Sunday, November 18, 2018

Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community - Thanksgiving Liturgy - Presiders: Debra Trees, ARCWP, and Denise Hackert-Stoner

Debra Trees, ARCWP, and Denise Hackert-Stoner lead the Upper Room's Thanksgiving Liturgy. Deb and Denise asked members of the community to spend five minutes a day saying thank you for the blessings we have in our lives. Members of the community brought small symbols of gratitude and placed them on the friendship table in and around the cornucopia, a symbol of plenty.

Receiving the Stole: "The community blesses you and thanks you for leading us in liturgy today."
Litany of Gratitude by Joyce Rupp

Leader: Our response is: To You, O Holy One, we give thanks.

Side 1:
We give thanks for the morning, where joy comes to us.
We give thanks for the evening, when we meditate on your love,
We give thanks for the in-between, the working hours, the accomplishing hours; when we must practice gratitude amidst distraction and busyness.
We give thanks for the long dark of night, when our souls and bodies assimilate and regenerate.

All: To You, O Holy One, we give thanks.

Side 2:
We give thanks for the people we love effortlessly, but also for the people who chafe and challenge us.
We give thanks for our enemies, who teach us to bless and forgive.
We give thanks for our families, who teach us grace and forbearance.
We give thanks for those whose lives we touch only momentarily- may we be a lasting blessing.

All: To You, O Holy One, we give thanks.

Side 1:
We give thanks for the boisterous, jubilant seasons.
We give thanks for the subtle quiet seasons.
We give thanks for the seasons of difficulty and pain.
May we emerge from each bearing the image of Christ Jesus.
We give thanks both when we are certain, and when uncertainty plagues us; both in the black and white, and in the gray.

All: To You, O Holy One, we give thanks.

We give thanks to You, acknowledging that every drop and morsel that sustains us comes from Your hand; that our place in the universe exits because You created it; and that Your purposes exceed the bounds of our imagining.

All: To You, O Holy One, we give thanks.

Opening song: Canticle of the Sun by Marty Haugen

First Reading: Psalm 143 by Nan Merrill

My soul yearns for you, Eternal Flame of Love, longing to reconnect to the great mystery! Every day I will bless you as I follow the Voice of Truth. Great are You, who call us to childlike wonder, to the healing balm of forgiveness.

The beloved is gracious and merciful, allowing every soul free will to follow the ego’s illusions or to choose Life.
Gratitude and quiet joy overflow as I recall the abundant blessings of your grace! Lift up your hearts, all you who choose the path of life! My heart is lifted up!

“Do you not know that your whole being is encompassed by My Love? I am the infinite and the eternal within your soul;
O, that I might make Myself known to you! Choose Love that you might overcome oppression and blind obedience to false idols!”

“Divine Light shines in those who live in Love. I shall uphold all who are burdened with fear, and raise up all who call to Me.
The time is nigh for you to choose, for great is the new dawn that fast approaches. I call each of you to open your inner ears, to see with spiritual eyes, And to trust that even amidst the outward chaos, all is working toward the wholeness of humanity.”

Oh, Heart of my heart, envelop me! I know You are near to all who call upon You. Bring to my recollection all that I have denied, that I might be accepting and free to help rebuild the soul of the world with radical trust, love and wonder! When I speak, let it be of blessing and gratitude; let your glory within me shine out to the world!

These are the inspired words Nan Merrill, and We affirm them by saying: AMEN. 

The second reading is from the first letter of Paul to the Corinthians

Brothers and sisters:

Grace and peace from our loving God and our Savior Jesus Christ.

I continually thank my God for you because of
the gift bestowed on you in Christ Jesus,
in whom you have been richly endowed with every gift,
of speech and knowledge.

In the same way, the testimony about Christ has been so confirmed among you, that you lack no spiritual gift,
as you wait for the revelation of our Savior Jesus Christ.
God will strengthen you to the end, so that you will be
blameless on the day of our Savior Jesus Christ.
God, through whom you have been called into intimacy with Jesus our Savior, is faithful.

These are the words from the first Letter of Paul to the Corinthians, and the community affirms this reading by saying AMEN.

Deb’s Thanksgiving Homily reflection: 

From October 31st to the end of December there is one flow in the United States. We give out Candy and dress up in character and then comes the long slide to Christmas. Thanksgiving, happening right in the middle between these two events, seems to be lost. It is a big dinner and then shopping, at least for so many.

Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, puts Thanksgiving first. His declaration of gratitude for the community sets the tone for everything. Nan Merrill in her rendition of Psalm 145 shows us that gratitude can take on so many forms. It is a deep spiritual practice that acknowledges the many gifts from a Holy One who loves us.

This week, we’ve been thinking of things, people, events and more that we are thankful for. As preparation for this Thanksgiving Liturgy and the Season, we thought it would be a wonderful exercise if each of us spent daily time saying thank you, for whatever we have in our lives. We asked you to bring a symbol of your gratitude to place in and around the cornucopia, a symbol of plenty.

There are so many ways to do that. We can use the Alphabet and name one thing beginning with each letter. We can look around us in nature and list or think about what to be thankful for. We can think about a certain category of our lives, like health or job, or family. We can send Thanksgiving cards instead of Christmas cards. The important thing is to be thankful every day, and if possible, to start our day in gratitude.

Denise's Reflection on Thankfulness:

While preparing for this liturgy of Thanksgiving I found an old, long-forgotten children’s prayer percolating through my thoughts. I gave it very little attention. I turned it away. But somehow it kept intruding, like a persistent child. So at its own insistence, here it is:

“Thank you for the world so sweet.
Thank you for the food we eat.
Thank you for the birds that sing.
Thank you God, for everything.”

Once let loose in my mind, the little prayer would not stop. It blared at me, especially that last line. “Thank you God, for everything.”

It struck me how dangerous, what a leap of faith it is to thank God for everything.

Of course it's easy to thank God for our health, our family and friends, our homes, and all of the other blessings in our lives. But to thank God for everything? For illness and pain? Loss and loneliness? Failure and disappointment? I'm not too sure.

But if our mission on this earth is to make manifest the kin-dom of God, then it seems to me that the only tool we have to work with in that important work is our very selves. Thomas Merton said "a tree gives glory to God by being a tree." Likewise a human person gives God glory by being her or his authentic self. And that self is made by living each day, meeting each joy and sorrow, each moment of pleasure and pain with attentiveness, awareness, and yes, gratitude. Gratitude even for those cups that we wish could pass us by. Those cups whose bitter contents we ultimately drink and which help form us into the makers of the kin-dom. Into co-workers, co-builders with our God.

Thank you God, for everything. 

Communion Reflection: Thankful, by Josh Groben

Closing Song: All You Works of God by Marty Haugen

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