Sunday, July 1, 2018

Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community Liturgy - July 1, 2018 - No Walls in the Kin-dom

Donna Rougeux, ARCWP, led the Upper Room liturgy with the theme: “No walls in the kin-dom.” 

This theme reminds us that the walls, labels , categories, boxes created by humans interfere with the pure reflection of  God’s love in us, around us and through us.  To symbolize a kin-dom with no walls, today we will forgo receiving the stole. Although the Upper Room is part of a movement that is committed to a non-clerical companionship of equals, today we want to be mindful of the clerical boundaries and walls that exist in the larger church as we leave the stoles on the friendship table.  

Donna’s homily starter is printed below the Gospel.

First Reading: Peace by Edwina Gateley

There is violence everywhere.
No one can escape the relentless news of
War, bombings and shootings,
Storms, fire, looting,
And myriad scenes
Of human pain and suffering.
It is our global environment.
We are surrounded.

But there is another place
Which we surround,
And no one or thing
Can violate.

Deep tucked within
The human soul
There is a silent harbor-
A dark, secret place
To which everyone of us
(Would we be aware)
Has freedom of access.

It is a small but powerful space,
A still-point,
Waiting for recognition
And habitation.

We can hide there
As in a town
Preparing for a resurrection
To thrust us forward,
Proclaiming to our world:
Yes, there is peace!
Yes, peace lives!


Peace waits only
To be known.

Gospel Reading

Mark 5:21-43

When Jesus had crossed again to the other shore in the boat, a large crowd gathered, and he stayed by the lakeside.

Then one of the synagogue officials, Jairus by name, came up and, seeing Jesus, fell down and pleaded earnestly, saying, “My little daughter is desperately sick. Come and lay your hands on her to make her better and save her life.” Jesus went with him and a large crowd followed, pressing from all sides.

Now there was a woman who had suffered from hemorrhages for twelve years; after long and painful treatment from various doctors, she had spent all she had without getting better- in fact, she was getting worse. She had heard about Jesus, and she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak. “If I can touch even his hem,” she had told herself, “I will be well again.” Immediately the flow of blood dried up and she felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction.

Immediately aware that healing power had gone out from him, Jesus turned to the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?”

The disciples said, “You see how the crowd is pressing you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’”

But Jesus continued to look around to see who had done it. Then the woman came forward, frightened and trembling because she knew what had
happened to her, and she fell at Jesus’ feet and told him the whole truth. “My daughter,” Jesus said, “your faith has saved you; go in peace, and be free of your affliction.”

While Jesus was still speaking, some people arrived from the house of the synagogue official to say, “Your daughter is dead. Why put the Teacher to any further trouble?”

But Jesus overheard the remark and said to the official: “Do not be afraid. Just believe.” Jesus allowed no one to follow him except Peter and James an James’ brother John.

They came to the official’s house and Jesus noticed all the commotion, with people weeping and wailing unrestrainedly. Jesus went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and crying? The child is not dead, but asleep.” At this they began to ridicule him, and he told everyone to leave.

Jesus took the child’s mother and father and his own companions and entered the room where the child lay. Taking her hand, he said to her, “Talitha koum!” Which means, “Little girl, get up” Immediately the girl, who was twelve years old got up and began to walk about.

At this they were overcome with astonishment. Jesus gave the family strict orders not to let anyone know about it and told them to give the little girl something to eat.

Donna’s Homily starter:
Today’s gospel reading is a story sandwiched in another story that pictures Jesus healing a woman and a twelve-year-old girl. Both stories involve crossing boundaries that existed in the religious world during the time these stories were written. These boundaries had to do with being clean or unclean. The woman who touched the hem of Jesus’ cloak was considered unclean for twelve years because she had been hemorrhaging. She crossed a religious boundary when she touched Jesus’ cloak. The Jewish law said that she would make anyone she touched unclean and she most likely had been living in isolation during the twelve years of her bleeding due to this purity law. She dared to cross this boundary and was met with a very unusual response. She was immediately healed! This story adds to the drama when Jesus asks who touched his cloak and points to the gospel message of a free-flowing healing presence that comes from God. Instead of being stopped and sent back into isolation Jesus says to the woman “My daughter, your faith has saved you; go in peace and be free of your affliction,”

Jesus crossed another purity boundary by touching the body of a twelve-year-old girl who the people believed was dead. Touching a dead body was considered an act of making someone unclean. Jesus not only touched the little girl he erased the boundary between life and death by healing the little girl.

What can we learn from these stories about boundaries, borders, people made laws, policies and walls? Boundaries, laws and policies have a purpose and become important in keeping us healthy and safe. There is a time an place for rules, laws and boundaries. I read a parenting book once that gives a way to navigate keeping healthy boundaries as a parent. The book describes parents who are brick walls, parents who are jelly fish and parents who are backbones. The brick wall parents have rules for their children that are strict and unmovable. The jelly fish parents basically have no rules and the backbone parents have rules that bend and are flexible. The point of the book was to encourage parents to be backbone parents.

Using this analogy and the gospel message what does a kin-dom with no walls look like? How do we navigate systems, families and communities filled with brick wall, jellyfish and backbone rules, laws and boundaries? 

The first reading today points to an answer to these questions. The poem suggests that there is a place where “no one or thing can violate…it is a small but powerful space, a still-point, waiting for recognition and habitation.” I think this is our conscience or our God voice deep inside of us. It is a place we need to visit often to find peace in a world of suffering, wall building and isolation. We must find peace within ourselves before we can bring peace to the world and be part of building the kin-dom with no walls.

Jesus gives us an example of what that kin-dom looks like. It is a place that offers unconditional love and healing to all people. It is a place where the law that is most important is written on our hearts. We must go to the small still God voice within us often so that we can be the change we want to see. We must allow the free-flowing love of God to be borderless and without boundaries. We must build a kin-dom with no walls.

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