Sunday, October 29, 2017

Upper Room Liturgy - October 29, 2017 - Living the Call to Love

Deb Trees and Lynn Kinlan, ARCWP, led the Upper Room liturgy with the theme: "Living the call to love as Jesus did, even in circumstances that are challenging."Today’s Gospel reading is a familiar one, and one that seems easy for us. In our sharing, we felt the call to speak to the love we need to have for our neighbors, for those who are suffering; those dealing with and responding to life situations.  God’s love exhibited through us makes the difference. It is what love is doing or can do to make our world, our communities be alive with Divine Love.  May we, in our time today, touch our own sense of living Love to our fullest capacity.  Amen.


Nancy O'Conner placed stoles on the presiders and blessed them. 


Deb Tree's homily starter is below followed by the first reading from Tattoos on the Heart by Greg Boyle and the Gospel from Matthew.


Deb Tree's Homily Starter: Uncomfortable Love

I would think that this response of Jesus to the Pharisees’ continued questioning would be solidly attributed to Jesus. So I was surprised to find that according to Jesus scholars, not so.  A fellow rabbi from the same movement during the time is felt to have said these words. Since Jesus was its leader, the early followers of Jesus used the saying for him.  Our concepts of Love, based on these shared memories have influenced generations of Christians.

Jesus and his contemporaries reflect their view of getting to the core of the law, drilling to the essence. And through the years, we continue to question: “Who is our neighbor?” and “What is the deepness of this love we are called to give, to ourselves and to each other?”

Recently I had the good fortune to be with a person who exemplified love beyond what I think of as easy; Loving not only his family and friends, community and country, and material ease. Even though he is a millionaire many times over, his wife shared that he could not just sit at home. As soon as he began to feel comfortable, he would get up and get out into the world to serve, share his resources and life. She called it an action to Uncomfortableness.

I call it Uncomfortable Love. I saw a love of uncomfortableness that leads to compassion. This is a love that goes to a Keen Awareness and Quiet Presence that will not leave. This is a love that reflects a Companionship of the Heart. 

I see Jesus living this Uncomfortable Love. His presence and legacy is everywhere I go. And Tattoos of the Heart is full of stories of Uncomfortable Love.

But Uncomfortable Love is more than just forgiveness of those we see as victimizers and providing comfort to those who are true victims. Uncomfortable Love for each of us is seeking out the edges of our complacency and taking the step on the other side of that line. We move in love with the next step and the next. What can feel like plodding tiredness becomes rooted in Joy: The Joy of Uncomfortable Love.

Several Saints exemplify this Uncomfortable Love:  Saint Mother Theresa comes to mind, and I’m sure you can think of others.
As we contemplate pushing ourselves out of our comfort to Uncomfortable Love: what did you hear?  What does it mean for you?  What will you do about it?

A Reading from Tattoos on the Heart by Greg Boyle

One Sunday evening, Betito is playing with his cousin when a van full of one gang’s homeboys pulls into the projects and opens fire at another set of nearby gang members standing in front of a dumpster, smoking cigarettes. For some reason, Betito didn’t run for cover. He froze where he stood, where he had been playing. He was only a kid when he died, a funny, bold and only twelve year old boy.

I will admit that the degree of difficulty in understanding how this happens again and again is exceedingly high. Kids I love killing other kids I love. But isn’t the highest honing of compassion that which is hospitable to victim and victimizer both? Are the boys in the van our sheep without a shepherd, lacking someone to reveal the truth to them and they have avoided healing from life’s scars. Are they any less worthy of compassion than Betitio?

If we long to be in the world who God is, then, somehow, our compassion has to find its way to vastness. To love the enemy and to find some spaciousness for the victimizer, as well as the victim, resembles more the expansive compassion of God. That’s why we do it.

The community affirms these words by saying: Amen





A Reading from the Gospel of Mathew

When the Pharisees heard the Jesus had left the Sadducees speechless, they gathered together and one of them, an expert on the Law, attempted to trick Jesus with this question: Teacher, which commandment of the Law is the greatest?

Jesus answered:

You must love the Most High God

with all your heart,

with all your soul and

with all your mind.

That is the greatest and first commandment. The second is like it: You must love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments the whole Law is based – and the Prophets as well.

These are the inspired words of Mathew which community affirms by saying: Amen






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