who are lonely might find a family.  In Jesus’ name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May God be with you!
And also with you!
People of God, open your hearts.
We open them to the One who feeds us with freedom and hope.
Children of God, sing songs of thanksgiving 

to the One who journeys with you!
Graced with abundant life, we join our hearts
and voices in praise to our loving God!

The moment you spoke
and liberated chaos, Holy God,
time marked the beginning
of created beauty and glory.
You watered earth with tears of joy,
planting those seeds of hope and peace
    so we might be fed by your heart.
But asked simply to be your children,
we could not obey that request,
    but wandered off to feast
    at the table groaning with lies and curses.
Your gracious word was sung
in new ways by the prophets,
    but we tuned them out,
    so we could listen to the seductive songs of sin.
You sent us your hope in Jesus Christ,
who came to set us free
and bring us home from
our exile in rebellion.

So, with those who longed for your coming,
packed and ready to journey into freedom,
we sing our praises in the company
of our sisters and brothers from every time:

Holy! Holy! Holy! Living God of grace!
All creation echoes your praise:
    creatures roaming the fields,
    dolphins splashing in the seas,
    eagles soaring in the bright sky.
Glory to you forever and ever,
God of the captives!

You are righteousness, God our Deliverer,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, your Child, our Brother.
Because we break your heart
with our words and deeds,
    he came to shatter the chains
    of our arrogance and selfishness.
Because we have become gluttons,
feasting on bitterness and fear,
    he came to be the sweet Bread
    of healing and hope.
Because we become drunk
on sin's soured wine,
    he came to be salvation
    poured into our parched souls.
Because death smiles at us,
waiting with open arms,
    he came to gather us up
    in the embrace of grace and life,
carrying us out of the empty tomb
into your life of joy forever.

As you have prepared this Table for us,
gather us as your children, so we might remember
all the promises fulfilled to us in Christ our Lord:

When we eat of the Bread, Christ's life strengthens us;
when we drink from the Cup, Christ's Spirit nourishes us;
when we go to serve others, we proclaim Christ's death
    until he returns in glory.

As you bless the gifts
of the Bread and the Cup,
anoint us with your Spirit
which brings us together.
As your grace touches our lips
with hope and healing,
    may we reach out our hands
    to set free those captive to injustice.
As your peace is poured
into the empty corners of our hearts,
    may we go forth to love
    others as much as we love ourselves,
          and to serve them
          as we show our love for you.

And when time has marked the end of history,
and we gather with all our sisters and brothers,
    all division done away with,
    all brokenness healed,
    all barriers pulled down,
          and all your children set free from despair,
we will join our hands and hearts
around your Table of eternity,
singing praise through forever:

Glory to you, Liberating God!
Alleluia to you, Christ our Servant!
Thanks to you, Spirit of Peace!
Now and forever. Amen.


Send us out now, O God, in twos and threes

to be the grace and compassion the world needs.

Send us out now, O Jesus, alone and together,

to work for justice for all the forgotten.

Send us out now, O Spirit, as your people

to bring peace to the brokenness around us.

(c) Thom M. Shuman