Monday, October 30, 2023

Liturgy w/communion for November 5, 2023 (Pentecost 23/Trinity 22/Proper 26/Ordinary 31-A)

Texts: Joshua 3:7-17; Psalm 107:1-7, 33-37; 1 Thessalonians 2:9-13; Matthew 23:1-12

Call to Worship
When we stand at the edge of fear and worry,
God invites us to step into the waters of faith and trust.
When we stand at the edge of the world's pain and need,
Jesus invites us to step into the land of humble service.
When we stand at the edge of our hunger and thirst:
the Spirit invites us to sit at the Table of grace.

Prayer of the Day
you draw us near to your heart,
so that, cradled in compassion,
     we might see the brokenness
     of all who are around us.

you draw us near to yourself,
so that, by following you,
     we may discover the deep joy
     of serving the broken of the world.

you draw near to us with your peace,
so that, reconciled and restored to God,
     we may be the healers
     of a world shattered by despair.
God in Community, Holy in One,
as we draw near to you in this time,
we lift the prayer you have taught us, saying,
(The Lord's Prayer)
Call to Reconciliation
We know how easy it is to do exactly the opposite of what we learn from our Teacher, Jesus. So, let us draw near to our God, for in confessing our failures, we will discover the grace and mercy God has in store for us. Join me as we pray, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     When we come to the edge of your holiness, Constant Love, we know how we have not lived as your children. We dam up for ourselves your rivers of love, while the lives around us turn into deserts of loneliness. All too quickly, we place our feet on the quicksand of fear, not wanting to step across to your faith. We tie up our angers and worries and burden our families and friends with them.
     Forgive us, Listener to our hearts. By your patient grace, give us more time to practice our calling to discipleship, so we might learn all we need to live as sisters and brothers of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

 Silence is kept

 Assurance of Pardon
This is the good news: God hears you, God forgives you, God is with you as you journey into that land called Promise.
Let the redeemed of God say: this is indeed great news! Accepting God's word of joy and grace, we will live as God's children in all the days to come. Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
We offer our gifts in gratitude, Holy One, for all your blessings in our lives.  Use them to touch the lives of all who stand on the edge of hope, of peace, of community that they might step into these promises of yours with confidence.  In Jesus' name, Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May creation's Guide be with you!
And also with you!
Weary wanderers, offer your hearts to God;
who takes us by the heart to lead us back to faithfulness.
Do not hesitate, but step forward in joy into God's life.
We will do so, singing to the One who immerses us in hope.
Standing at the edge of chaos,
you cried out, Exalted Love,
     and all creation sprang forth
     from the goodness of your Word.
Grace overflowed from your heart,
     racing through the deep valleys of hope.
Creating us in your image,
breathing life and joy into us,
you drew us near to you,
so we could live in joy with you.
     But we chose to wander
     through the deserts of death,
     paving over Eden's promise with our sins.
Like a parent with her children,
you encouraged us to change,
sending the prophets to bring us back.
     But we would not listen,
     tying up the burdens of our lives
     and putting them on their backs.
Then you chose to send Jesus,
to be the Witness to your
never-ending love for us.
So, with wanderers and witnesses,
with those who cried out to you,
and those who followed your promises,
we lift our songs with our sisters and brothers
who forever sing your praises:

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of steadfast love.
All creation overflows with your grace and mercy.
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is the One who calls us to humble service.
Hosanna in the highest!

You are holy, Creation's Guide,
and Jesus Christ, your Son, our Teacher,
is the One who comes to redeem us.
Seeing the barren lives we lead,
he came to till the rich soil
of your hopes and dreams,
     that it might bear life in us.
Watching us stumble
along sin's side streets,
he takes us by the hand,
     to lead us to your feast.
When we would allow our pride
to become entangled with death,
he gently takes this burden
from off our shoulders,
     carrying it to the cross,
     and leaving it behind in the tomb,
as he strides forth into
the promised land of resurrection.
As we remember his words and witness,
as we would let his teachings shape our lives,
we speak of what we believe, great is the mystery of faith:
Christ was sent to be God's Witness.
Christ is our Teacher of the Way.
Christ will come to welcome us home.

Pour out your Holy Spirit
upon those gathered
from every corner of the world,
and upon the gifts of the bread and the cup.
As your grace fills us,
may we go forth,
in thanksgiving and humility,
     to feed the hungry around us.
As the cup turns our parched souls
into fountains of hope,
may we overflow in service
     to those who wander in our midst.
Then, when all time has ended,
when the truly humble find themselves
seated beside you at the Table in eternity,
we will join our voices in thanksgiving to
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

Go forth as God's people into the world.
We will go to serve those who stand at the edges of life.
Go forth as sisters and brothers of Jesus.
We will go to teach the world the ways of peace and hope.
Go forth as those filled with the Spirit.
We will go to share our lives with everyone we meet.

(c) Thom M. Shuman 

Alternate texts liturgy w/communion for November 5, 2023 (Pentecost 23/Trinity 22/Proper 26/Ordinary 31 - A)

 Texts:  Micah 3:5-12; Psalm 43; 1 Thessalonians 2:9-13; Matthew 23:1-12

Call to Worship
We are witnesses to the love of God.
We see it in the father putting kids to bed;
we tell of the teacher patiently teaching a student to read.
We are witnesses to the justice of Jesus.
We hear it in the student who stands up to a bully;
we sing of it at vigils of hope for shattered communities.
We are witnesses to the peace of the Spirit.
We receive it from the sister who listens to our loneliness;
we whisper it to the little brother who falls off his bicycle.

Prayer of the Day
You stand at our side,
holding our hand when
we are most frightened.
Your heart is a warm shelter
when others turn a cold shoulder to us;
you do not push us off your lap
but draw us close to you.

When we stumble about
with tears in our eyes,
wandering through the maze
carved by the unjust,
you take us by the hand,
Lost and alone, we see you
in the distance, beckoning
the way to the front porch
where supper and a warm bed awaits.

Why do we continue to stress,
befriending worry every chance we get,
You fill us with overflowing joy,
teaching us songs of wonder
which we offer to you in every moment,
using every instrument imaginable,
like the best marching band in the land.

As we praise you, we will hope in you,
God in Community, Holy in One,
our shelter, our justice, our heart,
even as we pray, saying,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
We are so busy putting awards on the walls and trophies in the case, we do not notice how our silence and self-centeredness hurts those around us.  Let us offer our foolish lives to our God, who is always ready to forgive us.

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   We could live humbly with others, Sheltering God, but then they would not know how awesome we really are.  We could speak humbly to others, but we prefer to put them in their place.  We could act humbly in dealing with others, but then they would take advantage of us.  We could humbly serve the most vulnerable, but we would rather coddle the wealthy and the powerful.
   Have mercy on us, God of compassion.  Instead of putting letters after our names, may we spell out hope for those recovering from disasters.  Rather than jockeying for a seat at the head table, may we sit in the kitchen with the cooks and dishwashers.  Tempted to overlook injustice, may we abhor it as deeply and intently as did your Child, Jesus Christ.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
God loves us.  God forgives us.  This is not fake news, but the reality offered to us by the One who shelters us.  So life changing, this good news always causes us to respond with praise.
Thanks be to God!  We are heard, we are accepted, we are filled with mercy and hope.  Amen.  Amen!

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
May not only these gifts, but our very lives, bear witness that there is justice for all who have been pushed aside; there is hope for all who live in the shadows of power; there is love for all who have been rejected; there is healing for all the broken.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of the Table be with you!
And also with you!
Let us offer our hearts to God.
God hears our hearts and answers with love and hope.
Lift your voices in song to the One who serves us.
We will praise God with our voices and lives.

When no answer was coming
out of the void, you spoke, God of our hearts,
calling forth creation in all its beauty:
   chipmunks dashing across lawns,
   eagles soaring over valleys,
   comets streaking night skies.
This was brought forth for us,
those created in your image,
   but we longed to live in sin's shadows,
   and so wandered down death's paths.
You repeatedly sent prophets to us,
women and men who called us to return,
   but we would not practice what they preached,
   but continued to play in temptation's yard.
So, you gave us the answer of your heart,
becoming on of us in Jesus,
so we could be filled with your hope.

Here, in these moments of silence and word,
here, as we gather at your feast of grace,
we join in offering praise to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God who is with us.
All creation joins in singing glory to you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who serves the most vulnerable.
Hosanna in the highest!

You alone are holy, God who speaks to us,
and Jesus is blessed by your love and goodness.
Like a father teaching kids to drive,
   he is your patience with us.
Like a brother who shares baking secrets,
   he is your compassion to us.
Like a sister who shows us how to bend the ball,
   he is your wisdom towards us.
Like a mother who confronts our deepest fears,
   he is your life and hope
   which comes out of the tomb,
   having defeated the power of death.

As we recall his life and ministry among people,
as we remember his death and resurrection for all,

we speak of that faith which is often a mystery to us:

Your witness to weakness over power,
   Jesus died on the cross;
your witness to love overcoming hate,
   Jesus was raised from death;
your witness to promises yet to be fulfilled,
   Jesus will come again.

As we gather around this Table,
pour out your Spirit upon us
and the gifts of the bread and the cup.
As we eat of your brokenness,
   may we live humbly with others;
   may we speak with humility to power.
As we drink from your grace,
   may we act humbly in seeking justice;
   may we serve others with humility and love.

And when your light has overcome all shadows,
when we are all brought to your Table in glory,
we will join our sisters and brothers
of every time and from every place
in praising you forever,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Let us go to be witnesses to God's love.
We will tell of it in our neighborhoods;
we will live it in every moment of every day.
Let us go to be witnesses of Jesus' justice.
We will challenge those who harass others;
we will help rebuild broken lives and neighborhoods.
Let us go to be witnesses of the Spirit's peace.
We will embrace the lonely with acceptance and joy;
we will fill the empty with wonder and grace.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

All Saints Day - Year A

 Texts:  Revelation 7:9-17; Psalm 34:1-10, 22; 1 John 3:1-3; Matthew 5:1-12

Call to Worship
At all times we are called
to bless God’s name.
Our lips are drenched with praises,
our hearts exult in God.
The proud will bend knees in worship,
the humble will lift glad songs.
We are free from our fears,
we have searched for God and been found.
Our faces glow with thanksgiving,
our spirits overflow with grace.
God has wiped away our tears,
God has fed us from the storehouses of hope.

Prayer of the Day
They are gathered around you,
God of Forever and Ever.
Some are well known, like
Martin Luther,
Mother Theresa,
C. S. Lewis,
Helen Keller,
and so many more.
Some have been forgotten, like
Agnes and Cadoc,
Tuda, Mary of Egypt,
and Ebba,
while others have days named after them.

But many are ordinary folk,
such as the teacher from second grade
who guided our fingers under the words;
the nurse in the hospital
who held our hand while blood was taken;
the coach who trusted us with the ball,
not the end of the bench.

There is an old man who left retirement behind,
and a barren woman who laughed at your promise;
there are popes, princes, and power-brokers
who are taught heaven’s hymns
by the paupers and pretenders;
there are those who moved mountains
and those who murmured in the wilderness;
there are those who founded the church,
and those who floundered on the waves of Galilee.

All saints,
just like us,
singing your praise forever and ever,
and we join in their anthem
even as we pray as Jesus has taught us, saying,
(The Lord's Prayer)

 Call to Reconciliation
 When God sets the table of the Lamb, all will be welcome – the young and the old; those who were faithful, and those who failed; those who followed Jesus, and those who lost their way.  Let us confess to our God our unsaintly ways, knowing how quick God is to forgive.

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
We did not listen, when the Teacher spoke, God of sinners. 
Rich in pride and arrogance,
     our spirits have no need for a kingdom;
taught to not let anyone see us cry,
     we refuse your comforting arms;
seeing the greedy and self-indulgent have their way,
     we yearn to inherit their hardened hearts;
noticing the hungry standing by the side of the road,
     we make sure we get more than our share
     of the world’s resources;
taking note of how the merciful are pushed aside,
     we develop calluses on our souls.

Forgive us, Saint Maker, that we follow the wrong examples and listen to false teachings.  It is the peacemakers who live into your hope; it is those whose hearts are shaped by yours, who are able to see you in the poor and broken; it is those who give themselves to serve others who are your saints, following the example of Jesus Christ, our Lord, our Savior, our Shepherd, guiding us to the wellsprings of life.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
When we seek God, we are found;
when we cry out, we are heard;
when we confess, we are forgiven and made new.
We can taste the yeasty flavor of grace, we can drink the deep wine of hope, we can find our home in God’s heart, receiving mercy and new life.  Thanks be to God.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
We seek, not to be saints so much, but simply your people.  We have been blessed beyond imagination and so pray, as we offer these gifts, that they would be used to touch the lives of the broken, the lonely, the seeking, the hungry, the hopeless - all those who are our siblings.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of saints and sinners be with you.
And also with you.
Join me in glorifying our God.
We offer our hearts as we praise our God.
Let us bless our God at all times.
Songs of thanksgiving will flow from our lips forever.

You stood before chaos, God of all time,
and cried out with a loud voice,
calling all that is good and beautiful into being:
     wiggly worms tilling the rich soil,
     owls watching over the gathering dusk,
     butterflies flittering through gardens.
You created humanity in your image,
the Spirit breathing life into our lungs,
all so we could live with you in creation’s wonder.
     But we tasted the tempting goodies of sin,
     and saw all the promises death offered to us,
          and we placed our hopes in them.
Hearing our souls cry out to you,
you sent the prophets to us,
to remind us that we were your children.
     But we continued to fall on our faces,
     worshiping the false gods of hopelessness.
So you sent Jesus to us, to reveal you to us
as the One who will redeem us from ourselves.

We join our voices with those
of every time and place,
joyfully sing with loud voices:

Amen!  Blessing and glory and wisdom
and thanksgiving and honor and power and might
be to our God forever and ever!  Amen!

Holy are you, God who wipes away all tears,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, the Lamb who is our shepherd.
Rich in your glory and honor,
     he came to bless the poor in spirit;
Word by which creation’s life came forth,
     he came to comfort all who stand at gravesides;
exalted by all the choirs of heaven,
     he came to give the meek their heritage;
emptying himself of all he might claim,
     he came to feed us with your righteousness;
compassionate beyond all imagination,
     he came to offer mercy to all he encountered;
true Prince of Peace,
     he came to share that gift with God’s children;
persecuted for being God’s righteousness,
     he came, to bring God’s kingdom into our midst;
reviled and crucified on the cross,
     he offers us that resurrection
     which is great in heaven.

Knowing that what we will be has not been revealed
but trusting that we will be like him,
we join all the saints in proclaiming our faith:

Christ died, so we might have life;
Christ was raised, so we might have this hope of resurrection;
Christ will be our guide, leading us to the living waters.

See what love God has given us!
Here at the Table where the Feast of Joy
has been prepared for all of God’s people,
the Spirit comes upon the gifts of the bread and the cup
and upon all who hunger and thirst for righteousness.
As we eat of this bread, we will taste God’s goodness,
going out into the world as God’s people,
     to offer shelter to those who sleep on the streets,
     to feed those whose hunger is palpable,
     to speak out for those who endure
          the great ordeal of oppression.
As we drink from the Cup, we will see God’s hope,
committing ourselves to serve others
that they might see Christ as he is:
     Healer of the broken,
     Brother of the poor,
     Servant of all who are lost.

And when we gather with those from every nation,
those from all tribes and peoples and languages,
we will fall on our faces worshiping and praising you,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Go now to be saints of God this week.
Not to be holier-than-thou folks, but people 
who keep an eye out for those the world has overlooked.
Go now to be servants of Jesus this week.
Not to be those who are better than others,
but those who humble themselves in service. 
Go now to be companions of the Spirit this week.
Not those who are on the inside path,
but those who walk with all who have lost their way.

(c) Thom M. Shuman 

Saturday, October 21, 2023

Liturgy w/communion for October 29, 2023 (Pentecost 22/Trinity 21/Proper 25/Ordinary 30 - A)

 Texts: Deuteronomy 34:1-12; Psalm 90:1-6, 13-17; 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8; Matthew 22:34-46

Call to Worship
We are invited to share in Christ's ministry of compassion.
We will widen our hearts so we might cradle the lost.
We are challenged to learn more about God each day.
We will open our minds so we might discern God's dreams for us.
We are summoned to let the Spirit be planted within us.
We will deepen our souls so we might grow in love.
Prayer of the Day
Every generation has found
its home in you,
God our provider,
and discovered that every moment
spent in your holy presence
lasts beyond all imaginable time.
You watch over us in the night,
cradling us in your arms
as tenderly as a nurse
cares for her children,
and her neighbor's.
Full of wisdom,
Imagination of Creation,
you humbled yourself
that we might learn
to love those
who have been swept aside
by a callous and cruel world.
Witness to God's grace,
you call us to act
in ways of love of peace
to all we meet in this life.
In the fresh breeze
on a summer's day;
in the leaves dancing
across autumn's lawns;
in the crisp, new snowfall
crunching beneath our feet;
in the new life
flowering in the spring:
from everlasting to everlasting
you proclaim God's grace to us,
Spirit of Life.

God in Community, Holy in One,
continue to be the dwelling place
of our minds, our hearts, our souls,
even as we pray as we have been taught,
 (The Lord's Prayer)

 Call to Reconciliation
We have been entrusted with the message of the gospel, but all too often act as if the memos from sin and death have more influence in our lives. Let us confess our sins, so we might know God's great love for us.

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     As you know, God our healer, we stand on the edge of your promises and hopes, yet cannot seem to let ourselves cross over into the life you intend for us. We seek praise from our families, yet are unable to tell them how much we love them; we care more about our needs and desires, than for the struggles of our neighbors; we think more about the trash we read and see than focusing on the Spirit of wisdom.
     Forgive us, Everlasting God. Renew our lives with your grace; restore our hopes with your vision of tomorrow; refresh our spirits with your joy which comes to us new in each moment in the gift of your Child, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

 Silence is kept.
Assurance of Pardon
This moment, this morning, this day, and in all the days to come, God's compassion and hope fill our lives. What joyous good news!
Our hope is not in vain. God forgives our sins, and is the dwelling place for all people. Thanks be to God. Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
As we think of our neighbors, may our souls be touched by their needs, and our hearts open our resources to offer gifts which will bring healing, peace, and grace to all.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of compassion be with you!
And also with you!
Each morning, God feeds us with steadfast love.
Each day, our hearts are filled with God's call to serve.
Children of God, sing your praises to God all our days.
We lift our joy to the One who is the dwelling place of all generations.

Refusing to let chaos
become our dwelling place,
God of the ages,
you called forth creation.
Whether in the blink of an eye,
or in moments spanning thousands of years,
deep valleys of hope were carved,
carpeted with grace renewed each morning.
You created humankind in your image,
knowing us face to face in love.
But we turned our gaze
towards that land of temptation,
chasing the false dreams offered by death.
Caring so deeply for us,
you sent prophets to call us home,
but their words withered in our hearts.
So you sent Jesus to bring
the message of good news,
and to lead us to
the promised land of eternal life.
Therefore, with those filled with the spirit of wisdom,
and those who were full of themselves,
with saints and sinners, prophets and pharisees,
we sing of your everlasting joy:

Holy, holy, holy, God our dwelling place.
You satisfy us with your love each morning,
you comfort us in your grace each night.
Blessed is the One who comes calling us to love:
     to love you without reservation,
     to love others without expectation,
     to love ourselves without self-condemnation.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, God our Peace,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, our Way of life.
Mindful of your hopes for us,
he came, so we might
discover you in our neighbor.
Soul of your soul,
he came, so we might
overflow with your grace.
Loving us more than himself,
he came, to defeat sin
and destroy death's grip on us,
so we might spend eternity
embraced in your life.
With remembrance of his life,
in the joy of the resurrection,
in anticipation of his return,
we proclaim that mystery we call faith:
Christ came, that we might know God's love;
Christ died, that our souls might be healed;
Christ will come again, that our hearts will be united with God's.

Pour out your Spirit of wisdom
on the gifts of this Table,
and on those who prepare to feast
on your bounty of grace.
As the bread fills us
with your love and hope,
we would go out to love
our neighbors with hearts
shaped by your joy.
As the cup refreshes
our minds and souls,
we would show our
everlasting love for you,
by serving the lost and forgotten
with lives molded by your compassion.
And when time, which was first wound at creation
has ticked its last moment,
when friends, neighbors, and strangers
are gathered around your Table,
we will join our voices singing your praises,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

And now go forth,
to love God with all your heart, your mind, your soul:
with passion, with prayer, with intelligence;
to love your neighbor:
with forgiveness, with service, with love;
and to love yourself:
with hope, with joy, with peace.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Alternate texts liturgy w/communion for October 29, 2023 (Pentecost 22/Trinity 21/Proper 25/Ordinary 30 - A)

Texts:  Leviticus 19:1-2, 15-18; Psalm 1; 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8; Matthew 22:34-46

Call to Worship
We are called to love God with our hearts.
We will do so, when we welcome those 
tossed aside by the world.
We are called to love God with our souls.
We will do so, when the brokenness around us
transforms us into more compassionate people.
We are called to love God with our minds.
We will do so, when we think less of our needs,
and see each person as our neighbor, our sister, our brother.

Prayer of the Day
We are blessed when
we listen to the songs of goodness;
   when we skip down the paths of grace
   hand-in-hand with wide-eyed kids.
We are blessed when we pay attention
to the Word of life and welcome;
   when we think about it
   more than once in a while.
We are blessed when 
we put down roots in life's soil,
   watered by the Gardener
   dipping from pools of peace.
We are blessed when 
we share hope with the hungry;
   and offer cool cups of trust
   to all who are parched by the world.
We are blessed when
evil becomes dust drifting away;
   when we choose not 
   to chill with troublemakers.
We are blessed when
we play leapfrog with wonder;
   when God sits on a bench knitting
   and watching with a careful eye.

We are blessed by you, 
God in Community, Holy in One,
and so lift the prayer we have been taught,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
We know (don't we) the lives we are called to lead which could offer hope, grace, and peace with God.  Yet we choose to walk down the wrong roads, to hang out with the wrong folks.  Join me, as we confess our lives to God, praying together,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   We have so many rules in the backs of our minds for others to follow, God of grace, that we often forget to simply love them.  We are so convinced that those around us have sold their souls out of greed, that we do no notice the emptiness of our own.  We use words and actions which shatter the hearts of others, as ours slowly wither from lack of the breath of your Spirit.
   Forgive us for our choosing to live the way we want, Merciful God, rather than being the holy people of your hopes.  May we have nothing up our sleeves, but offer all we have to others.  May we speak the words you give us, as we share the good news of grace.  May we seek to love you as completely and trustingly as did Jesus the Christ, who loved us as sisters and brothers of your heart.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Nothing will deter God from sharing this good news with us: we are heard, we are forgiven, we are offered new lives of service and faith.
Thanks be to God, who offers justice not judgment; who shares grace with us, not holds grudges against us.  We are forgiven.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
The hungry, the homeless, the searching, the addicted - our neighbors are all around us, O God.  We pray that as we offer our gifts, they might be used not only to bring these sisters and brothers closer to you, but to us as well.  This we pray in Jesus' name.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of love be with you.
And also with you.
Let us offer our hearts to our God,
who will fill them so we can love others with compassion.
Join in singing glad songs of praise to God.
May our voices show how we love God with our minds and souls.

Because you are love, Tender God,
you blew away chaos on
the winds of creation as you
   plowed furrows for rivers,
   pushed mountains towards the sky,
   floated stars in winter nights.
You loved us enough to shape us
in your image, to dwell with you,
   but we listened to sin's flummery,
   trusting death's empty promises.
The prophets came time and again
to point the way to you,
   but we followed Wicked's advice
   and played in the sandbox with other scoffers.
Then Jesus came to speak to all
of your unending love for us.

With those neighbors who live next door,
and with those we may never meet,
we sing our songs of love and praise:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God who gives us courage.
All creation delights in loving you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who was not deterred
   from sharing the good news.
Hosanna in the highest!

Because your holiness mirrors your love,
your Child was willing to become one of us
so we might be siblings in life and faith.
He did not trick us with words,
   but rolled up his sleeves
   to stand by us in every moment.
Like a nurse sitting by a bed,
   he brought healing and peace
   to the hurting and grieving.
Refusing the seat offered by power,
   he embraced the cross,
   walking down the path of death
   into the cold grave, until
you brought him forth
in resurrection love.

As we seek to serve with hope and love,
as we gather with our neighbors at the Table,
we proclaim that mystery known as faith:

Loving you more than himself, Christ died;
loving him more than yourself, you raised Christ to new life;
loving us and our neighbors, Christ will come for us.

As we seek to love you with
our hearts, minds, and souls;
as we gather with our neighbors,
pour out your Spirit, God of feasts,
on the gifts of the bread and the cup
and those here in these moments.
As we taste the broken bread,
may the life of Jesus be in us,
   that life which seeks justice,
   that life which shares hope,
   that life which bears no grudges.
As we drink of the grace in the cup,
may the Spirit which was in Jesus
also flow through and from us,
   that Spirit which welcomes all,
   that Spirit which loves each person,
   that Spirit which serves the vulnerable.

And when there are no more questions,
but only the answer of your gracious love,
we will gather around your Feast,
loving strangers as long-lost family,
and you with our hearts, souls, and minds,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Go now, to love God.
We will do so, not just with warm thoughts,
but using our minds to solve problems
which beset those around us.
Go now, to love Jesus.
We will do so, not just with changed hearts,
but with passion to challenge all
who would damage the lives of others.
Go now, to love the Spirit.
We will do so, not just with pious souls,
but with a willingness to serve in places we are sent.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, October 15, 2023

Liturgy w/communion for October 22, 2023 (Pentecost 21/Trinity 20/Proper 24/Ordinary 29 - A)

  Texts: Exodus 33:12-23; Psalm 99; 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10; Matthew 22:15-22

 Call to Worship 
Each morning, God's grace awakens us, 
each evening, God's peace cradles us. 
Compassion is our constant companion, 
as we go through work, school, the day. 
In every moment, God is present with us; 
God whispers words which can change our lives. 
Justice is our faithful teacher, 
pointing to where we can carry out fairness. 
When we find ourselves groping in the shadows, 
God's light will provide a way home. 
We turn the corner, and hope is waiting for us; 
we return home, and find a feast prepared. 
Prayer of the Day 
Steadfast Hope: 
when we want 
to make all the rules 
so we can win every game, 
     you call us to your side, 
     put your arm around us 
          and whisper, 'play fair!' 
When we tremble in fear, 
worried that our lives 
are about to crash to the bottom, 
     you place us in 
     the hollow of your heart, 
          and give us safety. 

Word of Joy: 
when we would follow 
those who pretend 
to be our saviors 
to achieve their own ends, 
     you remind us that we have been chosen 
     to be examples of faith to others. 
When we would 
fill our pockets with 
the treasures of temptation, 
     you ask us to empty them, 
     so we can become 
     servants of hope. 

Crafter of Faith: 
when others judge us on 
our backgrounds, education, looks, 
     you teach us how 
     to treat all people as equal, 
          to welcome each person 
          as our sister or brother. 
When we wonder how 
our needs, our hopes, our lives 
will be made known to God, 
     you mention us, by name, 
     in all your prayers. 
God in Community, Holy in One, 
we know you as 
Glory, Grace, Goodness, 
and lift our prayer to you, saying, 
 (The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation 
We know, despite our sincere efforts to live in God's way, that all too easily we slip off the path to the kingdom. Trusting that God will answer our prayers and forgive us, let us confess our sins, as we pray together, 

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness 
Great Lover of Justice, hear our prayers: 
     called to treat all people equally, 
          we take sides and pick favorites; 
     chosen to be your children, 
          we arrogantly assume others are not so honored; 
      challenged to be examples of faith, 
           we reveal our worst natures to our families and friends. 

Forgive us, Giver of Rest.  Enable us to stop putting you to the test, so we can open our hypocritical hearts to your healing touch of compassion and hope. As Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, has 
given all for us, may we give ourselves to you - confidently, completely, faithfully. 

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon 
Hear the good news: the One who created goodness and beauty is also the One who shows no partiality, but offers grace and peace to all. 
God has heard our prayers and done the very thing we asked - forgiven us, healed us, restored us. Thanks be to God. Amen. 

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
You do not choose favorites, Holy God, but pour out your blessings on all your children, trusting that we will empty our hearts, our lives, our treasure in meeting the needs of those around us.  Bless these gifts, and use them to bring healing and hope to your people.  Amen.
Great Prayer of Thanksgiving 
May the exalted One be with you! 
And also with you! 
Open your hearts to the One who knows you by name. 
We offer ourselves to the One who is always with us. 
Give thanks to God, all of you, in prayer and song, in silence and service. 
We sing to the One who calls us to worship. 
Holy and Honest God: 
in establishing all that is 
beautiful and joyful, 
     your glory banished chaos 
     and your goodness became 
          the shawl which warmed all creation. 
You shaped humankind in your own image 
and called us, each by name, favoring us with your love. 
But we could not pass by sin and death 
     huddled in the cracks of chaos, 
     and turned towards them, 
         offering a safe place in our hearts. 
Because you would bring your people back to you, 
you sent the prophets 
to teach us your ways, 
     but we thought they were hypocrites, 
     speaking insincere words. 
So then you sent Jesus 
to show us your hope 
and to reveal your dreams for us. 

Therefore, we join our voices with all your people 
in every age, time, and place, 
who forever sing your praises: 
Holy, holy, holy! Lover of Justice and Peace! 
All creation sings of your hopes, 
     echoing your dreams for us. 
Hosanna in the highest! 

Blessed is the One who comes to reveal your gospel, 
     by word, by grace, by the Spirit. 
Hosanna in the highest! 

Great Giver of Joy: 
you loved the world so much 
that you sent your very heart to us. 
We did not welcome him 
as your beloved Child, 
     turning our backs as he approached us. 
His faithfulness to your way 
     revealed our idolatry of the world. 
His plain spoken truth showed the lies 
     we all too easily accepted. 
He went to the cross, 
defeating sin and death, 
     so he could claim what is yours 
     and give us back to you. 
As we offer you the gift of our prayers and thanksgiving, 
we remember Jesus, your Beloved, 
who bequeathed to us that mystery we call faith: 
We eat this bread, 
     remembering his brokenness; 
we drink this cup,   
     to be filled with his grace; 
we wait for Jesus to come again, 
     constantly proclaiming your love for us. 
Holy Goodness: 
pour out your Spirit of welcome 
on the gifts of the cup and the bread. 
Simple gifts made sacred by your presence, 
may the grain which has 
come to us from many fields 
     strengthen your people to go out 
     and serve in many neighborhoods. 
May the cup which has been filled 
by the fruit of many vines 
     nourish us with faith and hope 
     so our hearts will overflow with grace 
     to those who thirst for your presence. 
And when your people 
have been gathered together 
from every corner of creation, 
we will know one another by name, 
lifting our voices to you, 
God in Community, Holy in One, 
seated upon the praises of our hearts. Amen. 

Go forth now, filled with God's grace.
We will cradle others in God's peace.
Go forth now, with the words that can transform the world.
We will go to speak up for those who are not heard.
Go forth now, taking the Light of God into the world.
We will go into every shadowed corner with hope lighting the way.

(c) Thom M. Shuman