Monday, August 5, 2019

Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community - Liturgy for the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Presiders: Kathleen Ryan, ARCWP, and Deven Horne

Welcome on this wonderful day. We have so much to be grateful for!  The phrases “Do not be afraid” and “Peace be with you” are repeated more often than any other phrase in scripture.  Today as we listen to the readings let’s go a little deeper into these holy words and see what else Jesus has to say about fears and living in peace.

Peace Prayer
Close your eyes and be in the present moment in the presence of the Divine Beloved. Notice your breath and breath in and out slowly and deeply. Be aware of this life-giving breath. Stay with the breath and let peace enfold around you. In this moment, no anxieties can reside. Inhale deeply and exhale slowly with gratitude for this moment of peace. Extend your peace to everyone gathered in the circle wishing them this wellness of life. In your mind’s eye embrace the person on your right with a hug of blessing for peace. Now bring into your mine’s eye the person on your left. Embrace him or her with a hug of blessing for peace. Come back to yourself and this space now with only the present moment of all-encompassing love.

Opening Song: Berakah, the Blessing by Jan Novotka

A reading from the letter of the Philippians 
Rejoice in the Holy One always! I say it again Rejoice! Let everyone see your forbearing spirit. God is with us.  Dismiss all anxiety from your minds, instead present your needs to the Holy One, giving thanks for all circumstances. Then God’s own peace which is beyond all understanding, will stand guard over your hearts and mind. 
These are the inspired words of Paul a disciple of Jesus and we affirm them by saying:  Amen

A Reading from the Gospel of Thomas 
There was a rich person who had a great deal of money. He said, “I shall invest my money so that I may sow, reap, plant, and fill my storehouses with produce, that I may lack nothing.” These were the things he was thinking in his heart, but that very night he died.

These are the inspired words of Thomas a disciple of Jesus, and we affirm them by saying:   AMEN.

Kathie’s Homily Reflection:
The Gospel parable that we just heard is the same parable that is heard in many Christian Churches this morning.  This parable, however, is taken from the Gospel of Thomas instead of the Gospel of Luke.  Thomas was a writer who was more of a minimalist.  He wrote what he remembered Jesus said and did not embellish or add further explanations. He had a ‘less is more’ style of writing.   If you read the Luke gospel the same parable is about a farmer who builds bigger barns so he can store away his fortune for the future.  Like the investor in the Thomas gospel, Luke’s farmer dies before he can make use of his fortune.  The Jesus seminar scholars concluded that both parables were very likely taught by Jesus.  My guess is that Jesus was teaching two different crowds and made his point first to a group of business people, and then later to a group of farmers.

This morning let’s imagine Jesus is teaching specifically to us in our present day circumstances. Most of us are storing up for the future, or worried if we are not storing up for the future.   Retirement funds, the stock market, 401k’s, we are taught the earlier we start saving the better, and saving is better late than never.

We worry and fret exactly like the farmer with his barns and the investor with his money. 2000 plus years later we are still the same. Worries and anxieties about the future seem to be part of our human nature.

Years ago the church recited a prayer during Mass that ended with “free us from all anxiety.” This prayer was  followed by the “sign of peace.”  While offering the sign of peace to our neighbors in the pew we briefly left our anxiety behind. Offering peace to one another brings us to the present moment.  Here at the Upper Room each week our opening peace prayer calls us to let go of worries and anxiety and be in the present moment.

Peace comes to us in the present.  Peace is in the moment. Anxiety and worries are found and held in the future and we easily lose our inner peace when we go out to the future.  

In 2007 I read the book The Shack, the movie came out last year or the year before.  In the book, God the Father, who happened to be an African American woman, told the main character, Mack, that our anxiety and worries can be overwhelming because we are either living in the past or imagining the future. She reminded Mack,  She is no longer in the past, nor is She yet in the future.  She is only in the present -standing with us, holding us-loving us in the present moment.  The Holy One is in this present moment.  We are free from anxiety when we live in the present with the Holy One.  

Remember I asked us to imagine Jesus teaching us?  It just so happens that after he told his listeners to stop worrying about the future and live in the present, Jesus continued his teaching by asking his listeners  to look around at creation- look at the lilies of the field-how beautiful they are-look at the birds of the air, they don’t plant or harvest, or save money yet the Holy One feeds them, cares for them, and loves them- all of creation lives in the present moment and trusts because all of creation experiences the Holy One in the present.  Jesus invites us today to look around and see the wonder of creation and live in the present with the Holy One.

What did you hear? How will it change you? What will you do? 

Communion Song: You Can Relax Now by Shaina Noll

Closing Song:  Be light for our eyes by David Hass

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