Sunday, June 5, 2016

Upper Room Community of Albany, NY - Liturgy for the Tenth Sunday of the Year - Remembers Muslim Neighbors

Upper Room Community, Albany, NY
Presiders: Jim Marsh, ARCWP and Helen Blanchette

Receiving the Stole: Helen and Jim, we your community call you forth and bless you as you lead us in liturgy today.


We are celebrating the Tenth Sunday of the year this weekend—also called Ordinary Time, since the Sundays are numbered (from the Latin ordinalis).  It’s that period of the year outside the great seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter.  Even though it may feel ordinary, that is we are not feasting or fasting, it can be an extraordinary time for us as we are mindful of our call to bring about God’s kin-dom. 

Let us be mindful that our Muslim sisters and brothers begin their holiest month of the year called Ramadan this evening.  Do we have anything in common?  Will their rigorous fasting and prayers be “sacramental” to/for us?  Just some thoughts as we prepare to celebrate this weekend.  A ‘Blessed Ramadan’ to all our Muslim neighbors!

Opening Prayer
May we all be open to God acting in our lives to change and conform our minds and hearts to God’s dream (vision)  for the world.  May we grow to be change-makers alongside one another where the value of each life is placed at the center of our families, communities, and nation.  May we be gracious and courageous in our living and loving ….. may it be so, AMEN.

First Reading:  1 Kings 17:8-10, 17-24

Second Reading: 

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:
“If you wish to draw near to God, you must seek God in the hearts of others. You should speak well of all, whether present or absent. If you seek to be a light to guide others, then, like the sun, you must show the same face to all. To bring joy to a single heart is better than to build many shrines for worship … The true person of God sits in the midst of  their community, and rises up and eats and sleeps and buys and sells, and gives and takes in the bazaars, and marries and has social interactions with others, and yet is never for one moment forgetful of God.”            ― Abu Sa`id Abul-Khayr, a SUFI Mystic

Gospel: Like 7:11-16

Homily starter for June 5, 2016 – by Jim Marsh, ARCWP

Today’s first and the third reading sound very similar: both involve a widow and a dead child that is brought back to life, one by Elijah and the other by Jesus.  Certainly even in our day of modern medicine and powerful drugs, children do die and mothers do weep. 

Luke’s Gospel does not seem to concern itself with the return of Jesus; instead it emphasizes the day-to-day concerns in their world.  Luke wants his readers to know Jesus is God’s anointed one, who is making the kin-dom [“God’s vision for a new reality”] happen.  Through Jesus, God was and is restoring the original blessing(s) of creation.
Luke calls us, his readers today, to identify with the Teacher, who is caring and tender toward all he meets: the poor, the lowly, the outcast.  In other words, be compassionate and merciful, justice-seekers and peacemakers!

Jesus saw the weeping mother. He went to her. He comforted her. Then he handed the child back to her.  Jesus breathed life into a very broken situation, perhaps took away fear and says it’s time to begin again. His deep sensitivity provides a glimpse of what the Gracious Mystery we name God is like.  God is not some abstract being in a place called heaven, separate from creation.  “God is love,” the love-energy expressing self in, through, and with the entire cosmos.

The Sufi mystic Abu Sa’id is very straightforward when he says “If you wish to draw near to God, you must seek God in the heart of others …. To bring joy to a single heart is better than to build many shrines for worship.”  This reminds me of the prophet Hosea’s words: “It is love that I desire, not sacrifice; and knowledge of God rather than holocausts” as well as Paul’s words to the Corinthians “Clearly you are a letter of Christ, … a letter not written with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of flesh in the heart.”

Ramadan is special to Muslims as a holy period dedicated to fasting, self-purification and spiritual attainment.  They believe that the gates of heaven are open and the gates of hell are closed for the entire month and that God will have mercy and absolve them of their sins if they engage in sincere worship.

St. Augustine said in the fourth century, “the church consists in the state of communion of the whole world.”  When you and I are connected in right relationship to each other, there is love; and where there is love, there is God.  God is found in all of us, whether in a church, temple or mosque.  We all breathe the same air and drink the same water: there are no Jewish, Christian or Muslim versions of these universal elements.  Creation and all creatures manifest the very presence of the divine.

In the recent words of Pope Francis, “Prayer is not a magic wand….” and so my friends, how are you and I being called to act …. this day, this week, this month?  Remember, Jesus is our Teacher, and he said, “anyone who has faith in me, will do the works that I do—and even greater works too.” 

When was the last time you raised a child from the dead?  Your thoughts …….

photos by Dennis McDonald and Mary Theresa Streck

No comments: