Friday, April 10, 2020

Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Community Easter Liturgy - April 11, 2020, Presiders: Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP, Peg Bowen ARCWP, Homilist: Janet Blakeley ARCWP, IT Mary Theresa Streck ARCWP

Theme With Christ, We Rise Up in Love

Gathering Song And Greeting

Presider 1: Welcome to our MMOJ Easter Liturgy on Zoom! We invite you to pray the liturgy and respond where it says, all.  All participants will be muted during the liturgy except for the presiders and readers. During the shared homily we ask you to raise your hand if you would like to contribute. Please have bread and wine/juice in front of you as we pray our Eucharistic prayer.

Presider 2: Let us begin now with our gathering song:

Gathering Song:  Arise by Three Altos

Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.
Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.
For lo, the winter is past and the rains are over and gone.

Arise, my love, my fair one.
The flowers appear on the earth and the time of singing has come.
Arise, my love, my fair one.
The voice of the turtle dove is heard in our land.

Arise, my love, my fair one.
Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.

Communal Reconciliation Rite
Presider 1: We pause now to remember the times we have not born fruit in loving service to others. Recall one missed opportunity, one broken or damaged relationship. Now imagine this person or situation in the light of healing love as we ask for forgiveness.
(Pause briefly. Then Extend arm over community)

All: Please forgive me, I am sorry, I love you, I thank you.

Opening Prayer
Presider 2: Risen One you called Mary of Magdala to proclaim the goodness of our humanity. We rejoice in Your presence within around and among us. We pray for those who are sick and suffering and for all health care workers and care givers. With you, we rise up in love to bring new life to our world!

Gloria Sung:  Glory to God (Agape) by Marty Haugen

Glory to God, in the highest (3x)
And peace to God’s people on earth.

We sing praises to you,
God of life, God of wonder,
Hearts filled with joy,
let our voices be thunder.

Sing to Jesus the Christ,
Word of life to the nations,
Raised up in glory
As our hope and salvation.

In the Spirit we come
For the feast and the stories,
Speaking of God
In the pain and the glory.
Refrain (2x)


First Reading: The  Gospel of Mary

When the Blessed One had said these things, he greeted them all saying, “Peace be with you! Bear my peace within yourselves! Beware that no one lead you astray saying , ‘Look over here!’ Or ‘Look over there’ for the Child of Humanity is within you. Follow it! Those who seek it will find it. Go then and proclaim the good news of the realm. Do not lay down any rules beyond what I determined for you, nor give a law like the lawgiver lest you be confined by it.” When he said this, he departed.

Then Mary stood up. She greeted them all, and said to her brothers and sisters, “Do not weep and be pained, nor doubt, for all his grace will be with you and shelter you. But rather let us praise his greatness, for he has prepared us and made us Humans. When Mary said this, she turned their heart to the Good and they began to discuss the words of Jesus, the Teacher.
(4:1-11, 5: 4-8)
The good news of the Gospel of Mary, apostle to the apostles. 
All: Thanks be to God!

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 4:  (Adapted from Psalms for Praying by Nan Merrill)

Holy One, your face shines in us
You answer me when I call, O Beloved of my heart.
You embrace me in love when I am in dire distress.
You are gracious to me, You hear my prayer.

Response: Alleluia

You dwell with all who are filled with love.
and cry out within us
You move through us when we feel anger and do not give into fear.
You love in us, Heart of our hearts
As we rest in silence and in all of our encounters.

Response: Alleluia

Your love fills us with joy.
In peace we will spend our days and sleep at night.
For you teach us the way of wisdom
And the path to justice.

Response: Alleluia

Second Reading: Colossians 3:1-4

Since you have been resurrected with Christ, set your heart on what pertains to higher realms, where Christ is seated at God’s right hand. Let your thoughts be on heavenly things, not on the things of earth. After all, you died, and now your life is hidden with Christ in God. But when Christ- who is your life- is revealed, you too will be revealed with Christ in glory.

These are the words written to the Colossians.

All: Thanks be to God.

Gospel Acclamation: (sung) Alleluia: Jan Phillips

Gospel John 20:1-9, 3-18

Early in the morning on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb. She saw that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance, so she ran off to Simon Peter and the other disiple- the one Jesus loved- and told them “The Rabbi has been taken from the tomb! We do not know where they have put Jesus!”

When Simon Peter arrived and entered the tomb, he observed the linen wrappings on the ground and saw the piece of cloth that had covered Jesus’ head lying not with the wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself. The disciple who had arrived first at the tomb went in. He saw and believed. And yet, they did not understand the scripture that Jesus was to rise from the dead.

Meanwhile, Mary stood weeping beside the tomb. Even as she wept, she stooped to peer inside, and there she saw two angels in dazzling robes. One was seated at the head and the other at the foot of the place where Jesus’ body had lain.
“They asked her, ‘Why are you weeping?’

“She answered them, ‘Because they have taken away my Rabbi, and I don’t know where they have put him.’
“No sooner had she said this, than she turned around and caught sight of Jesus standing there, but she didn’t know it was Jesus. He asked her ‘Why are you weeping! For whom are you looking?’
“She supposed it was the gardener, so she said, ‘Please, if you’re the one who carried him away, tell me where you’ve laid him and I will take him away.’
“Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’
“She turned to him and said, ‘Rabboni!’—which means ‘Teacher.’
“Jesus then said, ‘Don’t hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to Abba God. Rather, go to the sisters and brothers and tell them ‘I’m ascending to my Abba and to your Abba, my God and your God!’

“Then Mary went to the disciples. ‘I have seen the Teacher!’ she announced. Then she reported what he had said to her.

These words are from the Gospel of John.

All: Thanks be to God.

Gospel Acclamation: (sung) Alleluia: Jan Phillips

Homily Starter: Rev. Bridget Mary Meehan

The Gospel of Mary, (most likely Mary Magdalene) was written in Coptic around the time many scholars date the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. Although it disappeared for fifteen hundred years, a single fragmentary copy translated in Coptic was found in the nineteenth century. Two additional fragments of this sacred text were found in the twentieth century.

The good news of the Gospel of Mary is that divine love is embodied in our humanity and everything in our created universe is good!  In this ancient Gospel Jesus teaches people how to welcome true humanity into themselves. The focus is on becoming real human beings. Jesus is the Child of Humanity and Jesus’ primary purpose is making us “human beings. For Jesus, in the Gospel of Mary, sin is an illusion. “If one rejects the notion of sin, the Savior says, one allows the good to come forward and take its rightful place as guide to how to become a true human being.”

 He advises them to focus on the soul’s orientation to God, not on external laws as the source of salvation and wholeness. In other words, Jesus advocates a theology of blessing, not sin, that appeals to spiritual seekers from many faiths and no faith today. Just think how different our Church’s teachings, theology and spirituality would have been had we integrated the wisdom of the Gospel of Mary over 21 centuries. But it is not too late to reclaim our spiritual authority is rooted in our humanity and divinity, the goodness of God within us and within all living beings. Let us rise up to reclaim our lost treasure this Easter season. 

Homily Starter – Part 2: Rev. Janet Blakeley

The Gospel of Mary, teaching that creation is good, comes as no surprise.   Having attended how many? Easter Vigils we always remember the beloved reading from Genesis – “God created the heavens and the earth and everything else and pronounced that it was good.   In fact, it was very good!”   Maybe because we see things as not good right now – especially the state of our human race – we doubt our goodness.   Still – the message is heard again, thousands of years later – and we cannot deny it.   Creation, God says, is good, and we are good.   We learn, furthermore, that God’s love – therefore God’s essence – is embedded within us and it is this, says Mary of Magdala, that makes us fully human.   A human being is  human and divine.   Therein lies our joy at Easter, for that which is God in us is already risen in a mysterious way, outside of time and space, hidden in God, but still a part of us.   

That which is risen must first die, as Jesus showed us.   His was a complete letting go, a relinquishing of life in all its aspects, willingly given.    Most of us find our deaths to be many, sometimes seemingly overwhelming, other times small, with one thing in common – a letting go, a letting it be, a recognition that what is, is.   These deaths are what bring about the gradual rising of the divinity within us  

Today we are experiencing a rapidly increasing struggle with death, as individuals, as a society, and as one with the Earth.   We may soon be pushed to the limit of our willingness to accept what this death is calling for – to let go of life as we have known it.    We will either act out of denial by seeking distractions of all kinds (our culture’s customary way), or we will plunge into the unknown, trusting our inner divinity to guide us.  

If we choose to avoid the deaths offered us, we will still be loved by God and seen as good, but we will have missed opportunities to deepen in our knowing of God and we will be under-developed human beings.   We will have been a drag on evolution and will have slowed the coming of God’s realm.   If we follow Jesus’s example and accept the deaths that are offered, we will be true Easter people, raised, a light to the nations, a comfort to the people.   Through us the Body of Christ may be healed by the Body of Christ.   That which was good, will be very good!            

 Reflection Question:
What is the good news that you heard and want to proclaim in our Easter Liturgy readings?

Shared Reflections

Presider 2: Profession of Faith   

All:  We believe in the Holy One who loves passionately, embraces all and forgives everything.
We believe in Jesus who accompanies us on our journey and shows the way to the fullness of life.
We believe in the  Divine Spirit, the breath of Wisdom Sophia, who energizes us as co-creators  of caring communities that challenge oppression, exploitation and injustice.
We believe that we are radiant images of God called to live fully, love tenderly, and serve generously.  
We believe in the communion of saints, our heavenly friends, who support us on life’s journey.  
We believe in the partnership and equality of women and men in our church and world.  
We believe that we are one in the Heart of God.

Prayers of and for the Community

Presider 1:  Aware that the Holy One is present within us and works through us, we bring to the table our intentions
All: We remember and we pray.  

Presider 2:  For  all  health care workers who are bringing healing to the suffering,
All: We remember and we pray.  

Presider 1:  For wisdom for government leaders in this world-wide pandemic,
All: We remember and we pray.  

Presider 2:  For those who have lost their health, jobs  and homes,
All: We remember and we pray.  

Presider 1:  For all those who need our prayers. Please speak your intentions now.  (pause)
All: We remember and we pray.  

Presider 2: We can do all things in the power of the Spirit working through us.
All: Amen


Presider 1:  Blessed are You, O Holy One, through Your divine providence we have this bread to offer, it will become for us the Bread of Life. 

All: Blessed are You forever.   

Presider 2:  Blessed are You, O Holy One, through Your divine providence we have this wine to offer, it will become our spiritual drink. 

All: Blessed are You  forever.

Presider 1:  Nurturing One, we are united in this sacrament by the love of Jesus in communion with all who proclaim the liberating power of  your Spirit, rising in our midst.

All:  Amen.

Presider 2:  O Heart of Love, You dwell in us,

All: And we dwell in You.

Presider 1:  O Pursuer of Justice, You speak truth through us.

All: In service to our sisters and brothers.

Presider 2: O Source of All Life, in you we live and move and have our being,

All: All the days of our lives.


Presider 1: Your Spirit, who raised Jesus from the dead, is rising up in all who work for humanity’s healing and well being. With thankful hearts, in the company of Mary of Magdala and all holy women and men, your liberating Spirit rises up within us and works through us.

All:  Holy, Holy, Holy (Karen Drucker)

We are Holy, Holy, Holy…3x
We are whole.

Spirit divine, Come to me
Feeling love, Healing me .

Open my heart, Allow me to see,
Beauty and love, Lives in me.

You are Holy, Holy, Holy….
We are Holy, Holy, Holy…

Presider 2: O Heart of Love, Your Spirit moved through Mary of Magdala and the Easter women as they stood by the broken body of Jesus and encountered the Risen One.  Your Spirit moves through us as we serve the broken body of Christ rising up in our world today.

Presider 2:  Please extend Your hands in blessing.

Presider 1:  You pour out Your spirit anew upon this bread and wine and upon us as we become more deeply the Christ Presence in our world.
On the night before he died, Jesus came to table with the women and men he loved. 
Jesus took bread blessed and broke it, saying,
“Take, eat, this is my body. Do this in memory of me.”


Presider 2: After supper, Jesus poured a cup of wine and shared it with his friends, saying,
“This is the cup of the covenant of my love. As often as You drink of it, remember me.”

Presider 1:  Let us proclaim the mystery of faith:
Christ has died in all those who have passed away in the Coronavirus.
Christ is rising in all those working for the well being of humanity.
Christ comes each day in our work for a renewed world with justice for all.

Presider 2:  Embracing Presence, we remember all the companions who have gone before us:  Mary, Mother of Jesus, Mary of Magdala, and all holy women and men who are rising up in loving service to heal our world. For it is through living as Jesus lived,
and loving as he loved,
that we awaken to Your Spirit
empowering us to work for justice.  

All: AMEN.


The Prayer of Jesus
Presider 2:  Let us pray as Jesus taught us. Our Father and Mother…

Sign of Peace
Presider 1:  Jesus said to his disciples, “My peace I leave You.  My peace I give You.” 
The peace of the Holy One is also with You.  
Let us share a cyber hug!

Presider 2: Please join in praying the Litany for the Breaking of the Bread:  
Holy One, You call us to speak truth to power; we will do so.

Holy One, You call us to live the Gospel of  healing and justice; we will do so.

Holy One, You call us to be Your presence in the world; we will do so.

Presider 1:  This is the bread of life and the cup of blessing. Blessed are we who are called to the table.

All:  We are the Body of Christ.


Presider 2: Pease share Eucharist now.

Communion Meditation Song: “God is holding Me Now”
Michael Hatfield and Karen Drucker

What’s my hurry in this fury?
God is holding me now.
Untie the knot in,
What I am caught in.
God is holding me now.
Relax my hand and rest my eyes.
I’ll take a deep breath. Realize
I can do this
I’ll get through this
God is holding me now
In this moment, I’ll step aside
I will let go and let God provide.
I will find my center, let love enter
God is holding me now.


Presider 1:   The Holy One is within You. 

All:  and also within You.


Presider 2: Please extend You hands as we pray our final blessing.
 May we be the face of God to each other.  May we call each other to extravagant generosity!  We go forth with the energy of Spirit within us to heal and transform our church and world. 

Closing Song: Be Light for Our Eyes
by David Haas

Come and be light for our eyes;
Be the air we breathe, be the voice we speak.
Come, be the song we sing,
be the path we seek.

Your life was given; food for all people,
Body and blood, new life in our midst.
Death is no longer, life is our future,
Jesus, Messiah, name of all names.

We hold your presence, risen forever.
Your name now names us people of God.
Filled with your vision, people of mission,
Healing, forgiving; light for the world.

Lead us to justice, light in the darkness;
Singing, proclaiming Jesus is Lord.
Teach us to speak, and help us to listen,
for when your truth in our dreams embrace.

Liturgy by Dr. Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP

Please send MMOJ donations to:
         St Andrew United Church of Christ
         6908 Beneva Rd, Sarasota 34238

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