Sunday, April 26, 2020

Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community -April 26, 2020 - Presider: Donna Panaro, ARCWP

Third Sunday of Easter  

Theme Fire – The Spirit Within and Around Us 

Opening Song: Loving Kindness by Karen Drucker

May I be filled with loving kindness 
May I be well 
May I be peaceful and at ease 
May I be happy (2x)

May you be filled with loving kindness 
May you be well 
May you be peaceful and at ease 
May you be happy (2x)

May we be filled with loving kindness 
May we be well 
May we be peaceful and at ease 
May we be happy (2x)

Liturgy of the Word 

burn brighter by Ray Angle

ignatius calls us
to go forth
and set
the world on fire

we embrace this metaphor
because we believe
our purpose
is inextricably linked
to helping others
clarify and attain theirs

but how do we
set our world on fire
in this age of sickness,
and fear

how do we
serve and lead
when we
are disconnected
from each other
and the physical space
that unifies our team

who will show us
how to press on

lives perish
while the flames
of leaders
around us
dance erratically
in the blistering
winds of change
their lights
to near extinction
their sparks
barely visible
to light the way

we cannot wait
for them
to lead

let us turn
to our God
to the sacred light
of the Holy Spirit
that burns
each of us

let our spirits
draw closer
to each other
in spite of
the distance
between us
and march boldly
into tomorrow

maybe it helps
to imagine
this time
as a dousing
of gasoline
tossed onto our
already steady
burning flames
purpose and love

let this accelerant
consume and quicken us
for the greater good

shine on
my friends
may the bright flames
of our spirits
burning in unison
create a bonfire
sparks hope
ignites faith
Illuminates love
and lights the way

in this uncertain age
a time when
our brothers and sisters
yearn for
peace and light
we are called
and stand ready
to do magis
to do more
than we did



A reading from the Gospel of Luke

Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened.  While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him.  And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?”  He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive.  Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.”  Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared!  Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?”  Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.
As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on.  But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them.  When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them.  Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight.  They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?”  That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together.  They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!”  Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

Homily Starter: Hearts Burning Within by Donna Panaro

It is not hard to relate to the disciples in today’s story because it takes place right after Jesus has been crucified. The disciples are struggling with loss, confusion, fear, and dwindling hope. As we continue fighting COVID-19 with dramatic changes to our lives, jobs and connections we experience similar reactions and feelings as the followers of Jesus did when this story takes place.

It can be a little confusing to hear today’s narrative right after the reading about Doubting Thomas that we heard last week. It is important to note that last week’s story was in the Gospel of John and today’s is from Luke. Therefore in this post resurrection appearance story this is the first time Jesus is seen by these disciples. Each Gospel has unique post resurrection stories. As Jim said last week, it is important to not focus as much on timelines and fact finding as it is to focus on meanings and insights.

The disciples are unable to recognize Jesus when he joins them on the journey. Could their grief, confusion and dwindling hope be blocking their ability to see him? Jesus is pretty hard on their inability to see in this story. But the fire in their hearts is re-ignited when he explains the scriptures to them and connects it to their current situation. Once their hearts are burning within they are able to recognize Jesus when they break bread together.

As we are shaken by the events of our current situation we must find ways to recognize Jesus and keep the fire of our hearts ignited. The poem we heard in the first reading says “maybe it helps to imagine this time as a dousing of gasoline tossed onto our already steady burning flames of purpose and love.” We are staying connected in the Upper Room with technology. The purpose and love in our community is not being extinguished rather it continues to burn brighter. Each time a leader like Gov. Cuomo shares inspirational stories about how people are sharing masks and ventilators the flame of our hearts burns brighter. May the fire of our hearts continue to burn brighter so that the sacred and holy in our midst is recognized.

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 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.   
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. 

Liturgy of the Eucharist 

Presider 2: Please join in praying our Eucharistic Prayer: 

ALL:  O Divine Fire of Love, glowing embers dance in our hearts. Our souls are purified by the searing truth that ignites our spirits and by the fire that penetrates the cold around us, setting our hearts aglow with tenderness.  

How often have we felt tender love that is without limits or boundaries! How often have we been consumed with delight by love in a human touch!  How often have we been embraced through Earth's beauty, a part of the beloved creation that surrounds us! We are energized to work for justice and peace in our world and we raise our voices with grateful hearts as we sing: 

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:  Holy Mystery, may we listen with assurance and excitement as the infinite, boundless, depths of love are revealed within and among us. May we awaken to the promise that we are always, no matter what the obstacles or setbacks we experience, embraced with love and compassion. May we be consumed with such a hunger and thirst for justice that our words and actions inflame others to become signs of justice. May we have eyes to see human need, hearts to care for our sisters and brothers and hands and feet to lighten others' burdens. 

We are thankful for Jesus, and his strong, but gentle presence, whose message blesses and transform our lives. He showed us how to live as your new creation. 

Page Break 
Presider 1: (lifts bread as community prays the following:) 

All: On the night before Jesus died, he gave us a special gift of love divine. He took bread, broke it and shared it with friends who gathered around the table saying: 

Take and eat of the Bread of Life  
Given to strengthen you   
Whenever you remember me like this   
I am among you. (pause)  

Eat the Bread of Life

Presider 2  (lifts the cup as community prays the following: ) 

All: Jesus then raised a cup of blessing, spoke the grace saying:  
Take and drink of the covenant  
Made new again through my life in you.  
Whenever you remember me like this,  
I am among you.  (pause) 

Drink from the Cup of Blessing

All: Let us share this bread and cup to proclaim and live the gospel of justice and peace. 

All: As we celebrate this memory of Jesus, let us experience, like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, in the sharing of the bread and the cup of blessing, the divine presence in our midst.  
May we become Spirit-Fire, as we fan the flames of love over the entire cosmos. 
May all of our families and friends, the young and old, the sick and dying and all those in need experience nurturing love this day.  

May all creation dance and become one heart, one mind, one spirit with everything. May we touch the earth with reverent awe and live in harmony with all creatures. May we turn away from all efforts to dominate anyone or anything. May we see the divine presence shining in the stars and in the sun. May we embrace the universe's treasures and celebrate life's simple pleasures each day. May love kindle our friendship with all life, as we dwell as one with all of creation. 
Presider 2: Let us pray together the prayer of Jesus: 

ALL:  O Holy One, who is within, 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.  
The Prayer of Jesus as interpreted by Miriam Therese Winter 

Communion Song: The Voice – Celtic Women

Presider 2: Holy One, 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 faithful love. Amen. 

Final Blessing: 
Presider 1: Please extend your hands in blessing. 

ALL:  May the Fire of Love ignite our hearts and radiate through us; may the Spirit of truth and justice burn within us forever. Amen. 

Closing Song:   Lean in Toward the Light – Carrie Newcomer

Winter is the oldest season-
but quietly beneath the snow
Seeds are stretching out and reaching-
faithful as the morning glow

Carry nothing but what you must-
lean in toward the light
Let it go, shake off the dust-
lean in toward the light

Today is now, tomorrow beckons-
lean in toward the light
Keep practicing resurrection-
lean in toward the light

The shadows of this world will say-
There’s no hope-why try anyway?
Every kindness large or slight
shifts the balance toward the light.

Waters wind and open wide-
lean in toward the light
Don’t just walk when you can fly-
lean in toward the light

When justice seems in short supply-
lean in toward the light
Let beauty be your truest guide-
lean in toward the light

The shadows of this world will say-
There’s no hope-why try anyway?
Every kindness large or slight
shifts the balance toward the light

The prayer I pray at eventide-
lean in toward the light
All left undone be put aside-
lean in toward the light

When forgiveness is hard to find-
lean in toward the light
Help me at least to be kind-
lean in toward the light

Lean in-lean in toward the light.

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