Saturday, December 20, 2014

Christmas Eve Liturgy

Texts: Isaiah 9:2-7; Psalm 96; Titus 2:11-14; Luke 2:1-20

Call to Worship
In the silence of this night,
may we hear the songs of the angels.
In the holiness of this night,
may we humble ourselves to visit the manger.
In the serenity of this night,
may we spread peace through the world.
In the brightness of this night,
may we see the One who comes to us.

Christmas Eve Prayer
   We come seeking wonder and with the bright lights of the season in our eyes.  Come this night, Gift of Hope, not only for us, but for those surrounded by family and friends, yet are filled with that ache called loneliness, and for those who will go home to an empty house and one place-setting on the table.
   We come with overflowing hearts for all who have touched us.  Come this night, Gift of Love, for those whose hearts are shriveled by a life-time of hurts and rejections, as well as for those whose hearts break over the poverty and struggles of those they see around them.
   We reach out in this season to embrace those we haven't seen for so long.  Come this night, Gift of Peace, to all those places scarred by fear and hatred, to the communities where people search through rubble for a few precious heirlooms, to families torn apart by old divisions, to all who stand watch during the hours we sleep.
   We laugh with delight as stories are told for the umpteenth time and marvel at the videos on our grandkids' handheld devices.  Come this night, Gift of Joy, kneeling with those who place poinsettias at grave markers, and for those who will not receive all the treasures promises on television, but whose parents work two jobs to feed and clothe them.
   Come this night, Gift of all gifts, and stay with us forever, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of holy nights be with you!
And also with you!
Bring your hearts to Bethlehem in these moments.
We offer them to the Child who loves us.
Sing carols of celebration this night.
We join with the chorus on earth and in heaven.

You tiptoed past sleeping chaos,
God of holy moments,
and birthed wonder from your creativity:
   each snowflake unique,
   each creature named by you,
   each seashell polished by sandy seas.
We were shaped to be your children,
so you could teach us the joys of your heart,
   but we could not wait to be blessed by hope,
   and yoked ourselves to death's burden.
Prophets came, each one writing new songs,
using your familiar words to call us home,
   but we would not renounce our allegiance to sin.
So you sent Jesus to us,
your grace appearing when
we least expected it,
but needed it the most.

So with the songs of the angels on our lips,
with the questions of the shepherds in our hearts,
we sing our praises to you this night:

Honor and majesty are yours, God of holy splendor.
All creation trembles before you this night.
Hosanna in the highest!

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

You tiptoed past our sleeping expectations,
God of holy nights,
in the bleak midwinter of our fears.
When we were looking for a philosopher
who could speak lofty words,
   you came as a bawling baby.
When we were looking for a mighty warrior
to lead us against our foes,
   you came as grace as gentle as a snowfall.
When we were looking for a magician
who could make all our problems disappear,
   you came as a Savior,
   to take death into your grave and leave it there,
   as you came forth in resurrection love.

As we join the angels in singing of this night,
as we celebrate your birth with family, friends, and strangers,
we are speaking of that faithful mystery revealed that night:

Christ was born, to bring us hope;
Christ died, to defeat death;
Christ was raised, to offer new life to all;
we await Christ, as we sing songs of joy.

You tiptoe past our complacent consumerism,
bringing those simple gifts which offer us
life and hope - the bread and the cup.
Toys break, promises shatter, lives fall apart,
but the broken bread of Life
   shows that you are a God who makes us
   whole and sends us forth to bring
   healing to our communities.
Hopes are dashed, others fail us or we fail them,
but the grace offered to us in Christ's cup
renews us so we can live as your people,
   singing songs with the angels,
   listening to the stories of outsiders,
   opening our hearts to those looking for shelter.

And when we are gathered around
the great celebration at your Table,
we will join our voices in praise to you,
God in Community, Holy in One,
Glory to you in the highest!  Amen.

Joy to the world!  Our God has come!
We will share this good news with all.
Joy to the world!  Jesus has come to be with us!
We will share our lives with the broken and searching
just as he did with his life.
Joy to the world!  The Spirit is in our midst!
We will share peace where there is trouble,
we will share hope where there is despair.

(c) 2014 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Liturgy w/communion for December 21, 2014 (Advent 4 - B)

Texts: 2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16; Luke 1:46b-55; Romans 16:25-27; Luke 1:26-38

Call to Worship:
O come, Mist upon the lake:
move over us and cover us
with your peace so we
might walk gently in these days.
O come, Snowfall of Serenity:
to calm our harried lives,
so we might hear
your angels whispering to us,
as the Spirit drifts gently
through the our souls.

O come, Winter Wind:
to cool our fevered focus on ourselves,
so we might bring the warmth of your love
to those for whom winter
is every season of their lives.
O come, Sentinel of the stars:
keep us safe from our fears,
so we may set them
to the side of the path 

as we journey to Bethlehem
and to your heart.

O come, Dancer of the Universe:
to gather us up in your arms
and to twirl us around and around in your joy.
O come to us, and live with us, 
this day and forever, Immanuel.
O come! 

Prayer of the Day

Wherever we have been,
you were with us,
Architect of the Universe;
wherever we are,
you are constantly at our side,
Shelter of our hearts;
wherever we are going,
you are there waiting for us,
Builder of our future.

Above the din of violence and war,
you whisper to us of reconciliation:
Prince of Peace.
Into lives which are barren
and filled with the ashes of disappointment,
you come singing of newness:
Hope of Heaven.
Where the oppressed are captive to our greed
and the poor have nothing to eat,
you come to set all of us free
and to feed everyone at your Table,
Servant of the lost.

When we are afraid of tomorrow,
push us into God's Advent:
when we believe no one loves us,
sing Bethlehem's lullaby to our souls;
when we doubt our ability
to be the children of God,
infuse us with your gifts.

God in Community, Holy in One,
remind us that there is nothing you cannot do,
even as we pray as Jesus has taught us, saying,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
Advent is the time to prepare;
Advent is the time to watch and wait;
Advent is the time to open our hearts to God,
as we pray together saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
We watch for packages to arrive
and Christmas cards to be delivered,
   but we do not keep our eyes open
   for your coming, Approaching God.
We expect our Christmas 'wish list' to be filled,
and for the pile under the tree to grow and grow,
   but we hope you do not expect
   to transform our lives.
We notice where to find the best bargains,
and what decorations our neighbors have put on their houses,
   but we do not notice
   the little, the least, the lost, the last
   walking down our streets.

Forgive us, Saving God, for our misplaced priorities.
May we watch for your coming,
may we reach out to those in need,
may we wait for hope to come,
even as Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior,
arrives to live in our hearts. 

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
The good news is made known to all people:
Christ Jesus was born to save us from our sins.
Glory and praise to the only wise God, who fills us with healing and hope.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offertory
Now to you, Gracious God, we offer our gifts so that the hungry might be fed, the weak might be strengthened, the lost might find a home, the voiceless might find an advocate, and we might all celebrate the good news that has come to us in the birth of Jesus.  Amen.

The Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God who can strengthen us be with you.
And also with you.
Lift your hearts to God who is with you.
We will offer them, saying, "Here we are, your servants."
Sing glad songs to the Most High.
We will magnify God with our hearts and voices. 

You spoke, only wise God,
cutting off chaos as creation
tumbled forth through the Word and the Spirit:
   majestic eagles gliding over valleys,
   winds howling down canyons,
   reindeer prancing over snowy fields.
You looked with special favor
on those shaped in your image,
   but we would only speak a word
   with sin, saying, 'here we are, your servants.'
Through the writings of the prophets,
you sought to call us back,
   but we were perplexed
   by their words and ignored them.
So you appointed Jesus to come
to us with hope and salvation.

With those who are settled in you,
with those struggling with your promises,
we sing our praises to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, Most High.
All creation offers praise to you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who is your servant.
Hosanna in the highest! 

You alone are holy, God of Advent,
and through Jesus Christ, your Child,
all glory is yours forever and ever.
He came to scatter the proud,
   so the humble might be
   gathered as your people.
He came to topple the powerful,
   so the weakest might
   become our mentors.
He was sent by you
to do great things for us
   by dying as a criminal,
   buried in a borrowed grave,
   being raised to new life
so we might rejoice in you.

As we celebrate that mercy
given from generation to generation,
we rejoice in that mystery called faith:

Christ was born, as the angels sang of your hope;
Christ died, as the angels wiped your tears;
Christ was raised, as the angels danced with joy;
Christ is in our midst, calling us to lives of humility and service. 

You pour out your Spirit
upon these simple gifts of bread and cup
and on your people gathered here,
so that we might be strengthened
to fill the hungry from
   our overstocked pantries;
to empty our pockets of
   our accumulated blessings;
to look at the most vulnerable
   in our society and see those named
   as your most favored;
to face oppression and injustice
   and not be afraid.

Ad when all your promises are kept,
and we are gathered with our sisters and brothers
from every time and from every place,
you will fill us with the good things of your heart,
as we sing of your glory forever and ever,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Do not be afraid!  God is with you.
We will go to fill those who hunger for food as well as for hope.
Do not be afraid! Jesus is with you.
We will go to lift up the most vulnerable around us.
Do not be afraid! The Spirit is with you.
We will go to do great things for those who have so little.
(c) 2014 Thom M. Shuman

Monday, December 08, 2014

Liturgy w/communion for December 14, 2014 (Advent 3-B)

Texts:  Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11; Psalm 126; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24; John 1:6-8, 19-28

Call to Worship
When God restores our fortune,
our dreams will come true.
We will sing "Glory!" to our God;
we will rejoice in our Savior's birth.
Our mouths shall be filled with laughter;
joy shall chime from our lips.
God has made it clear:
those who serve are God's children.

Then we will proclaim:
'look what the Lord has done':
so others will know beyond any doubt
how the Holy One has blessed us with hope.

We wept  -  now we will cheer "Joy!  Joy!"
We were lost - now we will run home laughing.
For God has picked us up where we fell;
God has kept the promises made so long ago.

Prayer of the Day
Lover of justice:
you flex your righteousness,
and scatter evil to the wind;
you plant hope in our hearts
and reap a bumper crop;
you wipe away the tears
from our eyes,
and anoint us with joy's oil.

Servant of God:
you bandage our souls
as you take our wounds upon yourself;
you set us free from sin,
by being bound to the cross;
you console the grieving,
by carrying death
to its resting place.

Spirit of Passion:
when sin strips us of life,
clothe us in salvation's finery;
when we are deafened
by the peddlers of fear,
whisper the Good News to us;
when we shiver in death's winter,
wrap us in the shawl of hope.

God in Community, Holy in One,
anoint us with your grace,
even as we pray as Jesus teaches us, saying,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
God's promise to us is eternal.  God wishes to bless us with hope, with joy, with life.  But our desires lead us to reject God and these blessings.  Let us confess how we too often choose the path of tears, rather than the joy which can lead us to God's heart.

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   We try not to do any evil, Anointing God, but it is so hard to let go of the little things we enjoy.  Gossiping about the pregnant girl at school; making light of the accomplishments of a co-worker; daydreaming about someone else's spouse - all these things show how we do not live as your people.
    Forgive us, Loving God.  You have given us salvation, and we act as if we were the ones who paid for it.  Help us to rejoice always in your grace, and to give thanks in every moment for the life we have received through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Go, and take God's Good News to others:
      to those held captive by sin;
      to those cradling broken hearts;
      to those grieving lost relationships.
God forgives us all and makes us new.
Even as we rejoice in God's mercy, we will tell everyone we meet: "God has done great things for us, and wants to do the same for you!"  Thanks be to God.  Amen.
Prayer of Dedication/Offertory
You bless us with gifts so that we might do great things with them, Loving God - feed the hungry, house the homeless, lift up the fallen, speak hope to those in bondage to life.  Bless these gifts, bless our lives, as we seek to take the good news into our world.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of peace be with you!
And also with you!
God has done great things for us!
Filling our hearts with grace and hope
so we may offer them to others.
Rejoice always, people of God.
We come to the feast with songs of joy on our lips.

The Spirit of the Lord
moved over chaos
at your direction, Blessing God,
anointing creation with your imagination:
   icicles dangling from tree branches,
   sea urchins dancing on ocean floors,
   earthworms preparing for the springtime.
These and all your other gifts
were for those created in your image,
   but we put on the cloak of death,
   putting our feet into sin's slippers.
Prophets brought the good news to us,
seeking to rebuild our ruined lives,
   but we despised their words.
So you sent your justice to us
in the baby named Jesus
who would issue a pardon to us.

With those who weep this day,
with those who shout with joy,
we raise our songs of thanksgiving:

Holy, holy, holy are you, Restorer of our lives.
All creation bears the seeds of salvation.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who does great things for us.
Hosanna in the highest!

Because you are holy, God of all time,
you could have sent judgment upon us,
but because your are loving,
you sent Jesus to us.
He came to restore the fortunes
   of all who waste
   their covenantal inheritance.
He came to take the words
of despair from our lips
   and to fill our mouths with joy.
He was sown in tears
in death's deep soil,
   and was raised to new life
   with shouts of joy from your heart.

As we wait for the Bridegroom to come,
as we are clothed with the garments of grace,
we would testify to that mystery called faith:

Christ died, carrying our sins for us;
Christ was raised, bringing resurrection life for us;
Christ will come, the Faithful One calling for us.

Your Spirit is upon these gifts
of the bread and the cup,
as you anoint them to fill us
with the life of service you intend for us.
You love justice, God of the oppressed,
and so strengthen us with the bread
   to open the doors of those
      held captive by fear,
   to issue pardons to those
      judged useless by our standards,
   to lift up all who have fallen
      victim to injustice.
You are the compassion for which we long,
and so you fill us from grace's cup,
   so we may put splints
      on fractured hearts;
   so we may rebuild
      ruined lives;
   so we may plant seeds of peace
      in the fields of violence.

And when you call us to you, Faithful God,
along with our sisters and brothers
from every age and place,
we will come bringing our hearts,
singing forever with shouts of joy to you,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

The God who makes everything whole,
sends us forth to bring healing
     to the broken-hearted and
     to comfort the grieving.
The Christ who comes to be with us,
sends us forth to stand with the oppressed,
     to release those imprisoned by sin,
     to speak hope to the lonely.

The Spirit which calls you to faithfulness,
sends us forth to proclaim the Good News
     that today is God's time, the day
     when all people will be blessed.

(c) 2014 Thom M. Shuman

Friday, November 28, 2014

Liturgy w/communion for December 7, 2014 (2nd Sunday of Advent - B)

Texts: Isaiah 40:1-11; Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13; 2 Peter 3:8-15a; Mark 1:1-8

Call to Worship
Listen to what the Lord our God says to us:
my hope for you is peace;
salvation is my gift in every moment.
See what the Lord our God reveals to us:
righteousness is the path to the kingdom;
faithfulness is the highway being built for us.
Tell what the Lord our God asks us to speak:
prepare God's way!
The Christ is coming to redeem us.

Prayer of the Day
Comfort of the ages,
you come:
so you can fill our empty places
with your hope;
so you can level our pride
with your call to servanthood;
so you can smooth our toughened hearts
with your tenderness.

Herald of Good News:
when we hunger for exaltation,
you feed us with humility;
when we trip over sin,
you gather us up in love;
when we become satisfied with our faith,
you shake us with your Messenger.

Spirit of Advent:
in this hectic season,
give us the gift of patience;
when we overflow with stress,
soothe us with your serenity;
when we are overwhelmed
with the desire for more and more,
speak to us of the needs of the outsiders.

God in Community, Holy in One,
surround us with your presence,
and fill us with your love,
as we lift the prayer taught to us by Jesus, saying,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
God comes!  Let us prepare the way.
God comes to forgive us!  Let us prepare our hearts
as we confess our lives which are so often in exile, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   We have heard that our penalty has been paid, God of Comfort, yet we still insist on earning our way into your heart.  We confess that you are patient with us, but wish you would act quickly against those who hurt us.  We confess your word will stand forever, but it is our words of pain and anger that cause long term harm to others.
   Your Messenger has come, Approaching God, crying out to us of your forgiveness and hope.  Through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, you speak to us:
      not of punishment, but of peace;

      not of judgment, but of justice;
      not of a sentence, but salvation.

Silence is kept       

Assurance of Pardon
Hear the Good News God speaks to you:
      I love you;
           I forgive you;
               I restore you to new life.
We will not ignore the fact that God comes:
     not to condemn, but to comfort us;

     not to scold, but to speak tenderly to us
of hope, of love, of joy.  Thanks be to God.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offertory
While we are waiting in this Advent season, may our gifts be used to proclaim good news to those who need it most, so that justice may come into the places of oppression, so righteousness might kiss the wounds of the most vulnerable, so hope and peace might meet in all the broken places of our world and begin to build new communities of reconciliation.  Hear our prayer, Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of comfort be with you.
And may God comfort you.
Bring your hearts to the One who comes.
We would open them to God, who brings healing and hope.
Give thanks to the Living God, all you people.
 We praise the One who offers peace to us.

Acclamation, thanksgiving, songs of joy
are the gifts we offer to you,
God of all the ages.
You uttered the Word
and mountains burst forth;
your Breath blew upon the waters,
and stirred life into being;
you reached down and shaped us
in your own image,
from the dusty paths you trod.
In our impatience,
we refused to wait for your glory,
and rushed into sin's sweet embrace.
Yet you were willing
to outwit our foolish wisdom,
and outwait our childish tantrums,
sending the prophets to cry out
of your desire for us to return to you.
Finally, when we continued to cling
to death's strong hand,
you clothed your Word with human flesh,
that we might meet you face to face.

So with those who have waited for you
in every time and place,
with those who seek to live faithfully
for you in these days,
we lift our songs of hope to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, Comfort of every age.
All creation speaks tenderly of your love.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who builds the highway to your heart.
Hosanna in the highest!

All holiness is yours, Righteous God,
and blessed is your Word for whom we wait,
Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace.
When we had lost our way,
he came to straighten out the path to you.
When we wept at our lost ways,
he came to comfort us.
When we had fallen hopelessly
at the feet of death,
he gathered us up in his arms
to carry us home to you.

As we come to this Table,
we remember the mystery of the One
who died that we might live forever:

Christ died, the flower of hope fading;
Christ was raised, so death and sin would be made low;
Christ will come, crying: "Here is your God!"

As your Spirit moves upon the gifts
of the bread and the cup,
may she touch us with
unexpected hope and the power of patience.
As we wait for Christ's return,
we would fill the empty dreams of the world
with your vision of peace and wholeness;
we would feed the lost
with the bread of hope;
we would gently lead the exiled
back to your Kingdom.

Then, when the end of time comes,
and our waiting is over,
we will gather around your Table
in the new heaven and new earth,
where righteousness is our friend
and justice lives next door,
and we will praise you forever and ever,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

Our God is here!
Sending us out to smooth the way of those broken by life.
Jesus our brother is here!
Taking us by the hand to lead us to bring justice to our communities.
The Holy Spirit is here!
Giving us the words of healing and hope to speak in the days to come.
Now go out there into the world.
We will go, trusting that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit wait
to show us where to bring comfort, peace, and love to those who needs these gifts.

(c) 2014 Thom M. Shuman

Friday, November 21, 2014

Liturgy w/communion for November 30, 2014 (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 season of waiting,
may we welcome the God who comes to restore our lives.
Now, in this season of watching,
may we see Jesus at work in the world, and rush to help him.
Now, in this season of hoping,
may we share the Spirit of wonder and joy with everyone we meet.

Prayer of the Day
We wait with hope,
and in the waiting,
Approaching God,
you hand us the bread of heaven
instead of feeding us on bitterness,
you touch the cup of grace to our lips,
when we expect a glass
filled with your tears.

We watch with hope,
Bethlehem's Babe,
and in the watching,
we see stars falling down
to light your way to us;
we see the world's powers
tremble at your humble approach;
we see our hardened hearts
being torn open so you
can come and live with us forever.

We listen with hope,
and in the listening,
Spirit of Advent,
we hear the songs of children
standing in the shadows of dawn;
we hear the sobs of the mother
who has no medicine for her baby;
we hear the quiet footsteps
of the One tiptoeing towards us.

May we live your hope,
God in Community, Holy in One,
during this season of waiting, watching, and listening,
as we pray as we are taught,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
Advent is the season
   of waiting and watching,
      of preparing and praying,
         of hoping and hearing.
Let us come to God, speaking of how easily we become distracted from these simple acts of Advent discipleship, as we pray together, saying,

Responsive Prayer for Forgiveness
God is drawing hear to us:
we live in a world of violence,
which we tolerate by our silence:
   Come to us, with your peace.
We are filled with the best of intentions,
but seem 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
Now, in this season of waiting, hear the good news: 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, and who will come again in glory!  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
We will no longer wait, but will offer our lives, as well as these tangible gifts, in the work of the kingdom, so all people might know that God's love, hope, peace, and healing are for all.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the approaching God be with you!
And also with you!
Open your hearts to our God, dear friends.
We long to be filled with grace and hope.
Sing songs to the Potter of our lives.
We rejoice in the One who shapes us with new life.

You could no longer wait, Patient God,
and so tore open chaos,
laughing in pure delight
as creation poured forth:
   dolphins chirping in the seas,
   kittens leaping at their shadows,
   horses stamping in the snow.
These awesome gifts were for all
those shaped in your image,
   but our promises to be faithful
   to you shriveled like leaves,
   and death carried us away on sin's breeze.
You longed to restore us to you,
sending the prophets to us time and again,
   but we turned our backs to them.
So you sent your Child to us,
your grace made human in Jesus.

With those who are awake and alert,
with those who nod off while waiting,
we sing our praises to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God who approaches.
All creation tingles with anticipation.
Hosanna in the highest!

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

In this season of holiness you came,
God of Advent, for you could
no longer wait to bring hope to us.
Your Child might have held on
to glory for a while longer,
   but humbled himself
   to be born in poverty.
Your Child could have stayed
on the sidelines watching,
   but became a player
   in this game called life.
Your Child could have bided
his time until all things passed away,
   but entered the very gates of death,
   suddenly coming out of the grave,
   the grace of resurrection for us.

As we remember the coming of Christ,
as we seek to keep alert in these times,
we speak of that mystery called faith:

In those days, after suffering, Jesus died;
on that Day, your raised Christ to new life;
in these days, we wait, not knowing but trusting in your future.

Wait no longer, God-who-comes-to-us,
but pour out your Holy Spirit
upon the gifts of this sacred meal,
that your children might be restored.
We may not know how,
but the broken bread strengthens us
   to go to feed the hungry,
   to bring healing to the hurting;
   to carry the burdens of others.
May the cup of grace open
our eyes so we may see
   the injustices around us
      so we may challenge them;
   the oppression of others
      so we may break it;
   the fears of those around us
      so we may relieve them.

Then, when you can wait no longer,
gather your children from every time and place,
seating us around your feast which awaits us,
as we praise you forever and ever,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Now, go into the waiting,
we will go with God to restore our world.
Now, go into the watching,
we will follow Jesus to see all those places where we can serve.
Now, go into the hoping,
filled with the Spirit, we can be the peace for which others long.

(c) 2014 Thom M. Shuman

Monday, November 17, 2014

Liturgy with communion for Thanksgiving - Year A

Texts: Deuteronomy 8:7-18; Psalm 65; 2 Corinthians 9:6-15; Luke 17:11-19

Call to Worship
Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth.
We glorify our God with songs of thanksgiving and joy.
God has done great things for us, filling us with grace.
God fed our ancestors in the wilderness, God clothes us with hope.
We will offer our hearts to God, always saying,
'Thank you!' to the One who loves us.
We will sing our praises, shouting of God's presence in our lives.

Prayer of the Day
Hot showers in the morning
     and cool breezes in the evening;
work that provides for our families,
     and abundance that makes us generous;
silly jokes told by third graders,
     and the silent tears of a grandmother
     lost in her childhood forever.
What blessings are ours, Creation's Joy!

Teachers who patiently help us with our math,
     and mentors who keep us on the right paths;
friends who shovel snow off sidewalks before we waken,
     and employers whose hearts are greater than their profits;
piano teachers who smile at our repeated mistakes,
     coaches who teach us (one more time)
     how to curl the ball into the goal.
What blessings are ours, Servant of Joy!
Dogs who bounce us awake early in the day
     and cats who lullaby us to sleep at night;
grandfathers who teach us how to whittle
     and sisters who give up a date to baby sit;
little boys who always forget to wipe their mouths
     and folks who always remember to say 'thank you.'
What blessings are ours, Joyous Spirit!
God in Community, Holy in One,
thanksgiving is in every word we speak,
even as we pray as Jesus taught us, saying,
 (The Lord's Prayer)
Call to Reconciliation
We wonder what's for lunch, we worry about work tomorrow, we fret about the test that is coming up. So much worry, so much time wasted over things we cannot control. The One who showers earth with rain, who places the stars in the autumn sky, is the same One who wraps mercy tight around you, who feeds us on healing and hope. Let us confess how our worries keep us from trusting the God who hears us and restores us to new life. Please join me as we pray,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     Because we live in this modern, tech-driven, twittering age, we often forget what you have done for us, God of every blessing. We pat ourselves on the back for our ability to learn new computer skills, but have forgotten that life is more than a machine. We have more than we could ever use yet, like squirrels, store up more and more. Our faith is often pushed to the back of the closet, to make room for all the fears we wear so easily.
     Forgive us, Restorer of life. As you clothe us with your grace and mercy, may we share with those who have so little. As our hearts overflow with your love and wonder, may we offer them as gifts to everyone we meet. As you feed us with your joy and hope, may we welcome to the Table all those whose lives are filled with tears and pain. As we gather with family and friends during this season, may we continue to give thanks for the gift of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
This is the good news: as God dresses creation in wonder, so you will be clothed in grace; as God pours out abundance upon the earth, so you will be blessed with peace and joy.
We don't say it often enough, but thanks be to God for healing, for life, for wonder, for mercy. We are blessed, for we are forgiven. Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
We cannot begin to express our gratitude to you, Giver of all, for your gifts poured into our lives.  But let these offerings be used to bring hope, healing, and peace to all your children, so we may all give thanks to you forever.  Amen. 

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
The Lord of blessings be with you.
The Lord be with you, also.
Be glad and rejoice, God's people, lifting your hearts to the Restorer of lives.
We offer them to the God who clothes us in grace.
People of God, come to the Table where you shall eat and be satisfied.
With shouts of joy, we gather to praise the name of God!

Your mouth was filled with laughter,
God of our every moment,
     as you sang creation into being.
The heavens rang with shouts of joy,
     as fruit-bearing trees sprang up,
     as green pastures rippled with wonder.
Crafted in your image, you would
satisfy us with the bounty of grace,
     but we chose the destroyer, death,
     hanging out with the life-cutter, sin.
Prophets and psalmists were sent by you,
longing to restore us to your side,
     but we put their words to shame.
So that everyone might be saved,
Jesus came to be with us,
herald of your grace,
bringer of your truth.

With those who lifted thanks by crossed rivers,
with those who offered gratitude for simple gifts,
we join our voice in praising your name:

Holy, holy, holy! God of wonder and delight.
All creation is filled with your joy.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes to clothe us in grace.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, Restorer of broken lives,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, Mediator of salvation.
Seeing the nightmare of our lives,
     he became one of us, so we
     might see the dreams you have for us.
Knowing how our hearts overflowed
with fear, bitterness, and worries,
     he came with peace and comfort.
Teaching that the body is more than sin,
that life is more than death,
     he became our ransom on the cross,
     our salvation by rising from the grave.
As we give thanks for his life and death,
as we shout with joy for his resurrection,
we speak of that mystery we call faith:
Christ died, the righteousness for all.
Christ rose, the resurrection for all.
Christ will return, the fulfillment for all.
Pour out your Spirit                                         
doing great things with the bread and the cup.
Empty, we will be filled
with the plenty of your grace,
the broken bread strengthening us
     so we might bring healing to a world
     shattered by violence and despair.
Longing for hope, we shall be satisfied
with the cup of blessing and hope,
our lives overflowing
with your love and compassion,
     pouring ourselves out for the
     poor and marginalized of our time.
And when all our worrying hours have ended,
when we are clothed in your mercy forever,
we will gather with our sisters and brothers,
our mouths filled with laughter,
our hearts echoing glad songs of joy to you,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

The God of laughter sends you out.
So we can share joy with everyone.
The Brother of the poor sends you out.
So we may bring hope and healing to the broken and despairing.
The Spirit of wonder sends you out.
So we may join all creation in offering thanks.

(c) 2014 Thom M. Shuman

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Liturgy for November 23, 2014 (Reign of Christ/Christ the King - A)

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

Call to Worship
We come, for God gathers us here,
with that community called faith:
where the hungry are served first,
where the thirsty drink life's water.
We come, for God welcomes us here
into that home called grace:
where the naked are clothed in robes of hope;
where the stranger is embraced as the long-lost prodigal.
We come, for God reunites us here,
sisters and brothers in that family called love:
where the imprisoned model justice,
where the sick are cradled in God's peace.
Prayer of the Day
Searcher of the scattered:
where the bullies and biased
have gorged themselves
at cruelty's banquet,
     you will serve them justice
     for dessert.
Where the wounded
are turned away by indifference,
     you will bandage them
     in the swaddling clothes of hope.
Where the hungry
press their foreheads
against the windows
at Chez Plenty,
     you will open wide the doors,
     having made reservations
          for us all.

Bringer of justice:
when we would push
the outsiders further away,
     you pull them closer to your heart.
When we would shove
the next-to-nothings aside
to get to the front of the line,
     you pick them up
     to keep them next to you.
When we scatter our gifts,
throwing them away on foolishness,
     you gather them up
     and give them back to us
          saying, 'here, try again.'

Spirit of common sense:
as soon as
we wander into
the shadows of selfishness,
     you open the eyes
     of our hearts
          so we can see
          that place called home.
As soon as
we think we can find you
only in the rich and powerful,
     you humble us
     with the grace of Jesus.
God in Community, Holy in One,
gather us into your presence,
even as we pray as we are taught,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
They are the promises stretching back into the dim recesses of time, yet as new as this very moment.  When we lose our way, God searches for us until we are found. When we hurt others, God brings healing to all.  When we sin, God forgives us. Let us hold these promises close to our hearts, as we confess those things we try to hide.

 Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     We stock the food pantries, but brush aside those who hunger for friendship.  We give our hand-me-downs away, but overlook those whose hopes have been stripped away.  We glad-hand those just like us, but turn a deaf ear to our neighbors who 'talk funny.'
     Forgive us, Hope of the ages.  You persistently search for us in the side streets of the world, gathering us up and bringing us home, so we may be drenched in the waters of your bottomless pool of  forgiveness, watched over by your Child, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.
Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
God searches for the lost,
and finds us;
God invites the hungry to the table,
and feeds us;
God sends Jesus,
and frees us from death's prison;
God forgives all who sin,
and heals us with mercy and grace.  Thanks be to God. Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
May these gifts be used to feed the hungry and clothe the naked, to bring medicine to the sick and provide a hospice bed for the dying, to offer hope to those who thirst for it in their lives and to bring friendship to those who sit in jail cells.  May these gifts bring your kingdom to everyone who longs for its presence in every circumstance, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the Searching God be with you!
And also with you!
God gathers us up and brings us to this place.
We lift our hearts to the One who leads us into the kingdom of peace and healing.
God collects us in the power of the Word, whoever and wherever we are.
We will sing glad songs that remind us that we are never, never! lost.

Out of the clouds and
thick darkness of chaos,
you spoke the creative Word,
God of wonder,
and creation burst forth in joy.
     Rivers and streams teemed with life,
     mountains were topped with snow,
     green pastures cradled all your creatures.
You shaped us in your image,
calling us to be your people,
living in your steadfast love.
     But your hopes for us
     were pushed aside by
     the seductions of sin and death,
          and we followed them into
          the uninhabited wastes of the world.
Because we were your priceless treasure,
you continued to search for us,
sending prophets in all the ages.
     When we continued to worship
     all the false powers,
you sent Jesus to gather us up
and lead us back to you.
So, with skeptics and scoffers,
with the faithful and the followers,
we join our voices together
singing our praise to you:
Holy, holy, holy, Shepherd of all creation.
Heaven and earth sing choruses of praise:
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes to gather us back to you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, Steadfast Love,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, your Child, our Savior.
Seeing us stripped naked by sin,
     he forages through glory's closets
     to clothe us in your joy and hope.
Setting aside his power,
     he would turn oppression inside-out,
     and injustice upside down
          to create the kingdom
          where the least are the most valued.
Searching for us,
     he left no stone unturned,
     even going through death and hell
     in order to find us
     and bring us back to you.
As we remember his service to all,
as we celebrate the promised resurrection,
we sing of that mystery we call faith:
Christ has died, bringing us your justice;
Christ is risen, offering us your love.
Christ will gather us up to lead us home.
In this sanctuary of your heart,
with sisters and brothers in the faith,
we pray that you pour out your Spirit
upon us and the gifts of the Table.
It is here all our scattered lives
are woven together in that tapestry
called the kingdom,
where we are strengthened
by the Bread of life,
     so we may fortify all those
     who have been exhausted by life;
where we are handed
the Cup of hope,
     to quench the thirst
     of all who wander through
     the deserts of injustice.
And when you have gathered
all the nations into your joy,
when the losers and the lurkers,
the weak and the wise ones
are seated around your Table,
we will join our voices
with all of creation,
forever singing anthems of praise,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

We will go now into God's world:
to bring healing to the sick and hope to the despairing.
We will go now to serve Jesus' sisters and brothers:
to offer a hand to those who have fallen,
to put a warm coat around those who shiver in the cold.
We will go now to share the Spirit with everyone we meet:
to be a companion to those in prisons as well as those bound by injustice,
to bring the cup of grace to every parched soul.

(c) 2014 Thom M. Shuman