Sunday, October 28, 2018

Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community - Liturgy - October 28, 2018

Donna Rougeux, ARCWP, and Dave Debonis led the Upper Room liturgy for the Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Donna and Dave’s homily reflection is printed below the Gospel.

Welcome and Theme: Today we think about our faith and willingness to be healed of our blindness and truly see what it means to live the Gospel message.
Peace Meditation: This week the church celebrates the feasts of All Saints and All Souls Day. Saints experienced God in a deep and personal way. They understood that Love must be shared freely with others. As we listen to Go Light Your World connect to the light of God within and extend that light, that love, to all of the broken and dark places that need healing. We hold in our hearts the victims of the shooting in the Tree of Life Synagogue. We will light our candles as we listen to the song. When you are ready please place your candle on the friendship table.. Like the Saints we celebrate this week we know that as individuals we are limited but when we join our light with others through community we can light the world with God’s love.

Go Light Your World by Chris Rice

Opening Song: Anthem by Tom Conry

First Reading
Christian love of neighbor includes engaging people authentically, as Jesus did, treating all as creations made in God’s very image, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, age, physical or mental ability, nationality, or economic class. It means standing, as Jesus did, with the outcast and oppressed, the denigrated and afflicted, seeking peace and justice with or without the support of others.
Christian love of self involves basing our lives on the faith that in Christ all things are made new and that we, and all people, are loved beyond our wildest imaginations. It means claiming the sacredness of both our minds and our hearts and recognizing that faith and science, doubt and belief serve the pursuit of truth. Christian love involves caring for our bodies and taking time to enjoy the benefits of prayer, reflection, worship and recreation in addition to work. It means acting on faith that we are born with a meaning and purpose, a vocation and ministry that serve to strengthen and extend God’s realm of love.
Consider how different these principles are from the creeds and faith statements that circumscribe Christian faith into tight compartments of specific beliefs and doctrines. It is past time for older creeds, originally written to unify an empire through uniformity of doctrine, to give way to new expressions of faith- like the ones described above- that promote unity through diversity, inclusivity and the pursuit of the common good rooted and grounded in Christian love.
I pray and hope that this emerging way of being a Christian will eventually win the day. Establishment Christianity still has too much power and control to allow these emerging forms to have much to say.
As I survey Christin history I find that creedal/doctrinal Christianity has done very little to make the world a better place. One could make a legitimate case that when all the evidence is considered creedal Christianity has done more harm than good. It is past time for a new reformation, which John Phillip Newell calls the rebirthing of God.
Adapted from the inspired words of Chuck Queen in his article What does a progressive Christian statement of faith look like?  and the community responds by saying AMEN.

They came to Jericho. When Jesus was leaving Jericho with the disciples and a large crowd, a blind beggar named Bartimaeus was sitting at the side of the road. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout and to say “Heir to David, Jesus, have pity on me.”

Many people scolded him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the louder, “Heir to David, have pity on me!”
Jesus stopped and said “Call him here.”

So, they called the blind man. “Don’t’ be afraid,” they said. “Get up; Jesus is calling you.” So, throwing off his cloak, Bartimaeus jumped up and went to Jesus.

Then, Jesus said, “What do you want me to do for you?”

“Rabbuni,” the blind man said, “I want to see.”

Jesus replied, “Go, your faith has saved you.” And immediately Bartimaeus received the gift of sight and began to follow Jesus along the road.

These are the inspired words of Mark 10: 46-52.

Homily reflection by Dave Debonis and Donna Rougeux, ARCWP
The first reading offers us a vision of the Good News, the Gospel. It is a message of love that transcends any illusion of separation from others. The good news is that because we are loved, we must love without exception or any excuses. The mystics teach us that it is through the direct experience of the Love of God that we can understand our call to share that love with others.  But where in the gospels do we find figures that teach this same lesson? The answer is that today’s gospel has a man who tells this story with his example.
Bartimaeus is the only one who saw that connecting with God is the truth that matters. In truth Bart would never have thought that Jesus was God walking around as a person. He did however sense the deep truth and divinity that Jesus manifested in the love he shared with others. It is interesting that physical blindness is what the story used to illustrate Bartimaeus’ ability to see what was most important. Bartimaeus had the vision and a knowing that there is healing in connecting with the divine. With eyes of faith we can see in the dark and even be healed.
This is less of a story about physical healing as it is about faith. The faith of a person who believes that if we can see and understand the message of Jesus we will be restored to a new way of living. A way that involves continuing the work of Jesus. There will always be obstacles---people telling us no—shouting us down-wanting to keep us in our current status—lots of noise-but we must persist.
This story reminds us that adult faith is a matter of letting go of clinging to the wrong things—possessions, comforts, security-- and the false certainty of religious legalism. When called by Jesus, Bartimaeus drops his cloak on the ground. The cloak that was likely his only clothing and the item on which others dropped money so that he could survive. Before even being healed, he dropped it on the ground because he believed deeply that encountering Jesus would give him something he desperately needed.
This is also a story about a man who, although blind, could see things that others could not. Last week Suzanne reminded us that those around Jesus did not really “see” him---or understand his true message. Examples include: the disciples asking about where they would be seated in the Kingdom, the rich man who thought he could impress Jesus with his rule-following, and the disciples who tried to keep the children away from Jesus so as not to bother him. We see so many “clueless” characters in the previous gospel readings and then comes along a blind beggar who is seeking sight but who sees so much. Bart called Jesus the heir to David—understanding that there was something special about Jesus, something kingly, something divine.
But importantly, Bartimaeus also understood that this king was not the kind that ruled over others and wielded their power indiscriminately. This was the kind of king who would call to a blind beggar and heal him. Somehow Bart not only knew about Jesus he knew his heart. 
This story reminds us that there is a cost to having our spiritual blindness healed. Once Bartimaeus’ sight is restored, he follows Jesus on the road—a choice that was most likely more dangerous than the life he had as a beggar-particularly because the road they were on led directly to Jerusalem and Jesus’ death. The challenge is living in the world knowing we are never separated from God. We are whole and must courageously live like we believe this.
Finally, the first reading reinforces so many of the same themes noted in the gospel as it addresses a new way of being Christian by engaging authentically with all people and particularly the outcasts. It calls us to embrace, in faith, our ministry to bring the message of God’s love to all. It calls us to leave behind the doctrines and creeds and move toward individual expressions of God’s love through inclusivity and diversity. It encourages us to make our voices be heard so that this emerging way of living our faith will continue to grow. 
What do these readings bring to mind for you?
Communion Song:   Holy Darkness by John Michael Talbot


May we continue to be the face of God to each other. May we call each other to extravagant generosity! May we walk with an awareness of our Call as companions on the journey, knowing we are not alone. May we, like Jesus, be a shining light and a blessing in our time!

Closing Song:  Go Light Your World by Chris Rice

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