Sunday, December 16, 2018

Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community - Advent 3 - Presiders: Kim Panaro, ARCWP and Terry Kersch

Kim Panaro, ARCWP, and Terry Kersch led the Upper Room's third week of Advent liturgy with the theme of Joy. In our Christian story/parable tradition we are constantly invited to live a life filled with joy. Yet as adults we know that the deep joy of our faith is rooted in an experience of the Holy One within the context of complex lives full of both joys and sorrows.
Terri's homily starter is below the readings. Kim and Terri asked the community to contemplate the readings and consider the following questions: What do you hear?, What will you do?, What will it cost you?

Opening Meditation: Mary Did you Know Sung by Dennis McDonald, ARCWP, and Joan Horgan.
Peace Prayer: Loving Kindness by Karen Drucker
First Reading:

In loving kindness, God has raised up witnesses in our midst. God is calling each of us to a more radical discipleship-one which will not be understood by the powerful of our day. We must be wise as serpents in naming and denouncing the evil which pervades our world. We must be filled with compassion with those for whom suffering from lack of basic necessities has become a way of life. We must be moved to action which will clearly identify us with the poor. Above all, let us not be filled with fear. Let us be filled with courage and hope, for “in the tender compassion of our God, the dawn shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

These are the inspired words of Sr. Melinda Roper and the community affirms them by saying: Amen.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 119 Nan Merrill

L- O, how I love your friendship! I walk with You wherever I go. Your Love is the life-giving force of Creation, imbue us with your living rays of peace and joy.

R- For, as we surrender ourselves to Your living Presence, we will be filled with the radiance of Love. As we open our hearts to the spiritual Life, we will be filled with wisdom and freedom ready to serve.

L- O, how glorious are the ways of the Spirit! How wondrous are your Works! The path of love is sure, unhurried and filled with mystery.

R- How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through your Mind I receive understanding; I no longer take pleasure in my former ways.

L- Yes, your Truth is a lamp to my feet and Light to my path. You give me strength as I descend into the inner sanctum, to uncover the hidden blessings, to seek the treasures of the Spirit.

R- When I am filled with fear, I meditate upon your LIght. I yearn to have every doubt and fear quelled and transformed; O Heart of all hearts, bless me with your healing Light, that I may be loving presence.

L- Though the ignorant lay snares for me, let me not stray from You. Your Word is my heritage forever; Yes, it is the joy of my heart. I shall open my heart’s ear to converse with you forever, to the end.

All- When I meditate upon your Light, My heart opens with compassion for all life.
Painting of Mary by Fr. Bruno Segatta  - A gift from Fr. Bruno to the Upper Room
Gospel Reading: 

When the people asked him, “What should we do?”John replied, “Let the one with two coats share with the one who has none. Let those who have food do the same.”

Tax collectors also came to be baptized, and they said to John, “Teacher, what are we to do?”

John answered then, “Exact nothing over and above your fixed amount.”

Soldiers likewise asked, “What about us?” John told them, “ Don’t bully anyone. Don’t accuse anyone falsely. Be content withy your pay.”

The people were full of anticipation, wondering in their hearts whether John might be the Messiah. John answered them all by saying. “I am baptizing you in water, but someone is coming who is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not fit to untie! This One will baptize you in the Holy Spirit and in fire. A winnowing-fan is in his hand to clear the threshing floor and gather the wheat into the granary, but the chaff will be burnt in unquenchable fire” Using exhortations like this, John proclaimed the Good News to the people.

These are the inspired words from the gospel of Luke and the community affirms them by saying, Amen.

Third Sunday of Advent Homily Starter – Terri Kersch

As I prayed about this weekend… I have been thought filled about Joy…Not the giddy, frivolous cheeriness often attributed to this season…but the deep inner warmth exhibited by courage and willingness to grow in God’s love.  Our theme evolved as Advent Joy – living fully within the no longer and not yet
In the previous weeks we have heard about the seed planted in dark soil.  I believe we all have space (s) in our hearts where darkness resides.  But faith leads us to believe this darkness - a place perhaps deepened by anxiety, loss, pain, abandonment or simply shaky faith is creative darkness.  A place where God already is…but needs to be (re)discovered…
I am sure that Mary, a very pregnant teenager did NOT know what was in store for her in life… yet somehow she was able to summon the courage to CHOOSE to believe.  Not only to believe, but she was willing to put her belief into action sitting with a pregnancy and a long and probably bumpy journey on a donkey not to mention the anxiety she experienced through her son’s brief life!  She is a model of radical discipleship Sr. Roper speaks of.
I am compelled to ask myself if I have Mary’s courage, to look deeply into my own creative darkness.  Do I have the courage and hope that  Sr. Melinda Roper speaks of…the willingness to choose to sit with what lies in darkness and not be filled with fear?  Can I actively appreciate with joy that time of waiting so that I can fully embrace the surprise that brings new sight.
And then, Luke challenges me further. Looking deeply within is not good enough. He tells me, with love and compassion I must show concern for others, and live with honesty and integrity…

Our music and readings bring me to two humongous questions:
Do I have the courage to acknowledge the God within me and
Am I willing to open my hands and heart to share that blessing with others…as Luke teaches…through love and compassion…with honesty and integrity
I believe an answer yes to these questions is the prescription for true joy…the God within us and in our midst. We become a blessing to each…both giving and receiving.  When we choose to absorb all that is no longer and richly and fully meet what is not yet…I believe we become Joy.

Communion Song: I Am For You by Rory Cooney

Closing Song: O Holy Darkness, Loving Womb by Jann Aldredge-Clanton

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