Sunday, November 26, 2023

Liturgy w/communion for December 3, 2023 (Advent 1 - B)

 Texts:  Isaiah 64:1-9; Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19; 1 Corinthians 1:3-9; Mark 13:24-37

Call to Worship
Now, in this holy season of Advent, we wait.
For the faithful God is coming to us.
Now, in this season of waiting, we listen.
For the faithful Word speaks of good news to us.
Now, in the waiting and listening, we watch.
For the faithful Spirit is moving among us.

Prayer of the Day
You could feed us bitterness,
Approaching God,
but you choose to serve us
with the Bread of heaven;
you could hand us hot cup of your tears,

but you touch
the Cup of hope to our lips.

All the stars fall down
to shine the way for you,
Babe of Bethlehem,
as the powers of the world
tremble at your approach.
You tear open
our hardened hearts
so you can come in
and live with us forever.

Advent's Spirit:
you unclog our ears
so we can hear
the songs of the angels;
you wipe the grit
from our eyes
so we can see
the One who is coming to us.

God in Community, Holy in One,
help us to wait patiently, and hopefully,
as we lift the prayer taught to us by Jesus, saying,
(the Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation

Advent is the season
    of preparing,
        of waiting,
            of hoping

so let us confess to the One who comes, our impatient, toe-tapping, instant-gratification-filled lives, as we pray, saying

Responsive Prayer for Forgiveness

God who is drawing near to us:
we live in a world of violence,
which we do not condemn enough:
   Come to us, with your peace.

We are filled with the best of intentions,
but are unable to follow through with action:
   Come to us, with your will.

We are sinners, who are afraid
to gaze into your mirror of grace:
   Come to us, with your mercy.

Word of Flesh:
   have mercy;

Friend of the poor:
   have mercy;

Bridegroom of the faithful:
   have mercy.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon

In this season of waiting, the Good News is this: mercy, new life, hope, and joy are the gifts we receive from our God.
Thanks be to the God of Advent, who came in the Child, who is with us in the Spirit,  who will come again in glory!  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
God-who-gifts-us, you do so, not so we might have more, but we might care for those who have so little; not so we might splurge, but we might share.  In the waiting of Advent, may we see the wanting, and use our resources to fill their lives with hope, grace, and joy.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
Now, in this holy season of Advent, God comes to be with you.
God comes to be with you as well.
As we begin our journey to Bethlehem, let us open our hearts to God.
For God will fill them with strength and courage for the journey.
Let us join our voices in singing praise to God.
We will lift glad songs of joy to the One who is coming to us.

When you were tired of waiting,
you tore open chaos,
so creation might flow unimpeded:
   puppies quivering in falling snow,
   ice for skating forming on ponds,
   giraffes stretching their necks for snacks.
All these fresh and glorious wonders
were crafted for those in your image,
so we might live in your joy forever,
   but we chose to be doorkeepers

   for sin, waiting for death to appear.
Prophets came, so we might hear you
and see you at work in our midst,
   yet, we turned a deaf ear to them,
   refusing to notice you.
So you came down to us
in Jesus, your Child of life,
simply to save us.

With those who try never to turn away,
and those who call on your name,
we sing your praises this day:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God who comes to us.
All creation gives thanks to you, always.
Glory to you in the highest!

Blessed is the One who gathers us to you.
Glory to you in the highest!

In your holiness, you could have stood apart from us,
God of compassion and hope,
but in your love, you came to us
to be one of us in Jesus.
When we struggle in despair's poverty,
  he enriches us with your grace.
When we are weakened by fear,
   he strengthens us with your hope. 
When we think our lives are empty,
   he fills us with everything we need.
When death thought it
had lulled him to sleep,
   he kept alert, waiting
   for your resurrection love
   to gather him up
   and bring him to new life.

With those who are always alert,
and with those who are drowsy from waiting,
we proclaim that mystery which is our faith:

Christ died, giving his life as he called to you;
Christ was raised, resurrection love shining the way;
Christ will come, to gather us from every time and place.

Remembering that we are all your people,
you pour out your Spirit upon us
and the gifts prepared for this Feast.
You came to earth in Jesus
and now we find you in the broken bread
which gives us the strength
   to be your hope to those in sadness,
   to be your light to those in shadows,
   to be your justice to the oppressed.
Your life was poured out for us in Jesus,
and now we find your grace in the cup
which gives us the spirit
   to be your healing to the broken,
   to be your family to the lonely,
   to be your love to those who are ignored.

And when all time is ended,
gather us with our sisters and brothers
from every time and every place
around the table you have prepared for us,
as we sing our joyful praises to you,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

We do not know when Christ will return,
so we will wait, and in the waiting
we will share hope with everyone around us.
We do not know what the coming days will bring,

but we will be alert,
noticing all those who need the help we can provide.
We do not know the opportunities we will be given,

but we will keep our eyes open,
so we can welcome each person
as if they are the Christ.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Liturgy w/communion for November 26, 2023 (Christ the King/Reign of Christ - A)

Texts:  Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24; Psalm 100; Ephesians 1:15-23; Matthew 25:31-46

Call to Worship
Our lives scattered on the floor of the world,
our limits pushed by stress and its best friend, impatience,
we come:
For here, God would gather us,
bringing us to the realm of peace.
Wondering if truth is fake or worth pursuing,
questioning whether anyone is worth following or believing,
we come:
For here, God would feed us with wisdom,
sending the One who would lead us to the realm of hope.
Questioning the motives of everyone in power,

doubting that justice can be found anywhere,
we come:
For here, God brings us to worship with our siblings,
scooping us up from every place we have strayed.

Prayer of the Day

We are lost and wonder
if anyone cares, and you come,
Master of the Universe,
to bring us home to you.
Our thoughts chase themselves
around and around our minds,
and you weave them together
into words of hope for the lonely.

Too often, we find ourselves
parched in the deserts of temptation,
feasting on those scraps
found on worry's table,
and wonder why we still
hunger and thirst.
So you come to find us,
hope's Word-carrier,
so we might be filled
with grace and life.

You take our brokenness,

Spirit of our hearts,
and make us whole.
You scatter our anger and fears,
so we might be gathered
into communities of love.
You set our feet back
on those paths of grace
which will lead us back to you.

You rescue us from every place we have gone,

God in Community, Holy in One,
and so we pray as Jesus has taught us, saying,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation

So accustomed to the world's shadows, we do not think of ourselves as being lost.  We are so confident of where we are going, we never ask for directions.  But as we confess the lives we truly lead, we discover how scattered we are.  So, let us pray together, as we discover the One who has been searching for us.

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   Gathering God, this week, we threw an extra can of (on sale) veggies in our overflowing grocery carts; we donated that old coat we haven't worn in a couple of years to the thrift store; we re-gifted a bouquet to a neighbor in the hospital.  Did you notice?  Or were you too busy cleaning the guest room for the immigrant couple; buying hats and gloves for all the kids in the school near your home; sitting by the bed of a hospice patient after the family left for the night.

   We spend so much time patting ourselves on the back, that we do not notice how you are constantly searching the ends of the earth for all your children, Merciful God, even going into the very grip of death to bring us all new life.  Give us the faith to live as your people, and the wisdom to let go of all that you have poured into our lives, even as did Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.  Amen.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon

God feeds the hungry and gives hope to the parched.
That's us.
God brings healing to the sick and visits those imprisoned.
That's us.
God wraps warmth around the shivering, and knits a sweater for the naked.
That's us.
God loves every person, forgives every person, cares for every person.
That's us.  Thanks be to God.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication and Offering
We may not be hungry, but there are those who are.
We may not be parched from thirst, but there are those who do.
We may not worry about health care, or have someone in prison, or have to wear clothes tossed aside by others, but many of our siblings find themselves in such lives.  But we have been blessed by you.  So may these gifts we offer be used to everyone might know that your community of compassion, of hope, of grace, of life is for everyone.  This we ask in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of all hope be with you.
And also with you.
Let us lift our hearts to our God.
The eyes of our hearts look to the One who is our God.
Let us worship our God with glad songs of praise.
We come into God's presence with thanksgiving.

You gathered up the scattered
fragments of chaos, God of wonder,
shaping them into the wonders
we call the gifts and beauty of creation:
   thunderstorms moving over meadows,
   snow swirling softly in the evenings,
   deer standing in the silence of forests.
All these things and so much more
you offered to those created in your image,
   but the eyes of our hearts looked
   at the seductions of sin and death,
   finding them more desirable then you.
Prophets came as seekers of the lost,
hoping to bring us our of our foolishness,
   yet we continued to ignore them
   as we did those we could have served
   with your gifts of healing and hope.
That is when you chose to become one of us,
your heart beating with ours,
your love seeking to save us.

So with those who have reached out to the needy,
and those who somehow never notice them,
we offer our songs of praise to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God of every heart.
All creation joins in offering thanks to you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes to reveal your realm.
Hosanna in the highest!

Your holiness is revealed
in your steadfast love, Searching God,
and your heart in Jesus, our Lord, our brother.
When we would heap temptation's
empty calories on our plates,
   he feeds us on hope;
when we would drink from
the fountains of grudges,
   he pours us a cup of grace;
when we find every door
slammed shut in our face,
   he invites us into your heart;
when we are struggling with
the burdens and bills of illness,
   he touches us with healing care;
when we are faced with eternity
in the dank cells of death,
   he took the doors
   off the hinges, so we
   could walk into your
   resurrection love.

As we remember his stories of your realm,
as we seek to care for him in our siblings,
we seek to live that mystery we call faith:

Jesus died, so we might know your justice;
Jesus was raised, so we might know your love;
Jesus will come, so we will be gathered to you at last.

You have searched for us, Steadfast Love,
and gathered us in the sacred space,
where your Spirit is poured out
upon the gifts of the bread and cup,
and on your children gathered
from every place where we strayed.
You feed us on the broken bread so,
that strengthened we would go
   to care for the hungry and needy,
   to welcome the stranger and straggler,
   to bring healing to the hurting.
You offer the cup of grace so,
nourished with your love, we would go
   to offer the parched your living waters,
   to visit those held captive by fear,
   to offer a warm heart to the lonely.

And when the moment at the end of time comes,
as you gather the forgotten and the fragile,
the strangers who in reality are family,
we will join hands and hearts singing our praises,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Now, from where God has gathered us, let us go.
To discover that the stranger and homeless,
the prisoner and the hospice patient and 
everyone else are our siblings in life and faith.
Now, from where we have been fed, let us go.
To join Jesus in serving those who thirst for righteousness
as well as those who hunger for justice.
Now, from where we have been one, let us go.
To find those who have been tossed aside,
gathering them up to bring them
to the Spirit's goodness and peace.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, November 12, 2023

Liturgy w/communion for November 19, 2023 (Pentecost 25/Trinity 24/Proper 28/Ordinary 33 - A)

 Texts: Judges 4:1-7; Psalm 123; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11; Matthew 25:14-30

Call to Worship
This is the Lord's Day, the day of wonder and grace.
This is the day to worship the One who calls us here.
This is the Lord's Day, the day we are given joy and peace.
This is the day promised to us, the day of healing and renewal.
This is the Lord's Day, and it has come just in time!
This is the day we gather with hope, with faith, with love!
Prayer of the Day
in the silence,
when we struggle
to control our lives,
     may we, once again,
     empty ourselves of our pride and fears,
          to be filled with your hope.

in these moments,
when we cannot let go
of our worries and doubts,
     may we, once again,
     open our hands to hold your faith.
on this day
which is only and always
your gift to us,
     may we, once again,
     live into your kingdom.
Now, as we lift our hearts to you,
God in Community, Holy in One,
we once again pray as we have been taught saying,
 (The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
When we remember all the mistakes we have made, all the careless words we have spoken, all the contempt we have given to those around us, we have trouble looking God in the eye. But God gazes at us with mercy and love, waiting to forgive us, even as we hesitate to speak of the brokenness of our hearts. Join me as we pray, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     Again we must confess, Master of the Universe, our struggles to be faithful disciples.  Entrusted with all your gifts, we become fearful once again of misusing them, missing the chance to be a blessing to others.  Invited to dance in the light of your love, we stand against the wall once again, keeping company with our old friend, sin.  Called to be emptied for those who struggle in life, we fill ourselves once again, with scorn for the poor choices they make.
     Have mercy, Journeying God, have mercy on us.  Once again, open our eyes to your kingdom in our midst, so we might discover that your day of hope and grace has already come in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.  Amen. 

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
This is the good news: God intends for us to find life, to embrace hope, to receive forgiveness through Jesus Christ, our Servant.
The end of our journey is not rejection and emptiness, but the fullness of grace and hope in our God.  Thanks be to God, we are forgiven. Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
Now, in these moments of gratitude, we would offer you a portion of all which you have given to us, Gracious God.  We do so, trusting that you will take them, multiplying them in your kingdom, so all might be blessed by your love, your peace, and your hope.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of promises be with you!
And also with you!
Rejoice in the One who surprises us, people of God.
We lift our hearts to God who brings us salvation.
Children of God, join in glad song to the Giver of mercy.
Our voices join in praise to the God of love and hope.

When you had
had enough of chaos,
Covenant God,
you cried out in love
     and creation burst forth in joy.
You shaped us into images of you,
that we might be children of light,
     but we were drawn into
     the shadowy life of sin and death.
You sent people like Deborah
to call us back into your light,
     but we were scornful of their words.
Then you sent Jesus,
who came to fill us
with your love and hope.
So, with servants and sinners,
with judges and those who endure injustice,
we lift our voices, our hearts, our eyes
singing to the One enthroned on our hopes:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God enthroned in the heavens.
All creation looks to the hand of the Creator.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who walked the dusty paths of earth.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, God of Wonder,
And blessed is Jesus Christ, our Lord.
When the proud hurled
their contempt at him,
     he humbly knelt to serve them.
When friends urged him
to play it safe,
     he crawled out onto faith's limb,
     trusting it would hold him.
When death wrapped him
in its cold shadows,
     he burst forth into the light
     of resurrection joy,
that we might live
in the kingdom with you.
As we remember his mercy and hope,
as we celebrate the feast he has prepared,
we speak of that mystery we call faith:
Christ died on that day of shadowed hearts;
Christ was raised on that day when death was surprised by love;
Christ will come to us on that day of light and love.
Your grace showers down
upon the seeds you have planted,
your hope warms the harvest
planted in our hearts.
As the Spirit gathers your gifts
and prepares them for your Table,
make us ready to receive them
with joy and gratitude.
As you send us forth
to serve your people,
     may our faith and love
          be transformed into winter coats,
          we can give to the homeless;
     may our hope become
          the meals we fix for the hungry.
And when that long-awaited Day comes,
when all times and seasons have ended,
we will gather at your Feast,
joining our voices with our siblings,
as we sing to you through all eternity,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

Let us go forth to be God's faithful servants.
We will not hide our gifts but share them with everyone we meet.
Let us go forth to be the followers of Jesus.
We will not hold back our compassion, but will offer it to all.
Let us go forth to be the Spirit's hope and peace.
We will be the grace, the joy, the wonder others need in their lives.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Alternate texts liturgy w/communion for November 19, 2023 (Pentecost 25/Trinity 24/Proper 28/Ordinary 33 - A)

 Texts:  Zephaniah 1:7, 12-18; Psalm 90:1-12; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11; Matthew 25:14-30

Call to Worship
Before there was any time,
there was God.
When we wandered the wilderness,
God built a way for us.
When we lived in exile,
our homes were built by God.
When we are overwhelmed life,
God unknots the tightness in our shoulders.
When we seek to serve faithfully,
God provides the opportunities.
When tomorrow comes,
we find God awake and waiting for us.
When time ends,
there will still be God.

Prayer of the Day
Conqueror of Chaos,
you reached down
gathering up the dust,
filling it with your breath,
and giving us life.
We gather in worship
so we might continue
to be shaped by your love.

You walked the paths
of this dusty earth,
Jesus our servant,
lifting us up when we had fallen,
feeding us when we were famished,
healing us when we were broken, and
saving us when we were sinners.

Spirit of Hope,
you laugh,
and leaves dance down the streets;
you whisper,
and children sleep in peace;
you clap your hands,
and our souls leap with joy.

God in Community, Holy in One,
we lift our prayers to you,
using the words Jesus teaches,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
God created us for goodness, and we make foolish choices.  God, who walked this earth, knows our temptations.  God, whose hope is for wholeness, waits to forgive us.  Let us come to our God, as we confess our lives together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   God of promises, you offer us guidance, yet we grasp the hand of the world on our journey.  You would nurture us with love and grace, and we feast on the empty calories of success and seduction.  You call us to be your faithful people, and we are eager to follow the politicians, the promoters, the petty.
   Forgive us, Covenant God.  You have not forgotten your promises, nor will you break them.  Rather, you come to us so we will know your love.  You walk with us, so we will find the way.  You redeem us, so we will trust your words which were fulfilled in  Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. 

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
In every time, in every place, in every life, God shows compassion and mercy.  Thus, we know God has heard our prayers and has filled us with grace and hope.
In this time, in this place, in our lives, our grace and hope are sustained by this abiding love.  Thanks be to God, we are forgiven.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
May we not hide our gifts, Loving God, but offer them to you with trust and hope, so all may join us on the journey to your kingdom of grace and hope, peace and healing.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of every moment be with you.

And also with you.
Let us lift our hearts to God.
We offer them to the One who comes to us.
Join in singing glad thanksgivings to our God.
We will rejoice in praising our God forever and ever.

Like a thief, creation snuck into
the silence of chaos, Loving God,
   light illuminating shadows,
   water pouring into rivers,
   winds drifting across plains.
These days, and all days,
were for those shaped in your image,
   but we thought you were up to no good,
   and rushed into the harms of sin.
Hastening fast too draw near,
prophets came to call us back to you,
   but we swept your dreams away,
   preferring the dusty yarns of death.
So you sent your wise Heart
to gather your children
into the light of your love.

With those who are always awake,
and with all who can't keep their eyes open,
we lift our glad songs to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, Imagination unplugged.
From everlasting you are God.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the Word who came to us.
Hosanna in the highest!

You crept in on the night
we least expected, Mothering God,
placing your heart in poverty's arms
so we might receive the riches of your grace.
Jesus came, not to discourage us,
   but to inspire our lives.
Jesus came, not to confuse us,
   but to clarify your hopes for us.
Jesus came, not to frustrate us,
   but to spur us to service.
Jesus came, not to abandon us,
   but to enter the loneliness of death,
   bringing forth resurrection's hope
   as he broke free of the tomb.

As we would seek to remain awake,
as we long to live with Jesus,
we tell of that faith which is such a mystery:

Christ died, going on the journey to the grave.
Christ was raised, so we might journey in hope.
Christ will come, as our journey ends in life with you.

You come into the dark nights of our souls,
bringing the gifts of the bread and the cup,
pouring your Spirit on them
and on those gathered for the banquet.
Fed on the broken bread,
we will not hide its hope,
   but share it with all
   who live in the shadows
   of injustice and fear.
Drinking from the cup of salvation,
we will not bury its grace,
   but pour it into the emptiness
   of those who struggle around us.

And when your day of new life comes,
we will join our siblings 
around the table of the Lamb,
forever singing our praises to you,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Go with God into the world.
We will journey with our friends and neighbors,
with our families and strangers.
Go with Jesus to serve faithfully.
We will seek to confront injustice;
we will bring healing to those who are broken.
Go with the Spirit to share peace.
We will embrace those forgotten by the world;
we will share our gifts with everyone we meet.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, November 05, 2023

Liturgy w/communion for November 12, 2023 (Pentecost 24/Trinity 23/Proper 27/Ordinary 32 - A)

 Texts: Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25; Psalm 78:1-7; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Matthew 25:1-13

Call to Worship
If we will but listen,
God will speak to us in parables,
God will tell us stories lived out by our grandparents.
If we will but remember,
we will discover all we have heard and known,
all the wonders God has in store for us.
If we will but share,
we can tell our children and grandchildren -
even those not yet born -
the glorious stories of our God.

Prayer of the Day
We stand at the crossing,
Holy God,
arms, hearts, souls
full of the burdens
the gods of this world
have placed on us.
You remove them,
throw then to one side,
taking us by the hand
to lead us into your kingdom.

As we turn to you in our despair,
Holy Friend,
you come and fill our emptiness
with the holy oil
of your compassion,
so we might always
be ready to serve
those who come to us.

Holy Wisdom,
you would not leave us
uninformed of God's love for us,
so you whisper in our ears
of wonders beyond imagination;
you remove the blindfolds from our eyes
so we may  behold the grace
flowing all around us;
you open our hearts
to the family God has given us.

God in Community, Holy in One,
hear us as we pray as Jesus teaches us,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
How quickly we forget - our faith, our calling, our hope.  All because we try to do everything our way, rather than God's.  But God is quicker to forgive, and to restore us to new life.  Let us confess to our God, as we pray, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     It is never easy to admit how foolish we are, Approaching God.  You have chosen us for yourself, and we continue to shelter false gods in our hearts.  You promise to be with us in every moment, but we can find little time for you.  You send your Word to us, but we are too busy listening to the noise of our culture to pay attention.
     Have mercy, Eternal One, and forgive us.  Speak to us, so we might listen, and in hearing be transformed into your people.  Fill us with holiness, so we might give ourselves wholly to others.  Enable us to serve you faithfully and completely, even as did our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
This is our assurance: God forgives us.
This is our hope: God's love is everlasting.
This is our truth: God is with us always.
We will speak the truth;
we will live the hope;
we will share God's mercy.  Thanks be to God.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
We can stand at the edge and watch while you seek to bring hope, healing, peace, and joy to everyone in the world.  Or we can take that step, of committing our lives as well as our gifts, in working with you in this ministry of grace.  Bless our gifts, bless our lives, bless our service, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the Lord be with you.
And also with you.
People of God, lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the One whose faithfulness never ends.
People of God, give thanks to the Lord.
We offer our praise and thanksgiving to the One whose love is eternal.

How good and right
it is to praise you,
God who gathers us
around this Table!
You opened your mouth,
and creation's glory sprang forth;
you appointed the stars
to glitter in the night;
you established the waters
to nourish the earth.
You shaped us in your image,
calling us to be your children
to live with you in harmony and joy.
But we chose to serve sin,
crossing the River back into chaos,
hugging our false gods to our hearts.
But you would not give up
on your hope for us,
sending us the prophets
so we might pay attention
to the words of your heart.
When we would not forsake
our reliance on the world's idols,
you sent Jesus to us,
who died and was raised for our sake.

Therefore, we join with those
who await us there in heaven,
as well as those who witness to us here,
singing forever of your glory:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God of all wanderers.
All creation cries out in praise to you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes that we might have hope.
Hosanna in the highest!

You alone are holy,
God of all time,
and blessed is Jesus Christ,
our Lord and Savior.
When we had walked away
from your gracious love,
you turned to us in Christ
to save us.
When we no longer
were willing to listen,
your Word of hope
came among us
to live your love in our midst.
When we foolishly clung
to sin's deadly ways,
Jesus reached out to pull us
from the grasp of death,
and showed us the Kingdom.

As we remember his death and resurrection for us,
we tell those who come after us
of that mystery we call faith:

Christ died, the witness that love is stronger than hate;
Christ was raised, the witness that life is stronger than death;
Christ will witness to us that hope is stronger than grief.

As we come to this Table
of healing and gentleness,
we pray that you would
send your Spirit upon the gifts
of the bread and of the cup,
and on your children gathered here.
As we reach out our hands
for the bread which has been broken for us,
we seek to encourage others
to discover you love;
as we drink of the Spirit of Christ,
may we no longer plead ignorance,
but with full awareness,
and open hearts, go forth
to serve all your children.

Then, when we gather at
the Wedding Banquet in your kingdom,
we will praise you,
Creating God,
Jesus of the poor,
Healing Spirit -
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen

Go now to tell the stories of our God.
We will listen to the lives of those around us as we do.
Go now to discover the gifts of everyone you meet.
We will remember Jesus, who blessed us with hope and life.
Go now to share all that is within you.
We will tell everyone - from the smallest child to the oldest person -
of the Spirit who longs to shape us into one community.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Alternate texts liturgy w/communion for November 12, 2023 (Pentecost 24/Trinity 23/Proper 27/Ordinary 32 - A)

 Texts: Amos 5:18-24; Psalm 70; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Matthew 25:1-13

Call to Worship
We gather to worship our God:
not only with those whose hearts
     overflow with joy,
but with those who long to offer
     their deepest sorrows.
We gather to follow Jesus:
not only with songs and prayers,
but with lives of service and peace.
We gather to be filled with the Spirit's presence:
not only so we can wait patiently
     for the Bridegroom to come,
but so we can be with those who are impatient
     for justice and hope in their lives.

Prayer of the Day
We think we can put you
in a tiny cage made out of
our expectations, where you will stay,
but you come,
     composing songs in strange languages,
     replacing pianos with steel drums,
     gathering us in pubs at closing time,
so we can learn that to worship you
is to be with your children in every place.

We will only have the patience
to wait for you,
     when we become impatient
     enough to challenge the excuses
     of all who tell the poor to just wait;
we will only have enough faith
     when we trust that you
     know what your are doing
     and do not stand in the way;
we will only have enough justice
     when we make sure
     that the have-nots are
     as valued as the haves.

You would have us keep nothing
from God, Spirit-who-brings-the-new,
so teach us to pray with abandon,
bringing all that that knocks
     us off our feet,
and all that takes
     our breath away;
revealing the messy rooms
     of our souls,
opening the empty
     cupboards of our souls
so you can stock them
     with grace and wonder.

Be with us now in these moments,
God in Community, Holy in One,
as we pray as Jesus has taught us,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
We are not people who have no hope.  Despite our foolish ways of living, in the face of all the mistakes we make, God does not waste time, but comes to fill us with forgiveness and hope.  Join me, as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     With insta-this and insta-that, we are an impatient people, God our help.  We are so focused on our hand-held electronics, we do not notice the changing seasons.  We are so rushed to get to our next activity, we do not see the victims of injustice by the side of the road.  We are so determined to get right the date of your return, that we forget you are waiting for us to focus on what we can do with our days.
     Forgive us, God our rescuer, and teach us patience.  As we wait, may we continue to seek to do your will.  As we do your will, may our eyes be opened to those around us.  As our eyes are opened, may we see Jesus Christ, our Lord the Bridegroom, coming toward us with justice and righteousness as his companions.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
God is please to pour salvation upon us, drenching us in the waters of grace and hope.
Thanks be to God!  We will rejoice and be glad in the One who delivers us from our brokenness and who makes us whole.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
It seems like just a drop, the gifts we offer to you from our abundance.  But our drop added to hers, then to his, then to theirs soon become a river of hope, a flood of peace, a torrent of grace rushing into and through our world.  May it be so, Just God, may it be so.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of the prophets be with you.
May the God of the Bridegroom be with you.
Lift up your hearts, all you who wait for God.
We open them, that God might fill them with righteousness.
Join in the glad chorus of all who sing to our God.
Our songs will be of justice and hope for all people.

You could have brought the ordinary
out of chaos, Unpredictable God,
every planet the same size and shape,
every creature a lookalike of the next,
     but you spun rings around Saturn
          and layered Jupiter with gases;
     you stretched the neck on the giraffe
          and webbed the feet of ducks.
Then, you envisioned us in your image,
shaped by your hands, given life by your Breath,
so we might enjoy the wonders of your mind.
     Yet, we chose to seek shelter in sin
     and picked death as our boon companion.
You would not have us be ignorant
but sent Amos and others to remind us
of your love and mercy toward us,
     but we jumped feet-first
     into temptation's alluring pools.
So you sent Jesus to us,
your salvation flowing from
your heart to ours.

With those who wait patiently for you,
with those who fritter time away,
we offer our songs of thanksgiving:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God of wonder.
All creation finds joy in you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the Bridegroom who comes to us.
Hosanna in the highest!

Your kingdom is as unpredictable
as you, God who comes to us.
You could have dammed up
all your hope, but you sent Jesus
so we might see it face to face.
You could have kept your dreams
locked away in your heart,
but you sent Jesus so we
might hear them for ourselves.
You could have withheld salvation
from those who had no hope,
but you sent Jesus, so it might
sweep away death's grasp as
it flooded out of the empty tomb.

As we wait patiently for the Bridegroom,
as we seek to live as those with hope,
we proclaim that mystery called faith:

Christ died for those who are alive today;
Christ was raised, to snatch us out of death's grasp;
Christ will bring all who die into your kingdom.

Come quickly, Holy Spirit, , and grace
the bread, the cup, and all who gather here.
Feed us with the Bread which,
though broken, can make us whole,
strong enough to lift up
the poor and the needy.
When our sense of justice
is so parched we cannot speak
for the oppressed and voiceless,
may the Cup of righteousness
flood through our lives into our world,
bringing hope and new life to all.

And when the Bridegroom comes
to gather us all for the Wedding Feast,
we will join our siblings
in praising you forever and ever,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Go forth as God's people!
We will take hope to all who have none.
Go forth as the Bridegroom's beloved!
We will open the floodgates of God's compassion for all.
Go forth to share the Spirit!
We will be rivers of justice flowing through the world.

(c) Thom M. Shuman