Theme: “…may your kindom come; your will be done…” A culture of compassion and peace.
Presider: My sisters and brothers, we once again come to the MMOJ banquet table to break bread together and to recognize and share the compassionate presence of God who is in each and every one of us. May we always remember that we are all formed as one body by our one Creator. We are all supported and strengthened by the same Spirit on our separate journeys. And right now, we ask the Sustainer to enliven the hearts of all of us who are gathered here today… and to extend that blessing to all of those in our community who are not with us in person, but who are by their spirits.
Opening Song: Gather Us In, #302, verses 1,3,4
ALL: O Loving One, creator of all that exists, everywhere and anywhere. You call us to see goodness and beauty that is always surrounding us so that we can live in harmony with all that you created. You call us to heal the wounds of hatred and violence, discrimination and oppression that is so prominent in our world. We ask you for the strength of the Spirit to bring this about, and to smooth the pathway of your coming kindom. We are trusting in our knowledge of that since we pray in the Prayer of Jesus that your will be done.
Presider: And we ask this…
ALL: In the name of our God who shares divinity with us in the sacredness of creation;
In the name of our God who shares humanity with us in the person of Jesus, the Christ;
In the name of our God who inspires and strengthens us in the journeys we all travel.
Together we give praise and thanks as we celebrate all the blessings that God has abundantly given us. Amen.
Presider: Compassionate God, to you all hearts are open, no desires are unknown, and from whom no secrets can be hidden. May we be continually conscious of your knowledge, understanding, and acceptance of us . May we, in gratitude to you, our God, who has forgiven us our failings and faults…may we - in turn - be likewise forgiving to our own selves and compassionate to one another. And may we extend your merciful gift to us in our various treatments of this planet Earth.
Presider: Let us give glory to our loving Holy One.
All (Sung): Glory to God, glory, O praise God, Alleluia. Glory to God, glory.
O praise the name of our God. (3X)
Liturgy of the Word
First Reading: Isaiah 35: 3-7 All: Thanks be to God.
Psalm 146. Responsorial: Praise Our God, O my soul.
Second Reading: James 2: 1-5 All: Thanks be to God.
Acclamation: Celtic Alleluia
Gospel: Mark 7:31-37 All: Glory to you, O God.
Shared Homily and Community Reflections
23rd Week in Extra-Ordinary Time
Co-presider: Lee Breyer
The first phrase in today’s theme – “May your kindom come, your will be done” - is, of course, very familiar to all of us not only from our use of it in the Prayer of Jesus, but also from its role in a homily starter or two here at MMOJ. And the second phrase “a culture of compassion and peace” is an understandable outcome of the first.
We have been talked to about these - and read to about them - very often. We can easily understand and accept that God’s kindom is coming, irrespective of any human behavior. And I think we agree that the smoothness of that coming, that journey, is be dependent on how well we understand and act according to the will of God.
Just what “the will of God” is is no secret. The gospel of John has very frequent mention of the this; it is a central piece in his gospel and letter writings. Stated simply: Jesus has told us to love God, love one another, love your neighbor…and that message is presented in all the gospels.
…and how that might be demonstrated was described briefly, centuries before Jesus, inthe book of Micah.
… and what specific behaviors might we engage in to follow the will of God is identified in Matthew’s gospel story of the Last Judgement where our actions would be evaluated.
… and the blessing of the Beatitudes, also in Matthew’s gospel, illustrates the satisfaction or reward of following the will of God in specific action categories.
What we expressly pray for, that we may follow the will of God, is quite often mentioned here in our liturgies. In most of them we ask that we may be “consciously aware of and recognizing God in each one of us.” In all of our liturgies, in the Eucharistic Prayer, we hear Jesus telling us to “remember him and all that he taught us.”
But knowing the will of God and praying for our accordance to it, isn’t enough. We know from our New Year’s Day intentions, as well as we form and seriously state them, often do not make it to St. Patrick’s Day. We all know and experience that intentions, even those supported by our frequent prayers, don’t always result according to our hopes and plans.
In all this, we are confident that the kindom of God is always coming, and we are on its path. And we believe that the will of God will always prevail…and that it will result in a culture of compassion and peace, that is often called “heaven.”
In the process, though…in the times in which we are living… we pray that we will follow the will of God …that we will do so by “doing the right thing” … so easily said, so difficult to do at times, and occasionally quite bumpy on the “kindom” road. Last week’s homily provided us two keys to doing the right thing, the will of God…these were the “purity in one’s heart” and the accompanying “willingness in spirit.” And we were presented examples of that behavior, namely Senator John McCain and Aretha Franklin whose recent memorials were told to us in the homily that was presented to us by the presider whose name I will not mention to save her the embarrassment she might feel were I to do that.
We all well know and understand the setting (the coming kindom), the goal (the will of God), the method (doing the right thing), some tools (purity of heart and willingness in spirit), examples(John and Aretha) and the goal (eternal existence in a culture of compassion and peace).
The challenge: Knowing from experience that oftentimes our intentions do not lead to actions, and lists we make may frequently evolve into just other files of intentions with reworked details,it is only when we pass “intention,” even with prayer, to “action” that anything makes a difference.
The New Year’s intention I mentioned earlier, even if successful, may lead to the loss of severalpounds of weight…a greater feeling of personal comfort for us. But the intention to read and reflect on some spiritual material, when seriously done, may lead to a greater appreciation of the good news…a greater understanding of God’s will for us. And this can bring us along the path of the kindom to a culture of compassion and peace, our heavenly home.
The question: So, how do we…what techniques have we learned from experience…how do we move our possibly many intentions to follow God’s will for us to some actual actions that move us along the “kindom road” for which we pray in the Lord’s Prayer…to our goal?
Profession of Faith
We believe in God the Creator of all that exists now or ever will in the ever-expanding cosmos. God isthe One whose divinity infuses everything with the sacred.
We believe in Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ who carried the message of God’s word to everyone whom he met during his time on this earth, and he has continued to do so to everyone who has existed ever since. Jesus will continue spreading the Good News throughout the universe till the end of time. It is through Jesus, the heart of God’s compassion, that we have become a new people. We have been called beyond the consequences of our brokenness and have been raised to the fullness of life.
We believe in the Spirit, the breath of God in the world. It is she who infuses hope, energy and meaning into those whose spirits may grow weary on their journeys. She is the one who keeps the light of the Christ-vision present to everyone, especially those who struggle in the darkness, so that they may experience the grace of God one day.
And we believe that God’s kin-dom is here and now, stretched out around all of us willing to use their eyes to see it, their hearts to receive it, and their hands to accept it to share with those around us.
Prayers of the Community
Presider: With heads and hearts mindful of our Creator’s unconditional love that is embedded in each of us, let us bring our needs and those of our community to our Loving God. After each intercession, we respond: God of Compassion, to you we offer these prayers.
Presider: That those who still suffer separation from their family members may find some comfort in their pain by knowing the shared concern of so many of their brothers and sisters in our country and theirs. We pray. God of Compassion…
Presider: That those injured by statements and actions of hatred and violence, their own or those of others, will find consolation and peace, we pray. R.
Presider: That the sick may be healed, especially (mention any names), we pray. R.
Presider: That those who have gone ahead of us and now dwell forever in their heavenly home, especially (mention any names), we pray. R.
Presider: And for whom else and what else do we pray at this time? (Other intentions) R.
Presider: We hold these and all the unspoken intentions in our hearts…and will take them with us when we will gather around the Banquet Table.
Those who bring the bread and wine will come to the front of the table and stop/stand there.
Then one of the presiders will ask each one of the “carriers” in sequence ….:
Presider: What do you bring to Christ’s table?
The person with the bread will say: I bring bread, made with the grain of the earth and formed by many people’s work. It has come to us from an unjust world where some people have plenty of food -and where plenty people have little and go hungry.
Presider: May the spirit of God be upon this bread, given us for our use. It will become our spiritual food.
Presider: What do you bring to Christ’s table?
The person with the wine will say: I bring wine, made with the fruit of the earth and formed by many people’s work. It has come to us from an unjust world where some people have plenty of unpressured time - and where plenty people must struggle to survive.
Presider: May the spirit of God be upon this wine, given us for our use. It will become our spiritual drink.
Presider: Blessed are you, Jesus of Nazareth, through your goodness we have this bread, this wine, and even our own lives to offer in this sacred celebration. At this, our family table, everyone is fed the same bread and all share the same wine. No one is turned away from this banquet of love. So, let all of us gather here around this table of plenty to celebrate God’s feast. (The community will now come around the altar.)
Gathering of the Gifted
ALL: Nuturing God, we are united in this sacrament in communion with everyone, everywhere,who awaits the coming of your kindom while following your will as they understand it in truth. We do so while following your will as taught to us by the life, love and messages of Jesus the Christ our heavenly brother. Please join us at this family table.
Voice 1: Gracious Wisdom, you embrace us with your love in times of both our blessedness and ourweaknesses. You are always with us…living in us, as we do in you. And we express our joy in this blessed union by singing our “family camp song.”
All: We are holy, holy, holy (3x), we are whole. You are…I am… We are (Karen Drucker)
Voice 2: Gracious God, at this - your banquet table - we celebrate your divine love for us beyond anything we could ever say or do. Your divine compassion connects all of us together…the young and the old, the least and the last …everyone, everywhere, on our journey into the heart of your compassion and mercy.
Voice 3: We thank you for the gift of Jesus of Nazareth in history – and the gift of Jesus the Christ in faith. You brought him from among all your people to baptize us in your Spirit. His life was moved by his consuming vision of your presence in himself and in his mission. He extended that when he also recognized you presence in every person he met. He showed us, through his example, not only how we should live, but also for what was worth dying.
Voice 4: And when his time on this earth had come to an end, Jesus – aware of and accepting his destiny – gave up his life as a witness for the values that he deeply believed, lived and taught…his conviction that love is stronger than death. And then, in providing an example of this wisdom for all people in the ages to come, he opened wide his arms…and died. And the Spirit that lived in Jesus raised the “dead Jesus” to new life. That Spirit of resurrection is promised to all of us as well. Jesus is with us today in the coming of the kindom; he will be will be with us through the end of time.
ALL: We remember the gift that Jesus gave us on the night before he died. He gathered with his friends to share a final Passover meal. And it was at that supper that Jesus took bread, said the blessing and shared it with them saying: take this all of you and eat it. This bread is you; this bread is me. We are one body, the presence of God in the world. When you do this, remember me and all that I have taught you. This is our new and everlasting covenant. (pause a moment, then continue….)
ALL: In the same way, Jesus took a cup of wine, said the blessing and gave it to his friends saying: take this all of you and drink it. This wine is you; this wine is me. We are one blood, the presence of God in the world. When you do this, remember me and all that I have taught you. This is our new and everlasting covenant.
Presider: Jesus, who was with God “in the beginning of the creation of the heavens and the earth,” iswith 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 our faith.
ALL: Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ lives in us and loves through us in the world today.
Voice 5: God, we know that you bless all of us - your church – everywhere we may be in the world. Today we need your Wisdom, the vision that inspired Jesus, and the strength of the Spirit that will bring us through our difficult times. Help us grow in our love and caring for Francis, our Pope, Bridget Mary, our Bishop, and everyone we come in contact, especially those who live on the margins of church and society. They are all our brothers and sisters, and they are reflections of your presence in the world. We remember also all those, living and dead, who touched our lives and left their footprints on our hearts, especially….(mention names here….)
ALL: We believe that the Spirit of God who works through us - can and will do more than we could ever know or even imagine. Let us praise our God. Holding hands we sing: Amen. (3-x)
The Prayer of Jesus
ALL: still holding hands, we continue to sing: Our Father and Mother, who are in heaven, blessed is your name, may your kindom come, your will be done…...
The Sign of Peace
Presider: Jesus, we know that you have given us the gifts of peace and unity beyond what any words we can express. Help us spread them throughout the world, everywhere we go. We recognize you here with us now as we join hands in a circle of love and sing our prayer: “Let there be peace on earth.” (#532)
Litany at the Breaking of the Bread
Presider: Loving God…ALL: you call us to Spirit-filled service and to live the Gospel of non-violence in our efforts for peace and justice. We will live justly.
Presider: Loving God….ALL: you call us to be your presence in the world and to be bearers of forgiveness and understanding, healing and compassion everywhere in your name. We will love tenderly.
Presider: Loving God….ALL: you call us to speak truth to power. We will walk humbly with you.
Presider: This is Jesus, who calls us to open doors that are closed and share our bread and wine on the altar of the world. All are invited to eat and drink at this sacred banquet of love.
ALL: Loving God, when we share in this meal, we - who have always been worthy – ask you to help us in our commitments to following the teachings of Jesus and to spreading the message of the kindom everywhere we go. This is the good news of the gospel.
Presider: Let us share and spread this good news! ALL: Amen.
(As we share this sacred meal, we can say to one another with the passing of the bread, “You are the love of God in the world” and with the sharing of the wine, “You are the peace of God in the world.”
Communion Music: Instrumental
Post Communion Meditation/Reflection: Get Ready My Soul – Daniel Nahmod
Prayer of Thanksgiving after Communion
Presider: Holy One, may this Eucharist in which we share Jesus’ healing love, deepen our oneness with you and with one another. May we reflect like Mary, your mothering love for all your people everywhere. And may wonder and thanksgiving fill us with knowledge and understanding as we experience the infusion of your love and compassion in us, your sacred people. We join in unity in this prayer with Mary, and her son, Jesus.
ALL: Let us go forth in compassion and peace; holding fast to what is good and rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit. And may God who promises peacemakers a place in the kindom of heaven guide us on our different paths through our pilgrimages on earth May we do so with God’s gifts of Christ-like love for one another -- and with a consuming hunger for justice in ourselves, our homes, our country, and the world in which we live .... with no exceptions.
May we continually remain clean of heart in the coming kindom and open to the will of theSpirit. And may we always be the Face of God to the world, reflecting well God’s compassionate and caring presence in us to everyone we meet.
Closing Community Blessing (extend an arm 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, and in the name of the Holy Spirit, our Sanctifier as we minister in love to one another and to all those we meet on our journey. 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.
Presider: May we go from here to spread the message of love and compassionate care to everyone we meet, wherever that is. May we evidence the peace that we profess to be and may it be contagious to those with whom we come in contact.
Presider: May we be true to our hope and anticipation when we say the Prayer of Jesus, specifically “may your kindom come, your will be done. Let this be our mission…let our service continue!
ALL: Thanks be to God; let it be so.
Closing Song – Nobody Can Stop the River from Flowing – Kathy Sherman (lyrics on last page)