Sunday, September 12, 2021

Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community - Liturgy for the Second Sunday in the Season of Creation - September 12, 2021 - Presiders: Joan Chesterfield, ARCWP, Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP, and Mary Theresa Streck, ARCWP

Welcome and Theme: We are living signs of the Holy One

Mary Theresa: Our theme today is “We are living signs of the Holy One.” We are challenged in our readings to articulate what that means. Jesus asks a central question of his followers: “Who do you same I am?” As followers of Jesus we are confronted with this central question that goes to the heart of our longing for a life that is a living sign of the Holy One. 

Opening Prayer:  

Bridget Mary: Beloved, of all people and cultures, we open our hearts and minds to your energizing presence within every human heart and in every living being.  We encounter you in Holy Mystery, beyond human comprehension. You are called Mother, Father, Creator, Holy Wisdom, Source of all Being, Birther of Life, Liberating Spirit, and many more names.  We trust in the depth of your boundless grace moving through us as we join hands and hearts to be living signs of the Holy One in our world. 

Opening Song

Surrender - Heather Houston and Samantha Keller 


The first Reading is from a Letter written by James to the Early Christian Community (Margaret) 

(Jas 2:14-18 – translation from the Message Bible)

Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, “Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?

I can already hear one of you agreeing by saying, “Sounds good. You take care of the faith department, I’ll handle the works department.” Not so fast. You can no more show me your works apart from your faith than I can show you my faith apart from my works. Faith and works, works and faith, fit together hand in glove.

These are the inspired words of James and we affirm them by saying, Amen.

Psalm Response: Psalm 19 (Denise)

revised by Denise Hackert-Stoner

Response: The Living God is With Us, and with all creation.

The heavens are telling the glory of God; 

and the cosmos proclaims this glory! 

Day to day these heavens speak out, 

and night to night they declare wisdom. 

There is no sound, nor are there words; 

their voice is not heard; 

yet it goes out through all the earth, 

and is heard throughout the endless universe.

Response: The Living God is With Us, and with all creation.

Second Reading: (Donna) A reading from “We Make the Road by Walking” by Brian McLaren

Before Christianity was a rich and powerful religion, before it was associated with buildings, budgets, crusades, colonialism, or televangelism, it began as a revolutionary nonviolent movement promoting a new kind of aliveness on the margins of society. It dared to honor women, children, and unmarried adults in a world ruled by married men. It dared to elevate slaves to equality with those who gave them orders. It challenged slave masters to free their slaves and see them as peers. It defied religious taboos that divided people into us and them, in and out, good and evil, clean and unclean. It claimed that everyone, not just an elite few, had God-given gifts to use for the common good. It exposed a system based on domination, privilege, and violence and proclaimed in its place a vision of mutual service, mutual responsibility, and peaceable neighborliness. It put people above profit, and made the audacious claim that the Earth belonged not to rich tycoons or powerful politicians, but to the Creator who loves every sparrow in the trees and every wildflower in the field. It was a peace movement, a love movement, a joy movement, a justice movement, an integrity movement, an aliveness movement. It had no bank accounts, but was rich in relationships and joy. It had no elaborate hierarchy and organization, but spread like wildfire through simple practices of empowerment and self-organization. It had no seminaries or colleges, but it was constantly training new waves of courageous and committed leaders through the “each one teach one” strategy of catechesis. It had lots of problems, too, but it grappled with those problems courageously.

These are the inspired words of Brian McLaren and we affirm them by saying, Amen.

Alleluia (Dennis)

Gospel: A Reading from the Gospel of Mark (Ann)

 (Mk 8:27-35 translation from The Message Bible)

Jesus and his disciples headed out for the villages around Caesarea Philippi. As they walked, he asked, “Who do the people say I am?”  “Some say ‘John the Baptizer,’” they said. “Others say ‘Elijah.’ Still others say ‘one of the prophets.’” He then asked, “And you—what are you saying about me? Who am I?” Peter gave the answer: “You are the Christ, the Messiah.” 

Jesus warned them to keep it quiet, not to breathe a word of it to anyone. He then began explaining things to them: “It is necessary that the Son of Man proceed to an ordeal of suffering, be tried and found guilty by the elders, high priests, and religion scholars, be killed, and after three days rise up alive.” He said this simply and clearly so they couldn’t miss it. 

But Peter grabbed him in protest. Turning and seeing his disciples wavering, wondering what to believe, Jesus confronted Peter. “Peter, get out of my way! Satan, get lost! You have no idea how God works.” 

Calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade for your soul? 

These are the inspired words of the Gospel writer known as Mark and we affirm them by saying, Amen.

Homily Starter:  Mary Theresa

Jesus said to his companions, “Who do you say that I am?” This question was an important one for the early Christian communities who were making sense of the life and teachings of Jesus. He was no longer there, but the memory of his life, and the example of those who walked with him, had a profound impact on their lives. Jesus expressed the essence of the Holy One in the wisdom and patterns of his life, in his teachings. and in the way he treated others. He enfleshed what it meant to be a living sign of the Holy One in human form.

As we heard in our first reading, the early communities began as a revolutionary nonviolent movement promoting a new kind of aliveness on the margins of society. The communities challenged systems of domination, privilege and violence and proclaimed in its place a vision of mutual service and mutual responsibility. Theirs was a peace movement, a love movement, a joy movement, a justice movement, an integrity movement, an aliveness movement. It was a movement that saw no separation between their faith in the Holy One and their good works.

That same question, Who do you say that I am?”  is foundational for us as we continue to grow our intentional Christian communities. How we view Jesus is so important. If he is a divine superhuman, then we can worship him. If he is the savior from our sins, then we can thank him, but if he is both human and divine like us, then we can follow him. Jesus recognized the divine at work in his followers when he said, “Whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these.” Those words from the Gospel of John affirm our place in creation and our call to aliveness, our call to be agents of change. We, like Jesus, are collaborators with the Holy One in co-creating a world where all flourish and thrive. And, it is through our faith and our acts of loving service to others that we are a living sign of the Holy One. 

When you hear the words of Jesus, “Who do you say that I am?” how do you respond? What did you hear in today’s readings? Please share your inspired words. 

Statement of Faith (Joan and Dotty)

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.


Dennis: As we prepare for the sacred meal, we bring to this table our blessings, cares and concerns.  

 Dennis reads intentions

We bring these and all deeply held blessings, cares, and concerns to the table of friendship and peace. 

Bridget Mary: With open hearts and hands let us pray our Eucharistic prayer in one voice:

Blessed are you, Source of All Life,

For out of the silence at the beginning of time you spoke the Word of life.

Blessed are you for your light that dapples through creation 

on leaves that shimmer in the morning sun and in showers of rain that wash the earth. 

Blessed are you for the night and its light, for stars that emerge out of evening skies and the white moon’s radiance.

Blessed are you for the might of your wind on the waters, for the swelling of the open sea and the rushing of crested waves. 

Joan: Blessed are you for the earth’s unfolding of color and the bright sheen of creatures from ocean depths. 

Blessed are you for the human spirit dappled with eternal light in its longings for love and abundance. 

Blessed are you in all things and contained by no thing.  You are the Life of all life and we sing your praise.

Song:   Here in this Place by Chris Grundy

Mary Theresa: The world is alive with your goodness, Holy One, and we praise you for your embodied love. We open ourselves to your presence that we may love you and care for you in all things.

In the blessed abundance of creation, we gather to celebrate Your nourishing gift of life. May our hearts be open as You invite us to participate in the wise and wonderful work of co-creation. 

Please extend your hands in blessing.

We are grateful for Your Spirit whose breath inspired the primal waters, calling into being the variety and abundance we see around us. Your Spirit sustains and animates our every endeavor, inviting us to act in wisdom and in truth. We are ever aware of your Spirit in us and among us at this Eucharistic table and we are grateful for this bread and wine which reminds us of our call to be the body of Christ in the world. 

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.

Bridget Mary: On the night before he faced his own death, Jesus sat at 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. 


Community lifts the plate

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.


Community lifts the cup

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.


Joan: This is the bread of life and the cup of blessing. Through it we are nourished and we nourish each other. What we have heard with our ears, we will live with our lives; as we share communion, we become communion, both Love’s nourishment and Love’s challenge.

Please receive communion. 

Communion song: Bread of Life by Rory Cooney 

Prayer after Communion

Mary Theresa:  O Divine Love, your transforming energy is within us and you call us to compassionate care for of all creation.  

We pray for wise leaders in our religious communities. We pray for courageous and compassionate leaders in our world communities.  

Inspire us to act justly and courageously in confronting the suffering that desecrates the Earth and its peoples.

We pray for all of us gathered here and like Jesus, we open ourselves up to your Spirit, for it is through living as he lived that we awaken to your Spirit within, 

moving us to glorify you, at this time and all ways.


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 


Bridget Mary: Please raise your hands in blessing: 

God’s Spirit inspires awe and wonder in our encounters with the Beloved.

God’s Spirit empowers us to be living signs of the Holy One in our words and actions. 

God’s Spirit enlivens us to be part of the world’s healing every day. 

Together, we are one in Christ, loving and serving God’s holy people everywhere.

Closing song: All You Works of God by Marty Haugen

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