Sunday, December 31, 2017

Liturgy with communion for January 7, 2018 (Baptism of the Lord - B)

Texts:  Genesis 1:1-5; Psalm 29; Acts 19:1-7; Mark 1:4-11

Call to Worship
On that first day, when time began:
you gave birth to creation;
light danced through the darkness;
the waters of hope flowed free and clear.
On that first day at the Jordan, when redemption began:
you spoke of life for all your children,
as your Child stepped into the waters of forgiveness,
dancing in hope with his cousin, John.
On this first day of the week, when we begin anew:
you call us to faithfulness,
as we open our hearts to you,
your voice claiming us as your own.
 
Prayer of the Day
Beloved's Parent:
grace is the gift
     which flows to us
     from your heart;
joy is the seed planted
     deep within our souls,
     that it might blossom
          into lives of service to all.
And we cry: "Glory!"
 
Servant of sinners:
you emerge from baptism's water,
     to embrace us in your hopes;
you take our fears from us
     and toss them aside
     as you lead us into your kingdom;
you shine the Light
     which brings us out
     of despair's shadows.
And we cry: "Glory!"
 
Wind upon the water:
you move among us
     sweeping aside our petty pride,
     and offering us the gifts
          of humility and servanthood.
You whisper of your yearning
for peace and reconciliation,
     until it silences our angry voices
     and unclenches our fisted hearts.
And we cry:  "Glory!"
 
God in Community, Holy in One,
we lift our voices as your Beloved teaches,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
You and I are now the ones who step forth out of the safe waters of baptism, to bring hope, to share a word of grace, to carry healing into the brokenness of the lives around us.  Let us confess how we still struggle
to follow in faith wherever Jesus leads us.  Join me as we pray, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
Timeless God,
you cast Light into sin's dark places
and call us your Beloved.
Forgive us:
    when we still linger in the shadows;
    when we treat others in hurtful ways;
    when we speak ill of your friends.
    
As he knelt in the waters of Jordan,
you proclaimed Jesus as your Child,
pointing to him as the way to you.
Forgive us:
    when we put ourselves ahead of him;
    when we think he is no longer needed;
    when we fail to see him in the broken of our world.   

Baptized and blessed in your living waters,
you would have us be your servants in our time.
Forgive us:
    when we fail to welcome the stranger;
    when we refuse to forgive as we should;
    when we believe we are too good to kneel down
        and tie the shoes of the lost, the least, the last, the little.
 
Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Touched by the waters of life, fed at the feast of grace and hope, embraced in the warmth of God's love and hopes - this is good news!
Blessed by baptism's tears, called to servanthood by the Beloved, filled with the peace of the Spirit, we are indeed God's people - redeemed, restored, refreshed to serve.  Thanks be to God!  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offertory
Bathed in the waters of baptism, we are graced people.  Graced people, we recognize the gifts which have been poured out upon us.  Recognizing these gifts, we take them and give them back to you, God of the waters, so that others might be bathed in hope, graced with joy, gifted with your peace and love.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the Creator of heaven and earth be with you!
And also with you!
People of God, lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the One who gave his Heart to heal us.
Let us give thanks to the One who made everything and called it 'good'.
How right it is to give our thanks and praise
to the One who calls us 'Beloved.'

Into the shadows of silence,
you hummed the first chords of creation,
Heart of Tenderness,
     your Word crafting the sun to welcome each day,
     the moon and stars to guide the night.
The Spirit gathered up the dust of chaos
     and shaped it into vast universes,
     flinging them into space and time.
Floating on the warm waters of Eden,
cradled in your love and joy,
     we could have lived with you forever.
But we made mud pies from death's dirt,
     shaping our own foolish dreams,
     chasing after sin, and always being caught.
Prophets came, sent from your heart
to call us back to you,
     but we could not hear them
     over the shouts of our desires.
So, when we had no hope,
you sent your Child, Jesus,
the One who was willing to take on
anything, and everything, which kept us from you.
 
With those who ran to the river's side,
and those who immersed themselves in grace,
with our beloved sisters and brothers
in every time and place, we sing of your love:

Holy, holy, holy!  Creator of Light and life.
Heaven and earth sing forever of your love and joy.
Hosanna in the highest!
 
Blessed is the One who comes to be baptized
       by water and the Holy Spirit.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessedness is your nature, Holy Imagination,
and your Bright Morning Star is our Savior, Jesus Christ.
When our hearts were hardened towards you,
     he came to soften them with your grace.
Knowing we had lost our way,
he came to walk at our side,
     unfolding the map of the kingdom
     and pointing out the way home.
Standing with us in baptism's waters,
he journeyed alone to the cross,
     taking our place in sin's grasp,
     and leading us into your heart,
leaving death empty and alone.
 
On this day we remember our baptism,
we would proclaim the life which was his,
and the hope which is ours in that mystery we call faith:

Bathed in your tears, Christ died for us;
washed in the resurrection waters, Christ rose for us;
bringing the waters of life to us, Christ will come again.
 
As your Spirit changed chaos into creation,
may these simple gifts
of the bread and the cup
be transformed into
your life and peace for us.
We come to this table,
your baptized and beloved children,
     hungry for your hope in our lives,
     yearning for your peace to fill us.
And when we have been fed by you,
we would go forth into the world
     to bring the homeless off lonely streets,
     to feed the hungry with more than clich├ęs,
     to welcome the stranger as our sister,
     to embrace the outcast as our brother.
 
And when time has ended its journey,
and we are gathered as your family
around the Table of grace,
we will join our hands and hearts together,
singing to you through all eternity
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Sending
Go into the world as God's beloved children.
We will go to share the gift of grace which flows from God's heart.
Go into the world as baptized sisters and brothers of Jesus.
We will go to bring the light of hope to all in despair.
Go into the world as those filled with the Holy Spirit.
We will go to hear the whispered yearnings for peace and reconciliation.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

The Day of Epiphany

Texts: Isaiah 60:1-6; Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14; Ephesians 3:1-12; Matthew 2:1-12

Call to Worship
We gather wondering,
'Where will we find the Babe
born in Bethlehem?'
We will find the Babe
     in the laughter of children,
     in the wisdom of grandparents.

We gather asking,
'where will we find
the Child of Christmas?'
We will find the Child
     where the needy are gifted with hope,
     where the oppressed are set free.

We gather wanting to know,
'where will we find the Christ
who has come for us?'
We will find our Hope
     where fear is overwhelmed by grace,
     where hatred is overwhelmed by love,
     where all people are overwhelmed by joy.


Prayer of the Day
We have heard
of your grace,
Shaper of stars;
from those set free
     from injustice;
from our children
     who whisper of your joy;
from greeters
     of dawn's fresh start;
from late risers
     who listen to the stories
     of the needy.

We have heard
of your Light,
Bright Star of the morning:
which can illumine
     the shadows of our lives;

which can show
     the path to God's heart;
which can point the way
     to where we become
     servants of the gospel.

We have heard
of your promised peace,
Wisdom's Radiance:
that peace
     which can end war,
     as well as heal our hearts;
that peace
     which can conquer our fears,
     and flood us with faith;
that peace 
     which can enter our lives
     and overwhelm us with hope.

We have heard of you,
God in Community, Holy in One,
and will proclaim your glory to all,
even as we pray, saying,
(The Lord’s Prayer)


Call to Reconciliation

Why do we huddle in the shadowed corners of life, rather than running to the Light of life? Why do we love the wrong we do rather than grasping the good news offered to us? As we struggle with such questions, let us speak to God of all we have failed to do, seeking hope and grace as we pray,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     We search for your light, Star Caster, but too often end up settling for the dimness of temptation. Our motives for seeking to find Christ are not always pure, for we expect him to fulfill our desires, rather than your hopes for us. We want the gifts of wealth, health, success, fulfillment, rather than those of servanthood, of compassion, of peace.
     Forgive us, Shaper of our lives, that we are so foolish to put our needs ahead of your grace. Help us to be like those wise people of so long ago, who found hope, instead of a destination; who found grace, instead of gratitude; who found salvation, instead of a sign. As we journey with your Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, fill us with the light of your joy and love.

Silence is kept


Assurance of Pardon
Up, on your feet! Grace has been poured into our hearts, love has flooded our souls, the light of hope shines in us.
This is the light which has come to all, the light we will carry and give to everyone we meet. Thanks be to God.  Amen.


 
Prayer of Dedication/Offering
May the gifts we offer bring food to the hungry, healing to the broken, community to the lonely, and hope to those who live in the shadows of our time.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
People of Advent: the Lord be with you!
And also with you!
People of Christmas, lift up your hearts.
We lift our hearts overwhelmed with grace to the One who was born for us.
People of the Star, offer your songs of joy and thanksgiving to God.
We will sing our praises to the One

who has revealed glory and hope in the Babe of Bethlehem.

In that first moment, you spoke,
Radiant God,
     and the light of creation
     dispelled the thick darkness of chaos.
You whispered,
     and your glory filled the skies.
You sang,
     and the dust of the earth
     was shaped into your image,
as you breathed life into us.
We could have lived
in grace and peace with you
     for as long as the sun endures,
     for as long as the moon hangs in the night sky.
But we were tempted
by the sweet taste of sin,
     and overwhelmed with temptation's
      wealth of cheap gifts and thrills.
The prophets were sent
to tell of your gifts of joy and peace,
but we listened to the world's news
of success, power, achievement.
Finally, in that dark time of despair,
you sent Jesus,
your servant of salvation.

Therefore, we will join our voices
with the wise ones, as well as the foolish,
of every time and place
who forever sing of your grace:

Holy, holy, holy, God of bright dawns!
All creation renders tributes of praise to you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who saves the lives of the needy.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, God of redemption,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, our Savior.
Overwhelmed with compassion,
he left the glory of heaven,
     to become a prisoner of sin,
          so we could be set free.
Overwhelmed with hope,
he entered death's house,
     to break its dark power forever.
Overwhelmed with love,
     he travelled another road,
     walking to Calvary,
          so we might run with joy
          into your waiting arms.

So, as we remember his birth,
as we prepare to journey with him this year,
we speak of that mystery called faith,
which is revealed to us through Christ:

Christ came, the morning star of love;
Christ died, the night star of salvation;
Christ arose, the radiant star of resurrection;
Christ will come again, the constellation of hope.

Holy One of stars and sinners,
send down your Spirit of hope
upon those gathered around this Table,
and on the gifts of the bread and the cup,
that they might make us 
your faithful and loving children.
Feed us with the bread of hope,
so when we leave,
we will travel another road,
     to defend the weak,
     to speak for the voiceless,
     to assist those cast aside.
Refresh us with the sweet nectar of grace,
so we, overwhelmed with joy,
would go forth
     to enter the houses
          of the strangers in our midst;
     to enter the despair
          of the lonely and forgotten;
     to enter the hearts
          of everyone we meet.

And when eternity's time begins
and we are gathered around your Table,
with friends and family we loved,
with those we ignored and mistreated,
with all our sisters and brothers of grace,
we will lift our songs of glad joy to you,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.


Sending
Now, God sends us out by a different road.
So we may find those who have been left by the side of the world.
Now, Jesus walks with us down a different road.
So we may serve those who are lonely and frightened.
Now, the Spirit illumines a different road.
So we may take our sisters and brothers by the hand
to walk in wonder and grace.

(c) 2017 Thom M. Shuman



Friday, December 22, 2017

New Years Day - ABC

Texts: Ecclesiastes 3:1-13; Psalm 8; Revelation 21:1-6a; Matthew 25:31-46

Call to Worship
We wake up in the morning
and see the sunrise:
how majestic is Your name in all the earth!
We are warmed by the sun;
the rain cleanses all creation:
how majestic is Your name in all the earth!
We watch the moon light up the night,
we fall asleep to the lullabies of the stars:
how majestic is Your name in all the earth!

Prayer of the Day
You call us
     to be Your children;
You gift us
     to serve all people;
You send us to proclaim
     Your good news to all:
Glory to You,
Creator of all that is new!

When you are lonely,
     we have a chance to visit you;
when you are hungry,
     we can share our food with you;
when you are naked,
     we can give you
          the clothes off our backs;
when you are sick,
     we can nurse you back to health:
Glory to You,
Savior of the world!
 
You whisper in our ears,
     so we may praise You;
You fill our souls,
     so we may serve You;
You lead us into the kingdom,
     so we may live with You:
Glory to You,
Spirit of Gentleness!
 
Glory to You,
God in Community, Holy in One!
Hear us as we pray as Jesus teaches us,
(The Lord's Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
Will this year be a time of new life, new ways for us - or will we continue to live the same old way? Let us confess to our God our failures, as well as our hopes, as we begin this year.

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
    
We admit that we always find the time to fill our stomachs, God of every moment, but not our souls. We spend hours watching television, but not the wonders of Your creation. We arrange outings with our friends, yet ignore Your invitation to sit and talk. We make resolutions to change every aspect of our lives, except for that which pertains to You.
    
Forgive us, God of Glory, and make us new. In the moments to come this year, remind us that if there is a time for everything, than we do have those moments for grace, for hope, for joy, for a relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
It's over - last year is gone. Our words, our thoughts, our deeds are in the past. Today, we begin anew. Today, and every day, God offers us life and hope.
Here, now, forever - we are forgiven and healed. This year, let us live as such people. Thanks be to God. Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
May we not keep our blessings, but give them away, so that others might learn new dance steps, so children might be fed, so bridges might be built, and so grace may flow to all in Your world.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of new beginnings be with you.
And also with you.
People of God, lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the One who makes all things, including us, new.
Children of God, sing praises to the One who gives you new life.
We praise the One who continues to surprise us with hope and grace.
 
Before there was time,
Hope of Eternity,
You took a moment
     to bring creation out of chaos.
You took time to create mountains,
     and carve deep canyons;
You made the time to fill the oceans
     and to plant food for all creatures;
You found the time to plow rivers
     to water a Garden,
     and to shape us in Your image.
But we did not have time for You,
          preferring to spend our days chasing sin,
     and our nights seeking death.
You always made time for us,
speaking of Your hopes
     through the prophets,
sharing Your dreams
     through the angels.
Then, one day You decided
to do a new thing,
becoming one of us
as Jesus become human
to bring hope and grace to us.
 
So we join with the saints in heaven,
and our sisters and brothers on earth,
who sing of Your glory:
 
Holy, holy, holy, God of every time and space.
All creation sings of Your majesty and glory.
Hosanna in the highest!
 
Blessed is the One who gives us the water of life.
Hosanna in the highest!
 
Holy are You, Keeper of our days,
and blessed is Jesus Christ,
who is with us in every season of life.
He comes, not to judge us,
     but to forgive us;
He comes, not to cast us out,
     but to gather us into
     the new Jerusalem;
He comes, not to watch us suffer,
     but to die on the cross,
           that we might live with You.
 
As we give thanks for his life,
and remember his death and resurrection,
we would talk of that mystery which is our faith:
 
Christ died, so sin would have no more power over us;
Christ rose, destroying death's grip on us;
when the new heaven and new earth come,
     Christ will make all things, including us, new.

In these sacred moments,
send Your Spirit
to sanctify the bread and the cup,
and to open the hearts
of those who approach the Table.
As the Bread of life touches our lips,
     may we be strengthened to serve
     those whom the world has forgotten.
As the Cup of salvation quenches our thirst for You,
     may we be enabled to bring relief
     to those who wander
     the desert wastes of our society.
 
And when all time ends,
and all people are gathered
around Your Table in Heaven,
we will rejoice in Your presence,
and sing your praises forever:
One God, Father, Son, and
Holy Spirit, now and forever.  Amen.

Sending
Let us go from this time of silence and song, to be God's voice,
to speak out for the oppressed of our communities and world.
Let us go from this time of community, to be Jesus' faithful,
to feed the hungry, to visit the sick, to be a friend to the prisoner.
Let us go from this sacred space, to share the peace of the Spirit,
to work for reconciliation in our neighborhoods,
to put an end to violence and death as solutions for fear.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Liturgy w/communion for December 31, 2017 (First Sunday after Christmas - B)

Texts: Isaiah 61:10 - 62:3; Psalm 148; Galatians 4:4-7; Luke 2:22-40

 
Call to Worship
Praise the One who spoke and made everything!
Let the rivers ripple with joy;
let the mountains stomp their feet.
Praise the One who adopts all of us as children!
Let old folks tell familiar stories;
let little children swim with dolphins.
Praise God!
We will sing of God's glory;
we will shout our joy to the heavens.

Prayer of the Day
Creation's Father:
of all that you created and love,
you choose us to be your children;
of all the places
you could love,
you make us holy
by your Spirit's presence;
of all that you could offer to us,
you have given us Jesus.
 
Destiny's Child:
you came to clothe us
in salvation's finery;
you amazed the wisest
with your humility;
you know all the thoughts
we dare not share with anyone.
 
Spirit of Abba:
as we celebrate a Birth,
be born in us each day;
as we sing God's praises,
whisper the good news to our ears;
as we seek to be faithful to our calling,
lead us into the kingdom waiting for us.
 
God in Community, Holy in One,
hear us as we pray as we have been taught,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
It is easy to become slaves to our passions, it is harder to live as God's children. Let us confess the easy choices we have made, so God can strengthen us to be faithful sisters and brothers of Christ.  

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     Abba God: we know that given the chance, we rarely praise others. We are guided more by meanness than by your gentleness. And we are seldom wise enough to listen to your voice, preferring instead the sweet, sweet songs of sin.
     Forgive us, Heart of Heaven. Touch those inner places of hope and joy that they might become the gifts we can offer to those around us, as we seek to follow Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Hear the good news.  the time is now; the place is here: God has redeemed us from sin; God has claimed us as the children of Hope.
Praise God, all people, for life is given to us anew; eternity is our home.  Thanks be to God. Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
By these gifts, Gracious God, may those who have so little be clothed with your abundant grace; may the hungry be fed with food that strengthens them and hope which gives them new life; may all who are searching find that they are your beloved children.  In Jesus' name we pray.  Amen.
 
Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of Christmas Joy be with you.
And also with you.
Children of God, lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the One who came to us in Bethlehem.
Children of Hope, give thanks to God.
We sing our songs of joy to the One who became one of us.

How can we keep from praising you,
Glory's Father?
You spoke,
and stars danced in the sky;
you whispered,
and snow fell gently in the night;
you sang,
and the Spirit
breathed life into us.
Yet, we allowed ourselves
to be guided by the Evil One,
being led into the wilderness of sin.
But you could not sleep,
tossing and turning in grief.
You sent the prophets
to adorn us with your grace,
but we ignored them.
Finally, with time almost running out,
you sent your most precious possession,
Jesus Christ, your Beloved Son.

So, with all creation echoing
the songs of angels,
we join in praising your name:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God who alone is exalted.
All creation rejoices in you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who would not keep silent.
Hosanna in the highest!

Holy are you, Mighty God,
and blessed is your Son, Jesus Christ.
When we thought we could do no wrong,
he came to make us right;
when the world had forgotten us,
he called us by a new name;
when the time came,
he went to the cross,
that sin's slaves might be set free
and become your children.
 
As we celebrate his Birth,
and remember his death and resurrection,
we speak of that mystery we call faith:

By Christ, we are redeemed from sin;
by Christ, we are delivered from death;
by Christ, we are adopted as God's children.
 
Guiding Spirit,
as you moved over creation,
come to bless this bread and cup,
and your children gathering around this Table.
As we eat of the Bread of angels,
may we be nourished by your justice,
to bring hope to all people.
As we are filled with the Cup of grace,
may the seeds of righteousness
planted deep within us,
bloom that all creation can be made whole.
Then send us forth
not as slaves to sin,
but as servants of salvation
to those longing for new life.
 
Then, when the time comes,
and we are all gathered in heaven,
we will join hands and dance around your Table,
singing our praises to
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
One God forever and ever.  Amen.

Sending
The God of creation goes with you now.
As we go to care for all that has been given to us.
The Child of Bethlehem goes with you now.
As we seek to serve with humility and hope.
The Spirit of Abba goes with you.
As we would show others how to find the kingdom.

(c) Thom M. Shuman