Theme: Actions speak louder than words
|Kathryn Shea ARCWP and Lee Breyer Co-Preside|
Welcome and Opening Expression
Presider: Welcome everyone. Once again. Today we start a new liturgical year and do so, appropriately, with a preparation of the celebration of the Divine Presence taking on, in the Incarnation, the humanity that was our gift on this earth decades ago. And in the start of that period, Advent, we come together here in this sacred sanctuary space aware that we, like Jesus, are also – in our own unique and personal ways - expressions of the Divine Presence on this planet. We understand that we are all companions on our journeys together, supported by the spirit of the Divine Presence and the teachings and example of Jesus.
Let us take a minute or two to collect ourselves together in mind, heart and spirit to recognize and acknowledge our sacred commonality.
The Advent Prayer and Blessing and Lighting of the Center Candle
Advent Candle Prayer and Lighting (Jay Murnane -- see attached page)
Opening Song: Sing Out Earth and Skies vs 1,3 and 5
Presider: Nurturing God, in your goodness, you blessed all of creation…made all of it sacred in your everlasting care. We are grateful that you graced our planet Earth with your presence in the Incarnate Jesus of Nazareth. We believe that you, through him, are a part of our very being and that we share our existence in him.
All: He was, through his life, his teachings and example, committed to show us how to live as fully as you would have us do so. Through him, you had the experiences of joy and sorrow, success and failure, effort and exhaustion, and all the things that we encounter in our lives – and the very things that we ask you for your support and strength through your Spirit. What we ask of you now, Loving God, is to bless all of us gathered here today and those of our community who are not with us now. Open all of our hearts, however scattered we may be, to the message of the gospel of Jesus now and always. It is our aspiration to be always more like him. Amen.
Penitential Rite and Community Forgiveness
(We will pause briefly to reflect on our ever-growing ability to show more understanding and love with others and with creation.)
Presider: Creator God, to you all hearts are open, no desires are unknown, and no secrets are hidden.
All: We ask your help to better understand Sophia’s message to each one of us so that we can be truly faithful to it and then spread her graceful concern and care among all your people - wherever we meet them.
Presider: Jesus, grant us the courage we will need to spread your example of universal love.
All: Help us to grow in our understanding, confidence and strength in living and sharing your messages that bring peace to each one of us here and to everyone in the world.
Presider: Loving God, pour out your healing mercy on us here, and especially on those who are in so many difficult settings in so many dangerous places where forgiveness and compassion are so badly needed.
All: We ask for your love and understanding of the frailties of our human nature. Grant us that - despite our weaknesses - we may develop the ability to extend the forgiveness that you have shown to us with all those with whom we come in contact.
All: (with an extended arm) God, the Father and Mother of mercy, through Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, he certainly bonded the world and all creation to you. He sent the Spirit among us to give us the strength and compassion to love one another as She does with us. Loving God, teach us the virtues of pardon and peace so that we may - in turn - learn to forgive each other for our failures to care for one another and for our planet Earth. We ask this of you, our healer and comforter. Amen.
Glory to God
Presider: Let us give glory in song to our loving Holy One.
(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: Jeremiah 33: 14-16 All: Amen; thanks be to God.
Psalm 25. Responsorial: To you, O God, I lift up my soul.
Second Reading: 1 Thessalonians 3:12-4:1 All: Amen; thanks be to God.
Gospel Acclamation: Alleluia (Celtic version)
Gospel: 1 John 2: 1-9, 4: 20-21 and John 13:34 All: Amen; thanks be to God.
Shared Homily/Community Reflections and Responses
Homily starter: Actions speak louder than words.
Love God. Love your neighbor. These are teachings that were not at all new to the Jews in Jesus’ time. They were both recorded in the Old Testament in the books of Deuteronomy and Leviticus. What, according to commentators was new was that, in Jesus’ time, these two commonly known precepts were connected with an “and” -- and the pair was used as a criterion for truly “knowing and following” God.
Love God. We all proclaim to loving God and our acts of worship (such as the liturgy here), among other things demonstrate our words.
Love my neighbor…okay, “let’s see.” I am loving, kind, and considerate to my neighbors. most of them anyway…and try to act that way with them. Some of them I don’t know much about; but they seem to be “good folks” and I’d be helpful to them if I could be. Who is my neighbor? Oh, I remember the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke’s gospel. So I don’t even have to know them to show them a loving act.
Love my enemies, pray for them even if they curse me. Whoa…I know Mark’s Jesus tells me that in the Sermon on the Mount says that I should love them as much as God loves me…so, if asked, I’d probably say that I could love them. I’d have to forgive them first, and then see what I might be willing and able to do.
So, as I’ve drawn this out, forgiveness is an important factor in this “love the enemy” setting. How many times do I have to forgive someone so I can love them as Jesus told me to do? Matthew’s Jesus says “7 times 7” or indefinitely. That can be very difficult, but is possible…to someone who is following God’s command to love others as God loves us.
Two brief examples…
Some time ago, at a Pax Christi retreat with the theme of forgiveness, a woman told a story about man who killed her niece and was sentenced to life imprisonment. This woman was going nuts about this horrible event and, in counselling, was advised to forgive the killer as a major part of her therapy. Short story…she started to write to him and, after a long time, she got up the nerve to visit him in prison which she then did regularly. When family and friends asked about this, did she really forgive him and grow to love him, she answered…yes, she did, she gave him her forgiveness and love, because that is what the scriptures, as well as her counsellor, told her she should do. But, she concluded, if she sometime learned that he had a fall in prison, split open his head and died, she wouldn’t be sad, but no too sorry, to hear about it. I guess that was
Another is a month-old Herald Trib story about the October 27 rampage at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburg. Short Story: Injured people were immediately taken to E.R. rooms in various local hospitals. At Allegheny Hospital, a male Jewish nurse was on duty there as some people, including the shooter, were brought in. The nurse, a member of Tree of Life, said that he was “instilled with panic in his heart worrying that his parents were among those who were killed.” He said that after his medical treatment of the shooter, the person “thanked him for showing his kindness.”
Love God…love your enemy… This is what the Jewish nurse said to people and the press. “Love, that’s why I did it. Love as an action is more powerful than words, and love I the face of evil gives others hope. It demonstrates humanity. It reaffirms why we are all here. Love I the only message I wish to pass on. It my actions mean anything, love means everything.”
And if these weren’t sufficient, we might think reflect on Jesus who, while on the cross, forgave those who put him there.
Actions speak louder than words.
These incidents could be call “heroic,” as indeed they are showing what high level of response is possible. Heroism sets standards. Jesus set a standard “love one another as I have loved you.”
Actions speak louder than words. They are the attentions and efforts to follow-up what we say to God, to ourselves, to others. We have a range of “action manuals,” the gospels with Jesus’ actions and teachings. We have our own words…in the liturgy’s Litany of the Breaking of the Bread; we will all commit to live justly, love tenderly and walk humbly with God.
Let us, in silence before we continue with our Profession of Faith, take a few minutes to look at the Advent candle and be inspired by Jay Murnane’s prayer. We can examine our personal plans about our Advent actions - that will speak louder than our words - as we wait to celebrate the Incarnation of Jesus on earth. Then, at the end of today’s liturgy, we will pray that we will “Let this little light shine.”
Profession of Faith
All: We believe in God, the Creator of an unfinished world in an ever-evolving cosmos, a God whose divinity infuses all that exists and makes everything in the universe sacred. We believe in Jesus, the Christ, who is our love, our hope, and our light. Through his incarnation, we have become a new people, called beyond the consequences of our brokenness. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Breath of Wisdom who keeps the Christ-vision present to all those who are searching for meaning and wholeness in their lives. She is the Holy Sustainer who heals and energizes us when our strengths grow weary in our journeys. We also believe that God’s kindom is here with us now and will always be there for those with eyes to recognize it, minds to understand it, and hearts and hands to make it known to their brothers and sisters wherever they may be. We say “amen” to the partnership and equality of all people, regardless of gender, race, and beliefs. We say “amen” to a world of peace and justice for everyone, everywhere, with no exceptions. In all of this, we surely believe.
Prayers of the Community
Presider: We are a people of faith who deeply believe in the power of prayer. We are mindful of God’s unconditional love and care for each of God’s family. And so, in our prayers, we bring the needs of our brothers and sisters to our merciful and gracious Healing One.
After each intercession, respond: Compassionate God, bless our petitions.
Presider: We pray for those broken families, torn apart…suffering in their separation… unsure of their futures. Compassionate God, bless our petitions.
Presider: For what other concerns do we pray at this time? (other intentions mentioned here….)
Presider: Holy God, we ask you to strengthen us in our concerns and care for one another, here and throughout the world. We ask you to bless our efforts for justice and equality so that, with our sisters and brothers, we may promote cultures of peace and nonviolence in the world. As we always do, we make these prayers to you, O God, in the names of Jesus, our Brother, and the Holy Spirit, our Wisdom. Amen.
Offertory Procession and Song: “Table of Plenty” #310
Gathering of the Gifted
Presider: Blessed are you, God of Creation. Through your goodness we have this bread to offer…this grain of the earth that human hands have prepared for our use. It will become for us the bread of life. All: Blessed be God forever.
Presider: Blessed are you, God of Creation. Through your goodness we have this wine to offer…this fruit of the vine that human hands have prepared for our use. It will become for us our spiritual drink. All: Blessed be God forever.
Presider: Jesus, who has often sat at our tables, now invites all of us to join him at his.
And all of us, the family of God, are welcome at his table; please join us now.
Presider (when everyone is around the altar): Blessed are all of us who have been called to this table of plenty by the God who loves and lives in us and the Sustainer who supports and cares for us. Let us show our gratitude to them - and our care for one another - as we express our recognition of the Divine Spirit that is in each of us. All: Namaste (3x)
Voice 1: Gracious God, you have set this banquet table and have invited all of us to the feast of unending delight. Here we celebrate your divine love beyond what words can describe. Your divine compassion connects us to the young and the old, the first and the last, the highest and the lowest…to everyone, everywhere.
Voice 2: Ever living and ever-loving God, we do well always and everywhere to give you thanks. In you we live and move and have our very being. In gratitude for your everlasting presence, we join with that large community of saints who have gone before us and now live with you in the eternal now, we sing with thankful praise….
All: Holy, Holy, Holy God, God of power, God of light. Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed are all who come in the name of our God. Hosanna in the highest.
Voice 3: We thank you for the gift of Jesus in history - and the gift of Jesus in faith. Through him, you breathe life into us. His life on earth was deeply moved by his vision of your constant presence in everyone he met, everywhere he went. You raised him up from among your people to baptize us in your Spirit. He reflected your being in everything he said and did in his life well lived. And he showed us, by his many spoken messages and lived examples, not only how we should live, but also for what we might even killed, as was he, in the service of the gospel message.
Voice 4: And when his time on earth had come to an end, Jesus – aware of and accepting his destiny – suffered much for the values that he deeply believed, lived and taught…his conviction that love is stronger than death. And then, providing an example of his insight for the understanding of ages to come, he opened wide his arms and died. Then the Spirit, who raised Jesus from the dead showed us - in his resurrection - that life is eternal and that love is immortal. Jesus is with us today as he will be through the end of time. The Spirit that blest Jesus is a foretaste of the pascal feast of heaven that awaits all of us as well.
All: O God, let your Spirit of life, healing and wholeness come upon these humble pieces that we gathered from your fields and placed on our table – this simple wheat and wine. May She make them holy so that they will become for us the Body and Blood of Jesus, our brother.
All (with an outstretched arm, we pray the consecration together.): 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, broke the bread and gave it to 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 the new and everlasting covenant. [Pause]
In the same way, Jesus took the cup of wine. He 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 the new and everlasting covenant.
Presider: Jesus who was with God “in the beginning of the creation of the heavens and the earth” is with us now in this bread. The Spirit whom the prophets spoke of in history is with us now in this cup. Let us proclaim this mystery of faith.
All: Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ lives today through us reflecting him to all.
Voice 5: In memory of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, we offered you, God, this life-giving bread and this saving cup. May all who shared this sacred meal be brought together in unity by the Holy Spirit. And may that Spirit, that Divine Presence, that moved so freely in Jesus’ life bless us by her manifestation in ours as well.
Voice 6: God, remember all of us, your Sacred People throughout the world, and grace us that we may continually grow in love and caring, mercy and compassion, and peace and justice. Bless Francis, our Pope, Bridget Mary, our Bishop, and the whole of your family wherever they may be - especially those who live on the margins of church and society. We remember in prayer the entire Communion of Saints, both those who are with us now on this earth and those who have gone ahead of us to their everlasting homes. We remember with overflowing gratitude those blessed people who have touched our lives and left your footprints on our hearts. We remember especially …(pause as names are mentioned).
Presider: And so we say… All: Through Christ, with Christ, and in Christ, through the power of the Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, Creator God, forever and ever (singing) Amen.
All (holding hands): Our Father and Mother, who are in heaven, blessed is your name…..
Presider: God, we have just prayed that your kindom “may come” among us -- we believe that
it is “with us now“ in a widely unrecognized way. Grant that we may open our heads to acknowledge its current presence and our hearts to make it known in its continued evolution. And may we use our hands to serve one another while waiting for its fulfillment in that blessed time.
The Sign of Peace
Presider: Jesus, you said to your disciples, “My peace I leave you; my peace I give you.” Look on the faith of those gathered here today and…
All: …. grant us your peace. O God, following the example of Jesus and with the strength of the Spirit, help us spread that peace throughout the world, to everyone, everywhere, no exceptions. Amen.
Presider: May the peace of God be always with us, and let us extend that peace to one another as we join hands in a circle of love and sing “Let There Be Peace on Earth” #532.
Litany for the Breaking of the Bread
Presider: Loving God…. All: you call us to Spirit-filled service and to live the Gospel of
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 understanding and compassion, forgiveness and healing 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, Emmanuel, who liberates, heals, and transforms us and our world. All are invited to partake of this sacred banquet of love.
All: We are the Body of Christ.
Presider:, As we come to share the richness of this sacred table … All: O God, we cannot forget the poverty of so many of our brothers and sisters, our families and neighbors.
Presider: We cannot eat this bread and forget those who are hungry… All: O God, your world is one world and we are stewards of its nourishment for all your… people.
Presider: We cannot drink this wine and forget those who are thirsty… All: O God, this very earth and its people cry out for environmental justice.
All: We cannot listen to your words of peace and not grieve for a world at war’s doors.
Communion Hymn: Instrumental
Prayer of Thanksgiving after Communion
Presider: Loving God, may this Eucharist in which we share Christ’s healing love deepen our
oneness with you and with one another. May we reflect, like Mary, your liberating, mothering
love for all. We are grateful for all of the saints who gave so much of themselves to live the beatitudes and serve as examples of God’s love and compassion in our world. May we emulate them in all that we do. We ask this in the name of Jesus the Christ. All: Amen.
Introductions, Gratitudes, Announcements
Closing Community Blessing
All: May our hearts be glad on our journey as we dream new dreams, see new
visions, and create a new heaven and earth.
May we live and work for understanding and compassion, justice and non-violence in our hearts and in those of everyone we meet.
May we learn to bless and honor and hold in reverence all creation, the earth, and one another.
May our loving and liberating God fill us with radiant joy and deep peace… and bless us always with the strength to serve the sick and the stranger.
Closing Community Commissioning
Presiders: As we leave here in the peace of Christ, let us be the people that God created us to be. Let us birth Christ anew in our world today…and in all the tomorrows of the future.
All: Thanks be to God. Let it be so!
Closing Community Hymn: This Little Light Of Mine
This Little Light This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine 3 X Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.
Hide it under a bushel? NO! 3 X I’m gonna let it shine, Let it shine 3X
This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine 3 X, Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.