Sunday, May 20, 2018

Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community - Pentecost 2018

Upper Room Liturgy of Fire – Pentecost 2018

Suzanne O'Connor and Dennis McDonald, ARCWP, led the Pentecost Liturgy at the Upper Room with the "Liturgy of Fire." 

Receiving of the Stoles
We your community call you forth and we bless you as you lead us in our liturgy today.

Centering Song: Fire of Love by Kathy Sherman
Fire of Love, burn with us.
Fire of Love, we are your flame!

Presider 1: Welcome and Theme
As we celebrate today’s liturgy you will hear the word, Shekhinah several times.  Shekhinah is derived from Hebrew meaning "to settle, inhabit, or dwell". In classic Jewish thought, the Shekhinah refers to a dwelling or settling of divine presence.  It is a feminine word in Hebrew and thus represents the Divine Feminine when used.  As we celebrate the feast of the Holy Spirit, Pentecost, let us be mindful of Shekhinah, the Divine Presence in our midst. 

Opening Song: Send Down the Fire by Marty Haugen

Presider 2:
Opening Prayer: O Holy One of burning bushes, enflame us with your passion for life, for justice, for creativity, for renewal, for play. Shekinah, appearing in the symbols of cloud, light and fire, you accompanied the Hebrew people through the wilderness. Travel with us and lend us a glimpse of your powerful feminine presence among us. Divine Compassionate Love, be our source of strength in our commitment to justice and peace. Dwell within us always as an eternal flame that will glow forever. Amen

Liturgy of the Word

Reading 1: The Spirit of God is a Wild Thing, Part 1 – Joan Chittister

Do I believe in the Holy Spirit? You bet I do. Nothing else makes sense. Either the Spirit of God who created us is with us still, either the presence of Christ who is the Way abides in us in spirit, or the God of Creation and the Redeemer of souls have never been with us at all. God’s spirit does not abandon us, cannot abandon us, if God is really God.

If we are to understand emerging consciousness as a manifestation of the Spirit of God alive in the land, then never has an age seen revelation, consciousness, and wisdom working more clearly than in this one. The signs of new awareness of the human relationship to God are everywhere, in all nations, in all peoples. The Holy Spirit has spoken through married couples and professional personnel about birth control, for instance. The Holy Spirit has spoken through women–and other eminent theologians, theological societies, and male Scripture scholars as well–about the ordination of women. The Holy Spirit has spoken through laity and bishops and multiple other rites of the Church alike about the ordination of married men. But no one listens. The Holy Spirit in people of good will is a voice crying in the wilderness, rejected, ignored, and reviled. One element of the Church determines the voice of the Spirit and does so, it seems, by refusing to listen to its other manifestations.

Time of Silent Reflection

Reading 2: The Spirit of God is a Wild Thing, Part 2 – Joan Chittister

The Holy Spirit was not a disembodied ghost, not an immaterial being. On the contrary. The Spirit embodied the life force of the universe, the power of God, the animating energy present in all things and captured by none. Because of the Spirit, Jesus was not gone and God was not distant, and the life force around us bore it proof. The Spirit was the restless urge to life in us leading life on to its ultimate.

The Spirit of God moves us to new heights of understanding, to new types of witness, to new dimensions of life needed in the here and now. The static dies under the impulse of the Spirit of a creating God. We do not live in the past. We are not blind beggars on a dark road groping our separate ways toward God. There is a magnet in each of us, a gift for God that repels deceit and impels us toward good. The gifts are mutual, mitered to fit into one another for strength and surety.

We are, in other words, in the most refreshingly trite, most obviously astounding way, all in this together– equally adult, equally full members, equally responsible for the Church. Nor does any one dimension of the Church, then, have a monopoly on insight, on grace, on the promptings of God in this place at this time. The Spirit of God is a wild thing, breathing where it will, moving as it pleases, settling on women and men alike.

Alleluia – Spirit of the Living God by Michael Crawford

Gospel: Acts of the Apostles 2: 14 - 18

Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Women and men of Judea and all of you who live in Jerusalem, listen carefully to what I say. These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 

No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
“‘In the days to come, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all humankind.
Your daughters and sons will prophesy,
your young people will see visions,
your elders will dream dreams.
Even on the most insignificant of my people, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy.

Shared Dialogue

Reflection by Suzanne O'Connor
Have you ever stood on a beach by the ocean as a storm was approaching? The wind is so powerful.  If you face the wind, it blows hard against you.  Your hair and your clothes flap behind you.  Your hat will blow off. Then you turn and the wind is at your back, pushing you along in the same direction that it blows.  It can be strong enough that you have to step quickly to keep up.  It can feel as if 'someone' is pushing you.

Obviously, you can see where I am going here.  The Spirit of God is all around us.  Always. Even when not powerfully tangible, She is present - like a gentle breeze or hot, still air.

When I was really little, and the Trinity was explained to me, the Holy Spirit was the most difficult to understand.  I thought it had something to do with my shoulders.  Even as adults, it is still difficult to understand that we are truly surrounded by and immersed in Spirit.

In today's readings, Joan Chittister, in her insightful, blunt manner, provides crystal clear images of the Holy Spirit's presence in all of our lives.  The first reading affirms her belief in the Spirit's sheer presence and power in our lives and in our Church.  It was easy to nod to her words in the first paragraph and then, to drop our jaws, as Sr. Joan goes on to identify specific instances of the Holy Spirit pushing and challenging decisions made by celibate men which impact the very way of being for faithful women and men throughout the ages.  The second reading focuses on the 'life' force,' the 'animating energy,' 'the restless urge for life' that guides us all to wisdom, to creativity, to action' which 'impels us towards good.'

The Prophet Joel tells us of the Spirit pouring out on ALL humankind, of dreaming dreams, prophesying, seeing visions...This is the wild thing that Joan Chittister describes.  None of us are insignificant (sorry Prophet Joel) as the Holy Spirit breathes where it will.  She does not discriminate 'her grace or promptings of God' to just those in cassocks, chasubles or habits - or those on whom hands have been laid in ordination.  The Spirit energizes and animates all:  babies and elders, teens and tweens, those coming of age and those in mid-life...and Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Jews, Native peoples, atheists and SBNR's.  And we cannot forget all the other living creatures which co-habit the planet with us.

The Prophet Black Elk pronounces:

"Great Spirit, Great Spirit, My Grandfather, all over the earth the faces of living things are alike.  Look upon these faces of children without number and with children in their arms that they may face the winds and walk the good road to the day of quiet."

Reflection by Dennis McDonald

As I contemplated the feast of Pentecost and the coming of the Spirit, I thought of the disciples gathered together after the death of Jesus, I imagined that they were sitting around discussing the life and death of Jesus.  They were reminiscing about all that he had taught and showed them about living a life focused on service to others, love of neighbor and recognition of the spirit of the Divine within them.  This Spirit that would allow them to go forth and do wonders as Jesus had done.  But they were afraid and unsure.  Who were they but ordinary people living life, wondering what to do, how to survive, how to stay connected to the loving God that Jesus had introduced.  At some point, in the midst of their being together, recalling Jesus and his ministry and message, it finally clicked, they became energized, emboldened to go forth and spread the Good News that all are one with the Divine, that we are to love one another and be healers and companions to those in need.  They were filled with the Spirit, afire with conviction and determination.
As we gather each week, are we not about the same experience?  We break open the Word, as we have just done.  We hear from each other how Jesus and his mission and ministry speak to each of us.  We support and encourage each other to go forth and share the Good News, through the variety of ways that we, individually, live out the message of the prophets, mystics and saints of old and of current day.  The Spirit within each of us becomes emboldened and transformed, and allows us to answer yes to this quote from 1Corinthians, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?”  Yes, yes we do.

Thank you for continuously igniting the fire of the Spirit as we gather each week, and being Companions on the Journey of bringing peace and healing to our world. 
Statement of Faith:
We believe in one God, a divine mystery
beyond all definition and rational understanding,
the heart of all that has ever existed,
that exists now, or that ever will exist.

We believe in Jesus, messenger of God's Word,
bringer of God's healing, heart of God's compassion,
bright star in the firmament of God's 
prophets, mystics, and saints.

We believe that We are called to follow Jesus
as a vehicle of God's love,
a source of God's wisdom and truth,
and an instrument of God's peace in the world.

We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the life of God that is our innermost life,
the breath of God moving in our being,
the depth of God living in each of us.

We believe that God's kin-dom is here and now,
stretched out all around us for those
with eyes to see it, hearts to receive it,
and hands to make it happen.

Presider 1: As we prepare for this sacred meal, we lay our stoles upon the table as a sign that just as Jesus is anointed, so each of us is anointed. 
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….”   
[end with]   We pray for these and all unspoken concerns. Amen.

Liturgy of the Eucharist

ALL:  O Divine Fire of Love, your glowing embers dance in our hearts. Your passionate presence kindles our souls. You purify us with the searing truth that ignites our spirits. As the glowing embers of fire penetrate the cold around us, so your tenderness sets our hearts aglow.

How often have we felt your tender love, for you love us without limits or boundaries! How often have we been consumed with delight by your love in human touch!  How often have we felt your embrace through Earth's beauty, as part of your beloved creation! Your Spirit energizes us to work for justice and peace in our world and we raise our voices with grateful hearts as we sing:

Alleluia, sing!  
(Alleluia Sing by David Haas) 

ALL:  Passionate One, You kindle your fire of enthusiasm within us. May we listen to your voice with assurance and excitement as you reveal to us the infinite, boundless, depths of your love. May we awaken to your promise to be always present in our lives, no matter what the obstacles or setbacks we experience. May we be consumed with such a hunger and thirst for justice that our words and actions inflame others to become signs of your justice. May we have eyes to see human need, hearts to care for our sisters and brothers and hands and feet to lighten others' burdens.

Shekinah, we thank you for Jesus, your strong, but gentle presence, whose message blesses and transform our lives. He showed us how to live as your new creation.

The night before Jesus died, he gave us a special gift of love divine. He took bread, broke it and shared it with friends who gathered around the table saying:
Take this all of you and eat, this is bread that nourishes and kindles passion for God and for all God's creatures.

Then Jesus took a cup of wine, praised God, shared the cup saying:
Take this all of you and drink from it; this is the cup of blessing that will energize you with Spirit love; it will be poured out as kindling for the transformation of all.

As we celebrate this memory of Jesus, let us experience, like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, in the sharing of the bread and the cup of blessing, the divine presence in our midst.
May we become Spirit-Fire, as we fan the flames of love over the entire cosmos.
Shekinah, You are with our families and friends, the young and old, the sick and dying and all those who need your nurturing love this day.

May all creation dance in your presence. May we become one heart, one mind, one spirit with everything. May we touch the earth with reverent awe and live in harmony with all creatures. May we turn away from all efforts to dominate anyone or anything. May we see your face shining in the stars and in the sun. May we embrace the universe's treasures and celebrate life's simple pleasures each day. May your love kindle our friendship with all life. O Fire of Love, we dwell as one in you.

Presider 2: Let us pray together the prayer of Jesus:
ALL:  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 1: Please join in the prayer for the breaking of the bread: (Presiders break the bread)

O Holy One, You call us to live the Gospel of peace and justice.  We will live justly.
You call us to be Your presence in the world.  We will love tenderly 
You call us to speak truth to power.  We will walk with integrity in your presence.
Presider 1:  This is the Bread of Life and the Cup of Blessing, through it we are nourished and we nourish each other.

ALL:  What we have heard with our ears, we will live 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. You are a spark of the Divine and nothing can separate you from God’s love. All are welcome to receive at this table.  Please pass the bread and the cup with the words “You are a Spark of the Divine.  
Communion Song:  Linger Lovingly by Carmel Boyle

Presider 1: Holy One, we thank you for this holy meal which reminds us of your willingness to give of yourself completely. Fuel our hearts with your divine energy that we may share your love with all of creation. May we live always as instruments of your faithful love. Amen.

Final Blessing: (Invite everyone to extend hands)

ALL:  Shekinah, you show us the sacredness of Earth and all her creatures. You reveal yourself in wind, fire, and earth. May we celebrate with burning hearts the warmth of your passionate love in the outpouring of your miracles everywhere.

May the Fire of Love ignite our hearts so that the passion of God radiates through us; may the Spirit of truth and justice burn within us forever. Amen.

Closing Song:  Go Make a Difference

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