Monday, May 28, 2018

Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community Memorial Day Liturgy 2018

Donna Rougeux, ARCWP, and Dave DeBonis led the Upper Room liturgy for Memorial Day. Dave's homily starter is printed below the readings.

Welcome and Theme: Today we think about our call to love with another, those close to home and around the world. And on this Memorial Day weekend, we ask for the wisdom to work for peace while extending love to those who have participated in war.

Opening Song: Anthem by Tom Conry

The first reading

God, help us to remember that life is a gift and peace preserves life. So, on this Memorial Day weekend we remember that your intention for this world is shalom, a world where human beings find themselves in right relationship with you, with each other, with the earth, and with one’s own self. Help us to remember that violence always disrupts shalom. Jesus died absorbing the violence of the military machine’s ultimate weapon for insurrectionists- the cross. This this death unleashed the potential for shalom once again-something war can never bring. May we see this resurrection potential all around us. Help us to remember also that noble men and women have died in war, many whose motives were pure and who believed that this sort of sacrifice was your will. May those of us who claim to be peacemakers remember that soldiers of any nation usually believed that their fight was for a moral good. Help us to be slow to pass judgment and quick to offer comfort to soldiers in their time of need. We also remember that radical Christians during the Reformation rediscovered the subversive nature of the kingdom of God. This is a way of loving your enemy, nonresistance, integrity, and countercultural community. May we lean into that vision which transcends the artificial borders of nation and those that often surround our hearts. May we remember the many examples of nonviolent leader’s whose displays of love lead to revolution. When we pull out a sword, more swords are drawn and, in the same way, love inevitably multiplies. May we spark fresh revolutions of love in our day.

These are the inspired words that have been adapted from: A pacifists prayer on Memorial Day by Kurt Willems

The Gospel Reading

The eleven made Their Way to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had summoned them. At the site of the risen Christ they fell down in homage, though some doubted what they were seeing. Jesus came forward and address them in these words:

All authority has been given me, both in heaven and on earth; go therefore and make disciples of all the nations. Baptize them in the name of God, and of the only begotten, and of the Holy Spirit. Teach them to carry out everything I have commanded you and know that I am with you always until the end of the world.

These are the inspired words of Matthew, 28: 16-20.

Homily reflection by Dave DeBonis:

When I first read today’s gospel, I was a little concerned about what sounded like a call to convert everyone to a particular religion. But scripture scholars suggest that some of the wording used by the authors of this particular gospel may have reflected their concern about the future role of this early Jesus movement and their belief as evangelists that the church had a world mission. Scholars also note that Jesus most likely had no intention of having a world mission and was not an institution builder.

With further thought and discussion with Kim and Donna, I refocused on the following words of the gospel: “Teach them to carry out everything I have commanded you.” What did Jesus command of us? Love one another. Stand with poor and marginalized. Reach out to the forgotten. How did Jesus teach us? By the way he spoke and by what he did. We talked in recent weeks here in the Upper Room about being commissioned to do the work of Jesus and in today’s Gospel Jesus reminds us that he has the authority and he charges the disciples- and we are the disciples-- to continue his work.

So, what does this work look like? It can take many forms from broad to narrow in focus. It can literally mean traveling to other nations to work among the people as they struggle with poverty, illness and lack of clean water. But it can also mean many other things. Working to have a government that believes in a fair and just immigration policy and that provides a safe haven to individuals who are forced to leave their homeland because their very culture or religious beliefs puts their lives in danger. It can mean supporting science and medical breakthroughs to fight diseases that disproportionately impact the most vulnerable among us or donating to local organizations that support the poor and marginalized, volunteering to prepare meals for families who have food insecurity, or visiting a lonely neighbor. All of these are the “nations” that need to be reached by our message of love.

What about this message of love on this Memorial Day weekend? The first reading reminds us that even though Jesus sought to bring about peace through the development of a close personal relationship with God, as his followers we are called to respect and honor the sacrifices of those who participated in war, to see their motivation as good, and to do what we can to heal the residual physical and psychological wounds that they suffer when returning home. At the same time, the reading also reminds us that peace preserves life and violence destroys it. In my discussion with Kim and Donna, Kim reminded us that Jesus lived under the occupation of the Roman soldiers and that suggesting that love could replace established law and strict dogma was a radical proposal. Certainly, some viewed it as a foolish proposition. Let us allow this example of Jesus to motivate us to call for an end to violence as the “go to” solution to conflict and let us call for a cultivation of nonviolent methods. In Brock and Parker’s book Saving Paradise, the authors note that at the at the dawn of the Holy Roman Empire, Christianity began to deemphasize its opposition to violence and reframed the death of Jesus as a sacrifice that was to be repeated not only in the Eucharist but also in holy wars. Let us reject this distortion of Jesus’ message and recommit commit ourselves to bringing peace to the world.

Communion Song: Let Justice Roll Like a River by Marty Haugen

Closing Song: Go light Your World by Chris Rice

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