Theme: In the Wilderness
Greeting and Gathering Hymn: Gather Us In # 302 (vs. 1,3,4)
Presider: In the name of God, our Creator, and of Jesus our brother, and of the Holy Spirit, our Liberator.
Presider: My sisters and brothers, in Lent, we fast from all that holds us from living fully as the beloved of God, and feast on Infinite love moving through us as we do justice and live equality in our world. This is a time of transformation; a time to look inward, to reflect, to contemplate. The Holy One is with us.
All: And with all.
Presider: God of Love, during Lent you call us to renew our bodies, minds and spirits. You call us to be mystics and prophets, unafraid to speak truth to power. May we experience your grace filling us with spiritual energy to live justly, love tenderly and work for justice in our world. We ask this, one with our brother Jesus, through the power of your Spirit.
Presider: As we pray, fast against injustices, and give alms, may we be the face of God in our world by living Gospel compassion and justice. Jesus, you are compassion.
All: Jesus, we live compassion and do justice.
Presider: Jesus, your death reminds us that must be willing to suffer the consequences of living truth to power. Jesus, you walk with us in our courage.
All: Jesus, we walk with others in their challenges and stand against systemic injustice in our communities, nation and world.
Presider: Jesus, in your rising, you show us the path to liberation from structures of domination, Jesus, you are liberator.
All: Jesus, we live your vision of liberation and justice, one with your people and all creation.
Presider: Let us pause now for reflection. Place your hand over your heart and breathe in God’s compassionate love for you…be aware that God forgives, frees and heals us…Let us let go of guilt, live justly, and love tenderly. We are the face of God in our world… (Extend hands and recite prayer of General Absolution)
All: God, the Mother-Father of mercies through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, God has reconciled the world and sent the Holy Spirit among us so that we might live and be like Jesus and bring the kindom of God on Earth. God gives us pardon and peace always; we only need to be open to God’s pardon and peace. We forgive ourselves for the times when we were not open, and we forgive others when they were not, as well.
First Reading: Inviting the Mystic and Supporting the Prophet. All: Thanks be to God.
Psalm: 51 Responsorial: Create in me a clean heart, O God, a clean heart, O God, create in me. (#779)
Second Reading: Do You Want To Fast This Lent? All: Thanks be to God.
Gospel: Matthew 4:1-11 All: Glory to you, O God.
Homily Starter by Kathryn Shea, ARCWP
I have never been thrilled with the season of Lent, not even as a small child; totally emerged in Roman Catholic religion. Something inside of me said, “I really don’t think God or Jesus wants us to feel awful about ourselves because Jesus died on the cross for our sins.” So, when Bridget Mary reminded me last week, that this was the First Sunday of Lent, I internally thought, Oy vey.
But then, as often happens when I struggle with what to write, and how it will be heard, a beautiful Lenten Reading came to me written by Rev. Dawn Hutchings, who identifies herself as a 21st Century Progressive Christian Pastor. Her Lenten Reading is titled: “Giving Up Theories of Atonement for Lent in Favour of Listening to God’s Laughter.” Right up my alley.
To paraphrase her writing, she talks about the tradition of Lent being a mournful time filled with calls to repentance and self-examination as we follow Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted and then the long walk to Jerusalem where he will die on the cross for our sins. Our liturgies take on a mournful tone as we confess our sinfulness, beg forgiveness, and realize even then, we are never truly free of sin. She imagines us saying,
“Woe is me. Woe is me for I am sinful. My sins are too numerous to count. There are all the things I have done and all the things I have left undone. Thank God Jesus died for me. Somebody had to pay the price for my sinfulness. Jesus died for a reason, and you and I dear sisters and brothers are the reason. A blood sacrifice had to be paid. God’s justice demanded it and Jesus paid the price with his very own blood. Jesus took our place up there on that cross and the least you and I can do to say thank you, is to spend some time shouldering our own crosses as we retrace Jesus steps to Jerusalem.” Does this sound all too familiar?
But, we no longer accept the theology of atonement. We accept and live the theology of original blessing, knowing our Creator walks with us always in love and joy for who we are and who we will yet become. So, now our journey into the wilderness if different. We journey within ourselves to contemplate; to be in silence as Jesus was and “to look to the life and witness of Jesus of Nazareth to see what we can learn about who we are and whose we are.”
I now invite you to wander off into the wilderness for a short time. Be not afraid, for we are not alone. Jesus goes before us to lead us. We will take the Mystics along with us to help us see the wisdom of the centuries in new ways.
Get comfortable. Close your eyes. Take in a very deep breath and let yourselves focus inward. Pay attention to your breathing. With each breath in, breathe in all that is good and peaceful, and breathe out all negative thoughts, feelings, fear, and quilt. And as we begin on our journey into the wilderness, pay attention to all that surrounds you. What do you hear, see, feel, smell. If there’s anything that frightens you, let it go, and focus on Jesus walking ahead of you.
Imagine yourself walking toward a clearing and the stream. Stepping stones make an easy path across the stream and toward the edge of the mountain. Step on each large flat stone to easily cross the small, shallow stream.
Up ahead is a large, smooth rock... like a chair waiting for you to rest. The rock is placed perfectly, high up on this beautiful vantage point.
Sit or lie down on the rock if you wish. It is very comfortable. You feel very comfortable and at ease. The sun shines down on you.
Stay with this feeling of warmth and love for three deep slow breaths.....
Feel the healing light go down into your hips.....
Feel it continue traveling down your legs all the way down to your toes.....
Your whole body is now filled with Divine Healing Light and Energy.....
Allow that Healing Energy to completely fill all physical areas that need healing energy.....
Feel it warming, healing and expanding through the areas......
Now bring your awareness to any emotional or spiritual difficulties, any unresolved grief and allow the Divine Healing Light to bring peace and healing to any these issues ….
Bring your awareness to any intentions or desires that you may have.....
Hold the thoughts of those intentions or desires as you allow the Holy One to bring your deepest desires to life and your intentions into reality.....
Feel your connection to Divine, and know that all is ONE....
Keep this deep, relaxing, peaceful feeling of bliss. Leave behind all that is not spiritually healthy for your soul, and take all that feeds your soul. And now slowly begin your journey out of the wilderness with Jesus walking beside you, holding your hand. And now slowly, come back to all that surrounds you, but keep this vision inside of you.
Take a deep breath and when you’re ready, slowly open your eyes, knowing all is well.
“Just these two words God spoke changed my life. ‘Enjoy me’.
What a burden I thought I was to carry- a crucifix, as did Christ.
Love once said to me, ‘I know a song, would you like to hear it?’
And laughter came from every brick in the street
And from every pore in the sky.
After a night of prayer, God changed my life when
God sang, ‘Enjoy Me’.”
St. Teresa of Avila
Profession of Faith
All: We believe in God who calls us to be the compassion of God in our world. We believe in Jesus, whose death and resurrection reveals that God’s liberating love overcomes all oppression, including death and evil. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the breath of Wisdom Sophia, who energizes and guides us to live Gospel equality in inclusive communities where all are welcome everywhere in our nation and world. We believe in the communion of saints our heavenly friends, who inspire us to live holy lives. We believe in the love that does justice and heals our world.
Prayers of the Community
Presider: That we may live compassion and mutuality, letting go of all patterns of domination we pray.
Response: God of all ages, hear us!
Presider: That those bound by hatred, hostility, and violence will be set free, we pray. R.
Presider: That the sick may be healed, especially (mention names), we pray. R.
Presider: That the dead may dwell forever in God’s presence, we pray. R.
Presider: And for what else shall we pray?
Presider: O Holy One, we walk in faith that nothing is impossible and we can care for others in need through the power of your Spirit working in us.
Offertory Procession and Preparation of the Gifts
Presider: Blessed are you, God of all life, through your goodness we have this bread and this wine, the whole of creation, and our own lives to offer. Through this sacred meal may we become your new creation.
All: Blessed be God forever.
Presider: God is with us, loving and healing through us.
Presider: Lift up your hearts.
All: We lift them up in tender love, open to serve.
Presider: Let us give thanks to our God.
All: It is our joy to give God thanks and praise. (join around the banquet table)
Voice: Life-giving Love, You have called us to be midwives of grace, radiant reflections of your holy presence on earth. United with You, we are one with all beings in the community of creation as we celebrate the new life occurring in our expanding cosmos. And so we join the angels and saints as we sing:
ALL: We are holy, holy, holy. (Karen Drucker)
Voice: Gracious God, you set the banquet table and invite all to the feast of unending delight. Here we celebrate divine love beyond what all that words can describe in our evolving cosmos. Here your divine compassion connects us to the young and the old, the least and the last, to everyone everywhere on our journey into the heart of mercy.
Voice: Gracious God, you set the banquet table and invite all to the feast that celebrates your boundless love in the universe. As mystics and prophets we are Your hands, lifting up those who suffer, the vulnerable and excluded in our world today. We especially thank you, Holy One, for Jesus, the Compassion of God, who came to show us a new vision of community where every person is loved and all relate with mutual respect. As midwives of grace we welcome all God’s family into the Circle of Life at the Banquet of Love.
Voice: Jesus threatened the religious and political leaders of his time and so they put him to death. Like Jesus, the holy ones throughout the ages have been executed for their prophetic witness by the oppressive systems they challenged. As God’s beloved, we speak truth to power and work for justice and equality, no matter what the cost.
(Please extend hands as we recite the consecration together)
All: May your Spirit, present in these humble gifts, fill us with a new outpouring of love that makes us more deeply one Body in the Cosmic Christ living the fullness of your compassion.
Presider: On the night before he was betrayed, Jesus gathered with his friends for a meal. He took bread, broke it and said:
ALL: Take this all of you. This is my body. Every time you eat it, remember me.
Presider: In the same way after supper, Jesus took the cup, and raising it with love beyond all telling, he gave thanks and shared the cup with those at table and said:
ALL: Take this all of you and drink from it. This is the cup of my life blood, the making of a new and everlasting covenant. Every time you drink of it, remember me.
Presider: Jesus, who was with God “in the beginning of the creation of the heavens and the earth,” is with us now in this bread. The Spirit, of whom the prophets spoke in history, is with us now in this cup. Let us proclaim this mystery of faith.
All: Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ lives in us and through us in the world today.
Voice: We honor the holy women and men who have revealed your compassion and justice in our world. We thank you for ordinary people in our lives who show us how to love tenderly and have revealed the heart of our God, especially (pause to remember and name some of these holy women and men)
Voice: And so, liberating God, Midwife of Grace, we hold our religious ministers and political leaders in the light of Christ Sophia, Holy Wisdom. We pray for our pope and bishops, the young and the elders, and all God’s holy people. We remember those who are sick and suffering. May they be healed and comforted. We remember Mary, mother of Jesus, Mary Magdala, Peter, Paul, Junia, our patron saints and all the saints and angels who surround us with loving prayer each day. We remember our loved ones and all those who have died, that they may experience the fullness of life in the embrace of our compassionate God.
ALL: Through Christ, with Christ, in Christ, all praise and glory are yours, Loving God. Amen.
The Prayer of Jesus
ALL: Sing: Our Father and Mother who is in heaven, blessed is your name….
The Sign of Peace
Presider: God, grant us peace and unity beyond all words can express. Join hands in a circle of love and sing “Let there be peace on earth.”
Litany at the Breaking of the Bread
All: Loving God, You call us to live mercy, we will do so. Loving God, You call us to live justice, we will do so. Loving God, You call us to live equality, we will do so.
Presider: This is Jesus, who calls us to open doors that are closed and share our bread on the altar of the world. All are invited to eat and drink at this sacred banquet of love.
All: Jesus we are worthy to receive you and to be your compassion in our world. Let us share the Body of Christ with the Body of Christ.
Communion Music: Instrumental
Communion Meditation Song: May the Longtime Sun Shine Upon You – Sara Thomsen ~ In honor and memory of #Benjithebrave
|Mindy Lou Simmons|
Prayer of Thanksgiving after Communion
Presider: Life-giving God, Jesus showed the way to overcome all oppression through his death and resurrection. Through the power of the liberating Spirit at work within us, and our world, we will comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable by living as the Compassion of God and the Gospel values of justice, peace and equality in our lives and communities.
Community Prayers of Gratitude
Presider: Our God is with you.
ALL: and also with you.
Closing Community Blessing
(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 Liberator, in the name of the Holy Spirit, our Sanctifier as we care and minister to one another, and all those we meet, in love. Be with us as we continue on our path and follow in the footsteps of Jesus, for we are the face of God to the world. Amen.
Presiders: May we all go in the peace of Christ. Let our service continue!
ALL: Thanks be to God.
Concluding Hymn: God’s Plea – Mindy Simmons
Adapted from a liturgy by Bridget Mary Meehan,
Association of Roman Catholic Woman Priests
|Theresa and Roman Rodriguez|
|Mindy Lou Simmons and Kathryn Shea ARCWP|
|Mary Al and Janet in MMOJ spiritual library|