Saturday, April 4, 2020

Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community - Palm Sunday Liturgy - Presider: Debra Trees, ARCWP


Palm Sunday Liturgy
6th Week of Lent: Embraced in God’s Gentle Wisdom 

Opening Prayer 
Today we remember our brother Jesus in his humanity.  But not only Jesus.  He did not live in a vacuum, just as we are realizing, we do not live alone.  We remember the humanity of his companions, his community of Jewish sisters and brothers, and the Roman cohort at the time. We remember the humanity of us all. May we listen with ears of compassion and non-judgmental understanding. May we open our hearts to see the Divine everywhere.  AMEN.

Opening Song: The Servant Song – David Haas

Will you let me be your servant?
Let me be as Christ to you.
Pray that I might have the grace
To let you be my servant, too.
We are pilgrims on a journey.
We are trav’lers on the road.
We are here to help each other
Walk the mile and bear the load.
I will hold the Christ-light for you
In the night time of your fear.
I will hold my hand out to you;
Speak the peace you long to hear.
I will weep when you are weeping.
When you laugh, I’ll laugh with you.
I will share your joy and sorrow
‘Til we’ve seen this journey through.
When we sing to God in heaven,
We shall find such harmony
Born of all we’ve known together
Of Christ’s love and agony.
Will you let me be your servant?
Let me be as Christ to you.
Pray that I might have the grace
To let you be my servant, too.
LITURGY OF THE WORD
Passion Sunday First Reading. The Entrance into Jerusalem  MT 21: 1-11
As they approached Jerusalem, entering Beth-Phage at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent off two disciples with the instructions, “Go into the village straight ahead of you, and immediately you will find a tethered donkey with her colt standing beside her. Untie them and lead them back to me. If anyone questions you, say, ‘The Rabbi needs them.’ Then they will let them go at once.”
So the disciples went off and did what Jesus had ordered.  They brought the donkey and her colt, and after they laid their cloaks on the animals, Jesus mounted and rode toward the city. Great crowds of people spread their cloaks on the road, while some began to cut branches from the trees and lay them along the path. The crowds—those who went in front of Jesus and those who followed—were all shouting, “Hosanna to the Heir to the House of David! Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Most High! Hosanna in the highest!” As Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred to its depths, demanding, “Who is this?” And the crowd kept answering, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee!””
These are the words from Matthew, and our community affirms them by saying, AMEN.
Spirit of the Living God 
Fall fresh on me (2x)
Melt me, mold me, 
Fill me, use me 
Spirit of the Living God 
Fall fresh on me 

Gospel 
Passion Sunday, The Passion of Jesus (edited). MT 26:14 – 27:66
Reading 2
Jesus now finished all he had to say, and he told the disciples, “Passover starts in two days, and the Chosen One will be handed over to be crucified.” Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, Caiaphas. They planned to arrest Jesus under some pretext and execute him— “But not during the Festival,” they agreed, “or we might have a riot on our hands.”
Now when Jesus was in Bethany, at the house of Simon, who had leprosy, a woman approached Jesus with an alabaster jar of very expensive ointment. She poured it on his head while he reclined at the table. The disciples, witnessing this, were indignant. “What a waste!” they said. “This could have been sold at a high price, and the money given to needier people.”
Jesus, aware of their concern, said, “Why do you upset the woman? She has done me a good deed. You’ll always have poor people with you, but you won’t always have me. When she poured the oil on my body, she was preparing me for burial. The truth is, wherever the Good News is proclaimed in the world, she will be remembered for what she has done for me.”
Reading 3
During the meal Jesus took bread, blessed it, broke it and gave it to the disciples. “Take this and eat it,” Jesus said. “This is my body.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them. “Drink from it, all of you,” he said. “This is my blood, the blood of the Covenant, which will be poured out on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins. The truth is, I will not drink this fruit of the vine again until the day when I drink it anew with you in my Abba’s kindom.”  Then, after singing the Hallel, they walked out to the Mount of Olives.
Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane and said to the disciples, “Stay here while I go over there and pray.” Jesus took along Peter, James and John and started to feel grief and anguish. Then he said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death. Please, stay here, and stay awake with me.”
Jesus went on a little further and fell prostrate in prayer: “Abba, if it is possible, let this cup pass me by. But not what I want—what you want.” When Jesus returned to the disciples, he found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you stay awake with me for even an hour? Be on guard and pray that you may not undergo trial. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”
Reading 4
While Jesus was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived—accompanied by a great crowd with swords and clubs. They had been sent by the chief priests and elders of the people. Judas had arranged to give them a signal. “Whomever I embrace is the one,” he had said; “take hold of him.” He immediately went over to Jesus and said, “Shalom, Rabbi!” and embraced him. Jesus said to Judas, “Friend, just do what you’re here to do!” At that moment, the crowd surrounded them, laid hands on Jesus and arrested him.
Those who had seized Jesus led him off to Caiaphas, the high priest, where the religious scholars and elders had convened. The chief priests, with the whole Sanhedrin, were busy trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus, so that they might put him to death. They discovered none, despite the many false witnesses who took the stand. Finally two came forward who stated, “This man has declared, ‘I can destroy God’s sanctuary and rebuild it in three days.” The high priest rose and addressed Jesus, “Have you no answer? What about this testimony leveled against you?” But Jesus remained silent. The high priest then said to him, “I order you to tell us under oath, before the living God, whether or not you are the Messiah, the Firstborn of God?” “You have said it yourself,” Jesus replied. “But I tell you: soon you will see the Chosen One seated at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” At this, the high priest tore his robes and said, “Blasphemy! What further need do we have of witnesses? You yourselves have heard the blasphemy. 66 What is your verdict?” They responded, “He deserves death!”
Reading 5
At daybreak, all the chief priests and the elders of the people took formal action against Jesus to put him to death. They bound him and led him away to be handed over to Pilate, the governor.
Then Jesus was arraigned before Pontius Pilate, the governor, who questioned him. “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus replied, “You say that I am.” Yet when Jesus was accused by the chief priests and elders, he made no reply.  Pilate said to Jesus, “Surely you hear how many charges they bring against you?” But Jesus did not answer Pilate on a single count, much to the governor’s surprise.
At that, Pilate released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus whipped with a cat-o’-nine-tails, then handed him over to be crucified. The governor’s soldiers took Jesus inside the Praetorium and assembled the whole cohort around him. They stripped off his clothes and wrapped him in a scarlet military cloak. Weaving a crown out of thorns, they pressed it onto his head and stuck a reed in his right hand. Then they began to mock Jesus by dropping to their knees, saying, “All hail, King of the Jews!” They also spat at him. Afterward they took hold of the reed and struck Jesus on the head. Finally, when they had finished mocking him, they stripped him of the cloak, dressed him in his own clothes and led him off to crucifixion.
Reading 6
Upon arriving at a site called Golgotha—which means Skull Place — they gave Jesus a drink of wine mixed with a narcotic herb, which Jesus tasted but refused to drink. Once they had nailed Jesus to the cross, they divided his clothes among them by rolling dice; then they sat down and kept watch over him. Above his head, they put the charge against him in writing: “This is Jesus, King of the Jews.”
At noon, a darkness fell over the whole land until about three in the afternoon. At that hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” which means, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” This made some of the bystanders who heard it remark, “He is calling for Elijah!” One of them hurried off and got a sponge. He soaked the sponge in cheap wine and, sticking it on a reed, tried to make Jesus drink. The others said, “Leave him alone. Let’s see whether Elijah comes to his rescue.” Once again, Jesus cried out in a loud voice, then he gave up his spirit.
Reading 7
The centurion and his cohort, who were standing guard over Jesus’ body, were terror-stricken at seeing the earthquake and all that was happening, and said, “Clearly, this was God’s Own!”
A group of women were present, looking on from a distance. These were the same women who had followed Jesus from Galilee as ministers to him. Among them were Mary of Magdala; Mary, the mother of James and Joseph; and the mother of Zebedee’s children.
When evening fell, a wealthy man from Arimathea named Joseph, who had become a disciple of Jesus, came to request the body of Jesus; Pilate issued an order for its release. Taking the body, Joseph wrapped it in fresh linen and laid it in his own tomb, which had been hewn out of rock. Then Joseph rolled a huge stone across the entrance of the tomb and went away.
But Mary of Magdala and the other Mary remained sitting there, facing the tomb.
These are the words of the Passion of Jesus of Nazareth from Matthew, and our community confirms them by saying AMEN.
Homily by Debra Trees

Last year, our community was reading “The Last Week” by Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan. We learned that on one side of Jerusalem, the Roman prefect and Army were entering the city gates with flourish.   The High Holy Days of Passover were soon upon the Israelites and their Capital.   Political, monetary, and cultural issues and unrest were part of this world.
On the other side of the city, Jesus of Nazareth enters on a colt, with palms and the people singing his praise. The contrast is black and white: the darkness of oppression, the light of Love.
Jesus and his followers seemed to have no idea of the dangers they were walking into.  His anguish at Gethsemane shows awareness of stirring up the pot.
Today we each are living our own “passions”. We look at our inconvenience, and sometimes our true trials and tribulations, and our focus has been inward.
For Holy Week we re-member our brother Jesus, and his followers. This Passion is a story of all of them, how they responded, what they were fearful of, what they loved.
How have you been living your own sense of Passion? This week, may we walk with Jesus and his companions.  Keeping them close, may we hold their humanity and our contemporary world in our hearts.
Dear friends, remembering this Passion Reading and Holy Week, please share if you would like.
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. 

LITURGY OF THE EUCHARIST 
Presider: As we prepare for the sacred meal, we voice our intentions beginning with the words, “I bring to the table…..”  
We pray for these and all unspoken intentions. Amen.  

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

Holy One, we yearn to be close to you and to live in the embrace of your gentle wisdom. Your divine grace and love lead us away from our anxieties, fears and distractions and toward all that is blessed and joyous.  

Each of us is divinely created in Your image. We are precious to you and to each other because of who we are. We are beloved and blessed in your unconditional love, quite apart from how we act or fail to act.  
Thankful for Jesus who treated all of Creation with respect and abundant love, we resolve to follow his example to be a light in the darkness. We recognize Your loving Presence here with us today and always, and we sing: 
https://youtu.be/-FvAFEjAnrc


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! 
(Alleluia Sing by David Haas)

All: Dearest Holy One, there are times when we feel scarcity and emptiness even though we know You love us more than our human imagination can grasp. May we have the presence of mind to live in Your love. We strive to see You reflected in every person we meet. Guide us in sharing our gifts and in being open hearted so that we may accept help from others.   
We thank you for Jesus, who knew what it was like to be an outsider in occupied and foreign lands. May his presence prompt us to bring gospel kindness and understanding to the divisions and conflicts of our time.  
Presider: 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.  
Presider 1 lifts plate and 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.  (Bread is consumed)

Presider 2 lifts the cup and 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. 
(Wine/juice is consumed)

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

All: Holy One, your transforming grace inspires us to follow our consciences and bring comfort to wherever people are in need.  We pray for wisdom, patience and persistence to make a difference in our world. We resolve to love as Jesus loved, to discern the better angels of our nature with hearts open to your Spirit. Amen. 
Presider: 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: Loving Source of our being, you call us to live the Gospel of peace and justice. We choose to live justly, love tenderly, and walk with integrity in Your Presence. 
Meditation Song : Christ in Me Arise – Trevor Thomson

Refrain
Christ in me arise and dispel all the darkness.
Christ in me arise with your power and your strength.
Christ in me pour out your blessing and healing.
Christ in me arise and I shall rise with you.

Be now my vision; open these eyes,
showing me all that I must see.
Onward to the kingdom, you are the way.
Arise in me and I shall rise with you.

Refrain

Be now my footsteps, leading the way,
taking me where I must go.
Onward to the kingdom, you are the way.
Arise in me and I shall rise with you.

Refrain

You know my heart and you know my ways,
you who formed me in my mother’s womb.
I live and move in you, my whole being thrives in you.

Final Refrain
Christ in me arise and dispel all the darkness.
Christ in me arise with your power and your strength.
Christ in me pour out your blessing and healing.
Christ in me arise and I shall rise with you.
Christ in me arise, Christ in me arise,
Christ in me arise and I shall rise with you.

BLESSING 
Presider 1: Please extend your hands in blessing. 
 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: God Beyond All Names – Bernadette Farrell

God, beyond our dreams, you have stirred in us a memory,
You have placed your powerful spirit in the hearts of humankind.

Refrain: All around us, we have known you;
All creation lives to hold you,
In our living and our dying
We are bringing you to birth.

God, beyond all names, you have made us in your image,
We are like you, we reflect you, we are woman, we are man.

Refrain

God, beyond all words, all creation tells your story,
You have shaken with our laughter, you have trembled with our tears.

Refrain

God, beyond all time, you are laboring within us;
We are moving, we are changing, in your spirit ever new.

Refrain

God of tender care, you have cradled us in goodness,
You have mothered us in wholeness, you have loved us into birth.

Refrain 


Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community - Liturgy of the Palms, April 4, 2020, Presiders:Sally Brochu, ARCWP, and Michael Rigdon , Janet Blakeley, ARCWP, Music Minister




Michael: Welcome to Mary Mother of Jesus, an inclusive Catholic Community where all are welcome.  At these difficult times, it is more important than ever for us to gather together to support one another as companions on our journey.

Sally: We invite you to pray the liturgy and respond where it says “All.” Participants will be muted during the liturgy except for the presiders, readers, and music minister. During the shared homily please raise your hand if you want to contribute. Please have bread and wine/juice in front of you as we pray our Eucharistic prayer.

Opening song: God beyond all names, you have made us in your image;
   we are like you, we reflect you; we are woman, we are man.
   Refrain. All around us we have known you, all creation lives to hold you.
   In our living and our dying we are bringing you to birth.

All: In the name of God our creator, Jesus our brother, and Spirit Sophia. Amen.
Michael: God is with you. All: And also with you.

Opening Prayer. Sally: We are grateful, Holy One, for this opportunity to gather as Christ’s Body. We pray for those who are isolated, worried, and lonely, for those who are sick from Covid-19, and for those who are grieving. All: Amen

Liturgy of the Word
A reading from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. 
If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don't love, I'm nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God's Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, "Jump," and it jumps, but I don't love, I'm nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don't love, I've gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love.
   Love never gives up.
   Love cares more for others than for self.
   Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
   Love doesn't strut,
   Doesn't have a swelled head,
   Doesn't force itself on others,
   Isn't always "me first,"
   Doesn't fly off the handle,
   Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,
   Doesn't revel when others grovel,
   Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
   Puts up with anything,
   Trusts God always,
   Always looks for the best,
   Never looks back,
   But keeps going to the end.”
These are the words of the Apostle Paul, and we respond, “Thanks be to God!”
Excerpt From: Eugene H Peterson, The Message.

Response to reading. All sing: Ubi caritas et amor, ubi caritas, Deus ibi est. (x3)

A reading from Paul’s letter to the Philippians. 
Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. Christ Jesus had equal status with God but didn't think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, Jesus set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, Jesus stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. Jesus didn't claim special privileges. Instead, living a selfless, obedient life and then dying a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.
Because of that obedience, God lifted Jesus high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Teacher of all, to the glorious honor of Abba God.
These are the words of the Apostle Paul, and we respond, “Thanks be to God!”
Excerpt From: Eugene H Peterson, The Message.

Gospel antiphon. All: Praise to you, Oh Jesus Christ, you reign in endless glory.
A reading from the Gospel of Mark. 
When they were nearing Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany on Mount Olives, Jesus sent off two of the disciples with instructions: "Go to the village across from you. As soon as you enter, you'll find a colt tethered, one that has never yet been
ridden. Untie it and bring it. If anyone asks, 'What are you doing?' say, 'The Teacher needs the colt, and will return it right away.’”
They went and found a colt tied to a door at the street corner and untied it. Some of those standing there said, "What are you doing untying that colt?" The disciples replied exactly as Jesus had instructed them, and the people let them alone. They brought the colt to Jesus, spread their coats on it, and Jesus mounted.
The people gave him a wonderful welcome, some throwing their coats on the street, others spreading out rushes they had cut in the fields. Running ahead and following after, they were calling out,
   Hosanna!
   Blessed is he who comes in God's name!
   Blessed the coming kingdom of our father David!
   Hosanna in highest heaven!
Jesus entered Jerusalem, then entered the Temple and looked around, taking it all in. By now it was late, so Jesus went back to Bethany with the Twelve.
These are Gospel writer Mark’s words, and we respond, “Thanks be to God!”
Excerpt From: Eugene H Peterson, The Message.

Shared Homily
Profession of Faith. All: We believe in God, the creator of the universe, the fountain of life, flowing through every being. We believe in Jesus the Christ who reflects the face of God and the fullness of humanity. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the breath of God in the cosmos, who calls us to loving service without counting the cost. We believe in our global communion with all in the circle of life. Amen to loving actions on behalf of justice, healing, compassion and equality for all in our world! We are called to be light to the world!

Prayers of the Community (Michael)
Aware that the Holy One is present within us and works through us, we bring to the table our intentions. Response: We remember and we pray. 
For all health care workers who are bringing healing to the suffering. R.
For wisdom for government leaders in this world-wide pandemic. R.
For those who have lost their health, their relatives, jobs and homes. R.
We can do all things in the power of the Spirit working through us. All: Amen

Offering of gifts: Sing: Seed, scattered and sown; wheat, gathered and grown,
   Bread, broken and shared as one, the living bread of God.
   Vine, fruit of the land; wine, work of our hands,
   One cup that is shared by all, the living cup, the living bread of God. (#356)
Eucharistic Prayer.
All sing: We are holy holy holy (x3) We are whole. You are holy… I am holy… We are holy

All, with hand extended in blessing: As we do in this place what you did in an upstairs room, send down your Spirit Sophia on us and on these gifts of bread and wine that they may become for us your body, healing and making us whole. And that we may become for you, your body, loving and caring in the world until your kindom comes. Amen.

All: On the night before he died, while at supper with his friends, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke the bread and gave it to them saying, “Take, and eat. This is my very self.” (Pause) Jesus then raised high the cup of blessing and offered them the wine with these words, “Take and drink of the covenant made new through my life for you and for everyone. Whenever you do this, remember me.”
All: Remember, gracious God, your Church throughout the world. Open us to welcome everyone. In union with all people, may we strive to create a world where suffering is diminished, and where all people can live in health and wholeness. Thru Christ, with Christ, in Christ, in union with the Holy Spirit, all glory is yours, gracious God. Amen (sing)

Let us pray as Jesus taught us:

All: 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 

Sign of Peace. Sally: Jesus, you said to your disciples, “My peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.”
All: Look on the faith of those gathered here and grant us your peace. Following the example of Jesus and with the strength of the Spirit, may we live in peace and harmony with everyone.
Sally: Let us wish peace to each other and to all members of our community!

Michael: This is Jesus, God with us, loving us forever. All are invited to partake of this sacred banquet of love.  All: We are the Body of Christ.   
All sing: Holy gifts for holy people, come you hungry and believe. Come receive Christ’s body offered, come and be what you receive. (x2)
Prayer of Thanksgiving (Didache, Instruction, 100CE)
All: For the thanksgiving, give thanks this way: First, for the cup: We thank you, Abba God, for the sacred vine of David your son, whose meaning you made clear to us through our brother Jesus, yours ever be the splendor.
And for the bread fragment: We thank you, Amma God, for the life and wisdom whose meaning you made clear to us through Jesus, yours ever be the splendor.
As this fragment was scattered high on hills, but by gathering was united into one, so let your people from earth’s ends be united into your single reign, for yours are splendor and might through Jesus Christ down the ages.

Prayers of Thanksgiving. Announcements.

Final Blessing. All sing, with hand extended in prayer:
Peace before us, Peace behind us, Peace under our feet
Peace within us, Peace over us, Let all around us be Peace.
Love before us, Love behind us, Love under our feet
Love within us, Love over us, Let all around us be Love.
Christ before us, Christ behind us, Christ under our feet,
Christ within us, Christ over us, Let all around us be Christ!

Presider. Go in the peace of Christ. Let us bring God’s reign of peace and compassion to all those we meet!
All: Thanks be to God.

Final Song: God beyond all words, all creation tells your story;
   you have shaken with our laughter, you have trembled with our tears.
   Refrain. All around us we have known you, all creation lives to hold you,
   In our living and our dying we are bringing you to birth.

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

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Breathe and Pray Through Your Anxieties During Coronavirus - Podcast on Centering Prayer by Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP

Centering Prayer: Podcast/ from Healing Power of Prayer Podcast by Bridget Mary Meehan
https://lnns.co/T0CeJdiAIEk

Embrace the Love that is already within you.
Be present to the Holy One who dwells in your soul.
Breathe in the Boundless love of Divine Presence.
Breathe out anxiety, fear anger, resentment...
Select a word that reminds of God's  Infinite Love dwelling with you.
Repeat this simple prayer word to remind you of Divine Love, healing, strength and peace present within your  innermost being.  
( even a 5 minute centering prayer break can relax and calm you.)

"Prescription for anxiety: Inhale, Exhale, Repeat is the title of an article in the health section of the Sarasota Herald Tribune today. Dr. Daphne Miller recommends a practice recommended by integrative medicine doctor Andrew Weil. It is called 4-7-8. (Breathe in for 4 seconds, hold for 7 and breathe out for 8.) It is similar to mindfulness breathing often known as soft belly breathing which starts in the belly rather than the throat. 
For centuries this type of breathing has been used by monks. In the Christian tradition, it has become popular in recent decades as Centering Prayer.
Here is a link to the a podcast on Centering Prayer that I created from my book The Healing Power of Prayer, New Expanded Edition. 

https://www.amazon.com/Healing-Power-Prayer-New-Expanded/dp/1546451382



So at this time of extreme stress over our pandemic, I find Centering Prayer soothing and comforting. I hope it may be a helpful to you too.
Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP


Sunday, March 29, 2020

Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community - Fifth Sunday in Lent - Presiders: Kim Panaro, ARCWP, and Donna Panaro, ARCWP

Welcome and Theme: Our theme is WAITING

Opening Prayer: We gather this day, as the world and our country face the darkness of disease.  May we bring forth light during this time of darkness by the compassion, hope, and love that we share with each other, and those in need.  Let us call upon the Spirit of Hope and Courage within each of us, that we may persevere during this difficult and trying time. Amen

 Meditation: I Will Surrender – Karen Drucker https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zjamx4MtAYw

Refrain: I will surrender to my greatest highest good.
I will release any fear that blocks my way.
For every step I take is taken in pure faith,
And I am stronger every moment every day.

(2nd time in place of “stronger: grateful; 3rd time: kinder)

My mind is willing and my heart is open wide.
I trust my instincts and let Spirit be my guide.
I vow to live a life that's real and true and free,
As I continue walking in this mystery.
Refrain

There may be walls there may be roadblocks in my way,
But I can choose to take a higher path each day.
And now I know that what I thought was safe and sound,
Was only habit and regret that held me down.
Refrain

LITURGY OF THE WORD 

A reading from the Book of Ezekiel
YHWH says this: I am going to open your graves; I mean to raise you from your graves, my people, and lead you back to the land of Israel. And you will know that I am YHWH, when I open your graves and raise you from your graves, my people. 
And I will put my breath in you, and you will live. And I will resettle you on your own soil, and you will know that I, YHWH, have said and done this — it is YHWH who speaks.

These are the inspired words from the Book of Ezekiel, and the community affirms them by saying, Amen.   
A reading from Henri Nouwen
How do we wait for God? We wait with patience. But patience does not mean passivity
Waiting patiently is not like waiting for the bus to come, the rain to stop, or the sun to rise.  It is an active waiting in which we live the present moment to the full in order to find there the signs of the One we are waiting for.

The word patience comes from the Latin verb patior, which means “to suffer”.  Waiting patiently is suffering through the present moment, tasting it to the full, and letting the seeds that are sown in the ground, on which we stand, grow into strong plants.  Waiting patiently always means paying attention to what is happening right before our eyes and seeing there the first rays of God’s glorious coming. 

How might we live more fully the grace of each moment?

These are the inspired words of Henri Nouwen, and the community affirms them by saying, Amen. 

Responsorial: Spirit of the Living God
https://youtu.be/G0_B0DpTbUI



Spirit of the Living God 
Fall fresh on me (2x)
Melt me, mold me, 
Fill me, use me 
Spirit of the Living God 
Fall fresh on me

A reading from the Gospel of John

 “Where have you laid him?” Jesus asked. 
“Come and see,” they said. And Jesus wept. 
The people in the crowd began to remark, “See how much he loved him!” Others said, “He made the blind person see; why could he not have done something to prevent Lazarus’ death?” 
Jesus was again deeply moved. They approached the tomb, which was a cave with a stone in front of it. “Take away the stone,” Jesus directed. 
Martha said, “Rabbi, it has been four days now. By this time there will be a stench.” Jesus replied, “Did I not assure you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” So they took the stone away. Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said, “Abba, thank you for having heard me. I know that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd, that they might believe that you sent me!” Then Jesus called out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 
And Lazarus came out of the tomb, still bound hand and foot with linen strips, his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus told the crowd, “Untie him and let him go free.” 
Many of those who had come to console Martha and Mary, and saw what Jesus did, put their faith in him. 
These are the inspired words from the Gospel of John, and the community affirms them by saying, Amen.

 (pause)  
 Homily and Shared Reflection 

Homily by Kim Panaro, ARCWP - WAITING :The Challenge of COVID-19

There are few things in religious language more disappointing and irritating than platitudes and easy answers that gloss over the reality of important or uncomfortable moments. “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle” or “God Is In Control” are meant to comfort us in faith but what they do, I would propose, is use God language to take us away from fully living the experiences of darkness that enter all of our lives.  COVID 19 is a worldwide pandemic that brings today’s readings, familiar Lenten scriptures, into a whole new focus.

In Ezekial, the vision of the dry bones was given to the prophet to demonstrate that even dead and bleached bones could be reanimated through the power of the breath of the God of Israel. God would restore God’s people as a nation although they had been scattered, had no temple and no king.  The people were encouraged to  have hope where there was no earthly reason to have any.  Also, in the raising of Lazarus, there was no reason to have hope because Lazarus was dead for 4 days. Martha and Mary believed Jesus could have saved his life but they certainly never would have imagined Jesus would be the one through whom God would bring the dry bones of Lazarus back to life.

Now, we are adults in faith. We know how our faith tradition is recorded.  The nation of Israel was restored, Lazarus rose to new life and soon, Jesus would be crucified , die and would rise on Easter. So, is it enough to tell ourselves to remember these stories of hope during this time of dry bones and tombs? As an Easter people we are naturally called to have hope that suffering will not have the last word. But this is not enough. We should not be “white knuckling” our way toward life as we know it returning to normal. Just using platitudes and distractions to survive another day of the new normal will not help us to emerge from the tomb of isolation any better than we entered it. Our mystical wisdom tradition  is rich with men and women who model opening to the transformative power of fully embracing whatever situation presents. The writer Paul wrote letters from prison.  Julian of Norwich the 14th century mystic wrote from the confines of being an anchoress, walled up inside a church, during the time of wars and the great plague that killed for decades. She wrote of Divine Love as motherly love. John of the Cross talked about his experience of the Dark Night of the Soul when he was imprisoned in a dungeon for 11 months because he refused to stop working with Theresa of Avila. I hope to come out of this experience not as a mere survivor but as one who has chosen to thrive spiritually and emotionally no matter what the situation brings. 

I would suggest that the TRANFORMATIONS to which we are each called are found in HOW we choose to wait. We can stay aware, alert, open to the moment. It is important to resist the temptation to try to avoid the uncertainty of this time by either predicting catastrophic outcomes or a holy hopefulness that denies the reality of the loss and suffering so many are enduring.  This is the meaning of the  “active waiting” described in Nouwen. If we are committed to allowing each thought, emotion and impulse  during this period in the tomb of uncertainty  we will likely discover many wonderful blessings. People are cherishing the gifts of  time with family, slowing down, self-care, simplicity, deeper prayer experiences and so on.Letting go of our tightly gripped illusions about what we must do in our hectic daily lives.  We may well also find that we see the darkness or uncertainty in ourselves. Our own inner dark cave of the heart.  How long will this go on? I’m afraid, How will I and my family be impacted? Will I be financially ruined? Where is God in this? Loneliness, despair, longing, anger. The mystics always teach us that it is only in living fully through the circumstances of our lives with awareness, open hearts and minds that the Holy One can work in and through us. It is possible to use this time to deepen our compassion for ourselves and others. When I feel impatient and angry at being trapped at home, I can bring that to prayer aware of the opportunity to cultivate patience, without judgement or harsh self criticism. If I am feeling alone or lonely, I can experience it deeply and move through it to the comfort of knowing that Spirit will never leave me comfortless. When I am afraid of where this is all going and what will happen before it ends, I can remember the word of the beloved song Be Not Afraid. God goes before me always.  I can only remember that comfort if I allow the fear.

 How are you waiting during this time of dry bones and entombment, hope and faith? What is helping you to experience it fully?

 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. 


LITURGY OF THE EUCHARIST
Presider:  As we prepare for the sacred meal, we voice our intentions beginning with the words, “I bring to the table…..”  

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

 Holy One, we yearn to be close to you and to live in the embrace of your gentle wisdom. Your divine grace and love lead us away from our anxieties, fears and distractions and toward all that is blessed and joyous.  

Each of us is divinely created in Your image. We are precious to you and to each other because of who we are. We are beloved and blessed in your unconditional love, quite apart from how we act or fail to act.  

Thankful for Jesus who treated all of Creation with respect and abundant love, we resolve to follow his example to be a light in the darkness. We recognize Your loving Presence here with us today and always, and we sing: 

Blessed be our God!  Blessed be our God (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-FvAFEjAnrc)


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! 
(Alleluia Sing by David Haas)

Dearest Holy One, there are times when we feel scarcity and emptiness even though we know You love us more than our human imagination can grasp. May we have the presence of mind to live in Your love. We strive to see You reflected in every person we meet. Guide us in sharing our gifts and in being open hearted so that we may accept help from others.   

We thank you for Jesus, who knew what it was like to be an outsider in occupied and foreign lands. May his presence prompt us to bring gospel kindness and understanding to the divisions and conflicts of our time.  
 Presider: Please extend your hands in blessing. 

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.  

 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.  

 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. 

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. 
(pause) 

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

Holy One, your transforming grace inspires us to follow our consciences and bring comfort to wherever people are in need.  We pray for wisdom, patience and persistence to make a difference in our world. We resolve to love as Jesus loved, to discern the better angels of our nature with hearts open to your Spirit. Amen.  

 Presider: 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  


 MEDITATION SONG:  Come Alive by Lauren Daigle https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7XAeyFagceQ

Through the eyes of men it seems there's so much we have lost
As we look down the road where all the Prodigals have walked
One by one the enemy has whispered lies then led them off as slaves

But we know that you are God, Yours is the victory
We know there is more to come that we may not yet see
So with the faith You've given us we'll step into the valley unafraid

(chorus)
As we call out to dry bones come alive, come alive
We call out to dead hearts come alive, come alive
Up out of the ashes, let us see an army rise
We call out to dry bones come alive

God of endless mercy, God of unrelenting love
Rescue every daughter, bring us back the wayward sons
By Your Spirit breathe upon them, show the world that You alone can save
You alone can save

(chorus)
As we call out to dry bones come alive, come alive
We call out to dead hearts come alive, come alive
Up out of the ashes, let us see an army rise
We call out to dry bones come alive

So breathe, Oh breath of God now
Breathe, Oh breath of God
Breathe, Oh breath of God now breathe
Breathe, Oh breath of God now breathe
Oh breath of God
Breathe, Oh breath of God now breathe

(chorus)
As we call out to dry bones come alive, come alive
We call out to dead hearts come alive, come alive
Up out of the ashes, let us see an army rise
We call out to dry bones come alive
We call out to dry bones come alive

BLESSING 


 Presider: Please extend your hands in blessing. 
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: Lean of Me by Bill Withers

Sometimes in our lives we all have pain
We all have sorrow
But if we are wise
We know that there's always tomorrow

Lean on me, when you're not strong
And I'll be your friend I'll help you carry on
For it won't be long
'Til I'm gonna need
Somebody to lean on

Please swallow your pride
If I have faith you need to borrow
For no one can fill those of your needs
That you won't let show

You just call on me sister, when you need a hand
We all need somebody to lean on
I just might have a problem that you'll understand
We all need somebody to lean on

Lean on me, when you're not strong
And I'll be your friend I'll help you carry on
For it won't be long
'Til I'm gonna need
Somebody to lean on