Sisters and brothers, this is the joyful gathering of the people of God, a table prepared for us in the presence of enemies and hardships, a banquet of love in the face of hatred.
Here God’s love for us overflows, and here we find the depth of his kindness and mercy as we share this strange and wonderful feast in God’s house.
Let us pray for God’s presence with us here, for our great shepherd is our host and invites us to meet him here.
We ask and worship in the name of the Father,
of the risen Son and of the Holy Spirit,
In prayer, let us confess to God as a community.
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
But, O Lord, we are consumed with wanting more.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul.
But, O Lord, other pastures seem greener.
The waters aren’t always still.
Our souls still thirst.
He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake.
O Lord, we long to be led by you,
though we may complain along the path.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil;
for you are with me; your rod and your staff—they comfort me.
And yet, O God, we do sometimes fear.
May we feel your presence, your comfort and your forgiveness anew.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
O God, sometimes we refuse to sit down at your table.
Forgive us and help us to see your overflowing mercy.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.
Forgive us, God, and lead us into your house.
We ask in the name of the Father,
of the risen Son
and of the Holy Spirit.
How do you listen to the voice of Jesus?
When was the last time you were known and loved?
What does confession look like for you?
Go now, and embrace the hope to which God has called us.
Recognize Christ in friend and stranger,
and as Christ has been gracious to you,
so be gracious to those in need.
And may God give you a place of rest on rich pasture;
May Christ Jesus be the shepherd king who binds your wounds;
And may the Holy Spirit give you wisdom
and reveal to you the fullness of the one who fills all in all.
We pray in the name of the Father,
of the Son
and of the Holy Spirit, amen.
Go in peace and live the church.
See you throughout the week.
[Photo by james p. lucero @ Flickr]