|photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash|
Welcome: (Kathie) Welcome everyone to the Upper Room Liturgical Celebration of Thanksgiving. Our scriptures this morning remind us we have much to be grateful for. Gratefulness brings peace to our hearts. Take a moment, breathe deeply, the Holy One is present in each breath. Let us pray:
Opening Prayer: (Connie)
With grateful hearts we turn our thoughts to you, Holy One, as we prepare for the feast of giving thanks. We acknowledge that
You are the source of all our gifts,
You are the one who brings us together,
You are the One who sends us forth.
We are grateful not only for the gift of life itself,
But for all the gifts of friendship, love, devotion, and forgiveness
That we have received and shared.
May our celebration of Thanksgiving teach us more about how to live lives of service
by deeds of hospitality,
by kindness to strangers,
by concern that goes beyond the call of duty,
by promoting restorative justice, when people have been harmed.
We give thanks today and every day. Amen.
Opening Song: All You Works of God – Marty Haugen
Liturgy of the Word
First Reading: (Mary Skelly)
The Spiritual Work of Gratitude
by Henri J. M. Nouwen, Bread for the Journey A Daybook of Wisdom and Faith
To be grateful for the good things that happen in our lives is easy, but to be grateful for all of our lives - the good as well as the bad, the moments of joy as well as the moments of sorrow, the successes as wells the failures, the rewards as well as the rejections - that requires hard spiritual work. Still, we are only truly grateful people when we can say thank you to all that has brought us to the present moment. As long as we keep dividing our lives between events and people we would like to remember and those we would rather forget, we cannot claim the fullness of our beings as a gift of God to be grateful for. Let's not be afraid to look at everything that has brought us to where we are now and trust that we will soon see in it the guiding hand of a loving God.
Responsorial Psalm: (Deven) The Voice of Earth Speaking God's Presence
Earth teach me stillness
as the grasses are stilled with light.
Earth teach me humility
as blossoms are humble with beginning.
Earth teach me caring
as the mother bird nestles her young.
Earth teach me gentleness
as the deer walks softly through the forest.
Earth teach me freedom
as the lark who sings and soars.
Earth teach me resignation
as the cycle of life turns and turns.
Earth teach me about the regeneration of life
as the seed rises after being scattered and buried.
Earth teach me to remember kindness
as the blossoms turn rejoicing towards the sun.
Earth teach me gratitude
as the soil begins a new journey toward the harvest.
Earth teach me to know the Author of Life
as I daily gaze in wonder
at the marvelous mysteries of all creation.
(Anonymous - taken from Praying with the Women Mystics, by Mary T. Malone)
Gospel Acclamation: Alleluia
Gospel: Luke 12: 22-27 (Diane Geary)
Do not worry about your life and what you are to eat. Do not worry about your body and what you are to wear. For life is more than food and the body is more than clothing. Take a lesson from the ravens. They do not sow or reap. They have neither a food cellar nor a barn, yet the Holy One feeds them. And how much more valuable are you than birds? Can any of you for all your worrying, add a single hour to your life? If even the smallest things are beyond your control, why worry about all the rest? Notice how the flowers grow. They neither labor nor weave, yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was robed like one of these.
Homily Starter (Kathie Ryan)
In the 1960’s Judy Collins, recorded a song, I can’t remember the title but I do remember this verse: “when I am not feeling holy, I feel like I’ve sinned” Nowadays we may not struggle with feeling holy, holy is not an everyday word we think about. But as Henri Nouwen writes, we do struggle every day to feel good, or joyful. We strive to be successful and we often hope for some type of reward or recognition for our successes. We have heard many people say, I just want to be happy.
We put so much energy into obtaining these positive emotions. When we cannot sustain them, we feel something must be wrong with us, or with our lives in general. Nouwen reminds us that we need the both/and, not just the either/or. We become a grateful people when we can say thank you to the good and the bad, the joys and the sorrows.
Gratefulness is so much greater than a nice feeling. It is the key to trusting. Trusting that no matter what is happening in our lives now, the Holy One is walking with us, in the good and bad times, in the joys and in the sorrows. We can trust that the Holy One is always with us.
Our responsorial psalm reinforces this message of trust. The Earth, all of creation, teaches us to trust. After all we know, we have seen it, we trust that “the seed rises after being scattered and buried, and we know the cycle of life turns and turns”. You and I need to be scattered and buried in order to rise. We need the cycle of life that is filled with ups and downs, we need the both/and to become who we are meant to be. We learn to trust just as the lilies of the field and the birds of the air trust. The Holy One is within and around all of creation, and creation, of course, includes each of us.
What did you hear? How will it change you?
Statement of Faith (Ginny and Mike)
Let us pray together our 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: (Mary Theresa) As we prepare for the sacred eucharistic meal, we bring to our virtual table the prayerful intentions of the community.
We pray for our newly elected U.S. leaders, and the team they will bring together to unite us,
We pray for those who exercise leadership roles in all faith traditions,
We pray those who are infected by COVID-19 and their care-givers as well as those who are researching a vaccine and cure,
We pray for all those suffering from Cancer and for all working for a cure,
We pray for all those who are unemployed and underemployed, for migrants and refugees,
We pray for those who work to promote justice by eradicating sexism, racism, and discrimination of every kind,
We pray for an end to the “arms race” and peaceful ways to resolve conflicts among nations,
And we pray for all unspoken attentions.
(moment of silence)
Closing: We pray for these and all the unspoken intentions.
Presider: (Kathie) With open hands and grateful hearts let us pray our Eucharistic prayer as one:
Adapted from A Thanksgiving Prayer by Diana Butler Bass
Kathie: Holy One, there are days we do not feel grateful. When we are anxious or angry. When we are alone. When we do not understand what is happening in the world, or with our neighbors. We struggle to feel grateful.
Mary Theresa: This Thanksgiving, we choose gratitude. We choose to accept life as a gift from you, from the unfolding work of all creation. We choose to be grateful for the earth from which our food comes; for the water that gives life; and for the air we all breathe. We see your sacred generosity, and we live in an infinite circle of gratitude.
Joan: We give thanks for our ancestors, those who came before us, and for their stories, as a continuing gift of wisdom for us today. We choose to see our families and friends with new eyes, appreciating them for who they are.
Kathie:We are all guests at this hospitable table where gifts are passed and received. In gratitude for your free and unmerited love, the giftedness of life everywhere, and the tender web of all creation, we sing:
Here in This Place by Christopher Grundy
Mary Theresa: Holy One, we journey towards greater openness and awareness, a living sense of gratitude. Opening up to the amazing energies of your creative spirit, we enter into life as Jesus taught us, revealing you as God-With-Us, revealing us as one with you, and all creation.
Please extend your hands in blessing
Joan: This bread and wine is a sign of Your nourishment and a sign of Your great love. Your Spirit is upon us and we belong to You and one another.
Kathie: We thank you for Jesus, simple servant, lifting up the lowly, revealing you as God-With-Us, revealing us as one with you, and all creation.
Mary Theresa: On the night before he died, Jesus gathered for supper with the people closest to him. Like the least of household servants, he washed their feet. Once again he showed us how to love one another.
All lift the bread
Joan: Back at the table, he took the Passover Bread, spoke the grace, broke the bread and offered it to them saying, Take and eat, this is my very self.
All lift the cup
Kathie: Then he took the cup of blessing, spoke the grace, and offered it to them 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.
Mary Theresa: 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.
We are the beloved of God.
Please receive Communion now.
Our Communion Song is: Simple Gifts - Yo-Yo Ma and Alison Krauss
Prayer after Communion:
Joan: Holy One, in gratitude we open ourselves to Your loving Spirit, the Spirit that filled Jesus, for it is through his life and teaching, his loving and healing that all honor and glory is Yours. Amen.
Kathie: Let us pray as Jesus taught us:
Holy One, who is 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.
The Prayer of Jesus as interpreted by Miriam Therese Winter
Mary Theresa: Blessing: Let us raise our hands and bless each other in gratitude and joy:
May we continue to be the Face of God to each other.
May we seek truth boldly and love deeply.
May we continue to be the face of the Holy One, and
May our names be a blessing in our time.
Our closing meditation is : America the Beautiful