Monday, September 3, 2018

Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community Liturgy, Sunday September 2nd, Presiders Dennis McDonald ARCWP and Joan Chesterfield ARCWP

Dennis McDonald, ARCWP and Joan Chesterfield, ARCWP, led the Upper Room’s Sunday liturgy with the theme: Recognizing God’s Love in Us.
Welcome and Theme   
We gather this morning as a Holy People, mindful of the Holy One’s presence here among and within us. Our theme today is the need to be ever awake to the work of the Divine within us calling us to work for a just and compassionate world, and recognize the love from Sophia Wisdom that envelopes us.

Opening Prayer 
Source of all love, we gather this day as companions on a journey to bring your love and fulfillment to the world.  May we come to recognize your presence in all that surrounds us, and find blessing in our every day interaction with creation. As we gather at table and share blessed bread and cup, may the grace of your spirit enliven and enrich our spirits. Amen.
Opening Song: We Are Called by David Haas

A reading from the letter of James, brother of Jesus
Sisters and brothers, every worthwhile gift, every genuine benefit comes from above, descending from the Creator of the heavenly lights, who cannot change and is never in shadow. God willingly gave birth to us with a word spoken in truth, so that we may be, as it were, the first fruits of God’s creatures.
So do away with all your filth and the last vestiges of wickedness in you. Humbly welcome the word which has been planted in you, because it has power to save you.
Pure, unspoiled religion, in the eyes of our Divine Amma, is this: coming to the aid of widows and orphans when they are in need, and keeping oneself uncontaminated by this world.
These are the inspired words from the letter of James, brother of Jesus, and the community affirms them by saying, Amen. 

A reading from the Gospel of Mark
The Pharisees and some of the religious scholars who had come from Jerusalem gathered
around Jesus.  They had noticed that some of the disciples were eating with unclean hands—that is,
without ritually washing them. For the Pharisees, and Jewish people in general, follow the tradition of their ancestors and never eat without washing their arms as far as the elbow.  Moreover, they never eat anything from the market without first sprinkling it. There are many other traditions which have been handed down to them, such as the washing of cups and pots and dishes.
So these Pharisees and religious scholars asked Jesus, “Why do your disciples not respect the tradition of our ancestors, but eat their food with unclean hands?”
Jesus answered, “How accurately Isaiah prophesied about you hypocrites when he wrote,
‘These people honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me. The worship they offer me is worthless; the doctrines they teach are only human precepts.’
You disregard God’s commandments and cling to human traditions.”
Jesus summoned the crowd again and said to them, “Listen to me, all of you, and try to understand. Nothing that enters us from the outside makes us impure; it is what comes out of us that makes us impure.
For it is from within—from our hearts—that evil intentions emerge: promiscuity, theft,
murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, obscenity, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evils come from within and make us impure.
These are the inspired words from the Gospel of Mark, and the community affirms them by saying, Amen.
Dennis’ Homily Reflection:
“Nothing that enters us from the outside makes us impure; it is what comes out of us that makes us impure.”
“For it is from within—from our hearts—that evil intentions emerge: All these evils come from within and make us impure.”
As I reflected on this short quote from today’s Gospel, it made me think of what is happening in the world around us, about the hate that is being spewed all around the globe toward those who are different, who are not like “me”, those from whom I perceive a threat.  It might be a perceived threat to my security, my job, my family, my way of life.
And the reaction that so often flows from that is fear, and when fear is in the air, we tend to forget the message delivered by Jesus in today’s Gospel, that “pure, unspoiled religion, in the eyes of our Divine Amma, is this: coming to the aid of widows and orphans when they are in need, and keeping oneself uncontaminated by this world”.
The contamination is fear, it is listening to the fear mongering that rises from political leaders, religious leaders, media personalities, and others.  It is the message that the “other” is the cause of our problems, the threat to our security, the destruction of my way of life. 
We hear it from the highest levels of leadership in our country, when the President insinuates that all people from south of our borders are thieves, rapists, and murderers. We hear it from those who would identify themselves as leaders of our Church, when they attempt to place the blame for sexual assault of children on those identifying as homosexual. It is easy to fall prey to scape-goating, allowing someone else to take the blame, and be the evil ones.
Rather than recognize the injustice that has and is occurring against the very ones pointed to as the perpetrators of our fear, it is what comes “from within – from our hearts – that evil intentions emerge. It is an evil that begins to take root in society, encouraging people to treat others with distain, with distrust, lashing out in violence and causing further injustice and incivility to occur.
Richard Rohr, in one of his reflections, says it this way, “we tend to start by believing that God’s love is limited to just us, just our group!” And so we feel justified in attacking others, in teaching “doctrines” that are only human made, disregarding “God’s commandments and clinging to human traditions”.
The readings today call us to recognize, in the words of Richard Rohr, “the Divine grace and love present within us, through us, with us, and even as us!”  This recognition allows us to “love ourselves, others, and the Divine by the one same flow. It is all one stream of Love!”
In his book, Tattoos On The Heart, Fr. Greg Boyle, shares with us where Jesus is and calls us to be, “Jesus chose a oneness in kin-ship and a willingness to live in others’ hearts. He was not a man for others. He was a man with others. The strategy of Jesus in not centered in taking the right stand on issues, but rather is standing in the right place – with the outcast and those relegated to the margins. 
We then are called to stand in the right place, with those being maligned and threatened for being who they are, being turned into the outcast and downtrodden by those living in fear.  We are called to help others recognize the Divine within them.  It is imperative that we work to open the hearts and minds of others to the message of compassion, mercy and love promoted by Jesus in order that all might know the Divine presence “within, through, with, and as us, thus transforming the world to one of justice, dignity and peace for all.

Joan’s concluding homily reflection:
From the readings today, the essence of religion is about giving and receiving love. Jesus did not come to establish new rules. Our rules must always flow from experiencing God’s love. James says true religion is about service to those in need. One example that we at the Upper Room do to try to show our love is by being a volunteer to serve lunch to the poor at St. John’s/St. Ann’s in the south end of Albany. We can’t do everything but we can do something to share God’s love and care with others.

Prayer of Jesus adapted by Mooji

Beloved One who dwells within the soul of my Being
Whose name is I Am, veneration to your holy name.
Your kin-dom is here, Your will prevails throughout the earth
as it does in the heavenly realms of my soul.
You open your hands and satisfy the hunger of all living beings.
You heal all hearts of sorrow so that they in turn may show forgiveness
to those whose minds are shrouded in ignorance of the Self.

Beloved One who imparts to all the sense of choice
so we may finally come to choose You, who are Truth,
and thus find everlasting freedom.
Glory to your name, oh Truth, for yours is the kin-dom of existence
of peace and love.  All power and glory emanates from You alone
Who imparts to all the wisdom, the light, the love and courage
to refer to themselves as I Am. Amen

Presider: This is the Bread of Life, through it we are nourished and we nourish each other.

All: What we have heard with our ears, may we live with our lives; as we share communion, may we become communion, both Love’s nourishment and Love’s challenge.

Communion Song:  Deep Within by David Haas

May we go forth recognizing that we are “Gospel itself, the joyful good news” of love and harmony. As we go forth let us reach out and touch those we meet, always with the purpose of enhancing life and bringing justice and peace to all of creation. Amen 
Closing Song:  Send Down the Fire by Marty Haugen

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