Monday, October 3, 2016

Eucharist at the Upper Room, Troy, NY

October 2, 2016

Jim Marsh, ARCWP and Joan Chesterfield, ARCWP presided at the Eucharistic celebration at the Upper Room. The celebration began with Jim's Welcome below.

Jim: Once again we come together as a community of believers ….. to re-connect and to share a meal ….   Today our OT and NT readings speak of faith ….. but faith in what?  What is it we believe, or want to believe?  And how does our belief impact our living?

In case you’re not aware, Franciscans everywhere are celebrating the Transitus and Feast of St. Francis over the next two days…. and we have also chosen a reading from the contemporary mystic Thomas Merton …..

Franciscan Richard Rohr would urge us to “enter the dance” so let us be attentive for some insight as we sing, pray and share this eucharistic meal.

Have faith the size of a mustard seed – realize that everyone and everything is connected and is sacred.
Let us begin …………..

Kim Panaro, ARCWP placed the stoles on the presiders with the words: "We, your community, call you forth and bless you as you lead us in liturgy today.

First Reading: A Reading from the prophet Habakkuk  1:2-3, 2:2-4

Second Reading: A Reading from Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander” – Thomas Merton

In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district,
I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all those people,
that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers.
It was like waking from a dream of separateness, of spurious self-isolation in a special world, the world of renunciation and supposed holiness.

The whole illusion of a separate holy existence is a dream. . . . This sense of liberation from an illusory difference was such a relief and such a joy to me that I almost laughed out loud. . . .

I have the immense joy of being [hu]man, a member of a race in which God became incarnate. As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now [that] I realize what we all are.
And if only everybody could realize this!  But it cannot be explained.

There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun. . . . Then it was as if I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts, the depths of their hearts where neither sin nor desire nor self-knowledge can reach, the core of their reality, the person that each one is in God's eyes. If only they could see themselves as they really are. If only we could see each other that way all the time.

A Reading from the Gospel of Luke  17:5-10

Jim's Homily starter

For Francis, the Incarnation was central to his understanding about God …. meanig that God is available to us each and every day if we only have eyes to see ….. I believe that’s why he wrote his Song of Creation and created the “Christmas crèche” to honor Jesus as both the Incarnate Human One and the Eternal Cosmic Christ.

Contemporary theologians (and our own Tom Going) remind us that the first incarnation happened some 13.8 billion years ago at the Big Bang of creation.  Franciscan Sister and theologian Ilia Delio, in her book The Unbearable Wholeness of Being: God, Evolution, and the Power of Love, describes the dance between God and the universe in this way: "God is eternal, self-sufficient divinity; yet the universe contributes something that is vitally necessary to God. Creation is integral to God. It contributes to God what God lacks in his[/her] own divinity, namely, materiality. Evolution is not only the universe coming to be, but it is God who is coming to be."

She talks about the desire of every human person to love and be loved, to belong to another, because we come from another. We yearn to belong, to be part of a larger whole that includes not only friends and family but trees, flowers, sun, earth, stars. We are born of nature and are part of nature.  Human life can be traced back to the time when life was deeply one, a Singularity.  Deep within, we long for unity because at the most fundamental level, we are already one. We belong to one another because we have the same source – all of creation has some divine DNA.

Jesus of Nazareth was the human incarnation of that same Mystery some 2,000 years ago, and so are you and I. 
However, our  world can be quite ugly and we often lose faith and trust – with all the political corruption, ecological devastation, wars everywhere, the hatred based on race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation, and xenophobia—our fear of the stranger, the immigrant …… Our sense of disconnectedness and separateness is the dis-ease we confront daily in our world.  Often we feel like the prophet Habakkuk, and we cry out and lament to God ……. Do something!

Perhaps, this is just what those early followers of Jesus were saying when they asked for more faith.  Jesus doesn’t admonish them ….. he doesn’t say they have little faith …. In fact, he says if your faith is only the size of a mustard seed (the tiniest of seeds) that you can do what seems impossible.
So what do you and I believe, what are we to do with our faith? 
Here are a few suggestions:
1)    Make a concerted effort to really believe the “Good News” that you and I have enough faith, and that our living and loving can indeed make a difference …. Why is this so hard to believe?
2)    Simply make space in your day in the coming week to pray and meditate and be thankful for the joy of simply being alive in this wonderful universe….. join the dance, as it were.
3)    Ask a stranger you meet this week to share their story, to talk about what matters most to them, to name their deepest needs and desires… and really listen. Then share what you learned with someone you know. This is what Sister Simone Campbell (of “Nuns on the Bus”) calls “sacred gossip."

Be mindful of what the prophet Habakkuk tells us today ….. “the just one [the one who does justice], because of faith, shall live.”  That’s you and I …. so let’s continue to be people of justice and mercy and continue the good works that I know so many in this community do, week in and week out. No matter what happens, keep the faith and keep on doing the right thing.
So, what did you hear??????

Presider: As we prepare for the sacred meal, we lay our stoles upon the table as a sign that just as Jesus is anointed, so is each of us.  And, we bring to this table our blessings, cares, and concerns.

Prayer after Communion
“Oh God, we are one with You.
You have made us one with You.
You have taught us that if we are open to one another, You dwell in us.
Help us to preserve this openness and to fight for it with all our hearts.
Help us to realize that there can be no understanding where there is mutual rejection.

Oh God, in accepting one another wholeheartedly, fully, completely, we accept You;
and we thank You, and we adore You, and we love You with our whole being,
because our being is Your being, our spirit is rooted in Your spirit…. 

Let us be bound together with love as we go our diverse ways, united in this one spirit which makes You present in the world, and which makes us witness You, the ultimate reality that is love.  Amen
-Thomas Merton’s prayer from his Asian Journal

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