Responsive Invitation to the Table (from Isaiah 58)
L: We try, God knows, we try.
We show up at church, hoping God will notice..
We study Scripture, pretending god is reading aloud to us;
we put on those masks to show everyone
how proper we are,
and we wonder – does God even care?
P: Not when we clench our fists in anger,
rather than opening them in love;
not when we work people too hard,
and pay them too little;
not when we speak bitter and harmful words
to those we are given to love.
L: So tonight, as we begin our Lenten fast,
God offers us a feast. Why?
So that the broken bread will strengthen us
to break the chains of injustice,
to take the burden of poverty off our neighbors,
to stop trying to control those around us,
to fix a meal for the hungry.
P: God offers us a feast
so that the cup of grace will free us
to take coats out of our closets
and wrap them around shivering shoulders;
to offer shelter to the homeless
without judging them;
to spend more time with our families
and less on the internet.
L: So, come to this Table and eat.
Then, you will see the light God offers to your darkness;
then, you will find the path God calls you to walk;
then, you will discover God waiting to help you,
even before you say a word.
P: We will come to this Table and feast.
Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
L: People of God, the Lord be with you.
P: And also with you.
L: People of dust, lift up your hearts to God.
P: We lift them up to the One who created us.
L: People of ashes, give thanks to the Lord our God.
P: Praise and thanks are offered to the One who restores us to life.
Now is the right time to praise you;
now is the moment to sing your praises,
Holy God of Creation.
You formed us to live in joy
and peace with you,
but we tore your heart
when we chose our desires
over your dreams for us.
We prefer to swim in the cesspool of the world
than to be cleansed in your living waters.
We hunger more for the adulation of others
than for the quiet intimacy of your grace.
Yet you did not turn away from us
but remained true to your covenant,
calling us to return in the words
trumpeted by the prophets;
inviting us to gather in your kingdom,
entreating us to accept your overflowing love.
Therefore, we glorify you,
joining our voices with those
who had wandered far from you,
but who were brought home;
and with those who seek you now
in this time and place:
(Taize song “Bless the Lord”)
Holy are you, Steadfast Love,
and blessed is Jesus Christ,Bread of Life.
Considered a pretender to David’s throne,
he is your heart’s true Son.
Taking on the poverty of the human spirit,
he shared the abundance of your heart;
weeping over our broken relationships,
he reconciles us with your saving joy;
having nothing he could call his own,
he gives us more than we ever need;
dying like a common criminal,
he gives us life,
releasing us from the grip of sin and death.
Preparing to journey with him once again,
we remember the mystery
of his faithful obedience to your heart:
(Taize song “Jesus Christ, Bread of Life”)
Heart of Compassion:
as the ashes of our humanity
are placed upon your baptismal seal,
so the brokenness of our lives
is placed on the Table of grace,
so the bread might make us whole,
and the cup might fill us with hope.
Then, in your wisdom,
may we turn to serve others;
in your joy,
may we bear the burdens of others;
in your grace,
may our love overflow to others.
Through Christ, with Christ, in Christ,
in the community of the Holy Spirit,
all glory and honor are yours,
God of holiness,
now and forever. Amen.
The Breaking of the Bread
The Sharing of the Cup
(while receiving communion, you are invited to sing the Taize song,
“Eat This Bread”)
Submitted by Rev. Thom Shuman, author of Lectionary Liturgies.