Sunday, July 28, 2019

Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community - Liturgy for Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Presiders: Dennis McDonald, ARCWP, and Joan Chesterfield, ARCWP

Dennis McDonald and Joan Chesterfield led the Upper Room liturgy for the Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time with the theme: The Prayer of Jesus.

First Reading: More Than A Father

The name of Father I have always known
This God who creates and holds,
This God who calls and welcomes,
This God who rules and loves,
This God whom I once feared and fought.

But Father is not enough to contain the coming God of my being.
As I grow, God grows,
Deep in my being I know a God who is more,
More than Father,
I now know my God as mother.

I have been held in her embrace
I have played at her knee
I have found a home in her heart
I have laid my head on her breast

I have touched the lines on her face
I have looked into her eyes
And I have known
A God who is Mother.

Mother God,
Father God,
Keep me in your embrace.

These are the inspired words of Mechtilde of Magdeburg, and we affirm them by saying, Amen.

Gospel: A reading from the anonymous storyteller known as Luke.

One day Jesus was praying, and when he had finished, one of the disciples asked,
“Rabbi, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”

Jesus said to them, “When you pray, say,
‘Abba God, hallowed be your Name!
May your reign come.
Give us today
Our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins,
for we too forgive everyone
who sins against us;
and do not let us be subjected
to the Test.’”

Jesus said to them: “Suppose one of you has a friend, a neighbor, and you go to your
neighbor at midnight and say, ‘Lend me three loaves, because friends of mine on a
journey have come to me, and I have nothing to set before them.’
“Then your neighbor says, ‘Leave me alone. The door is already locked and the children and I are in bed. I cannot get up to look after your needs.’ I tell you, though your neighbor will not get up to give you the bread out of friendship, your persistence will make your neighbor get up and give you as much as you need.

“That is why I tell you, keep asking and you will receive; keep looking and you will find;
keep knocking and the door will be opened to you. For whoever asks, receives; whoever seeks, finds; whoever knocks, is admitted. What parent among you will give a snake to their child when the child asks for a fish, or a scorpion when the child asks for an egg? If you, with all your sins, know how to give your children good things, how much more will our heavenly Abba give the Holy Spirit to those who ask?”

These are the inspired words of the anonymous storyteller, known as Luke, and we affirm them by saying, Amen.

Dennis' homily starter:

As I reflected on the Gospel for today, in which we are introduced to a shorter version of the Prayer of Jesus, it made me wonder  what was the purpose for the prayer that Jesus shared with his followers? Where did it come from? Was it a prayer truly created by Jesus for his disciples, and thus us, to pray religiously from that day forward?
Kaufmann Kohler, Ph.D., Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Beth-El, New York; President of the Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati, Ohio, shares that much of the prayer, if not all, is from the Jewish tradition, including the Torah, the Kaddish prayer and the Talmud. The fact that Jesus expresses himself in this way, when asked to teach a way to pray, should not be a surprise, since he was seen by his followers and others, as a teacher of the faith.
There is some speculation that he was not, necessarily, expecting that they would pray the exact prayer as he phrased it, but that the elements of the prayer he shared, would be in the prayers they offered to the Holy One.  These elements included the calling of the Divine, the recognition of his Divine Holiness,  a name beyond all other names, the call for the reign of justice and freedom to occur, and the request for sustenance both physically and spiritually.  They, also, include seeking amends with those whom they have harmed, as they would offer amends to those who harmed them in any way. Finally, the prayer should end with a plea not to be tempted to stray from the way of the Holy One.
As I considered  this, I thought of the words of the Prayer of Jesus that we use, which have been modified.  Miriam Therese Winters takes to heart the call to put into her own words a prayer reflecting the elements of the prayer offered by Jesus. I wondered how many other re-phrased prayers of Jesus might be available, and was surprised by the number I came across. I will share some of those with you in an email this week. There is power in praying a prayer that comes from the heart, that expresses today’s world in our lives. 
Many of those written today, move away from the use of the term Father, and in some cases, like our first reading indicates, recognize the feminine side of the Divine.  It is the qualities of a mother that we recognize in this reading. It is expanding our understanding of the inability to limit God to one gender, to one definition.  Mechtilde of Magdeburg, was a mystic who allowed herself to stretch beyond the standard belief of her day, of the Divine as male, as a father-figure. 

As we think about the Prayer of Jesus, and the expansion of our sense of the Holy One, beyond titles and characteristics, it also, hopefully, allows us to understand the second portion of the Gospel reading today. Jesus, in his story of the neighbor needing bread for guests, again, is reflecting the culture in the Middle East during his lifetime.  The reason the neighbor will get up and give bread is both because of the persistence of the request from his neighbor, as well as the value placed on hospitality, and the lack of such, brings shame, not just on the neighbor, but the entire community.   

The message that Jesus delivers is to go beyond the simple request of God, to persistence in prayer. It is that persistence in reaching out to the Holy One that brings results.  However, you will see that he does not guarantee that the answer or outcome will be what was requested.  He says that the Holy Spirit will be given.  It is the Spirit who will  assist in bringing clarity,  and direction to what we are asking, or show other possibilities for what we were looking, or a different door than we were attempting to open.  

When we pray for something, are we prepared to not be answered in the way we would like?  Are we open to the Spirit being given in response, and following wherever we are led? 

What might your Prayer of Jesus say? How would you rephrase it to speak to today’s world?


Recognizing God’s Love in Us

Receiving the stole: ___Dennis____ and _Joan_____, we your community call you forth and we bless you as you lead us in our liturgy today. 

Welcome and Theme   
Presider 1:   We gather this morning as a Holy People, mindful of the Holy One’s presence here among, around, and within us. Our theme today is the Prayer of Jesus, and his invitation to ask, look, and seek from the Holy One, and recognize that the response will not necessarily be what we requested.

Opening Prayer 
Presider 2:  Source of all love, we gather this day as companions on a journey to bring your love and fulfillment to the world.  May we come to recognize your presence in all that surrounds us, and find blessing in our every day interaction with creation. As we gather at table and share blessed bread and cup, may the grace of your spirit enliven and enrich our spirits. Amen.
Opening Song: Oh, Mother God #64, Pg. 21

First Reading:  More Than a Father
Gospel Luke 11: 1-13
Shared Homily 

Statement of Faith 

We believe in the Holy One, a divine mystery
beyond all definition and rational understanding,
the heart of all that has ever existed,
that exists now, or that ever will exist.

We believe in Jesus, messenger of the Divine Word,
bringer of  healing, heart of Divine compassion,
bright star in the firmament of the Holy One’s 
prophets, mystics, and saints.

We believe that weare called to follow Jesus
as a vehicle of divine love,
a source of wisdom and truth,
and an instrument of peace in the world.

We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the life that is our innermost life,
the breath moving in our being,
the depth living in each of us.

We believe that the Divine kin-dom is here and now,
stretched out all around us for  those
with eyes to see it, hearts to receive it,
and hands to make it happen.
Presider 1: As we prepare for this sacred meal, we lay our stoles upon the table as a sign that just as Jesus is anointed, so each of us is anointed.  

Holy One, You reside within us, and we, within You.  Hear us now as we bring our concern and our gratitude to this, our table, beginning with the words, I bring to the table…..

We bring these and all unspoken blessings and concerns to our table of Thanksgiving.

Presider 1:
O Holy One, you have birthed us in goodness, gifted us with life and cherished us in love. In the heart of our being, your Spirit dwells; a Spirit of courage and vision, a Spirit of wisdom and truth.

In the power of that same Spirit, we lift our hearts in prayer, invoking anew the gift of wisdom and enlightenment, that we may continue to praise and thank you, in union with
all who sing the ancient hymn of praise:

Holy, Holy, Holy by Karen Drucker 

We are holy, holy, holy
We are holy, holy, holy 
We are holy, holy, holy  
We are whole...  

Spirit divine, come to me  
Feeling love, healing me 

Open my heart, allow me to see  
Beauty & love lives in me

You are holy, holy, holy


ALL: Holy One, we see around us the work of your hands, the fruit of your wisdom and love. The unfolding story of creation witnesses unceasingly to your creative power.  We, your creatures, often deviate from that wisdom, thus hindering your creative presence in our midst.

Sending among us Jesus, our brother, you birth afresh in our world the power of Sophia-Wisdom, and in the gift of the Spirit, your creative goodness blooms anew, amid the variety and wonder of life.

Presider 2: Please extend your hands in blessing.
We invoke your Spirit upon the gifts of this Eucharistic table, bread of the grain & wine of the grape, that they may become gifts of wisdom, light and truth which remind us of our call to be the body of Christ to the world.
(Presider 1 lifts the bread)
Gathering the disciples around the table of shared wisdom, Jesus took the Passover bread; spoke the grace, broke the bread and offered it to them saying: Take and eat, this is my very self.

(Presider 2 lifts the cup)
After the meal, Jesus took the cup of blessing, spoke the grace, and offered it to them saying:  Take and drink of the new covenant, made new again through my life in you. Whenever you remember me like this, I am among you. 

In faith and hope we are sustained, In grace and dignity reclaimed, In praise, we thank You.

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.

And may we ever be aware and alert to the new things Your Spirit makes possible, in us, as our world unfolds amid pain and beauty, into the fullness of life to which all are called, participating in the wise and wonderful work of co-creation.

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.

Presider 1: Let us join in the Prayer of Jesus

Beloved One who dwells within the soul of my Being
Whose name is I Am, veneration to your holy name.
Your kin-dom is here, Your will prevails throughout the earth
as it does in the heavenly realms of my soul.
You open your hands and satisfy the hunger of all living beings.
You heal all hearts of sorrow so that they in turn may show forgiveness
to those whose minds are shrouded in ignorance of the Self.

Beloved One who imparts to all the sense of choice
so we may finally come to choose You, who are Truth,
and thus find everlasting freedom.
Glory to your name, oh Truth, for yours is the kin-dom of existence
of peace and love.  All power and glory emanates from You alone
Who imparts to all the wisdom, the light, the love and courage
to refer to themselves as I Am. Amen
By Mooji

Presider 2: Please join in the prayer for the breaking of the Bread:

All: Loving God, You call us to live the Gospel of peace and justice. We will live justly. 
Loving God, You call us to be Your presence in the world. We will love tenderly
Loving God, 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, may we live with out lives; as we share communion, may we become communion, both Love’s nourishment and Love’s challenge.

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 a spark of the Divine.

Communion Song:  God Is #93 Pg. 34

Closing Prayer: (please extend your hand)
Presider 2:  May we go forth recognizing that we are “Gospel itself, the joyful good news” of love and harmony. As we go forth let us reach out and touch those we meet, always with the purpose of enhancing life and bringing justice and peace to all of creation. Amen  
Closing Song:  Sing Out, Earth & Skies #42, Pg. 14


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