Sunday, March 8, 2020

Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community - Liturgy for Second Sunday of Lent, March 8, 2020 - Presider: Jim Marsh, ARCWP, and Terri Kersch

Second Sunday of Lent and International Women’s Day
March 8, 2020

Strike the #EachforEqual pose

Liturgy of  Transformation
Welcome and Theme            Jim
Good morning—welcome to the Upper Room!

We are twelve days into Lent—this being the Second Sunday of forty days during which we are called to pray, reflect, fast and give alms before the great feast of Resurrection. Some of us began the season being marked with ashes, a reminder of our mortality, yes; but more importantly, a reminder that we came from dust, specifically, stardust and that the Holy One has done marvelous things with dust and dirt.

Last Sunday, we heard inspired stories about human creatures being wonderfully created and called very good in spite of ego, greed, power and a multitude of forces that tempt us from time to time to be less than the Creator’s vision for each of us.

Today, we will hear stories about leaving home—all that we know, and that it can lead to being blessed and transfigured. Today is also International Women’s Day, a global day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, political and religious achievements of women. This year’s theme is #EachforEqual; a reminder that we’re all responsible for building a more just and equitable world; indeed, we all have the power to change things.
With this is mind, let us begin our prayer together ….

Opening Prayer        Terri
Go There        Haitian Poem by Totongi
Go there where you see your heart
Leading you, keeping you from changing
Into a dry desert of sorrow
worse than the skin of a drum.
Go there even when you’re discouraged
When you end up as salt meat
In banquets for bigwigs.
You have to go there, my brothers and sisters,
Where the people suffering
Never hear “Good Morning”
Where there’s no light
To enliven a day with hope.
Go there and bring the warmth of your love along
To make the people’s heart happy
To defy injustice and evil
Endured by the wretched of the earth
As if they had no right to be there,
There in the morning splendor of being alive.
You have to go there, live there, join us
If only with the little smiles of your mouths
O my sisters and brothers, we have to be there
Where together, without any dirty tricks,
We can grow corn, oranges and friendship
For all of us on earth so in need of transformation.

 Opening Song: “The Summons” -John L Bell
Liturgy of Word

First Reading:             from the Book of Genesis 12:1-4a
Yahweh said to Abram and Sarah:
“Leave your country, your people, and the home of your parents, and go to a place I will show you. I will make of you a great people. I will bless you and make your name so great that it will be used in blessings. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse those who curse you All the people on the face of the earth will be blessed through you.”

Abram and Sarah began the journey as Yahweh had instructed.
Hear what the Spirit is saying in these words. AMEN!

Sung ResponseSpirit of the Living God   – Michael Crawford

Gospel Reading:       from Matthew 17:1-9 
Jesus took Peter, James, and John up on a high mountain to be alone with them.
And before their eyes, Jesus was transfigured—his face became as dazzling as the sun and his clothes as radiant as light.

Suddenly, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with Jesus Then Peter said, “Rabbi, how good that we are here! With your permission, I will erect three shelters here—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah!”

Peter was still speaking when suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them. Out of the cloud came a voice which said, “This is my Own, my Beloved, on whom my favor rests. Listen to him!”

When they heard this, the disciples fell forward on the ground, overcome with fear. Jesus came toward them and touched them, saying, “Get up! Don’t be afraid.” When they looked up, they did not see anyone but Jesus.

As they were coming down the mountainside, Jesus commanded them, “Don’t tell anyone about this until the Chosen One has risen from the dead.”
Hear what the Spirit is saying in the words of the Evangelist known as Matthew. AMEN!

Homily Starter and Shared Reflections   Jim

We just heard: “leave your home, your people, your country … I will bless you; in fact, all will be blessed through you.” What came to your mind?

I thought of Joseph who long ago heard an angel say “Take the child with his mother, and flee.” Today, I think of the many refugees across this planet who are fleeing danger, disasters, war and genocide in search of safety and security. I think of women and children who long to flee and escape their sex-traffickers.

Can you imagine the guts, determination, and trust that is needed to leave all you know to charter “unknown waters?” Could you do it?

On this Sunday, I’m also mindful of the many women who dreamed of equal rights in so many arenas. They challenged the “status quo” and their determination has greatly transformed and transfigured our society and the world in just the last century.

Well, I’m here to say that you and I have also left our home and traveled to a place where the Holy One has led us. For many reasons, we have all left the church that formed and nurtured us in past years in search of an authentic twenty-first century experience and celebration of the sacred within a “discipleship of equals.” Ultimately, we have Christine Mayr-Lumetzberger to thank; if it were not for her great determination and trust in the Spirit, the “Danube Seven” would not have happened in June 2002, and quite likely, we would not be meeting here as the Upper Room today.

A few thoughts on our Gospel reading. We often use the words transfigure and transform interchangeably. However, they are not really synonymous.

Transformation is more a metamorphosis, much like a caterpillar becoming a butterfly. I believe there are toys called “Transformers” that have become the “rage” of children today.
Transfiguration is a revelation of one’s true self, your best self as envisioned by God the creator. In this story today, Jesus is transfigured; we hear the same words spoken at his baptism: “This is my Beloved, on whom my favor rests.”

We have “transfiguration” moments in our own lives and have seen them in others we know. Have you ever seen the face of a child filled with joy opening some gift or experiencing something wonderful and unexpected? Is that not a transfiguration experience—seeing them as they truly are? Likewise, have you ever seen someone (perhaps someone you love) who has become so overcome with frustration, resentment or anger that it is manifested in their face and bodily gestures? While this may be frightening, it is nevertheless a revelatory moment; transfiguring but also disillusioning.

We’re very much like Peter in this story. We recognize moments of beauty and splendor and want to “stay in that moment forever.”  However, we are a pilgrim church. Let us take our grace-filled moments and transfigured selves into our world each day as we strive to build the “kin-dom of God.”

May this season of reflective prayer, fasting and almsgiving transfigure us—make us the best version of ourselves. And may we too hear the words of the Holy One, “You are my beloved.”  (pause)
What did you hear?

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 We are 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 Spirit of the Holy One,
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.

Liturgy of the Eucharist
Terri:   As we prepare for the sacred meal, we are aware that just as Jesus is anointed, so is each of us. We bring to this table our blessings, cares and concerns. Please feel free to voice your intentions beginning with the words, “I bring to the table…..” after all have spoken, presider ends with: We pray for these and all unspoken intentions. Amen.

Jim:     With open hearts and hands let us pray our Eucharistic prayer in one voice:
O Great Love, thank you for living and loving in us and through us as we set our hearts on belonging to you. May all that we do flow from our deep connection with you and all creation.

You know our limitations and our essential goodness and you love us as we are. You beckon us to your compassionate heart and inspire us to see the good in others and forgive their limitations. Acknowledging your presence in each other and in all of creation, we sing:
Holy, Holy, Holy  -Karen Drucker

Guiding Spirit, when opposing forces in us tug and pull and we are caught in the tension of choices, inspire us to make wise decisions toward what is good.

We thank you for our brother, Jesus, and for all our sisters and brothers who have modeled for us a way to live and love in challenging times. Inspired by them, we choose life over death, we choose to be light in dark times.
Please extend your hands in blessing.
We are ever aware of your Spirit in us and among us at this Eucharistic table and we are grateful for this bread and wine which reminds us of our call to be the body of Christ in the world.
Presiders stand at table
On the night before he faced his own death, Jesus sat at 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. 
Terri lifts plate as the community prays:
When he returned to his place at the table, he lifted the bread, spoke the blessing, broke the bread and offered it to them saying: Take and eat, this is my very self.
Jim lifts plate as the community prays:
Then he took the cup of the covenant, spoke the grace, and offered it to them saying:
Take and drink. Whenever you remember me like this, I am among you.
Let us share this bread and cup to proclaim and live the gospel of justice and peace.
Holy One, your transforming energy is within us and we join our hearts with all who are working for a just world.  We pray for wise leaders in our religious communities. We pray for courageous and compassionate leaders in our world communities. 

We pray for all of us gathered here and like Jesus, we open ourselves up to your Spirit;
for it is through living as he lived that we awaken to your Spirit within, moving us to glorify you,
at this time and all ways.  Amen!

Terri: Let us pray as Jesus taught us 
Holy One, you are within, around and among us.
We celebrate your many names.
Your wisdom come; your will be done,
unfolding from the depths within us.
Each day you give us all that we need.
You remind us of our limits and we let go.
You support us in our power, and we act with courage.
For you are the dwelling place within us,
the empowerment around us,
and the celebration among us,
now and forever. Amen.         -Adapted by Miriam Therese Winter 

Jim: As we prepare to eat this bread, we pray Loving Source of our being, You call us to live the
         Gospel of peace and justice. We choose to live justly, love tenderly, and walk with integrity
         in Your Presence.
Terri & Jim lift the bread and cup and say in one voice
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 with our lives;
as we share communion, we will become communion,
both Love’s nourishment and Love’s challenge.

Terri:   Our Eucharistic celebration is all-inclusive and nothing can separate us from God’s love. All are welcome to receive at this friendship table.  Please pass the bread with the words
“Be transfigured!”

Communion MeditationLet Go of the Shore  -Karen Drucker, JD Martin & David Roth

Blessing                      Terri: Please extend your hands in blessing.
All:      May the Fire of Love ignite our hearts and radiate through us. May the Spirit truth and
justice burn within us. May we continue to be the face of the Holy One, and may we be a
blessing in our time. AMEN!

Closing Song: “The Power of Women”  by Karen Drucker


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