Sunday, May 31, 2020

Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community - Pentecost 2020 - Presiders: Kathleen Ryan, ARCWP, and Deven Horne

Pentecost 2020 - Presiders: Kathleen Ryan, ARCWP, and Deven Horne

Radical Compassion of Self Love

Welcome- Pentecost and the Upper Room Birthday
Today is Pentecost and we also celebrate the Birthday of the Upper Room.  The Upper Room, not yet named, began in Mary Theresa Streck’s living room in 2013. Mary Theresa continued her and her beloved Jay’s tradition of home church. Mary Theresa’s house was overflowing. By the time Mary Theresa was ordained on September 15, 2013 we were celebrating at the Unitarian Church once a month on Sundays at 2pm.

The Spirit was strong and was calling our community to create our own space.  In the spring of 2014 we moved to River St. in Troy.  We replaced monthly Sunday afternoon liturgy with monthly Sunday morning liturgy. It was not long before we began celebrating every Sunday morning. Diarmuid O’Murchu, author and social psychologist, was in Albany for a conference. He came to the Upper Room and celebrated Pentecost with us that year. Diarmuid offered the phrase “I bring to the table” and it has been part of our Eucharistic celebration ever since.  Our Theology of Blessing was evolving as our community was growing.

We still needed to name ourselves.  Honoring our value of inclusivity, we had several community discussions and many names were suggested.  The Spirit led us to choose the name “The Upper Room”.

In the fall of 2016 our lease was unexpectedly not renewed and we had to find another place to gather.  After an extensive search and discussion, we found The New Covenant Fellowship Hall.  As they say “and the rest is history”!  But not quite, Covid-19 forced another transition and here today we are telecommuting the celebration of Pentecost and our 7th birthday. Everything is upside down and there are still so many unknowns.  What we do know no matter where we gather, we are community, we are The Upper Room.

Opening Song: Ruah

Ruah, Ruah, Breath of God within us, 
Ruah, Ruah, Spirit of our God. 
The Spirit of God within us,  
Crumbles the ancient walls, 
Building a new creation 
The city of our God.
Have no fear within you 
For I will be your strength 
The barren will be fruitful 
The lame shall dance and leap. 


Your power will come to fullness 
In the weak and humble child 
From the roots of the smallest flower 
To the hearts of the old and wise.


Old men will see their visions 
Young men will dream their dreams 
Women will be our prophets 
With children in the lead. 


A wisdom enfleshed in Jesus 
Grace that moves anew 
Enkindled in a people 
The many and the few.


The dance of all creation, 
Singer of living song 
Beauty from days eternal 
The praise of a loving God.


The Holy One is as close as your breath.  Breathe deeply.

                                    LITURGY OF THE WORD

A Reading from the Acts of the Apostles                                  2:1-11
When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together.
And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind,
and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.
Now there were devout people from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem.
At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd, but they were confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language.

They were astounded, and in amazement they asked,
“Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans?
Then how does each of us hear them in his native language?
We are Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya near Cyrene, as well as travelers from Rome, both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs, yet we hear them speaking in our own tongues of the marvels of God.
These are the words of the Acts of the Apostles and the community affirms them with, AMEN!
                      Spirit of the Living God
                       Fall fresh on me
           Melt me, mold me,
           Fill me, use me
           Spirit of the Living God
                       Fall fresh on me

A Reading from the Gospel of John                               20:19-23
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the authorities, Jesus came and stood in their midst
and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.
The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”

And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”
These are the inspired works of John, a disciple of Jesus and the community affirms them with, AMEN!

Homily and Shared Reflections

Imagine we are present with the disciples, men and women in the Upper Room. Let’s focus on all the emotions in these two readings.   They were all scared, some terrified. Their imaginations were running wild, no idea of what will happen next.  They were living with the unknown.

Then enters the Holy Spirit- not in a gentle comforting manner but with a noise that sounds like wind but is not wind, followed by tongues of fire. The sounds and the tongues of fire had to increase their fears.  But somehow, they were filled with the Holy Spirit. How many times in our lives have we been living in fear, full of anxiety, and suddenly or slowly, we are at peace, all is well once again. We know we have experienced the spirit of God, an inner peace, Divine Presence.

The Gospel reading has similar emotions- the disciples are all together full of fear, so afraid they locked themselves in.  Enter Jesus. Unlike the Holy Spirit Jesus enters quietly and is standing there. The disciples must be confused at first but once they recognize him imagine their joy. It reminds us of Mary of Magdala’s joy at the tomb.  I bet they all got to hug Jesus and slap him on the back, and laugh and enjoy his presence.   After they all settle down I believe Jesus goes to each disciple, looks each one in the eye and says “Peace be with you.”  He breathes on them.  They feel his love and hold his love and his Spirit in their hearts.

All these emotions are very familiar to us, even more so with Covid-19.  We are all locked in, rumors fly around us- the economy is tanking, our 401k’s and pensions are in jeopardy. There are food shortages. We need more medical supplies and testing. Our anxiety is high and we, just like the disciples, are living in the unknown.
And then we breathe, center ourselves and open our minds and hearts to Divine Presence.  We find Peace.  And with the strength of that peace we are called to act.  We zoom in to celebrate liturgy, to see each other and pray together. We meet in the church parking with donations for the Children’s CafĂ© and St. Vincent’s Food Pantry, and buy fresh eggs from Kelley’s farm. We send monetary donations to those who we know are struggling.  We make calls to touch base with neighbors and friends. We make masks for each other, and sometimes leave a piece of blueberry coffee cake on a friend’s porch.

Life went on for the disciples-it was not how they imagined. Sometimes it was wonderful and other times not so much.  Just like you and me, after Covid-19 life will go on, sometimes wonderful and other times not so much- all the unknowns-but the one most important known- we are loved and we are filled with the Spirit.

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.


Presider 1:  As we prepare for the sacred meal, we bring our prayers and intentions to our table:

We bring to the table Mary Theresa, sending her love and blessings, gratefully remembering she listened to her call and gathered us to become the community of the Upper Room.

We bring to the table all members and friends of the Upper Room who have crossed and continue to watch over us.  They are with us in spirit and in our hearts forever.

We bring to the table every member who celebrates with us in person, on zoom, on line, or supports and watches from a distance.

We bring to the table the development of our strategic plan.  May we hear and listen to the Spirit as she continues to guide us.

Please bring to the table your silent intentions.

Presider 1: We pray for these and all unspoken intentions. Amen. 

Presider 2: Let us pray our Eucharistic prayer with open hearts and hands:

We are grateful for our brother Jesus teaching us the way of compassion through entering into the suffering of others. May we care for ourselves as Jesus cared for us, seeing humanity through the eyes of “Love”. Through his loving eyes we are healed and we open our hearts to the pain and suffering of others.

Because of your empowering unconditional loving Presence Beloved, we are aware of your presence in and among us. Your love radiates from our hearts, minds, and bodies. The nurturance of ourselves and one another empowers your embodied presence. “We are not the survival of the fittest but the survival of the nurtured.”

With joy and gratefulness today and always, we sing:
Blessed be our God!
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!

(Alleluia Sing by David Haas)

Holy One, you speak to our hearts and say “I don’t need anything from you for me to love you - I don’t need you to evolve for me to love you - I don’t need you to grow for me to love you - I don’t need you to succeed for me to love you - I will stay with you in any circumstance. I was here at the beginning, I am here in the middle, I will be here in the end.  There is nothing you can do to lose me.” “Just your being is love to me”.

We thank you for Jesus who heard the Divine voice of deep love for him as “this is my beloved son”. Jesus showed us a path to comforting ourselves as the Divine Beloved would comfort us and as we would nurture our own children, family, and friends. May we hear God’s voice as Jesus did to love and forgive ourselves so that we may more fully love and forgive each other.

Presider 1: Please extend your hands in blessing.

All: We call upon your Spirit that is present in us at this Eucharistic table. We are grateful for the bread and wine that remind us of our call to be the light of Christ to the world.

All: On the night before he faced betrayal and death, Jesus shared supper with his 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. 

 All:   Lift the bread 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.  (Everyone consumes the bread)

 All:  Lift the cup as 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.  (Everyone consumes the drink)                                         

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

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

Communion Song:  By Breath by Sara Thomsen

By breath, by blood, by body, by spirit, we are all one

The air that is my breath is the air that you are breathing
And the air that is your breath is the air that I am breathing
The wind rising in my breast is the wind from the east, from the west
From the north, from the south, breathing in, breathing out

By breath, by blood, by body, by spirit, we are all one

The water that is my blood, my sweat, tears from crying
Is the water that is your blood, your sweat, tears from crying
And the rising of the tide is in our veins and in the ocean wide
We are in the rising steam, rushing river, running stream

By breath, by blood, by body, by spirit, we are all one

The earth is dust, the earth is clay, flow’rs blossoming and fading
We are dust and we are clay, we are blossoming and fading
Every color, every sound, every place is holy ground
Oh, every living thing, can you hear it laugh? Can you hear it sing?

By breath, by blood, by body, by spirit, we are all one

The fire in my heart, my soul flame burning
Is the fire in your heart, your soul flame burning
We are Spirit burning bright, by the light of day, in the dark of night
We are shining like the sun, and like the moon, like the Holy One

By breath, by blood, by body, by spirit, we are all one

Presider 2: 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 

All: Holy One, your love transforms us so we love and heal each other.  We resolve to love as Jesus loved. Jesus loved the marginalized, the poor, the homeless, the mentally ill, the immigrants, the stranger.  Amen.


Presider 1:  Let us Bless each other with words and song

ALL:   May the infinite beauty and joy of Creation continue to astound us 
May the Presence of the Divine always comfort and inspire us
May we be the face of the Holy One in all we say and do, and
May we be a blessing in our time. AMEN.

Closing Song:  May the Christ Light by Kathy Sherman, CSJ

May the Christ light shine in you. 
​May the Christ light shine in me. 
Then together we will shine with  
God's love to the world. 

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