Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community - Liturgy: Seasons of Creation/Feast of St. Francis, Presiders: Dennis McDonald, ARCWP, and Bridget Ball Shaw

Liturgy – Seasons of Creation/Feast of St. Francis

Opening Prayer:
The Earth is the Creator’s and the fullness thereof, the world and all that dwells therein.  We share this life with the heavens and the earth, with the waters and the land, with trees and grasses, with fish, birds, and animals, with creatures of every form, and with all our brothers and sisters. Together we form strands in the web of creation woven and held together by the Divine Creator.

All: Great Spirit of Creation come worship with us, embrace us with your spirit of life. We celebrate the power of creation, the gift of life and relationships, we celebrate the diversity of life on this planet, the oceans and lands, people and wildlife. We open our hearts and minds to hear the voice of creation. Amen.

Opening Song: Sing Out, Earth and Skies by Marty Haugen

First Reading: A reading from the Hindu Tradition by Ahtarva Veda

Homage to you, Breath of Life, for the whole universe obeys you.
You are the rule of all things on earth, and the foundation of the earth itself.

Homage to you, Breath of Life, in the crashes of thunder, and in the flashes of lightning. The rain you send gives food to the plants and drink to the animals.

Homage to you, Breath of Life, in the changing seasons, in the hot dry sunshine and the cold rain. There is comfort and beauty in every kind of weather.

The plants themselves rejoice in your bounty, praising you in the sweet smell of their blossom. The cattle rejoice, praising you in the pure white milk they give.

Homage to you, Breath of Life, in our breathing out and breathing in. At every moment, whatever we are doing, we owe you praise and thanksgiving.

Homage to you, Breath of Life, in our birth and in our death. In the whole cycle of life you sustain and inspire us.

Homage to you, Breath of Life, in the love and friendship we enjoy. When we love one another, we reflect your infinite love.

Men and women rejoice in your bounty, praising you in poem and song. The little children rejoice, praising you in their innocent shrieks of laughter.

These are the inspired words by Ahtarva Veda, and we affirm them by saying, Amen.


Left: "The Earth. . . is a sparkling blue and white jewel. . . laced with slowly swirling veils of white. . . like a small pearl in a thick sea of black mystery." (Edgar Mitchell, US Astronaut)

All: "All creation is a song of praise to God." (Hildegard of Bingen, Mystic)

Right: "O moving force of Wisdom, you encircle the wheel of the cosmos, you encompass all that is, all that has life, in one vast circle." (Hildegard of Bingen)

All: "All creation is a song of praise to God." (Hildegard of Bingen, Mystic)

Left: "It could be that god has not absconded but spread, as our vision and understanding of the universe have spread, to a fabric of spirit and sense so grand and subtle, powerful in a new way, that we can only feel blindly of its hem." (Annie Dillard, naturalist writer)

All: "All creation is a song of praise to God." (Hildegard of Bingen, Mystic) 

Right: ". . . stardust is not just fairy-tale magic; it is what we are really made of. . ." (Elisabet Sahtouris, Ecofeminist) 

All: "All creation is a song of praise to God." (Hildegard of Bingen, Mystic) 

Left: "Great Spirit, . . . give me the strength to walk the soft earth, a relative to all that is! . . . all over the earth the faces of living things are all alike. . . This is my prayer; hear me!" (Black Elk, Oglala Sioux) 

All: "All creation is a song of praise to God." (Hildegard of Bingen, Mystic) 

Right: ". . . When you stand in the presence of the moon, you become a new creation. . . The elementary particles of your body have absorbed an influence and in that sense they--and you--are brand spanking new, a human being resonating everywhere with moonlight." (Brian Swimme, physicist) 

All: "All creation is a song of praise to God." (Hildegard of Bingen, Mystic)

These are the inspired words of Hildegard of Bingen and we affirm them by saying, Amen.

Second Reading: A reading from Hildegard of Bingen

God's Word is in all creation. All creation is awakened, called, by the resounding melody of God's invocation of the Word, the Word that manifests in every creature. All living creatures are sparks from the radiation of God's brilliance, emerging from God like the rays of the sun. The truly holy person welcomes all that is earthly.


Third Reading: A reading from Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

“The human environment and the natural environment are deteriorating together and this deterioration of the planet weighs upon the most vulnerable of its people. The impact of climate change affects, first and foremost, those who live in poverty in every corner of the globe. Our
obligation to use the earth’s goods responsibly implies the recognition of and respect for all people and all living creatures. The urgent call and challenge to care for creation are an invitation for all of humanity to work towards sustainable and integral development.”

These are the inspired words of Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on the World Day of Prayer for Creation and we affirm them by saying, Amen.

Homily Reflection by Dennis McDonald

“And God saw that it was good” (Gen 1:25). God’s gaze, at the beginning of the Bible, rests lovingly on his creation. From habitable land to life-giving waters, from fruit-bearing trees to animals that share our common home, everything is dear in the eyes of God, who offers creation to men and women as a precious gift to be preserved.”  Pope Francis Prayer for the Care of Creation

Our first reading from the Hindu tradition, speaks of the Breath of Life, that the Divine breathed in, according to Genesis, to Adam and Eve, which has been breathed into all elements of Creation.  Like us, all creation is imbued with the essence of the Divine.  We are called by that very life-given breath to embrace and sustain all that has been gifted to this planet.  

We watch and experience today, the on-going destruction of that creation. We see the melting of the polar ice cap, the deforestation of the Amazon and the African jungles, the eradication of species. We see the wanton disregard for the lives of our brothers and sisters, across the globe, who die attempting to find a better life, or who are murdered by fellow human beings due to the color of their skin, or embracing a different religious tradition, or being rooted out in ethnic cleansing. 
St. Francis of Assisi stated: “If you have people who will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have people who will deal likewise with their fellow men.” Unfortunately, this sentiment is true enough in our world today.

Pope Francis states: “Each Christian man and woman, every member of the human family, can act as a thin yet unique and indispensable thread in weaving a network of life that embraces everyone. “ 
Think of that, each of us a unique and indispensable thread.  What does that mean for how I live my life? What thread or threads am I choosing to add to the network of life.  There is so much need, and we, as individuals, aren’t able to weave the total network.  It takes all of us, each doing their special part, in taking action, to make a difference.
Our Hindu companions share the following:  “the second Dharma principle is ethical conduct, which is rooted in a compassionate concern for all living beings in the vast web of life. We need to make a firm moral commitment to adopt ways of living that protect the climate and help restore the Earth’s ecosystems and living organisms. In our personal lives, we should recognize the value of contentment and sufficiency and realize that, after a certain modest level, additional consumption, material wealth, and power will not bring happiness.
When we come together to celebrate our love for the natural world and all of the beings that inhabit it, and when we take a stand to counter the forces of craving, aversion, and delusion, we reclaim our own inner stability and strength and live closer to the truth, closer to the Dharma.”

I had a dream the other night, which involved Ed, Lynn and I.  It was sort of a spiritual talk show, with Ed asking Lynn and I questions on how we live out our live as Christians and as ordained priests.  It was pretty intense with at least one question on our support of creation.  At the end, he handed us each a Italian lira. I thought, why is he giving us outdated Italian money? I think this is the connection to St. Francis.  But then, he handed each of us five $20 bills, with the admonition to spend it wisely for assisting others.  In my dream, I started to think about what I would do with these funds?  What could I do to have the biggest impact with $100?  Then, I woke up. 

So, the question remained, what can I do with $100? In some ways that seemed too easy. I could donate the funds to an organization dedicated to a cause, or share it with those less fortunate, homeless, on the street.   But what if we take it a step further, what can I do to “adopt ways of living that protect the climate and help restore the Earth’s ecosystems and living organisms.”  There is certainly much to be done and various ways to make changes in our lives to make a difference.  St. Francis of Assisi said, “Start by doing what is necessary, then what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”

As the end of the Seasons of Creation comes to a close this weekend, it has me considering what I might be able to do to improve life on this planet. What commitment can/must I make to become a thread in the network of life?  What can I do that is necessary and possible?  Together, weaving our threads, can we do the impossible? 
So, what is your thread? What will you do with it? What will it cost you?

After sharing, pray:
All-powerful God, you are present in the whole universe and in the smallest of your creatures. You embrace with your tenderness all that exists. Pour out upon us the power of your love, that we may protect life and beauty.  Fill us with peace, that we may live as brothers and sisters, harming no one. Amen.
Laudato Si'

Statement of Faith:  

We believe in one God, 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 God's Word,  
bringer of God's healing, heart of God's compassion,  
bright star in the firmament of God's   
prophets, mystics, and saints. 
We believe that We are called to follow Jesus  
as a vehicle of God's love,  
a source of God's wisdom and truth,  
and an instrument of God's peace in the world.  

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

We believe that God's 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 2: 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. 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….”    
[end with]   We bring all of these prayers and unspoken concerns to the table of friendship. Amen. 

Eucharistic Prayer

Presider 1: Please join in praying the Eucharistic Prayer

Loving God, all creation calls you blessed, and so do we. Your spirit imprints the whole universe with life and mystery. Yes, all creation proclaims your love. We now join this chorus of praise.

Alleluia, sing!   
(Alleluia Sing by David Haas)

Blessed be our God! 
Blessed be our God!  
Joy of our hearts, source of all life and love!  
God of Heaven and Earth! 
God of Heaven and Earth! 
Dwelling within, calling us all by name!  
Alleluia, sing! 
Alleluia, sing! 

Gift of love and peace!  
Gift of love and peace! 
Jesus Christ, Jesus our hope and light!  
A flame of faith in our hearts! 
A flame of faith in our hearts! 
Proclaiming the day, shining throughout the night!  
Alleluia, sing!  
Alleluia, sing! 

All: Loving God, all of nature calls you blessed, and so do we. For you have woven an intimate tapestry and call it life and call it good. In love you have formed a universe so diverse yet so related, and into its web you call us forth to walk the land and swim the sea with all our natural brothers and sisters. To the stars we seem no more than blades of grass.

Yet to you, each of us, as each blade of grass and each star, is an irreplaceable treasure, an essential companion on this journey of love. Loving God, as you lure the whole world into salvation, guide us with your Spirit that we might not be only pilgrims on the earth, but pilgrims with the earth, journeying home to you. Open our hearts to understand the intimate relationship that you have with all creation. Only with this faith can we hope for tomorrow’s children. Loving God, all creation calls you blessed, and so do we.

Presider 2: Please extend your hands in blessing.

All:  We invoke that same Spirit upon the gifts of this Eucharistic table, bread of the grain and vine of the grape, that they may become gifts of passion, wisdom, insight and inspiration, which remind us of our call to be the body of Christ in the world.

On the night before he faced his own death, Jesus sat at the Seder supper with his companions and friends.  He reminded them of all that he taught them, and to fix that memory clearly with them, he bent down and washed their feet.

Presider 1 lifts the bread

All: When he returned to his place, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and offered it to them saying: Take this, all of you, and eat it. This bread is you; this bread is me. We are one body, the presence of God in the world (pause)

Presider 2 lifts the Cup

Jesus then raised a cup of blessing, spoke the grace and offered the wine saying:
Take this, all of you, and drink it. This wine is you; this wine is me. We are one blood, the presence of God in the world. (pause)

Therefore we ask that, in the sharing of this bread, and in the drinking from this cup, our own eyes might be opened to behold you in the glory of your Creation, in the Wisdom of your Word, and in the faces of our sisters and brothers gathered in your name to celebrate your astounding love for us.

All: We are thankful for the passion of the children and youth among us who push us to recognize the urgency of the environmental crisis. Thank you creator and giver of passion. 

We are thankful for the wisdom of the aged among us who remind us of what it means to respect the earth and to live in community with one another. Thank you creator and giver of wisdom. 

We are thankful for the insights of our native brothers and sisters among us, who draw on their tradition and teach us about the sacredness of all creation and how to live in kinship with it. Thank you creator and giver of insight.

We are thankful for the inspiration of those among us who have already begun to live their lives in ways that show a caring for the earth, water, and the skies. Thank you creator and giver of inspiration.

We thank you God for all signs of hope that keep us from despairing and point us toward new ways of living. We confess our part in hurting the earth. We express our thanks for creation and those who care for it. We are ready to commit ourselves to a new way of living.

This we know, the earth does not belong to us, We belong to the earth This we know, all things are connected, like the blood that unites one family This we know, we did not weave the web of life, we are merely a strand in it This we know, whatever we do to the web we do to ourselves Let us give thanks for the gift of creation Let us give thanks that all things hold together in Christ.

Presider 1: Let us pray together the Prayer of Jesus

O Birther! Father- Mother of the Cosmos
Focus your light within us - make it useful.
Create your reign of unity now-
through our fiery hearts and willing hands
Help us love beyond our ideals
and sprout acts of compassion for all creatures.
Animate the earth within us: we then
feel the Wisdom underneath supporting all.
Untangle the knots within
so that we can mend our hearts' simple ties to each other.
Don't let surface things delude us,
But free us from what holds us back from our true purpose.
Out of you, the astonishing fire,
Returning light and sound to the cosmos. Amen.
(Translation by Neil Douglas-Klotz in Prayers of the Cosmos)

Presider 2Please join in the prayer for the breaking of the bread: (Presiders break 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 the Presence of Love in the world.  We will love tenderly . 

Presider 1:  This is the Bread of Life and the Cup of Blessing, through it we are nourished and we nourish each other. 

ALL:  What we have heard with our ears, we will live 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 Divine love. All are welcome to receive at this table.  Please pass the bread and the cup with the words “You are a Spark of the Divine.”  

Communion Song: By Breath by Sara Thomsen

Presider 1: Creator of all, we are thankful for this holy meal which reminds us of the need to willingly give of ourselves completely.  Our hearts are fueled with divine energy. May we share the love we have experienced with all of creation, and may we live always as instruments of your faithful love. Amen.

Wedding Blessing for Kim and Donna

Please raise your hands and hearts as we bless Kim and Donna.

Kim and Donna, We bless you as you prepare to commit your lives to one another. May all things be possible through the tender love shared by your two spirits.

As you hold each other’s hands, and eagerly look into the future in each other’s eyes, may your unconditional love, and devotion take you to places where you both only dreamed.

May your life be filled with deep happiness sheltered in the warmth of each other’s embrace.


Final Blessing:  May the Divine Creator bless us as we commit to love and care for all of creation and one another.  Amen.

Closing Song: All You Works of God by Marty Haugen

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