Sunday, June 18, 2017

Upper Room Liturgy - June 18, 2017

Dennis McDonald, ARCWP, and Mary Theresa Streck, ARCWP led the Upper Room Community with the Theme, You are the Body of Christ. Dennis's homily starter follows the first reading by Henri Nouwen. 

Opening Prayer: Divine sustenance of life, we gather today around this table to remember a meal long ago, at which bread and wine were used by Jesus to proclaim the call to be life-givers to the world and those around us.  As we bless bread and wine today, let us celebrate the gift of ourselves that we present and offer at this liturgy. Let us bless and encourage one another, in our response to the needs of the afflicted, the forgotten, and the oppressed.  May we continue to be transformed by the power of the Spirit so that we might be the Living Body of Christ. Amen.    

A reading from Can You Drink the Cup? By Henri Nouwen

No one in our family would ever drink from his or her glass before everyone had been served and my father had lifted up his glass, looked at each of us, spoke a word of welcome, and emphasized the uniqueness of the occasion.
Lifting up the cup is an invitation to affirm and celebrate life together. As we lift up the cup of life and look each other in the eye, we say: Let’s not be anxious or afraid. Let’s hold our cup together and greet each other. Let us not hesitate to acknowledge the reality of our lives and encourage each other to be grateful for the gifts we have received.

We lift the cup of life to affirm our life together and celebrate it as a gift from God. When each of us can hold firm to our cup, with its many sorrows and joys, claiming it as our unique life, then too, can we lift it up for others to see and encourage them to lift up their lives as well. Thus, as we lift up our cup in a fearless gesture, proclaiming that we will support each other in our common journey, we create community.

Homily Starter by Dennis McDonald, ARCWP:

I loved reading about Nouwen’s family gatherings and the welcome offered by his Father each time. He was saying to those present, more than you’re welcome here, but we are blessed to have you here for this special occasion. It was especially significant that he looked each person in the eye, pulling them in to the life of the family.

Jesus during the meal shared with companions, looked, I am sure, at each disciple and pulled them in with that glance and  the words spoken, “this is my body, this is my blood, do this in memory of me”.       

The call of Jesus was that the disciples then, and we now, become like him, body and blood, our very being to respond to those in need, those looking for a better way, a way out of darkness, out of imprisonment, out of the pain of life.  The Body of Christ is transformational, bringing about a new world of love, acceptance and wholeness.  It is following in the footsteps of Jesus, who transformed the lives of those who sought him out. He engaged fully as a human, body and blood, in assisting each person to see that they too were worthy of being fully human and filled with the divine presence.
Augustine in a homily stated: If, then, you want to know what the body of Christ is, you must listen to what the Apostle tells the faithful: “Now you are the body of Christ, and individually you are members of it.”

If that is so, it is the sacrament of yourselves that is placed on the Lord’s altar, and it is the sacrament of yourselves that you receive.
You reply “Amen” to what you are, and thereby agree that such you are. You hear the words “The body of Christ” and you reply “Amen.” Be, then, a member of Christ’s body, so that your “Amen” may accord with the truth.

Our sharing of this common meal, bread and wine, or in our case, grape juice, signifies coming together as community, as the Body of Christ, ready to respond to his request, “Do this in memory of me”.  It is recognizing the sacrament that we are as we bring our body and blood to the table.  Will we heed the call, go beyond the sharing of bread and wine, and once nourished by this community, go out and share the Good News? The news that the Divine is within each person and in the midst of daily life, working through us, the Body of Christ to bring hope for the hopeless, release to prisoners and freedom to the oppressed. 

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