Sunday, January 6, 2019

Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community - Epiphany Liturgy - Presiders: Debra Trees, ARCWP and Jim Marsh, ARCWP



 Debra Trees, ARCWP, and Jim Marsh, ARCWP, led the Upper Room Epiphany liturgy on the twelfth day of Christmas (the last day of the Christmas season). We are in Liturgical Year C that focuses on the Gospel according to Luke. However, since Luke has no Magi narrative, we are directed to use a narrative from Matthew's Gospel today. Deb’s homily reflection is below the readings.

Opening Song: Let Your Light Shine in Us by Kathy Sherman
Let your light shine in us. (3x)
and we will be light for the world.

Let your light shine in us. (3x)
and we will be light for the world.
We will be one and the kin-dom will come.

Let your heart beat in us.  (3x)
And we will be love for the world.
We will be one and the kin-dom will come.

Let your joy sing in us. (3x)
And we will be hope for the world.
We will be one and the kin-dom will come.

Let your peace live in us. (3x)
And we will be one for the world
We will be one and the kin-dom will come.

Reading 1      Isaiah 60:1-6
“Arise, shine, for your light has come! the glory of YHWH is rising upon you! Though darkness still covers the earth and dense clouds enshroud the peoples,
upon you YHWH now dawns, and God’s glory will be seen among you!
The nations will come to your light and the leaders to your bright dawn! Lift up your eyes and look around: they’re all gathering and coming to you—your daughters and your sons journey from afar, escorted in safety; you’ll see them and beam with joy, your heart will swell with pride.

The riches of the sea will flow to you, and the wealth of the nations will come to you—camel caravans will cover your roads, dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; everyone in Sheba will come, bringing gold and incense, and singing the praise of YHWH.

Gospel   Matthew 2:1-12
After Jesus’ birth—which happened in Bethlehem of Judea, during the reign of Herod—astrologers from the East arrived in Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the newborn ruler of the Jews? We observed his star at its rising and have come to pay him homage.: At this news Herod became greatly disturbed, as did all of Jerusalem Summoning all the chief priests and religious scholars of the people, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born.

“In Bethlehem of Judea,” they informed him. “Here is what the prophet has written:
And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
are by no means least among the leaders of Judah;
since from you will come a ruler,
who is to shepherd my people Israel."

Herod called the astrologers aside and found out from them the exact time of the star’s appearance. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, after having instructed them, “Go and get detailed information about the child. When you have found him, report back to me—so that I may go and offer homage, too.”

After their audience with the ruler, they set out. The star which they had observed at its rising went ahead of them until it came to a standstill over the place where the child lay. They were overjoyed at seeing the star and, upon entering the house, found the child with Mary, his mother. They prostrated themselves and paid homage Then they opened their coffers and presented the child with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
They were warned in a dream not to return to Herod, so they went back to their own country by another route.

Deb’s Homily Reflection:
Through the stories of the Gospel, we come to learn of Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus the Prophet, Jesus the Messiah, and Jesus the Son of God.  Here today, we learn of Jesus the Infant, and future King, a direct heir to the Throne, and a direct threat to Herod and Rome. Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan in their book The First Christmas, comment that “We see the nativity stories as neither fact nor fable, but as parables and overtures.”  The story of an infant being visited by wise astrologers from a distant land is not necessarily a truth, and not necessarily false. But it is a sign of the times: a Roman aristocracy utilizing its power to influence a society from the top down.  Here is an infant with power from the bottom-up.

Everyone is included in this Jesus story: foreigners (wise astrologers not of Hebrew or Roman heritage), poor shepherds and all of creation, and of course, a family including the newborn child. That a child would be considered powerful is a message that Jesus shared with all. Does it have to be just the Infant Jesus? This Christmas tradition and story allows each of us to celebrate ourselves and each other. For all of the materialistic commentary of this season, the one thing that I love is that we get to celebrate our individuality and beauty. We give gifts to each other, and to ourselves.

Including everyone here, that is the key for me. Barbara Reid writes in Abiding Word, Reflections for Year C “These visitors from an unknown land also cause us to reflect on the gifts that come to us in hidden ways from those we regard as strangers.  Their odd dress, differently colored skin, and unintelligible tongue immediately put us on guard.”  How true here in our world even today!  But the stranger brings gifts beyond measure, and extraordinary enlightenment of who is the true one to be emulated and loved! I say, that is You!
As we continue to celebrate this wonderful birth in our lives, my wish for each of you is that you will see that extraordinary miracle in each person you encounter, stranger, friend or foe. 
What did you hear?  What will you do about it?  What will it cost you?

Communion Song:  Go Light Your World – Chris Rice


There is a candle in every soul
Some brightly burning, some dark and cold
There is a Spirit who brings a fire
Ignites a candle and makes His home

Refrain:
So carry your candle, run to the darkness
Seek out the hopeless, confused and torn
Hold out your candle for all to see it
Take your candle, and go light your world
Take your candle, and go light your world

Frustrated brother, see how he's tried to
Light his own candle some other way
See now your sister, she's been robbed and lied to
Still holds a candle without a flame. Ref

Cause We are a family whose hearts are blazing
So let's raise our candles and light up the sky
Praying to our Father, in the name of Jesus
Make us a beacon in darkest times. 

Closing Song:  We Go Forth by Jan Novotka
We stand here together
Hand in hand, side by side.
We walk into mystery
For the sake of all.
We go forth, as one,
As one, we stand strong.
Letting go, letting in,
We emerge with new wings.

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