Monday, April 23, 2018

Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community - Liturgy for Fourth Sunday of Easter and Earth Day

Lynn Kinlan, ARCWP, and Mary Theresa Streck, ARCWP, led the liturgy for the Fourth Sunday of Easter with the theme: Earth Day is Every Day and We are the Good Shepherds.

Welcome to our Earth Day Celebration (Mary Theresa). The theme for today’s liturgy is "Earth Day is Every Day" and "We are the Good Shepherds." The Earth Day Network this year targeted ending plastic pollution as their awareness theme for today and beyond today. I encourage you to visit their website to learn about actions you can take to end plastic pollution. 

I want to thank Linda Burtis for joining us today and Linda will be here after liturgy if you wish to speak with her about High Peaks Solar farm in Troy, NY. To learn more about High Peaks Solar visit: 

Earth Day Prayer for Creation Centered Peace - written by Lynn Kinlan

Let’s close our eyes and breathe deeply for a journey into the forest.
Leaves crunch underfoot on the trail. We can hear the gurgling of the brook, rippling around stones before we see it in the clearing. Breathe deeply of the aroma of pine sap. Hear the quiet of the forest.

A flat boulder sits by the brook in the clearing. Hoist yourself up on it. Lay back and scan the sky, supporting your head in your hands, fingers entwined.  Stretch out and watch two red-tailed hawks circle and swoop across the canopy of evergreens. See them float and dance.

The glory of nature embraces us. We are One with Creation. Share the peace of this moment with the person on your left. Send this peace around the circle until it comes back to you.

Let the peace of Creation move through you and around you and back to the person on your right, returning it back around the circle.
We pray for peace to circle our precious Earth in a revolving, healing way. May we strive to care for all living beings and the gifts of creation that bring us peace and witness to the glory of Our Creator.  May peace reign among all of Creation. Amen

Opening Prayer –   by Joyce Rupp
Creator of all we join our minds and hearts with the people of our planet earth. We recognized the deep bond that we have with each created being. We rejoice in your sacred presence among us and within us. Divine Oneness, we celebrate the goodness, the beauty, the talents, and the spirituality of all these brothers and sisters of ours. We stand in solidarity with all of those who suffer in any way. Rekindle our love, revitalize our compassion and renew our awareness of the unity we share with all beings. Amen.

Opening Song: Christ Be Our Light

First Reading: Easter Hymn for Earth by Jan Phillips

Hallelujah! They have risen!
photo by Aaron Burden - used with permission
Snowdrop, crocus, bearded iris. 
Exult and throw your happy arms upward!
The trillium carpet the forest floor.
The tulips, triumphant in rainbow rows,
rise up singing "our cups overflow."

The creatures dress in their feast-day finest,
the loons and penguins in black tie and tux.
Hallelujah ushers forth from lips and beaks
as quacks, warbles, howls and hoots
fill the forests and fields with hymns of joy.

Let the Earth be glad and the sky shower praise
for the riot of color in her cloak of glory:
Purple Martin, Scarlet Tanager,
Red-winged Blackbird, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher,
Great Blue Heron, Snowy Egret,
Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Indigo Bunting.

It is right to give thanks for the endangered,
relatives among us but not for long:
Bengal Tiger, Blue Whale, Leatherback Sea Turtle,
Asian Elephant, Javan Rhinoceros, Mountain Gorilla,
Snow Leopard, Red Wolf, California Condor.

It is fitting that we mourn our relations now extinct-
though the list is long, let us name a few:

Chinese River Dolphin, Japanese Sea Lion,
Caribbean Monk Seal, Cascade Mountain Wolf, Sardinian Lynx,
Bali Tiger, Mexican Grizzly, Eastern Cougar, Black Rhinoceros,
Koala Lemur, Barbary Lion, Laughing Owl.

For all that dies and rises, we bend our knee.
As creatures of the Cosmos, progeny of the Universe,
we give thanks and rejoice for the Flame within us.

With the bald eagles and hairy frogfish,
with the furry kittens and spiny hedgehogs,
with the runny-nosed bison and red-nosed reindeer
we stand in awe as Earth spins, tides change,
hearts beat, eyes see, hands comfort.

We who believe in Life give Life.
This feast marks the life of a prophet
who said more than once,
"What you see me do, you can do, and more."

What rises today and every dawn
are these words that remind us:

There is nothing in the world we cannot do.
Let us take this suffering world into our arms
and heal what we can.
Jan Phillips 2018

Gospel: JN 10:11-18
Jesus said:
"I am the good shepherd.
A good shepherd would die for the sheep.
The hired hand, who is neither shepherd
nor owner of the sheep,
sees a wolf coming and runs away,
leaving the sheep to be scattered
or snatched by the wolf.
This is because the hired hand works only for pay
and has no concern for the sheep.
I am the good shepherd,
and I know mine and mine know me,
in the same way the Holy One knows me
and I know the Holy One;
and I will lay down my life for the sheep.
I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold.
I must lead them too,
and they will hear my voice,
and then there will be one flock,
one shepherd.
This is why the Holy One loves me,
because I lay down my life
only to take it up again.
No one takes my life from me,
but I lay it down freely.
I have power to lay it down,
and I have the power to take it up again.
This command I have received from the Holy One."

Sunflower by Rich Broderick
Lynn’s Homily Starter for the Fourth Sunday of Easter

The intersection of the fourth Sunday of Easter and Earth Day gives us a chance to see how the welfare of Creation and the life and death story of Jesus have a lot in common. Together, they help us to see how to live out Earth Day in every day.

The diversity of Creation comes across in the Jan Phillips Hymn along with the glory and beauty and fragility of our world. The reading calls to us to exult, to feel awe.  We rejoice for the Flame within us – which is the Flame of the Spirit that binds us to one another and to all things living, all the gifts of Creation including air and water, sun and soil.

But even as we celebrate in glory, we also mourn extinct species, acknowledge that the world is suffering and that we must “heal what we can” as Jesus did and still does today with and through us. And this brings us to the gospel vision of Jesus the Good Shepherd, tenderly taking care of us and loving us in our hurting, broken world.

He loved us to the point of standing up for us to Empire, speaking radical truth inside synagogue and meeting an early, violent end to earthly life. But of course, the story doesn’t end there – today’s gospel promises that there is one flock, one shepherd. Life and love go on… Jesus takes up his life again with us, in us and through us.

Jesus the Good Shepherd so loves the world that he tempts us to hopefulness and to good action, He continues to impinge on our consciousness, insist on our Oneness. In all his humanity and divinity, the Good Shepherd brings us a sense that great things are indeed possible through humble and persistent love; we are heirs to possibility stronger than empire, to a shepherding hope existing beyond the confines of human life and death.

Just as the Good Shepherd has a stake in the welfare of all sheep, we have a stake in the welfare of all the plants, animals, the climate and our sisters and brothers. We are the Good Shepherds of Earth Day. The endangered Bengal tiger needs us and the people of Flint Michigan and Hoosick Falls with still tainted water systems need us and Sheridan Hollow endangered by a proposed incinerator plant needs us – and because we know the love of our Creator, we also know how we need them, that we are all in this together with a Flame of Spirit that makes us One.    

So every day is the chance to “take this suffering world and heal what we can” in ways small medium and grand from using canvas bags at the supermarket to supporting local farm share agriculture and choosing solar panels or working with groups like the Sierra Club.

Let’s resist the temptation to be resigned because the hurts of this world are too many or too far away. Let’s not justify our indifference because corporate fossil fuel companies and agribusiness are too powerful.  Maybe we could we compare their domination to that of the Roman Empire in the time of Jesus.  Let’s take on the faith of the Good Shepherd, Jesus who says to us, “What you see me do, you can do and more.”      

Eucharistic Prayer of Belonging

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….”
Presider 1:  We pray for these and all unspoken concerns. Amen.

Presider 2:  We are a priestly people. We are anointed. Let us pray our Eucharistic prayer as one voice: (Eucharistic Prayer written by Kathie Ryan, ARCWP)

All: O Nurturing, Mothering one, You are always with us. We are grateful for Your constant loving and unconditional presence. At times we forget that You are holding us, attending to us. We fall and You pick us up. You send strangers, friends and family to our aid. We are never without Your Light and Spirit.

We experience great joy and we experience great pain and suffering. You are with us in the joy and the pain and suffering. When we experience Your presence we long to sing our hymn of praise:

Alleluia Sing! By David Haas

All: Creator and Lover of all beings, we cannot grow in the darkness of this world without Your Light. Our desire to be in Your light is a gift from You. Help us keep our hearts and minds open to You through our love and care for each other and all creation.

Presider 2: Please extend your hands in blessing

All: This bread and wine is a sign of Your nourishment and a sign of Your great love. Your Spirit is upon us and we belong to You and one another.

We thank you for Jesus, simple servant, lifting up the lowly, revealing you as God-With-Us, revealing us as one with you, and all creation.

On the night before he died, Jesus gathered for the Seder supper with the people closest to him. Like the least of household servants, he washed their feet. Once again he showed us how to love one another.

Presiders stand at table, Presider 1 lifts bread.

All: Back at the table, he took the Passover Bread, spoke the grace, broke the bread and offered it to them saying, Take and eat, this is my very self.

Presider 2 lifts the wine as community prays the following:

Then he took the cup of blessing, spoke the grace, and offered it to them saying:
Take and drink of the covenant
Made new again through my life in you.
Whenever you remember me like this,
I am among you.

Bread and wine is transformed by Your Spirit and we are transformed when we open ourselves to Your Spirit. Every time we share this bread and wine we choose to be transformed. We choose to love as You love us.

As we celebrate and recognize You in this bread and wine we love and recognize you in each other. We are filled with gratitude and joy. Glory and Praise to you both now and forever. Amen

Presiders hold bread and wine:

Through him, we have learned how to live.
Through him, we have learned how to love.
Through him, we have learned how to serve.


Presider 1: Let us pray together the prayer of Jesus:

O Holy One, who is within, 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.
The Prayer of Jesus as interpreted by Miriam Therese Winter

Presider 2: Please join in the prayer for the breaking of the bread:
Presiders break the bread

All: Loving Source of our being, You call us to live the Gospel of peace and justice. We live justly, we love tenderly, we walk with integrity in Your Presence.

Presider 1:  Let us pray our communion prayer together: 

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 2:  Our Eucharistic celebration is all-inclusive. We belong to the Loving One and to each other. Everyone is invited to receive at this friendship table.
Please pass the bread and the cup with the words: You are the Good Shepherd.

Communion Song: I and the Mother are One by Jan Phillips

Presider 2:   Let us pray our blessing together:
May we continue to be the Face of God to each other. May the certainty of our connectedness to one another and all creation ignite us to love more fully.  May we, like Jesus be a shining light and a blessing for all. 
All: Amen.
Closing Song: Canticle of the Sun by Marty Haugen

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