Saturday, February 06, 2016

Liturgy w/communion for February 14, 2016 (First Sunday in Lent - C)

Texts: Deuteronomy 26:1-11; Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16; Romans 10:8b-13; Luke 4:1-13
Call to Worship
Jesus began his ministry to the world,
led by the Spirit into the wilderness.
As we begin our Lenten journey,
let us be led by the Spirit,
even into the uncomfortable places.
In those forty days, and in that place,
Jesus was faced with hunger, doubt, and temptation.
As we seek to follow Jesus, we would be led,
even into the uncomfortable choices.
Jesus left the wilderness, faithful and obedient to God,
rejoicing in the One in whom he trusted.
As we continue on our path to faithfulness,
we will be led by our Christ,
rejoicing in the Lord our God.
Prayer of the Day
Hope is the inheritance
you gift to us, God our trust,
so we might discover that
when we are tempted
we may call out to you for help;
that even when we stumble
during our journey,
we are carried in your hands.
Grace is the inheritance
you share with us, Brother of strangers,
not that we might hoard it
for ourselves and loved ones only,
but we would be willing
to be generous to all we meet,
making no distinction when
it comes to our sisters and brothers.
Peace is the inheritance
we receive from you, Spirit of salvation,
not that we might settle in
and claim it only for a special few,
but that we might turn it
into that place of refuge for all,
where mercy and hope flow
into each person’s life.
All that we have is an inheritance from you,
God in Community, Holy in One,
blessings to be shared with all,
even as we pray as we are taught,
(The Lord’s Prayer) 
Call to Reconciliation
God makes no distinction between us.  We are all sinners, we are all children of God, we are all precious to God, and we are all saved by God.  Because God is so impartial, let us confess our common humanity to the One who is generous to all.
Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   We meet you here, God of faithfulness, our hands and lives full of all our foolish ways.  Your people, we treat the strangers who walk among us with fear and doubt.  We afflict our anger on those who care about us the most.  We impose hard words on those who need to hear hope and grace in their lives.
   So now we bring our hearts to you, Generous God, setting them down before you in hopes that you will mend them.  As you hear our faltering words, we pray you would answer us with your forgiving love.  And as you forgive us, may we go forth to be generous with our lives towards others, even as the one who is Lord of all, Jesus Christ, has been so generous to us.
Silence is kept
Assurance of Pardon
As you have confessed, do you so believe?  The good news is that there is nothing we do that can conquer us, for we are sheltered in God’s gracious mercy and hope.
This is the truth we believe.  The Word is in our hearts, and on our lips, as we give thanks to God who is our shelter and our live.  Amen.
Prayer of Dedication/Offering
From a laptop and a daycare center, from retirement and teaching, from construction work and nursing, from all the places where we derive a living, we offer you our gifts, God of grace, so they might become part of all the fruits of hope and of healing, of peace and patience, which you give to others throughout the world.  In Jesus’ name, we pray.  Amen.
Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of wilderness hopes be with you.
And also with you.
Let us bring our hearts to God. 
We offer them to God who fills them with life.
With songs on our lips and in our hearts, let us praise God.
We sing of what we believe, offering thanksgivings from our hearts.
From the deep wilderness of chaos,
you brought forth the refuge of your heart,
God our God, creating
   mountains that shade the valleys below,
   rich grain and vegetables to feed the hungry,
   rivers and lakes filled with the water of life.
This creation was entrusted to those
shaped in your image, the first fruits of your love,
   but we chose to follow temptation
   into that wilderness we call death.
Seeking to be generous to all,
you continued to send prophets to us,
women and men who carried your words
to us in their hands and their hearts,
   yet we continued to serve the empty
   promises of sin and fear.
So you sent the Word near to us
in Jesus, the One who came to reveal
your salvation to us.
With old-timers as well as newcomers,
with insiders and those who have stood outside
we offer our songs of praise to you:
Holy, holy, holy are you, Giver of all goodness.
Creation’s heart overflows with joyous praise to you.
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is the One who is full of the Spirit.
Hosanna in the highest!
Holy are you, God of mercy and hope,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, Lord of all.
When he could have feasted on glory,
   he came to feed all who hungered
   for hope and for life.
When he could have strode the halls of power,
   he chose to walk the wilderness,
   picking up all who stumble along the way.
When he could have chosen the easy way,
letting the angels carry the burden,
   he confronted death face to face,
   being flung into its wasteland,
   where you brought him forth into new life.
As we seek to believe in our hearts all he did and taught,
as we try to confess his death and resurrection,
we proclaim the word of faith that is so mysterious:
Christ died, trusting in your continued presence;
Christ was raised, the first fruits of resurrection;
Christ will come making no distinction, but welcoming
   all into that kingdom overflowing with mercy and hope.
Led by you, we come to this Table,
where the first fruits of redemption,
the bread of life and the cup of salvation,
are filled with the gifts of your Spirit
and offered to all who gather before you.
As we are fed by the bread,
may we become as generous as you,
making no distinction as to who we will serve.
As the cup nourishes us with your life,
may we be poured out for others,
   feeding those who are hungry,
   joining the voices of the powerless,
   offering our lives in grace and hope to all.
And when we gather at last where you dwell,
we will celebrate the great feast
of the first fruits of your love and grace,
joining our sisters and brothers in praising you,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.
Now let us go from this place of haven
God has given to us.
Led by the Spirit, we will go to be with those
who are filled with fears, with hopes.
Now let us go from the refuge of the Table
where we have tasted the first fruits of grace.
Led by the Spirit, we will go to feed
those who hunger for companionship and life.
Now let us go into the world, living out God’s reality
that there is no distinction between people.
Led by the Spirit, let us go to serve
our sisters and brothers who are our true family.
© 2016 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Liturgy w/communion for February 7, 2016 (Transfiguration - C)

Texts: Exodus 24:29-35; Psalm 99; 2 Corinthians 3:12 – 4:2; Luke 9:28-36 (37-43)
Call to Worship
We gather as the faithful of God, we come to listen
to what God has to say to us.
God has invited us to this place:
may our faces reflect our hopes and our hearts.
We gather as the faithful of God, people of the new covenant
of grace and of promise.
We boldly enter into the presence of God,
hoping to be transformed into new people.
We gather as the faithful of God,
our fears melting away in the heart of God.
We come to share in the freedom of the Spirit,
we come to praise God's holy name.
Prayer of the Day
Come down, Answerer of our questions,
so we might have the faith
   to bring healing to the broken,
   to share our abundance with the needy,
   to brighten the faces of those in the shadows.
Come down, Lover of justice,
removing our blinders of prejudice,
   to see others
      as our sisters and brothers,
   to lift the burdens
      that weigh down so many.
Come down, Spirit of freedom,
and clothe us in your dazzling hope,
so we may
   act boldly for justice,
   deal honestly with all,
   build fairness in our communities.
Come down, God in Community, Holy in one,
as we seek to set aside our fears
to draw ever closer to you, as we pray,
(The Lord’s Prayer)
Call to Reconciliation
Veiled with our indifference, we do not notice the hurts we inflict.  Clouded with our fears, we do not realize how we turn away from those in need.  Let us confess our lives to the God of glory, who is ready to forgive us.
Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   We would much rather talk about you, God of worship.  For if we talk with you, we will discover how falsely we deal with others.  We will see ourselves as those who do not live as your own children, but want to do everything our way.  We will not realize how often we lose heart, simply because we are afraid to come near you.
   Forgive us, Creator of fairness.  Remove the veil from our faces, so we might see you in our midst.  Take away the mask of our despair, so we might welcome your hope.  Open our ears so we might listen to your Beloved, Jesus Christ, and follow him into the world to serve others.
Silence is kept
Assurance of Pardon
Do not lose heart, dear friends.  God’s forgiving love enables us to move from one degree of hope to the next.
This is the good news for us.  Now, with God’s hope in us, we can go to share God’s glory and grace with those around us.  Thanks be to God!  Amen.
Prayer of Dedication/Offering
Lover of justice, we pray you would use these gifts we offer as opportunities for healing and hope, not only here in the places where we live, but throughout your whole world.  In Jesus’ name, we pray.  Amen.
Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
The God of mountaintops be with you.
And also with you.
Come, People of God, to the One who will transfigure your hearts.
We offer them to God, who will make them dazzle with grace.
Let us join in singing glad songs of hope to our God.
Our voices rejoice in glad thanksgiving to the One who comes to us.
You came down into chaos, Lord our God,
creation cradled in your arms:
   mountaintops where we could meet you,
   valleys where we could serve your people,
   green meadows where we could dance with you in joy.
You shaped us in your image, hoping
we might forever in your wondrous grace,
   but we felt it was better to live
   where sin and death could be found.
You continued to speak to us through
those men and women named prophets,
who encouraged us return to your side,
   yet we were afraid to come near
   to your forgiveness and hope.
So you became flesh and blood
for our sake, coming as the One
who would reveal salvation to us.
With those who gather on mountaintops and by the sea,
with those who are afraid to draw close
and those who eagerly run towards you,
we offer songs of thanksgiving in these moments:
Holy, holy, holy are you, God enthroned on our praises.
Creation joins in one voice in singing to you.
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is the One who came down with grace in his hands.
Hosanna in the highest!
You alone are holy, Everlasting God,
and blessed is your Child, Jesus, who took off
veil’s glory that we might see you face to face.
He could have remained aloof,
   yet was willing to get down
   in the grittiness of our everyday lives.
He could have walked among us
without a care to the world,
   but was willing to be weighed down
   with the burdens of our fears and doubts.
He could have begged for an easy passing,
   yet took up the cross meant for us,
   entering into the mists of death where,
   by removing its mask, we saw it
   for the empty threat it truly is to us.
As we remember how you called him your Beloved,
as we rejoice that we are his chosen friends,
we proclaim that mystery we call faith:
Christ died, that the veil of our fears might be removed;
Christ was raised, so we might see the glory of the resurrection;
Christ will come, so we might live as your own forever.
Pour out your Spirit of life upon us
as we gather around the Table,
for it is here we find the gifts
of which you spoke so long ago.
As we are fed by the Bread of life,
we will not lose heart,
but go forth to boldly:
   holding the hand of a scared child,
   bathing the fevered brow of a senior,
   lifting up all who have had their dreams
dashed to the ground.
As we drink deeply from the Cup of grace,
we will not be weighed down by fears,
but go out into the world
   to being light into the shadowed corners,
   to carry hope to all who have none,
   to set the oppressed free.
And when the veil of time is finally removed,
when we see your glory revealed as grace,
we will join our sisters and brothers
from every time and of every place,
enthroning you on our resounding praises,
God in Community, Holy in One,
forever and ever.  Amen.   
It was good to be here,
but now God sends us from worship to action.
To speak of hope to those who have lost heart,
to be the voice of all not heard by the world.
It was good to be here,
But now Jesus sends us from silence into service.
Where we will listen to the broken,
where we will speak of hope.
It was good to be here,
but now the Spirit sends us from the community of faith
into our neighborhoods, schools, and work.
Where we will turn our faces to those who have no friends,
where we will act boldly for justice.
© 2016 Thom M. Shuman

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Liturgy w/communion for January 31, 2016 (Epiphany 4 - C)

Texts: Jeremiah 1:4-10; Psalm 71:1-6; I Corinthians 13:1-13; Luke 4:21-30

Call to Worship
With powerful words and dramatic gestures,
with a quiet conversation and a gentle touch,
we respond to God’s call to offer
healing and hope to our world.
With courage to face the injustices around us,
with the willingness to go into the brokenness,
we fulfill the call of Jesus
to engage in faithful obedience.
With the patience of a teacher of six-year-olds,
with the gentleness of a nurse helping a patient,
we become the Spirit’s refuge
for all who live in worry and fear.
Prayer of the Day
In you, God of love,
we find that panic room
when our terrors try to
break down the doors of our hearts.
In you,
we discover the patience
to keep our expectations
from getting in the way
of the fulfillment of your kingdom.
With you, Child of our hearts,
we find the One we have leaned on
every step of our uncertain journey
even when we thought we walked alone.
With you,
we discern the passion to speak up
for the voiceless and the forgotten
who are all around us.

Through you, Gentle Spirit,
we can offer a hand
to partner with those trapped
in the tight grasp of oppression.
Through you,
we can catch on to the arrogance
which too often is our attitude
and replace it with your humility.
In you, with you, through you,
God in Community, Holy in One,
we can seek to be your people,
even as we pray as you taught us, saying
(The Lord’s Prayer)
Call to Reconciliation
Arrogance, envy, harsh words, empty hands, pleasure in doing what we know is wrong – these are what we often use to fill our lives.  Let us confess in faith, trusting in the hope that God’s love restores us and makes us whole.  Please join me, praying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   Ah, Lord God, we do not know how to speak words of hope, because we listen to the purveyors of fear.  We do not know how to be loving because our role models are ridicule and anger.  We do not know how to be faithful to you, because at an early age, we learned to trust the promises of all the false prophets who entice us with their simple thoughts.
   But you know how to forgive, God of kindness, so we pray you would pour out your mercy upon us.  May faith abide in us, so we may serve others even as you have served us; may hope abide in us, so we may surround the broken with your compassion and grace; may love abide in us, not only in these moments of brokenness, but in every moment of our life with Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, who abides in us.
Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
The good news is that, in our God, we find that safe place for our lives.  In God’s forgiveness, we are offered the healing we need.
In God’s acceptance, we discover the love in which we may abide in every moment of our lives.  Thanks be to God!  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
We do not need to speak in tongues, but to offer words of encouragement.  We do not have to be know-it-alls, but those who work to life the burdens off those around us.  We do not need to give everything, but we will join our gifts with those of others to reach out, in love, to those who have nothing.  This we pray in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of love be with you.
And also with you.
Do not be afraid to offer your hearts to God.
We do so, knowing they will be filled with God’s love.
Always and forever, let us praise our God.
Here, now, every day, everywhere,
we will offer our songs to the One who abides.
You could have spoken any tongue,
God of every love, but you
silenced the cacophony of chaos
with the simple words, ‘let there be,’
and creation, in all its goodness and beauty
sprang forth from the depths of your heart.
Mysteriously, you chose to create us
in your image, knowing we might reject you,
   which we did, placing our faith in death,
   learning more about death than we ever dreamed.
Empowered with your words, prophets came
to remind us of what would happen,
   but because we loved sin and death more,
   we gained nothing from their advice.
So you gave us the priceless treasure
of your heart who, filled with your love,
handed over his body so we might gain everything.
With those who worry they cannot do what you ask,
with those who believe your word is fulfilled,
we join our voices in singing your praises:
Holy, holy, holy are you, God of abiding faith.
All creation sings of its hope in you.
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is the One who came as your love embodied.
Hosanna in the highest!
As patient as a cat waiting for
a sunbeam on a winter’s day,
kinder than a father teaching
his daughter how to repair a car,
   Jesus showed us love in so many ways.
He never blew his own horn or
wished he was someone else;
he never bullied the vulnerable,
didn’t whine, and let go of every grudge.
He didn’t look the other way when
we were foolish, and encouraged
everyone to own up to their mistakes.
He picked up all of our burdens,
he trusted everyone the world discounts,
he looked beyond all our fears,
   as well as his own,
taking on everything sin
and death had to offer him
in order that everyone might
experience your resurrection love.
We may not have prophetic powers,
we may not know as much as we think we do,
but we can speak of that mystery of faith:
God’s Word came, offering his life in faith on the cross.
God’s Word comes to offer resurrection hope to all.
God’s Word will come, bringing love for each one of God’s children.
Your love has never retired, Eternal God,
but your Spirit pours it out upon
the gifts of the Table and those gathered around it.
This bread, though broken, will feed us
so we might be able to
   bear the brokenness of those around us,
   believe in all those doubted by the world.
The cup, containing faith, hope, and love,
will send us into the world,
   to serve in the belief
      that justice has no future;
   to endure until peace becomes the reality
      rather than the fantasy of a few.
And when we run out of things
to say and words drift away,
when we have to more to learn,
when your fullness comes and
all the pieces of life fall into place,
your children will see you clearly,
God in Community, Holy in One,
knowing you as well as you know them,
rejoicing that
   your steadfast love,
   the grace of Jesus, and
   the Spirit’s hope
rest forever in your love
even as we all will.  Amen.
God touches our mouths,
so we may go to share the good news.
Jesus touches our hands,
so we may serve all in need of life and hope.
The Spirit touches our hearts,
so we may be a haven for those
who are longing for acceptance and love.

© 2016 Thom M. Shuman