Sunday, April 14, 2019

Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community - Palm Sunday Liturgy 2019 - Presiders: Kim Panaro, ARCWP, and Dave Debonis

Kim Panaro, ARCWP, and Dave Debonis led the Upper Room’s Palm Sunday Liturgy. Kim's homily starter is printed below the readings.

Welcome and Theme:
Our theme for this morning’s liturgy is to consider the true meaning of Psalm Sunday by moving beyond a story of Christ the Savior, triumphant and here to save the world, to story of a person, Jesus, who despite his fear, believed so deeply in his message of love that he was willing to die for it.   

Centering Prayer:
Today our Centering Prayer is adapted from Michael Morwood’s Book: Prayers for Progressive Christians.

We ask everyone to close their eyes.
As you take a deep breath in, open yourself to the grace that we need-
To recognize and experience the Mystery
That is the creative and energizing presence
That penetrates and pervades our innermost being.
Seek to be more attuned to allow this wondrous Reality
Greater space and freedom to stir within us.
Now, breathing deeply, call to mind Jesus who urged his listeners
To be open to the treasure that is within
To be empowered and hopeful
To take risks
To dream of what could be.
Now with each exhalation,
seek release from negativity
From lack of trust
From small-mindedness
From selfishness
And from all that closes us in on ourselves.
Finally, take a deep breath that welcomes fully
The wisdom and guidance that is our sustenance.

Opening song, Jerusalem My Destiny by Rory Cooney

First Reading Isaiah 61: 1-4
God’s spirit is upon me, because the Divine One has anointed me. He has sent me to bring good news to the poor, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim release for captives and liberation for prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and a day of vindication for our God, comfort to all who mourn, to provide for Zion’s mourners, to give them a crown in place of ashes, oil of joy in place of mourning, a mantle of praise in place of discouragement. They will be called Oaks of Righteousness, planted by the Divine One to glorify himself. They will rebuild the ancient ruins; they will restore formerly deserted places.

These are the inspired words of Isaiah 61: 1-4 and the community affirms them by saying AMEN.

HoSanna Hey Sanna
Sanna Sanna HoSanna
Hey Sanna Hosanna

HoSanna Hey Sanna
Sanna Sanna HoSanna
Hey Sanna Hosanna

Gospel Luke 19:28-40
Having said this Jesus went ahead with the ascent into Jerusalem, accompanied by those men and women close to him.
Approaching Bethpage and Bethany, near what is called the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of the disciples with these instructions: “Go into the village ahead of you. Upon entering it, you will find a tethered colt that no one has yet ridden. Untie it and lead it back. If anyone should ask you ‘Why are you untying it?’ say, ‘The Rabbi needs it.’”
They departed on their errand and found things just as Jesus had said. As they untied the colt, its owner said to them “Why are you doing that?”
They explained that the Rabbi needed it.  Then, the disciples led the animal to Jesus, and laying their cloaks on it, helped him mount.
People spread their cloaks on the roadway as Jesus rode along.  As they reached the descent for the Mount of Olives, the entire crowd of disciples joined them and begin to rejoice and praise God loudly for the display of power they had seen, saying:
“Blessed is the One who comes in the name of our God! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
Some of the Pharisees said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.”
Jesus replied, “I tell you, if they were to keep silent, the very stones would cry out!”

These are the inspired words of Luke and the community affirms them by saying AMEN.

Period of Silence
Homily starter - Kim Panaro

Palm Sunday starts Holy Week. We know all the key points of the Jesus
Holy Week story. Jesus comes into Jerusalem triumphantly, has a last meal on Thursday, is arrested, tried, humiliated, scourged and crucified on Friday, rests in the tomb through Saturday and triumphantly rises from the dead on Sunday morning.  I’m not worried that I spoiled the ending of the story for you because it is one we re-enact every year. It is true that the identity of any people can be found in the telling of their stories. It is true that we pass stories down through the generations and thereby witness to the actions of the Holy One. But we must make this re-living and re-telling an occasion of deeper understanding and renewed personal commitment. If it doesn’t lead to transformation then we are simply putting on a play like children at a Christmas pageant. Let’s consider the core question of who the historic man Jesus was and what some of the symbols found in today’s readings represent.

 Isaiah prophesizes about one who would be the salvation of all the oppressed in society. He would provide freedom and comfort from the afflictions that come from unjust systems and the pains of human tragedy. At Lent we use this reading to connect the Jesus story to the one whose coming had been foretold. As adult believers we know that Jesus would never have equated himself with God. That would be a grave sin for a Jewish man. Rather Jesus knew his scripture, his people’s story and the hope on which they survived. He taught his followers to start living as though the prophesy was already fulfilled by treating others with justice, compassion and love. That love includes everyone with no exceptions on the basis on politics, creed, gender, national origin or any other false boundary. When Jesus came to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover, he was well aware that he was likely going to his death. Why? First, he knew that the military presence of the Romans was greatly increased during Passover when the city was overflowing with pilgrims. The Romans routinely used this time to make a show of force against the Jews from whom they constantly feared an uprising.  Jesus was literally riding into the heart of violence.  We see him riding in on a donkey.  In first century Palestine military leaders and dignitaries would ride into cities on horses if they were going to war. They would ride in on donkeys if they were trying to create a message that they were coming in peace. It was a message of peace, not a symbol of humility.  By riding on a donkey and with crowds welcoming him with cloaks and palms, Jesus and his followers were essentially holding a counter protest to the entrance into the city of the Roman military heads. It was an act of civil disobedience. The symbol of people putting down their cloaks also signifies sacrificing the only possession they may have had. People often only had one cloak and if they were poor, the cloak would be used to collect the money they could beg on the streets. It was an act of trust and hope.

He dared to show the people how they could live a different kind life but one that would require immense personal risk and sacrifice of long held beliefs and habits. Jesus knew he would never live to see his dream of a just society fulfilled.   The kindom he envisioned would be because of him but not for him. This Jesus of history is the man who lived in hope and fidelity to a promise. The people who followed him hoped he would make it all happen. When he died, they were in a quandary because the Messiah was not supposed to die. Eventually this crucified man become the Christ of faith, the anointed one who would save believers from the fires of hell.   We must be clear who we welcome today. We can welcome the Christ of faith who won victory over death and despair by saving us from original sin through his atoning death. This is “one and done” Christology.  Or we welcome the Jewish Jesus of history. This is the man who did not hold himself bound to religious or civil law because he believed in a larger Love. Isaiah told of the one who would come. Jesus’ contemporaries hoped it would be him. We understand that the one we are waiting for is us. I suggest that the Jesus of history , our brother, is who we should look to.

In a few minutes we too will have a chance to put our palm branches on the cloak. In doing so, we make a choice. This is how we make the retelling of the story transforming and real rather than simply play acting a 2000-year-old drama. We commemorate Jesus’ journey into the fulfillment of his destiny. We must ask if we are willing to choose to continue to follow him knowing that he will die for his beliefs. Knowing that the story today is much the same as it was then. The cost continues to be high. Sometimes it is still death. Always it is on the margins, counter-cultural and in opposition to civil and religious power structures. Jesus knew the instantaneous fulfillment of his dream was impossible. He also knew it was his destiny to try.  What did you hear?


Presider 1:  As we prepare for the sacred meal, we lay our stoles upon the table as a sign that just as Jesus is anointed, so is each of us.  And we bring to this table our blessings, cares and concerns.
Please feel free to voice your concerns beginning with the words
“I bring to the table....”

Presider 1: We pray for these and all unspoken concerns. Amen.

Presider 2: Please join in praying the Eucharistic prayer that we will be using today, which is from Michael Morwood’s Book Prayers for Progressive Christians.  Each of you here today is invited to proclaim one portion of the prayer and then when all individual statements are spoken, we will pray the rest of the prayer together, as one voice.

At any time during the prayer that you feel so moved feel free to place your palm on the cloak in the front of the alter as a sign of your commitment to living the words that we speak.

We gather today mindful of the many times we have professed our readiness
To be true disciples of Jesus
To be salt of the earth
To be light in the world
We acknowledge the daunting challenge of this discipleship
In the society in which we live
With its economic systems that impoverish and disempower people
And its political systems that enable the rich to get richer
And the poor to become poorer
We remember that Jesus encountered in his day systems as unjust as those we experience in our day
And who surely felt powerless to change anything on his own
We turn our hearts and minds to his message
To his hopes and dreams
To his ardent desire for a better society
We focus on his struggle
His reflections
His prayers
His questions
Where to start?
How to start?
What to say?
Whom to choose?
How to keep going?
How to be light?
We call to mind how Jesus urged his listeners to put their trust in the power of neighbor
In the power of God’s Spirit within them
In the power of conversion from religious thinking and practices that made them feel inadequate and worthless
Our prayer today is a prayer of resolve        
A prayer of determination
That we, each one of us, will do whatever we can,
In whatever way we can
To bring the real dream of Jesus
To fruition in our lives.
At the start of Holy Week, we focus on Jesus, human- like us
A person with a dream for a better world
A person of extraordinary courage
A person on a journey to the end of his life
A person willing to die for what he believed
A person who knew he would never see his dream fulfilled
A person who had to trust that those who came after him would keep his dream alive.

ALL: (With Raised Hands):

As we gather once more around bread and wine, we recall Jesus sharing bread and wine with his family, with his friends, shortly before he died. He invited them to eat and drink a sign of their readiness to keep his memory alive, to give their all for what he believed and taught.

We, too, eat and drink. We stand up as a sign of our readiness to be counted upon. We give our word.  By our eating and drinking, we commit ourselves to follow wherever Jesus dared to Journey.   In gratitude and joy we embrace our calling and we lift our voices to proclaim a song of praise.

All: In union with all peoples living and dead, we unite our thoughts and prayers, asking wisdom and courage to discern more wisely your call to us in the circumstances of our daily
lives: to act justly and courageously in confronting the pain and suffering that desecrates the Earth and its peoples; to take risks in being creative and proactive on behalf of the poor and marginalized; and to love all people with generosity of heart, beyond the labels of race, creed and color.

Holy One, your transforming energy is always moving within us and working through us. Like Jesus, we will open up wide all that has been closed about us, and we will live compassionate
lives, for it is through living as Jesus lived, that we awaken to your Spirit within, moving us to glorify you, O Holy One, At this time and all ways. Amen.

Presider 1: Let us pray the prayer of Saint Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Holy One,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

Presider 1: Please join in the prayer for the breaking of the bread:

All: O Holy One, You call us to live the Gospel of peace and justice. We will live justly. You call us to be Your presence in the world. We will love tenderly You call us to speak truth to power. We will walk with integrity in your presence.
Presiders lift the bread and wine

Presider 1: This is the bread of life. Through it we are nourished and we nourish each other.

All: What we have heard with our ears, we will live with our lives; as we share communion, we will become communion, both Love’s nourishment and Love’s challenge.

Presider 2: Our Eucharistic celebration is all-inclusive. You are a spark of the Divine and nothing can separate you from God’s love. All are welcome to receive at this friendship table.
Please pass the bread and the cup with the words: You are called to be radical love.

Presider 1: Our communion meditation song is: Impossible Dream.


Presider 2: Let us pray. ……….. As we remember the brave men and woman who entered into Jerusalem with Jesus, let us consider our own calling to participate in the making of a new world order where this is no “other” and where radical love triumphs.


Presider 1: Please join in singing our closing song, Higher Ground by John Denver.

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