Monday, January 29, 2024

Ash Wednesday Service with alternate texts

 Texts:  Amos 5:8-15; Psalm 139:7-12; Romans 8:31-35; Luke 18:9-14

Call to Worship
We gather in the dimness of evening
to be with the God who brightens
the shadows of our lives.
We gather in the quiet of this place,
to be with Jesus, knowing that nothing
past, present, or future separates us.
We gather to be marked as disciples,
to be fed for the journey through Lent,
to be sealed by the Spirit as God’s own.

Evening Prayer
You wait on this evening,
Patient God, for us to come back:
to stop going away from you
   on our self-focused travels;
to set aside our empty fears;
to cease shaping you in our image,
   so we can discover you closer
   than we ever dare imagined.

You wait for us this night,
Companion of our hearts,
for us to follow once more:
leaving the shuttered corners
   of our lives;
refusing to go from one failed
   promise to another;
coming out of the panic rooms
   we have built in our souls,
so you can take us by the hand
to lead us to resurrection life.

You wait in scattered ashes of our lives,
Spirit of silence, for us to find you:
in the broken bread
   which strengthens us to serve;
in the cup of grace
   which fills our emptiness;
in our sisters and brothers
   who are willing to hold us up
   when we falter,
so you can embrace us
with joy and hope in every moment.

As you wait, and as we seek
to return to you in these moments,
we pray as we are taught,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Invitation to the Lenten life
Not for the first time, yet fresh once more,
we accompany Jesus to Jerusalem.
Because of his experience in the wilderness,
we discover how we might have the strength
to turn our back on evil, so we can choose good.
By his example of fasting and prayer
In the midst of serving and caring for others,
we can learn that rhythm of faithful living
which allows us to work for justice and hope,
as we draw strength from the timeless acts
of silence, feasting on the word, and prayer.
As we remember our baptism into faith,
as we gather at the feast of grace,
as we are marked as Christ’s own,
we prepare ourselves to come to God,
on this holy night.

Call to Reconciliation
On this night, we begin our journey to Easter.  Before we can take the first step, we must admit how we have not been faithful to our God.  Let us pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   We have trouble telling the truth, God of broken hearts, yet we must admit on this night how we have trouble being your people.  We may not trample the poor, but we sometimes walk right past them.  We don’t receive bribes, but we are more privileged than many around us.  We trust more in ourselves than in you, and spend far too much time patting ourselves on the back, rather than holding out a hand to others.
   Where can we go for forgiveness but to you, God of the ashes?  When we are greedy, you promise to be gracious.  When we have trouble confronting injustice, you stand at our side.  When we struggle to seek good, you point us to Jesus, our Brother, our Savior, who shows us how to turn our back on evil to follow him.  Amen.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
God refuses to stand far off, but comes close to us – to hear our prayers, to touch our hearts with forgiveness, and to walk with us during this holy season and beyond.
We have no need to go anyplace else, but into the comforting and restoring heart of the One who loves us.  Thanks be to God.  We are forgiven.  Amen.

Imposition of the ashes
Just yesterday it seems, the palms were
fresh and green, held tight in hands
as we reenacted Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem.
But then they dried, shriveled, became
almost too fragile to touch, until
we burned them into the ashes for tonight.
Yet, by the grace of our God,
with the Spirit resting upon them,
they are mixed with oil and placed
on our heads or hands,
the dust of life resting upon us
as a sign that by sharing the gifts
of peace, reconciliation, justice, and generosity,
we will live into the people we long to become.

As we are touched with this mark,
God of all moments,
remind us that just as you
shaped humanity from earth’s dust,
so, from the ashes of repentance and denial,
that grace which is gifted to us
through Jesus Christ, our Redeemer,
will shape us into faithful followers.  Amen.

(In the silence, those who wish may come to have the sign of the cross placed on their foreheads or back of their hands.  The ashes are from palm branches used in previous Palm Sunday services, mixed with oil)

Invitation to the Table

The Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of the ashes be with you.
And also with you.
On this night, let us offer our hearts to God.
We open then so we may be filled with the gifts of Lenten discipleship.
Let us lift glad thanksgiving to our God.
We offer praise to the One who gives us the strength for this journey.

There at the edge of the emptiness of chaos
you spoke, God of all graciousness,
   brightening the shadows with lights in the sky,
   pouring the waters into rivers and seas,  
   planting seeds to feed all creatures.
From the dust of creation, you shaped your children,
offering us all the goodness and beauty
which overflowed from your heart,
   but we trampled through your hopes,
   as we turned from your heart
   to chase after evil’s false promises.
But no matter where we went,
or how far we sought to flee from you,
you continued to meet us in all those places,
constantly inviting us to return to you
and be filled with your steadfast love.

Therefore, we join with our sisters and brothers,
in the silence and shadows of this evening,
to offer you songs of thanksgiving:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God who is at our side.
We join all creation in singing your praises.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who makes us right.
Hosanna in the highest!

Your constant love is the seal of your holiness,
and Jesus is the One who comes
so we will never be separated from you.
He endured every hardship we experience,
   so we receive the hope you offer to us;
he experienced the hunger of loneliness,
   so we might become members of your family;
he was willing to set aside his life,
   so death would have no power
   to keep us apart from you, but
   your resurrection power would give us
   the same life he received from you.

As we take our tentative first steps towards Jerusalem,
as we would be marked as his companions,
we remember that mystery known as faith:

Christ died, not withholding his heart;
Christ was raised, so that he might become our advocate;
Christ will come, to draw us to your side.

Here at this Table of life and longing,
pour out your Spirit on us,
and on the gifts offered to us.  
May the bread which is broken
strengthen us so nothing can separate us
   from those who struggle with life;
   from those who mourn a death;
   from those who have no power or voice.
May the cup which overflows with grace
nourish us so we pick up
   those who have been trampled by misery;
   those who are trapped by injustice;
   those who are pushed aside by the privileged.

And when neither death nor life,
neither time nor history
can keep us apart from you
as you gather us around your Table
with our sisters and brothers,
we will sing your glory and praise forever and ever,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Smudged this night with the ashes of penitence,
we will go out to share God’s forgiveness
with those we have hurt, with those who are forgotten.
Fed this night by the Host of the Feast of grace,
we will go out to bring healing to the broken,
to offer grace to those trampled by the powerful.
Called this night to journey through suffering to new life,
we will go out to stand with those experiencing injustice,
to share the Spirit’s peace and reconciliation with the world.

© Thom M. Shuman

Liturgy w/communion for February 11, 2024 (Transfiguration of the Lord - B)

 Texts: 2 Kings 2:1-12; Psalm 50:1-6; 2 Corinthians 4:3-5; Mark 9:2-9

Call to Worship
You are with us, God of sunrises:
you awaken us with each bright new day,
overflowing with promise.
You are with us, Inviting God:
calling us to respond to all the chances
to share the spirit of grace and hope.

You are with us, Glory of God:
gathering us into the presence of your peace,
listening to the deep sighs of our hearts.

Prayer of the Day
Glory of all creation:
as the sun nudges us
out of bed each morning,
so you gently lift the veil
of doubts and fears from our hearts
that we might see your joy.
At the setting of the sun,
you do not leave us alone,
but you sit with us
through the night,
sharing stories of hope.
And we do not lose heart.

Joyous Face of God:
on the peaks of promise,
we discover your grace,
sparkling with gentle delight
as it comes to rest
within our weary lives.
In the valleys of despair,
as we trudge long,
our burdens dragging behind us,
we turn to discover you
putting them on your shoulders,
the gentleness of your compassion
lighting the way to the kingdom.
And we do not lose heart.

Listening Spirit:
in the hard times
which life may offer,
you are there with us,
hearing not only our struggles,
but the hopes singing
silently in our souls.
In the barren seasons
through which we may walk,
we find you ahead of us,
planting the seeds of joy
which will once more blossom
in the springtime of God's love.
And we do not lose heart.

God in Community, Holy in One,
we lift our hearts, our hopes, our voices
as we pray as Jesus teaches us, saying,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
We can become so burned out by our hectic days that we lose sight of the One who gives us life.  We can become so impatient  waiting for God to astound us with wonders, when we have the simple pleasure of each day.  In these quiet moments, away from all those things which distract us, let us bring our brokenness to the One who listens to our hearts, and heals our souls.  Join me, as we pray, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   The radiance of your grace is poured out in every moment, Shaper of mountaintops, but we dull its luster by living in the shadows.  We indulge in fantasy games and watch shows which claim to be 'real,' but we have trouble simply sitting in your presence, in your healing silence.  We can become so infatuated with your love for us, we overlook those who hunger for acceptance and hope.
     Revealer of mystery, forgive us.  In silence, may we hear your whispers of grace.  In mercy, may we feel your forgiveness lifting the burden of guilt from us.  In trust, may we go forth to serve your world, filling it with the light and love of the One who is the Light of the world, Jesus Christ.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
The promise is true--God's Light has come into the world, and into our lives.  We are graced with glimpses of God's glory, even as we are filled with mercy and forgiveness.
Here we find the peace and quiet we need; here we are set free from all that keeps us from serving; here we are given mercy and hope.  Here we give thanks to our God.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
We could remember the giants of the past, or serve the little ones of today; we could build grand facilities, or restore neighbors; we could stay on mountaintops, or go into the valleys of loneliness with our arms full of grace.  May our lives and gifts we offer be used in your work of justice and hope, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May God be with you.
May God be with you also.
Lift up your hearts, people of God.
We open them to the One who loves us.
People of God, give thanks to the One who meets us
on the mountaintops of glory and in the valleys of service.
It is good that we offer praise and thanksgiving
to the One who is with us in every moment.

You crafted mountains on which
we might find your majesty;
you carved rivers of life
where we might bathe in your grace.
All things were shaped by you,
Bright Glory of creation,
and given that we might live
in the abundance of your hopes for us.
When we could have lived in that garden
of serenity which you planted for us,
we caught a glimpse of temptation
out of the corners of our eyes,
and sought gifts from sin and death,
who were only too eager
to offer us a double portion.
You sent the prophets to lead us out
of the valleys of despair
back to the mountaintop with you,
but we chose to remain in the company
of the false gods of this world.
But you would not forsake us,
but became one of us,
that we might be transformed
into your faithful children.

With the Breath of life within us,
with the Word of grace in our hearts,
we join all who have gone before us,
and with those who are with us now,
singing the ancient song of glory:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God of glory and grace.
Heaven and earth sing loud songs of praise to you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes to offer us
    a double portion of grace and mercy.
Hosanna in the highest!

Mighty God, lover of justice,
you summoned your Son, our Savior,
to come to us that we might be redeemed.
Coming down Glory's mountainside,
he does not remain silent about your hopes,
but calls to us to follow him into
your kingdom of mercy and love.
He carried his cross to the top
of that garbage heap called Calvary,
to be put to death beside two thieves.
Surrounded by sin and death in the tomb,
he made a path through them
into the new life given by God,
tearing their power over us into pieces.

Remembering that he could have chosen to stay
with Moses and Elijah, but came to serve us,
we proclaim our faith as we come to the Table:

In love, Christ died for us.
In joy, Christ was raised for us.
In glory, Christ will come again to us.

Now, on the gifts of the bread and the cup,
and on your children gathered in this place,
pour out your Spirit, God of Joy.
As we share the brokenness of Christ,
may we be restored to wholeness;
as we drink of his forgiveness,
may we become more gracious.
May his return in faith
find us praying for your peace;
may his return in hope,
find us working for your justice;
may his return in love,
find us welcoming all your children.

And when Christ does come again in glory,
when all have received a double portion of your grace,
when creation is made whole once again,
and joins in the glad songs of praise,
we will worship and adore you, forever and ever,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

God sends us from this sacred space.
We will go to share the good news of grace,
to offer healing to the broken.
Jesus would not have us stay here forever.
We will go to find our sisters and brothers
in the valleys of injustice and the neighborhoods of addiction.
The Spirit fills us with the gifts we need as we leave.
We will go to help rebuild the lives of those around us,
to share feasts of hope and peace with everyone.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Liturgy w/communion for February 4, 2024 (Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany)

 Texts: Isaiah 40:21-31; Psalm 147:1-11, 20c; 1 Corinthians 9:16-23; Mark 1:29-39

Call to Worship
We gather to worship God,
whose creative imagination never fails:
For the sake of God, we will search for the outcasts.
We gather to praise our God,
whose steadfast love never weakens:
For the sake of Jesus, we will lift up all who have fallen.
We gather to offer our best to God,
who walks with us through eternity:
For the sake of the Holy Spirit, we will walk with the weary.

Prayer of the Day
You lift up those
we step over
in our race to success;
you soak our aching feet
in the waters of life;
you massage hearts
bruised by others.
We praise you,
Rebuilder of crumbling souls

You pick those not chosen
on the playgrounds of life;
you cover open sores
with your grace;
you wander our streets,
inviting those
who huddle in doorways
to feast at your Table.
We follow you,
Bread of Heaven.

You gather those
who are cast aside
by a throwaway society,
and call them by name;
you melt hearts hardened by cynicism
with the warmth of your hope;
you energize us
so we can sprint into the kingdom.
We welcome you,
Delightful Spirit.

God in Community, Holy in One,
we come to you as your people,
praying as Jesus has taught us, saying,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
We walk through life, confident, strong, boasting of all our achievements.  But God sees the hurts we have inflicted on others, the weariness in our bones from chasing after bad choices, and all the foolishness we trip over in the busyness of life.  Let us come to God, for the One who listens to our faltering words is the One who gives us the Word filled with grace and mercy.  Join me as we pray together, saying, 

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     We cannot hide from you, Everlasting God, even if we were to go from one edge of creation to the next.  you speak to us of compassion, but the ways in which we treat others show we have not been listening.  You explain your hopes to us, and we act as if we don't have a clue as to what is going on.  We run as fast, and as far, from you as we can, and wonder why we have no energy to follow Jesus.
     Yet you search for us in all the deserted places we flee to, Never-wearied God, so you can take us by the hand to show us the way to life with you.  You heal our broken hearts so we can offer them to others.  You fill us with your strength so we can bind ourselves to Jesus, our Savior, following him to serve all of your children.

Silence is kept 
Assurance of Pardon
Have you not been listening.  God never tires out, nor is there is an expiration date on God's forgiveness.  God is ever with us, healing us with mercy, and strengthening us for service.
If God numbers the stars, surely our names are known by the One who loves us and offers us grace.  This is indeed good news for all!  Thanks be to God.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
You lift us to our feet so we can walk with you, Loving God, and you fill us with your gifts so we may pour them out for those around us.  Take what we offer and use them in that kingdom work which strengthens the weary, feeds the hungry, and gives hope to the despairing.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May God be with you.
May God be also with you.
People of God, open your hearts.
We open our hearts to God and to each other.
Let us give thanks to the Living God.
With joy and praise, we offer our thanks to the One who offers abundant life.

In the morning, Awakening God,
you took creation and flung it
to the far corners of chaos,
   naming the stars twinkling in the night,
   shaping deserted places for prayers,
   feeding all the creatures in the fields.
You longed to walk with those
created in your image, so we would not weary,
   but we listened to the boasting of death,
   as it proclaimed sin's opportunities.
You sent the prophets, who cried out,
'haven't you been listening; don't you
realize what God is trying to do for you?'
   but we continued to delight
   in all which opposed you.
So, having created all things,
you became the one thing we needed,
our Savior.

With those so weary that cannot take another step,
with those revived by your grace and hope,
we lift our praises to you now and forever:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God of all knowledge.
All creation sings glad praises to you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who came for our sake.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, Star Namer,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, your Son.
He became weak,
   so the power of the world
   would be shattered;
he became poor,
   so we might be filled
   with the riches of your grace;
he went to that deserted place
we call the grave,
   so death might be
   knocked off its pedestal,
as you breathed new life
into his knackered spirit.

As we search for him in our time,
as we would proclaim the gospel,
may we find that mystery we call faith:

Christ died, not boasting in himself;
Christ was raised, the gospel lived out in him;
Christ will come to take us by the hand, giving us strength.

Here is that Bread, which though broken,
   can strengthen the powerless;
here is that Cup, which though emptied,
   can fill the weary with hope.
Pour out your Spirit not only on these gifts,
but upon your children gathered around the Table.
We come, bone-tired,
   so make us bone of your bone,
   and flesh of your flesh.
We can barely take another step,
   so empower us to walk
   beside the lonely and the homeless.
We are so fatigued by our despair,
feed us with your hope and joy,
   so we may proclaim your kingdom
   to everyone we meet.

And when the day comes
to gather with all your children
around the Feast of the Lamb,
we will join hands
and dance around the Table,
singing your praise forever and ever:
God our Creator,
Christ our Servant,
Spirit of Newness,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

God sends us forth into the world,
so we will go to walk miles in the shoes of others.
Jesus calls us to serve everyone we meet,
so we will become all things to all people.
The Holy Spirit encourages us to let go of our gospel-given rights,
so we may breathe new life into the faint.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, January 21, 2024

Liturgy w/communion for January 28, 2024 (Fourth Sunday after Epiphany - B)

 Texts: Deuteronomy 18:15-20; Psalm 111; 1 Corinthians 8:1-13; Mark 1:21-28

Call to Worship
We gather in this sacred space,
to offer our thanks to God with all our hearts.
We gather with this community of faith,
to follow Jesus, who longs to lead us into life.
We gather in these moments,
to learn all we can of grace from the Holy Spirit.

Prayer of the Day
You pull on your work boots,
   crafted from love;
you hang justice and peace
   on your tool belt;
you take on rebuilding neighborhoods
   when we would walk away.
What have you to do with us, Holy God?
You model compassion for us.

You take us by the hand
   to lift us to our feet;
you show us the path
   which leads to humility;
you leave a trail of grace crumbs
   so that we might follow.
What have you to do with us, Brother of the poor?
You call us to serve by your side.
You plant words of peace
   deep into our hearts;
you raise up little children
   to whisper hope to us;
you stand by the side 
   of all who look for life.
What have you to do with us, Spirit of grace?
You teach us how to build up others with love.
What have you to do with us,
God in Community, Holy in One?
Everything it turns out, everything,
as we lift our prayer to you,
(The Lord’s Prayer)
Call to Reconciliation
Though we think we know it all, our lives reflect how little we respect others, how often our words and actions damage those around us.  Let us come to our God, with our prayers as ell as our hearts, so we may be healed with forgiveness.
Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   We come on this holy day, God our God, to speak of how we live.  Politicians, celebrities, talk show folks have become our so-called gods.  Our choices often cause those around us to trip over our anger and slip on our pride.  The words we speak to others show how we really want nothing to do with you.
   Forgive us, Holy God, and have mercy on us.  May we silence our fears, so words of hope may be spoken.  May we give thanks not only with our hearts but with the grace we can share with others.  May justice and peace be the tools we use as we serve beside Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.  

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
We know who God is – the One who comes to love us, to forgive us, and to save us.
Thanks be to God.  We will spread this good news, and share this grace and hope, with everyone we meet.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
Gather our gifts, our hearts, our very lives, Loving God, and use them in your work of reconciliation, grace, and hope for all your children.  In Jesus’ name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May God be with you.
And also with you.
In this gathering of God’s people, lift up your hearts.
We offer them to our God who fills us with hope.
In this sacred space of joy, sing glad songs.
We join in giving thanks to our God.
You are indeed to be praised, O God,
for you poured your Spirit into chaos,
and with your Word raised up
   towering peaks kissing the sky,
   snowflakes blanketing the meadows,
   little birds flitting from bush to bus.
All was formed and offered to us,
your children shaped in your image,
   but we listened to sin and death,
   imposters calling themselves gods.
Because you knew us,
you continued to send prophets to us,
to call us back to you,
   but we said, ‘what do you have
   to do with us?’ ignoring their words.
So, you sent your Child to us,
so that we might know who you are.
With the upright and faithful,
with those who stumble along the way,
we will give wholehearted thanks:
Holy, holy, holy, are you, Awesome God.
All creation delights in praising you.
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is the One who teaches us with grace.
Hosanna in the highest!
You are holy indeed, Majestic God,
and you astounded us by sending Jesus,
your very Self, to be with us.
By his humility,
   he teaches us 
   to serve others;
by his weakness,
   he models the strength
   to challenge injustice;
by his silence,
   he helps us to listen
   to hearts, not just words;
by his death,
   he shows us how
   to trust in resurrection hope.
As we come to the Table,
we proclaim the mystery 
that Jesus came, not to destroy us,
but to save us:
Raised up on the cross, he died as he lived,
   trusting in you;
raised from death he points us 
   to your resurrection love;
raising us from our fears, he promises 
   to have everything to do with us.
As you pour out your Spirit
on those gathered in this place,
you provide the bread and the cup 
from the simple gifts of creation,
blessing them with your love.
As we eat of the broken bread,
may it bring us closer to all
we are called to serve:
   the hungry, the hurting,
   the cold, the oppressed.
As we drink from the cup,
may its grace raise us up
to go out and become
   carers of the forgotten,
   workers of justice,
   builders of shelters.
And when we gather in the company
of our sisters and brothers of every 
time and place around your table,
we will give thanks with our whole hearts,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.  
Now, let us go from this sacred space,
to be with the homeless on the streets,
with the lonely in the hospitals.
Now, let us leave this family of God,
to care for those who have been forgotten,
to lift those shoved aside by the world.
Now, let us set aside this holy time,
to go into the moments of hunger for little children,
to be with those whose days seem to have no end.
© Thom M. Shuman 

Sunday, January 14, 2024

Liturgy w/communion for January 21, 2024 (Epiphany 3 - B)

 Texts: Jonah 3:1-5, 10; Psalm 62:5-12; 1 Corinthians 7:29-31; Mark 1:14-20 

Call to Worship
The Word of the Lord came,
hope for all people cradled in his arms.
the Word of the Lord comes,
calling us out of our comfort zones,
to go where grace is needed most.

The Word of the Lord will come,
gathering all the outsiders and insiders
into one community of the kingdom. 

Prayer of the Day
When we try to ward off 
your call to proclaim 
the kingdom's good news 
to those we would never 
welcome into our tight circle, 
you remind us that we can never 
set boundaries on how far 
your mercy, your love, your hope 
will extend, God of persistence. 

Looking at your watch, 
you announce, 'it is time,' 
opening your arms to welcome 
all the outlanders we build fences 
to keep out of our lives, 
opening your heart to draw 
all the odd ones out 
into the safe shelter 
of your heart, Calling Jesus. 

Each morning, 
you break your fast 
with those for whom 
we have no place at our tables; 
each day, 
you set out 
to meet those who stand 
at the edge of our narrow-mindedness, 
to show them the path home; 
each evening, 
you take our foolish fears 
and gently blow them away 
from our hearts, Companion of Grace. 

We wait and trust in you, 
God in Community, Holy in One, 
even as we pray as taught, saying, 
(The Lord's Prayer

Call to Reconciliation 
Now is the appointed time.  Pour out your hearts to God, bringing those harmful words you spoke, the chances to help you turned your backs on, and the foolish choices of your lives.  Offer them to the One who longs to hear us, trusting that God will forgive us. 

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness 
   Our comfortable lives convince us we do not need to follow Jesus, Steadfast God.  Our work provides for our wants, so we have no need for your grace.  Our friends are found through social media, so we do not need your community.  Our fear of the beliefs and cultures of others makes us sure that we do not need to share your grace with them. 
   Forgive us for dragging our feet as Jesus' disciples, Compassionate God.  May we get up from our comfort zones and step out in faith.  May we go to all the uncomfortable places to bring hope.  May we proclaim with our lips, but especially with our lives, that the kingdom of love is near, brought by Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. 

Silence is kept 

Assurance of Pardon
Now, after we confess, we hear the good news proclaimed: God hears our words, God sees our changed hearts, God's steadfast love is poured out upon us!  
We will trust in God, in whom our salvation rests.  Thanks be to God, we are forgiven! Amen. 

Prayer of Dedication/Offertory
May these gifts we offer show we recognize your claim upon us, Holy God.  Use them so your grace, your love, and your hope may be shared with everyone who needs them.  Amen. 

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of the outsiders be with you.
And also with you.
Open your hearts to God, dear friends.
We pour them out to the One who redeems us.
Sing songs of gladness to our God.
We join in the chorus of all who believe. 

Into the swirling mist 
of chaos and destruction, 
you tossed the seeds of creation, 
Persistent God: 
   whales that power through the seas, 
   puffins that gather on rocky islands, 
   gases which coalesce into stars. 
All your wonders were gifts for your children, 
   but we chose to stew in sin's acid. 
You longed to rescue us from death's belly, 
sending even the most reluctant prophets 
to proclaim the nearness of your compassion, 
   but we refused to change our minds, 
   sure we could bribe our way out of sin's grasp. 
Persistent to a fault, 
you sent Jesus to proclaim your good news. 

With the intimates who prove to be unfaithful, 
with the interlopers who trust and believe, 
we sing songs of joy to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God of steadfast love. 
All creation waits in trust for you. 
Hosanna in the highest! 

Blessed is the One who brings the kingdom near. 
Hosanna in the highest! 

Leaving that safe place which 
is your holiness, Gracious God, 
Jesus came at the time appointed by you. 
He set aside all he possessed, 
   so we might have the riches 
   of your merciful heart. 
He refused to let our fears 
prevail against his life of grace, 
   continuing to draw us 
   near to your kingdom. 
He went a little farther 
than we dared imagine, 
   walking for three days 
   in death's cool shadows, 
before coming forth into 
the bright joy of the resurrection. 

As we would faithfully follow Jesus, 
going a little farther with him each day, 
we proclaim that kingdom called faith:

Christ died, claiming the promises of hope;
 You raised Christ, claiming him from death;
 Christ will return, claiming us for you. 

Now is our time fulfilled, Blessing God, 
as we gather at this Table, 
the bread and the cup made sacred 
by the presence of your Spirit. 
We eat of the bread, 
praying that its grace might strengthen us 
so we would become as persistent as you 
   in confronting injustices, 
   challenging oppressive actions, 
   reaching out to lift the fallen. 
We drink from the cup, 
trusting that its hope will spill 
out from us upon 
   the lonely and he lost, 
   the hungry and the homeless, 
   and especially on the outsiders. 

Then, when the appointed time comes 
and you gather us with our sisters and brothers 
around the Supper of the Lamb in glory, 
we will sing our praises to you forever, 
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen. 

Now, take the word of God into the world.
we will place hope in the arms of others.
Now, take the word of Jesus into the world. 
We will follow to serve beside him in all the broken places.
Now, take the word of the Spirit into the world.
We will bring others near to the kingdom where all are welcome. 

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, January 07, 2024

Liturgy w/communion for January 14, 2024 (Second Sunday after Epiphany - B)

 Texts:  1 Samuel 3:1-20; Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18; 1 Corinthians 6:12-20; John 1:43-51

Call to Worship
In the silence of a lonely night,
in the songs children sing in the morning,
God calls to us.
We are here, God who is always with us,
listening for your words of life and love.
When we would decide to go it alone,
when we think no good can be found anywhere,
Jesus calls to us.
We are here, Friend who knows our longings,
ready to come and see where you would lead us.
When we think we have license to do whatever we want,
when we are convinced we need no map,
the Spirit calls to us.
We are here, Peace we are longing for,
so that we might help others find the way to life.

Prayer of the Day
When the good news
is hard to find, Knowing God,
you swaddle us 
in your comforting hope,
   so that we may decide 
   to go wherever
   you call us to serve.
When the good news
is seen as fake,
Brother of our journey,
you call us to speak 
of the truth that God
   offers grace to
   a world which has decided
   to believe in lies.
When the good news
seems out of fashion,
Spirit of wisdom,
you weave kindness
into a shawl for the lonely,
   you knit comfort 
   for all who grieve.
When your good news seems so rare,
may we decide to share it more and more,
God in Community, Holy in One,
even as we pray as we are taught,
(The Lord’s Prayer)   
Call to Reconciliation
We are foolish enough to think you do not know our hearts, hear our words, see the mistakes we make, and the pain we cause.  But because you are not only holy and know, you are gracious and forgive.  Hear us now, as we offer our lives and hearts to you, praying together,
Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   Because we are so focused on ourselves, God of every life, it is hard to see the lives which others endure.  When we are so worried about how the economy will affect us, we do not notice those in need around us.  As we grumble about our aches and pains, and about how difficult it is to get out of the bed each day, we easily ignore the broken.
   Forgive us, God of goodness and grace.  Speak to us of healing, so we might bring help to others.  Speak to us of grace, so hearing, we may share it with everyone we meet.  Speak to us of love and life, so we may offer it as freely as Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, brought it to us.

Silence is kept
Assurance of Pardon
Come and see!  God grace is poured out on everyone, God’s hope is freely shared in every moment, forgiveness is the gift which mends our foolish lives.
Thanks be to God.  We are surrounded by God’s love and mercy, now and to the very end!  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
We are hesitant to offer our gifts in this moment, Loving God, because in the back of our minds we wonder if any good will come of helping the poor, feeding the hungry, reaching out to the stranger.  But by your grace, not only goodness, but hope and healing will pour out of what we give in these moments.  Bless our gifts, we pray in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of our moments be with you.
And also with you.
People of God, let us offer our hearts to the One
   who is with us in this place and time.
We lift them to the One who fills us with grace.
Children of hope, join in singing praises to God.
With hearts and voices, we lift glad thanksgivings.

When chaos refused to listen,
you called creation out of emptiness,
God from beginning to end,
   rabbits burrowed under snowy meadows,
   porpoises gliding through warm oceans,
   eagles soaring in empty skies.
These, and all your gifts, were offered
to those created in your image
so that we could be with you in every moment,
   but we decided to do what pleased
   sin and death more than you.
Prophets came, calling to us, hoping
to help us see you searching,
   but we thought no good 
   could come from their words.
Then, you sent your heart to us,
so that your good news would 
not remain hidden from us.
With little children filled with questions,
with those worn by years of wonder and service,
we offer our thanksgivings to you:
Holy, holy, holy, are you, God of our every moment.
We join all creation in praising you.
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is the One who heard you calling
Hosanna in the highest!

We cannot begin to comprehend
your holiness, God who searches,
so you revealed it in the One
who chose to become flesh and blood.
Deciding to go to us
when we were avoiding you,
   Jesus found us to put us
   back on the path to you.
Deciding to go into the silence
which surrounded our stubborn pride,
   Jesus calls us to follow him
   with his voice of welcome. 
Deciding to challenge the power of sin
by dying on a barren hill,
   Jesus helps us to see 
   your resurrection love
   as he was brought out 
   of the grave’s cold grip.
As we wonder if any good can come from following him,
as we listen for your word in these moments,
we speak of that mystery we call faith:
Trusting you were with him at the end,
   Jesus died;
loving him from the beginning,
   you raised Jesus to new life;
knowing our hopes and fears,
   Jesus will come with resurrection hope.
Before we gather, you are at the Table,
pouring out your Spirit on the gifts
prepared for your people.
In the breaking of the bread,
may we hear the
      cries of hungry children,
      the groans of weary workers,
      the whispers of lonely strangers,
   so that we can say, ‘here we are,’
   as we reach out to serve.
Through the grace of the cup,
may we listen to your heart which seeks
      justice for the overlooked,
      peace in violent settings,
      hope in despair’s shadows,
   so that we may not only hear
   but act as your hands and feet,
   your voice and your love.
And when all time comes to the end,
we will find you waiting beyond,
seating us with our sisters and brothers
around the wedding feast of the Lamb,
where we will rejoice in you,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.
God sends us out, 
so that grace will not be rare in our time.
Here we are, ready to go and share
love and mercy with those around us.
Jesus calls us to go out,
so that justice will not be rare in our time.
Here we are, ready to speak truth to power,
walking with those on oppression’s mean streets.
The Spirit fills us with compassion,
so that peace will not be rare in our time.
Here we are, offering hope to those living in fear,
working for reconciliation in brokenness.
© Thom M. Shuman