Saturday, November 28, 2020

Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community - First Sunday of Advent 2020 - Presiders: Denise Hackert-Stoner, ARCWP, Joan Chesterfield, ARCWP, Mary Theresa Streck, ARCWP

November 29, 2020 First Sunday of Advent 


Denise:  Welcome and Theme:  

Welcome to our liturgy this morning as we begin our celebration of Advent.  As a young person I understood Advent to be a season of waiting, of expectation; and that was confusing to me. Was I awaiting the birth of Jesus who had already been born?  Was I waiting for some time in the future when Jesus might return?  Was I to feel penitence?  Joy?  Anticipation?  Fear?  For me, Advent was a season without real focus.  It seemed ill-defined.  So I finally decided to simply look at the word.  Advent, from the Latin adventus, means “arrival.”  Arrival, not waiting.  How that simple shift in word meaning helped me to reframe the season!  The Divine Presence, or as Richard Rohr calls it, the Universal Christ, saturates the universe and everything in it, here and now.  We are all pregnant with it.  And just as Mary, mother of Jesus bore incarnate divinity, so do we.  It is within us, as it was within Mary, and as it was within her son.  It arrives, with every breath we take.

So our theme for this first Sunday of Advent is not so much about waiting, but rather living in the hope that we carry our own spark of divinity to fulfillment, and deliver it in love and wholeness into the kin-dom of our world.  So let us light our first candle surrounded by this great love that lives within us now and forever.  Everyone is invited to light their first candle during the following blessing:

Joan:  Lighting of Advent Candles:

We light this first candle and remember the Holy One who created light and life out of darkness by loving.  The dark shadow of space leans over us and we are mindful that the darkness of greed, exploitation, and hatred also lengthens its shadow over our small planet Earth.  

And so we respond: Let us kindle the light of hope!




Denise:  First Reading and Opening Song:    Today our first reading is also our opening song.  Written by Craig Minowa of Cloud Cult, the piece is There’s So Much Energy In Us.

Denise:  This is the inspired work of Craig Minowa, a seeker and finder of truth.  Let the community affirm his words and music with….Amen.

Second Reading  Jim

The Light Within

Deep within us all there is an amazing inner sanctuary of the soul, a holy place, a Divine Center, a speaking Voice, to which we may continually return. Eternity is at our hearts, pressing upon our time-torn lives, warming us with intimations of an astounding destiny, calling us home unto Itself. Yielding to these persuasions, gladly committing ourselves in body and soul, utterly and completely, to the Light Within, is the beginning of true life. It is a dynamic center, a creative Life that presses to birth within us. It is a Light Within that illumines the face of God and casts new shadows and new glories upon the human face. It is a seed stirring to life if we do not choke it. It is the Shekinah of the soul, the Presence in the midst. Here is the Slumbering Christ, stirring to be awakened, to become the soul we clothe in earthly form and action. And Christ is within us all.

These are the inspired words of Thomas Kelly, Quaker mystic.  Let the community affirm them with…..Amen.


Gospel:  Sandi - Mark 13:33-37  (Inclusive Bible)

“Be constantly on the watch!  Stay awake!  You do not know when the appointed time will come.

It is like people traveling abroad.  They leave their home and put the workers in charge, each with a certain task, and those who watch at the front gate are ordered to stay on the alert.  So stay alert!  You do not know when the owner of the house is coming, whether at dusk, at midnight, when the cock crows or at early dawn.  Do not let the owner come suddenly and catch you asleep.  What I say to you, I say to all:  stay alert!”

Homily Starter  - Denise

We are dreamers.  We aspire.  We imagine.  Among all our fellow creatures we alone, as far as we know, allow ourselves to live in that space between what is, and what is hoped for.  And in that space we unfurl the ribbon of light that is the Divine in us, becoming co-creators, partners in shaping reality.  

It is in that space that we meet the Holy One; not in some far-off place, some mythical other world, but right here, within ourselves and in communion with the rest of creation.  Right here we find the power of our own potential, our own energy.

In our first reading, Craig Minowa describes a million-year dream.  The dream is a search for something hoped for.  An energy, a light, something other, something outside, far away.  In the end, the searchers find that energy, and it is surprisingly close at hand.  It is within themselves, in their own world, in their own loving relationships that the long-hoped for light is recognized, having been there all along.  Thomas Kelly reminds us that we each shelter a Light Within, which is like a seed waiting to spring to life, the Christ within us all.  In today’s Gospel Jesus tells us to stay alert right where we are, at our posts.  For it is right here, in the midst of living our own lives, that we meet the Holy One.  This, right here, is the place of dream and hope and awareness where our beloved is revealed as the one clothed in our own flesh.  

What a thought!  That the creative power of the Divine, the Light of the world, the source of all energy, is found here, within our own selves, our own communities.  This Advent, let’s give ourselves permission to be in that space of dreams, that place where the Divine light unfurls, that place where hope lives.  Let’s not be practical, let’s not develop plans.  Martin Luther King’s most famous speech is not called “I have a Plan.”  It is called “I Have a Dream” because the dream, the hope, came first.  So let us dream this Advent Season.  Let us hope.  Let us sit with our own power, the power that comes from the Holy One, and let the Divine Light nurture our dream, allowing it to spring up within us like an incarnation.  Who knows what our dreams will give birth to?  

We hope that you will share your thoughts about today’s readings, about your dreams, and about the light within you.  Your wisdom is sacred, and we value it.

Shared Reflections

Mary Theresa:  We thank you for sharing your wisdom this morning.  The shared wisdom of our community is our greatest treasure.  We now invite you to join in our Statement of Faith.


Mary Theresa:  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. 



Joan:  As we prepare for this sacred meal we are aware that just as Jesus is anointed, so is each of us. As bearers of LIGHT and HOPE, we bring to this table our blessings, cares and concerns. Intentions are read.

Joan concludes with: We pray for these and all unspoken intentions. Amen. 


Joan: With open hearts and hands let us pray our Eucharistic prayer as one voice:

(written by Jay Murnane) 


Joan: Source of All That Is, we seek you in this season, when the earth is resting and preparing for new life. Like the earth, we long for new life and hopeful beginnings. This is the time of the pregnant woman, filled with life and hope powerful enough to topple structures of oppression.  This is the time of her song of fidelity and celebration. 


During this gentle season of Advent, we recognize that you have made us capable of bringing forth justice, like a rising sun. One with all who have gone before us, we sing a song of praise: 


We are Holy, Holy, Holy (Karen Drucker)

Denise:  We thank you for those in times past who believed the good news, and lived what they believed. 


Blessed is Isaiah and every visionary who insisted on a better future that would break through the deception, disaster and broken promises of the age in which they lived. 


Blessed is John, in the stark desert of careful focus, inviting the people to be born again in your love.  


Blessed is Miriam, who believed the words of Isaiah and opened herself up to the unbelievable. 


And blessed is her child Jesus, who felt the sorrows of humankind in his soul, and responded with deep and tender compassion. 

Mary Theresa:  Please extend your hands in blessing.

Mary Theresa: We are grateful for your Spirit at our Eucharistic Table and for this bread and wine which reminds us of our call to be the body of Christ in the world. 

Mary Theresa: 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. 


All lift plates and pray the following:

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.



All lift the cup and pray the following:

Joan:  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, remembering that we are bearers of light and hope.

(All consume bread and cup together)

Communion Song/Meditation:  Come Be In My Heart, Sara Thomsen

Denise: We give thanks for our tradition, which is a living history of your love for all creation. We join ourselves with that tradition, as the visionaries and healers and peacemakers of our own time in history. 


We celebrate the many creative traditions which guide and form us and we are grateful that there are many paths to wisdom and life. 


Each Advent we make a place in our prayer for all those who are oppressed and marginalized in so many places throughout this earth, and right here among us. 


We are grateful for the gift of your Spirit, always drawing beauty and balance out of chaos.  And like Jesus…


Standing where he stood,  

and for what he stood,  

and with whom he stood, 

we are united in your Spirit, 

and worship you with our lives,  


All: Amen.  

Joan: 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 



Mary Theresa: Please extend your hands and pray our blessing together.

May the Divine Light nurture our dreams.  

May we unfurl the ribbon of light that is the Divine in us.  

May our light shine for all to see, and may we be a blessing in our time!


All: AMEN 


Closing Song  God Beyond All Names, Bernadette Farrell

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