This past Sunday, The Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community of Albany reflected on the following reading by Ann Johnson and who we are as a community. Deb Trees and Deven Horne led us in our liturgy and Deven began a moving homily starter printed below the Ann Johnson reading.
Reading 1, A Meeting, from Maryam of Nazareth, Woman of Strength and Wisdom by Ann Johnson.
Today we gather
where we stand
and who we are.
We come to order ourselves
into a new sense of order according to our progress
from the last gathering to this one.
Be with us, O God,
in this space and time
as we affirm and shape the changes
in our understanding of the Way.
We desire not to fly apart
in garish fantasy of vision
but rather to move the boundaries
that we have set before
in order to encompass and embrace
the living and breathing growth
of each and all.
We work in prayer and dialogue.
In getting back to see where we have been,
we steady ourselves
for the journey forward today.
We are here
to reconcile all that we were,
our trust…our hopelessness
our joy…our despair
our confirming… our betrayal
to offer a farewell to those departed
and to welcome those who are newly come.
To confess, absolve, reconcile, renew.
To be all that we can be.
To set firm a pathway that is possible.
Possible for us to walk until we meet again
to reassess the journey
and again set firm a pathway.
Each step along the way we clear the stones and obstacles,
healing and refreshing each other.
We listen openly to each tale of travel and
hear each one’s proposal for the time ahead.
Knowing you are here, God,
we are freer in our interaction,
more daring in the sharing of our personal vision,
loving in our confrontation,
deeply silent in consideration and
accepting in the choices that for a little while will help us to define our actions
until broader definitions draw us on,
In this your presence,
we meet to order ourselves anew,
to consider where we stand and who we are.
Today we gather.
The inspired word of Ann Johnson.
Homily Reflection by Deven Horne
One morning recently when I was reading a section of the book Maryam of Nazareth for my daily reflection, I was immediately struck by the affinity of my feelings of the Upper Room with the reading “A Meeting” based on the Acts chapter 1. This piece of prose by Ann Johnson re-affirmed what I have come to know about the liturgical gatherings in the Upper Room, and the community we are becoming. It is not by faith alone and personal beliefs that I will grow and transform into one who is one with the Divine God and one with all that is around me. If that were true then the 60 years of my participating in the traditional Catholic church would have done that. To come to know Jesus, I need a community who together is thirsting for the same drink and hungry for the same bread that we share. For the first time in my life I felt Jesus among us as we shared Eucharist one Sunday recently. This reading says all that I know and believe about my need to come here week after week. Other writers and theologians like Richard Rohr and O’Murchu have indicated the significance of community in faith development in their writings that I have read but I didn’t know it until recently and confirmed it through this particular reading which beautifully expresses what the community does. As I reflected on the gospel reading today of Luke, I thought about how Jesus lived his life gathering community wherever he went and it was not just his friends and family and in fact he went out of his way to gather everyone, poor, disabled, those who were his enemies. He did the same thing that we are doing in the Upper Room week after week. How else could the message be heard and be transformative but universally through each other? What are your thoughts of these readings?