Our theme today is – “Discerning the Light of Christ”.
GATHERING SONG AND GREETING: #316 “Gather Your People, O God” verses 1 – 3
Presider: In the name of God, our Creator, of Christ, our liberator, and of the Holy Spirit, our Sanctifier.
Presider: My sisters and brothers, God is with you! ALL: And also with you.
Presider: Creator God to whom all hearts are open, no desires unknown, and from whom no secrets can be hidden, cleanse our hearts by the inspiration of Holy Wisdom.
ALL: We take your Word into our minds and hearts. Open them to new understanding.
Presider: We ask for the grace to continually acknowledge our need to grow in goodness and caring for ourselves, for others and for our earth, and all the while to be Jesus for others and to meet Jesus in others.
ALL: We accept your love and understanding of the frailty of our human nature.
Presider: And we join with you, Jesus the Christ, believing the strength and insight of the Holy Spirit will lead us to deeper dedication to justice, equality and peace in our world. ALL: Amen.
(All raise hands extended in prayer)
Presider: God, our Father and Mother of Mercy and Love,
ALL: Through his living, dying and rising, Jesus has revealed that nothing can separate us from your infinite love. May you, Loving God, give us pardon and peace, and may we forgive each other our failures to care for one another and our earth in the name of you, our Creator, of Jesus, our brother, and of the Holy Spirit, our wisdom. Amen.
GLORY TO GOD
ALL: (sung) Glory to God, glory, O praise and alleluia. Glory to God, glory, O praise the name of our God. (3x)
LITURGY OF THE WORD
First Reading: Isaiah 49: 3, 5-6 (Response: Thanks be to God)
Responsorial Psalm 40 #772 “God, my God , come to my aid……..”
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:1-3 (Response: Thanks be to God)
Gospel Acclamation: ALLELUIA! (sung)
Gospel: A reading from the Gospel according to John 1: 29-34 (Response: Glory and praise to Jesus, the Christ)
John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Behold, the one of whom I said, ‘A man is coming after me who ranks ahead of me because he existed before me.’ I did not know him, but the reason why I came baptizing with water was that he might be made known to Israel.” John testified further, saying “I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from heaven and remain upon him. I did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain, he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God.”
What John says here he does not say lightly. It is the result of several years devoted to fasting and praying under harsh conditions. But John’s commitment to live and wait in the silent desert had allowed him to hear God. What he heard caused him to act in certain ways – to call people to a change of life and to baptize them with water.
But all the while he was looking for the One God would send. How was he to know that One? Undoubtedly he appreciated being told to look for a recognizable sign – the Holy Spirit appearing like a dove, resting on this person. But that was secondary to his personal sense, his “just knowing,” that alerted him first of all.
What is this sense? Do we have it? In the spiritual life, this sense is called “discernment” or “discernment of spirits.” It is an internal knowing, and the capacity to name, whose presence is at work. Basically we desire to know if it is the Holy Spirit, or some other spirit – using the inclusive word “spirit” for lack of a better one.
My dear friend, Mary Herald, had an acute sense of discernment. She could walk into a party of nicely dressed people who were behaving and talking nicely and who would carry on to the end “nicely.” But even before meeting people, Mary knew what was going on in that room; who was coming from a place of truth and goodness and who was not. i.e., the one who was deceitful, who was lieing, who was angry, who spoke in half-truths, and so on. She greeted each person with good will and acceptance, but whatever they said seemed to pass through her filter and she knew the underlying truth of what they were saying. Sometimes she lamented having this “gift,” because she couldn’t just go and have a nice time! But, like it or not, it was her gift. She discerned spirits.
John the Baptizer surely had this capacity as well. When he saw Jesus, he “knew” that was the one who existed before him, who must be made known to Israel. And then he “knew” because of the sign of the dove.
Not everyone is born with the gift of discernment, and not everyone hears God saying words. Still, in every age, we must discern if what we are experiencing is of God or not: All the more so today when we are surrounded by half-truths, outright lies, and so-called fake news.” How do we discern?
Mary Herald taught first of all that we must become accustomed to spending time with God. With her it was with her morning cup of coffee, but it can be our drive to the grocery store without the car radio, our walk around the block without the i-pod, our review of the day before we fall asleep – any time during the day taken to experiencing and becoming familiar with the peace of God found within us, the peace Jesus said he would leave us, the peace “man cannot give.”
Returning often to that peace within makes us quick to notice when some other spirit is present and trying to distract us. When that happens, when we notice that our inner peace is disturbed, we must pay attention to what our bodies tell us. Does the hair stand up on the back of our necks? Does our stomach tighten? Do we feel tense? Is there an unnamable feeling that is trying to alert us to something? Do I question or feel troubled? Am I upset? Do I feel fear? Noticing our physical and emotional feelings will alert us and make us pay closer attention, to look deeper and name what we are seeing or hearing.
The intellect must do its part by considering what it has learned – what Scripture and tradition have taught us: That we know the Holy Spirit is near when we feel peace, love and joy (Paul): that we are seeing or hearing the gifts or fruits of the Holy Spirit ( ). The opposites of these could point out distracting spirits. Sometimes we hear a mixture of things – some reassuring and some troubling, which make us ask for guidance from the Holy Spirit to better discern, to go deeper in order to find the root of what we are experiencing. (St. Ignatius says we need to look for the “tail of the serpent.”) Sometimes we can only wait until the air clears and we can see and hear better. The main thing is that we noticed the disturbance and called on God for help.
What difference does all this make? It could prove to be crucially important in the era we are now entering. Evil “spirits” are quickly discerned when we recognize lies and ugly things like hatred. But the spirit of God still speaks and still intends that we listen, even if we must struggle to hear through the clatter and the roar. In other words, like John, we have to be committed to living and waiting, hoping to identify the voice of God. In times like these, that commitment cannot be a light one. It must be cultivated in time set aside. It invites a deeper familiarity with Scripture. It calls for vigilance of mind, words, body and actions. We need desperately to be able to say “That is the One” and feel secure in following that voice.
What signs have we been given? What resources can we refer to? Above all, how do we know the voice of God? Like John, how do I identify the Christ among us?
Profession of Faith: ALL: I believe in God, the creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, child of God, born of Mary, human like us. I believe Jesus came to teach us God’s love, to heal our minds, our bodies, our spirits, to bring hope and a new vision, to show us how to live in the fullness of grace. I believe that Jesus threatened the establishment. Jesus called for God’s people to focus on the kin-dom within. I believe because of the message that Jesus proclaimed, Jesus was condemned to die. Jesus was put to death through crucifixion, buried in a borrowed tomb. I believe that the women, faithful to Jesus, went to the tomb to anoint his body. I believe that the body of Jesus was gone, and Jesus overcame death through the resurrection. I believe in the Holy Spirit, eternally living in our hearts, present in our world, in our universe. I believe the holy Catholic Church is the people of God gathered in worship and song. I believe that all God’s children will one day be with God experiencing life everlasting. Amen.
Presider: We are people of faith. We believe in the power of prayer. We believe that we send blessings to those who are struggling and who need to experience hope, to those who are grieving and need to be comforted in their loss, to those who are facing medical challenges that they be granted hope and healing. We bring the needs of people throughout our world to our gracious God.
After each intercession, the response is: Loving God, hear our prayer.
For what else shall we pray?
Presider: Healing God, you faithfully listen to our prayers. Strengthen us as we strive to respond to the needs of your people. We make this prayer in the name of Jesus, the Christ, Amen.
Offertory Song: # 331 “Taste and See” verses 1 – 3
PREPARATION OF THE GIFTS – (Please join us around the altar)
Presider: Blessed are you, gracious God of all creation, through your goodness we have this bread to offer, which earth has given and human hands have made. It will become for us the bread of life.
ALL: Blessed be God forever.
Presider: Blessed are you, gracious God of all creation, through your goodness we have this wine to offer, fruit of the vine and work of human hands. It will become our spiritual drink. ALL: Blessed be God forever.
Presider: Pray my friends that as we celebrate this breaking of bread and blessing of wine we accept more fully the mission of our Church by actively living our response to God’s call.
ALL: May our gracious God accept these gifts for the praise and glory of God’s name, for our good, and for the good of all our Church.
Presider: God is always with you. ALL: And also with you.
Presider: Together, we lift up our hearts. ALL: To God and one another we lift them.
Presider: Together, we give thanks to our gracious God. ALL: Indeed it is right to constantly give thanks and praise.
Voice 1: Gracious God, source and sustenance of life, redeeming presence to the pain and brokenness of our world, Holy Spirit who enlivens all that exists, we beseech your healing power upon us and all for whom we pray today. We join together with our community, with all creation everywhere, with all those who have gone before us and live in the eternal now (Names of our loved ones…………)
Let us sing:
ALL: We are holy, holy, holy (x3), we are whole. (You, I, We) By Karen Drucker
Voice 2: We ask you to enliven anew in our hearts the empowering grace of your abundant Spirit, who infuses for us these gifts of bread and wine with the transforming energy of life, to nourish and sustain us in all times and especially in times of need.
(Please all extend hands as we recite the consecration together.)
ALL: Before he was given up to death, a death he freely accepted, Jesus took bread and gave you thanks. He broke the bread and gave it to his disciples and said: take this, all of you, and eat it; this is my body which will be given up for you.
ALL: When supper was ended, Jesus took the cup. Again he gave You thanks and praise, gave the cup to his disciples, and said, take this all of you, and drink it; this is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant. It will be shed for you and for all. Do this in memory of me.
Presider: Let us proclaim the mystery of faith:
ALL: Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.
Voice 3: (Please place your hand on the shoulder of the person to your right)As we gather around this Eucharistic table, we recall God’s blessing and love from ages past, and we celebrate anew the gift we share among us at this Eucharistic feast. May the Spirit of life and wholeness, who transforms the gifts we present, transform us too, that we may be refreshed in our inner being and be empowered to bring mercy, love and healing to those whose lives we touch and who are Jesus to us.
Voice 4: Remember gracious God, your Church throughout the world; make us open to receive all believers. We join with all God’s people, with our community, with Bridget Mary our Bishop, and with Francis our Pope.
Voice 5: So grant that, in union with all peoples living and dead, we may strive to create a world where suffering and pain are diminished, where justice and peace are restored, and where all people can live in health and wholeness, united in acclaiming the God of Life, whose abundance is offered to each and to all, ‘til the Kin-dom arrives in the fullness of time.
ALL: Through Christ, with Christ, and in Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is Yours, gracious God, forever and ever. Amen (sung).
THE PRAYER OF JESUS
Presider: Let us join hands and raise our voices as we say the Prayer Jesus taught us:
ALL: Our Father and Mother…….
Presider: Deliver us, God, from every evil and grant us peace in our day. In your mercy keep us holy in your sight and protect us from all anxiety and fear. We watch and wait, discerning signs that You are continually with us.
THE SIGN OF PEACE
Presider: Jesus, You said to your disciples, “My peace I leave you. My peace I give you.” Look on the faith of all and grant us the peace and unity of your kin-dom where you live forever and ever. ALL: Amen.
Presider: May the peace of our gracious and loving God be always with you. ALL: And also with you. Let us offer each other a sign of peace.
LITANY FOR THE BREAKING OF BREAD
Presider: Loving God,
ALL: You call us to live the Gospel of peace and justice. We will live justly.
Presider: Loving God,
ALL: You call us to be the presence of Jesus in the world. We will love tenderly.
Presider: Loving God,
ALL: You call us to speak truth to power. We will walk with integrity in your presence.
Presiders: This is Jesus, our Light, who liberates, heals and transforms our world. All are invited to partake of this sacred banquet of love. ALL: We are the Body of Christ.
Communion: Instrumental by Mindy
After Communion Song: “A Stranger, Starving on the Street” (See back page)
(to the tune of “I Heard the Voice of Jesus” #466 i.e., Kingsfold)
PRAYER AFTER COMMUNION
Presider: May wonder, gratitude and thanksgiving fill us, may compassion fully fill our hearts, that you may heal the numbness that continues because of our society’s injustices. May we each know that we are loved and may we continue to be the face of God to each other. Amen.
Introductions, Prayers of Gratitude, Announcements
Presider: May God be with you. ALL: And also with you.
Presider: Let us call upon our gracious God as we share blessings with each other. We bless one another and pledge to live the Gospel of Christ. ALL: Amen.
(Everyone please extend your hands in mutual blessing.)
ALL: May our gracious God, bless us all gathered here, in the name of God our Creator, in the name of Jesus our Light, in the name of the Holy Spirit our Wisdom, as we care and minister to one another in love, for we are the Body of Christ and the face of God to the world. Amen.
Presider: Go in the peace of Christ. Let our service continue!
ALL: Thanks be to God.
CLOSING HYMN: #604 “Christ Be Our Light” verses 1,2,5
A Stranger, Starving on the Street
(to the tune of “I Heard the Voice of Jesus” #466 i.e., Kingsfold)
She moves into our sacred space, – where from the table spread,
she gives to us the cup of grace, – for us breaks living bread.
Astonished as we take and taste, – our clouded sight turns clear;
This hungry one dismissed in haste – is Christ who feeds us here!
With opened eyes and grateful hearts, – imaginations stirred
through joyful song, creative arts, – and thought provoking word,
we celebrate the nourishment – she offers in this meal
an unexpected sacrament – to bless, renew and heal.
Inspired by her, transformed and freed, – compelled beyond our door,
We’ll go into the city street – among the starving poor.
Awakened to each person’s need – of body, soul and mind,
We’ll strengthen, comfort, humbly feed, – and be the Christ they find!
Song #21 in “Earth Transformed with Music!
Inclusive Songs for Worship”
With composer Larry E Shultz
|Anointing of Roman Rodriguez with Bridget Mary and MMOJ Community|