Saturday, December 24, 2016

Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community, Albany, NY - Christmas Liturgy - 2016


Welcome
Dennis McDonald, lead presider, Welcomed the Community.


 Presider 2: Scripture tells us that if a person is not at peace with someone, to leave your gift at the altar. First go away and make peace with that person. Then come back and offer your gift. As we celebrate this night, the gift of light and love, let us strive to be faithful to the peace of this season and of the Divine presence that surpasses all understanding.  And where we struggle, may God transform us to be a healing balm of love.  Let us offer a sign of peace.

Presider 3: Let us begin our celebration with joy recognizing the indwelling of our God among us and the divine that lives within each of us.

Please join in singing our opening song: Softening on Pg. 42 #115

Softening

by James Burgess and Elaine Silver

I am filled with the light of a thousand angels
softening my way, softening my way
I am filled with the light of a thousand angels
softening my way to Thee.

I am filled with the infinite love of Spirit
softening my way, softening my way
I am filled with the infinite love of Spirit
softening my way to Thee.

Joy, joy is in my heart, Joy is in my heart,
joy is in my heart.
Joy, joy is in my heart, Joy is in my heart,
joy is in my heart.


Verse written by Roger  Mock:
 There's a star in the east on a Christmas morn
softening my way, softening my way
And it leads to the place where the Christ child's born
softening my way to Thee.

Refrain

Opening Prayer

Presider 4: O Holy One, you bless us always and invite us to awaken to your life within us. May we like Jesus, continue your incarnation as we look beyond our comfortable lives and find you among the lost, lonely, ill and neglected. This season reminds us again and again, that the story begun over 13 billion years ago continues through the ages in each of us as we open our hearts to you and your light shines through us.  Amen.

LITURGY OF THE WORD


A reading by Jane Keener-Quiat and Rex Hunt
We celebrate tonight God-with-us
beyond our words, beyond our images,
for we know God is beyond those things.
But tonight we find joy in the image of God
coming to us in the form of a child.
We sense God’s presence in creation
and in the immensity of our universe,
in the incredible display of life on this planet,
and in our consciousness
of something far greater than ourselves.
As Christians we rejoice in the birth of Jesus.
In him we see the fullness of possibility
to make God visible in our lives.
Like all of us he grew in wisdom as he aged.
He questioned. He searched for meaning.
He shaped his convictions.
He experienced love and came to know
love’s connectedness with God.
He stood firmly in his own religious tradition
and preached good news to all people dreaming
of a better humanity.
We rejoice that he taught us not to imagine
a manipulative, intervening God,
but one who is as close as breath
and as soft as a whisper,
yet as powerful in the focus of our lives,
as were the mighty (prophets) in the Old Testament
drawing us toward the good.
We rejoice that Jesus led people to discover
the sacred in the ordinary,
in the lowly, in everyday life,
in human yearnings to be better people,
and in being neighbor to one another.
Bread and wine,
the fruit of vine and earth.
May these ordinary things be blessed.
For they represent both the ordinary and the extraordinary
as Jesus calls us to follow him.
And when we go out, may we share
generously of this wonderful gift we have received.
These are the inspired words of Jane Keener-Quiat and Rex Hunt

 (response: And we affirm these words by saying: Amen!)

Reading 2: Psalm for an Emerging Emmanuel (excerpt)                          Edward Hayes


Emmanuel not only comes down
But also comes forth and emerges.

O Come, O Come Emmanuel,
         come forth from deep within me
         with Christmas luminous beauty.
For my heart has become the sacred crib,
         The birthing place of God-among-us.

Peace on earth and justice for all
         will only become manifest in our lives
         when enough of your sons and daughters
         awaken to the divine design
         that has made each of us
         an Emerging Emmanuel. 

These are the inspired words of Edward Hayes
(response: And we affirm these words by saying: Amen!)

Alleluia

Gospel: A reading from the Gospel of Luke

In those days Caesar Augustus published a decree ordering a census of the whole Roman world. This first census took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.
All the people were instructed to go back to the towns of their birth to register.
And
so Joseph went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to the city of David - Bethlehem in Judea, because Joseph was of the house and family of David; he went register with Mary, his espoused wife, who was pregnant.

While they were there,
the time came for her delivery. She gave birth to her firstborn, a son; she put him in a simple cloth wrapped like a receiving blanket, and laid him in a feeding trough for cattle, because there was no room at the inn.

There were shepherds in the area living in the fields and keeping night watch by turns over their flock. The angel of God appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, 
and they were
very much afraid.

The angel said to them, “
You have nothing to fear! I come to proclaim good news to you – news of a great joy to be shared by the whole people.
Today in the city of David, a savior – the Messiah - has been born to you.
Let this will be a sign to you: you will find an infant wrapped in a simple cloth, lying in a manger.” Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel,
praising God and saying: “Glory to God in
high heaven! And on earth peace to those on whom God’s favor rests.”
These are the inspired words from the Gospel of Luke.
(response: And we affirm these words by saying: Amen!)
        
Shared Homily



Homily Starter by Dennis McDonald:
“We celebrate tonight God-with-us
beyond our words, beyond our images,
for we know God is beyond those things.
But tonight we find joy in the image of God
coming to us in the form of a child.”       Jane Keener-Quiat and Rex Hunt

A child is born in a cave, a stable, laying in a manger, a feeding trough for animals.  It was not the most awesome of entrances, and yet the story of the birth of Jesus is filled with awe. We hear of Heavenly angels announcing, shepherds rejoicing at this simple birth of a child.  Is it much different than today when a child is born? There is much rejoicing, there is much hope for the child and the future, whether born with riches or born in poverty.  It is a family’s dream of the possibilities that lay in front of this child as they grow and mature.  Is it any different than the path that lay before Jesus? As the first reading indicates he experienced life as any child does. It is hard for us to imagine but Jesus also was fussy as a baby, cried when his first teeth came, sought comfort when he fell or was hurt in some way.  He questioned as he grew. He struggled with the question of why am I here, what is my purpose? He also experienced love of family and, most likely, learned of compassion and care from his parents, Mary and Joseph. Although Joseph and Mary do not appear in the Gospels often, I would dare to say that they, by example, taught Jesus to be kind to others, to help others in need, to recognize the divine in each person and to proclaim God’s love to them.  But what made this child, grown to manhood,so special that followers of his message wrote down the story for the various communities in which they ministered? 



The special nature that Jesus brought and continues to bring is his recognition and acceptance of the God within him.  He had a belief that this God who was often portrayed as distant, as external, was in reality born within each person, was part of the creative force of life from which each person emerges when born.  He spent his life of ministry preaching that Good News and showing by word and deed that God is loving, accepting and forgiving. The life of Jesusconstantly calls us, in the words of John Shelby Spong, “to live fully, to love wastefully and to be all that we can be while we seek to enable every other person, in the infinite variety of our humanity, to live fully, to love wastefully and to be all that each person can be.”

As we celebrate the birth of the Christ-child and recall the words of the Angel,
“I come to proclaim good news to you – news of agreat joy to be shared by the whole people. Today in the city of David, a savior – the Messiah - has been born to you”, let us also commit to the words of Edward Hays, 



“Peace on earth and justice for all
will only become manifest in our lives
when enough of your sons and daughters
awaken to the divine design
that has made each of us
an Emerging Emmanuel.”




Let us awaken to our call to be Emmanuel to the world in which we live.   
Response to the homily starter: What did you hear? What will you do? What will it cost you?

Presider 5: Please join in praying our Statement of Faith


Statement of Faith

We believe in the Holy One, a divine mystery
beyond all definition and rational understanding,
the heart of all that has ever existed,
that exists now, or that ever will exist.

We believe in Jesus, messenger of the Divine Word,
bringer of healing, heart of Divine compassion,
bright star in the firmament of the Holy One's
prophets, mystics, and saints.

 We believe that We are called to follow Jesus
as a vehicle of divine love,
a source of wisdom and truth,
and an instrument of peace in the world.

We believe in the Spirit of the Holy One,
the life that is our innermost life,
the breath moving in our being,
the depth living in each of us.

We believe that the Divine kin-dom is here and now,
stretched out all around us for those
with eyes to see it, hearts to receive it,
and hands to make it happen.


LITURGY OF THE EUCHARIST



Presider 1: 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.  Please feel free to voice your concerns beginning with the words “I bring to the table….”  (pause) And we pray for these and all unspoken cares and concerns. Amen.

Presider 6: Please join in praying our Eucharistic Prayer:
(written by Jay Murnane)

O Holy One, you have been called by many names by many people in the centuries of our planet’s life. Yet, no name truly defines you or describes you.  In this holy season, we celebrate you as the marvelous, loving energy of life who caused us and our world to be.

We celebrate you as the Source of light and life and love, and we celebrate your presence and all-ways care. We give thanks, and joined with your vision of harmony and peace, we sing:

Holy, Holy, Holy by Karen Drucker

We are Holy, Holy, Holy…2x

Spirit divine, Come to me 

Feeling love, Healing me .


Open my heart, Allow me to see,
Beauty & love, Lives in me.
You are Holy, Holy, Holy,…2x


Source of all Life, you are continually creating the universe, continually giving birth to all of us. We sense the need to do the same, to set ourselves free from a sense of emptiness and barren hopelessness.

Your wisdom invites us to draw on our tradition, as old as the stars, shining through Sarah and Abraham, shining through your prophets in every age and every culture. We join that enlightening, enlivening tradition with what we are as we risk fidelity to a dream.

Filled with your spirit, we, like Jesus, can give birth in our day to your living word for the sake of hope enfleshed in creativity and confrontation, healing and reconciliation, justice, universal and unconditional love.

On the night before he faced his own death, Jesus sat at the Seder supper with his companions and friends.  He reminded them of all that he taught them, and to fix that memory clearly with them, he bent down and washed their feet.


(presider lifts bread)
When he returned to his place, he took bread, gave thanks and offered it to them saying:
Take this bread and eat it;
It is my very self. (pause)


(presider lifts cup)
He then raised a cup of blessing, spoke the grace and offered the wine saying:
Take and drink of the covenant
Made new again through my life
Poured out for you and for everyone
That you might really be free.

Whenever you remember me like this,
I am among you. (pause)

We invoke the Spirit of love and new life upon all who are gathered here that our solidarity around this Eucharistic table may awaken in us a yearning for justice and generosity, so that all peoples can enjoy the gifts of God’s abundant nourishment.

O Holy One, we dare again to dream the ancient dreams and open ourselves to marvelous visions. There are mountains of arrogance to lower, valleys of fear and separation to fill in, to create a highway of community and communion that stretches throughout our consciousness and around our world.

In this way, working to renew the face of the earth, we are opened up to your Spirit, the Spirit of light and life and love born in Jesus.

For it is through his life and teaching, all honor and glory is yours, O Holy One, forever and ever.
All: Amen.

Presider 7: Let us pray the prayer Jesus:

Source of all Life, you are within, around and among us.
We celebrate your many names.
Your wisdom come; your will be done,
unfolding from the depths within us.
Each day you give us all that we need.
You remind us of our limits and we let go.
You support us in our power, and we act with courage.
For you are the dwelling place within us,
the empowerment around us,
and the celebration among us,
now and forever, Amen.
Adapted by Miriam Therese Winter

Presider 8: Please join in our prayer for the breaking of the bread:
(presiders break bread during this prayer)




All:   Loving God, You call us to live the Gospel of peace and justice.  We will live justly.  
Loving God, You call us to be Your presence in the world.  We will love tenderly.
Loving God, You call us to speak truth to power.  We will walk with integrity in your presence.

(Presiders hold up bread and wine)

Presider 9: This is the bread of life. Through it we are nourished and we nourish each other.

All:  What we have heard with our ears, we will live with our lives; as we share communion, we will become communion, both Love’s nourishment and Love’s challenge.

Presider 1: Our Eucharistic celebration is all-inclusive. You are a spark of the Divine and nothing can separate you from God’s love. All are welcome to receive at this friendship table. 
As you pass the bread and wine, please use the words, You are the spark of the Divine.






Our communion meditation is, O Little Town by Over the Rhine



O little town of Bethlehem
How still we see thee lie
Above thy dark and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting light
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight

The lamplit streets of Bethlehem
We walk now through the night


There is no peace in Bethlehem
There is no peace in sight
The wounds of generations
Almost too deep to heal
Scar the timeworn miracle
And make it seem surreal

The baby in the manger
Grew to a man one day
And still we try to listen now
To what he had to say
Put up your swords forever
Forgive your enemies
Love your neighbor as yourself
Let your little children come to me

O little town of Bethlehem
How still we see thee lie
Above thy dark and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by

BLESSING







Presider 10: Let us raise our hands in blessing and pray:
May we go forth recognizing that we are “Gospel itself, the joyful good news” of love and harmony born into the world.  As we go forth let us reach out and touch those we meet, always with the purpose of enhancing life and bringing justice and peace to all of creation.
All: AMEN                         

Closing Song: Let Your Light Shine in Us
By Kathy Sherman

Let your light shine in us. (3x)
and we will be light for the world.

Let your light shine in us. (3x)
and we will be light for the world.
We will be one and the kin-dom will come.

Let your heart beat in us.  (3x)
And we will be love for the world.
We will be one and the kin-dom will come.

Let your joy sing in us. (3x)
And we will be hope for the world.
We will be one and the kin-dom will come.

Let your peace live in us. (3x)
And we will be one for the world
We will be one and the kin-dom will come.

Let your light shine in us (3x)
and we will be light for the world.

Let your light shine in us. (3x)
and we will be light for the world.
We will be one and the kin-dom will come.




No comments: