Sunday, December 19, 2021

Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community - Fourth Sunday in Advent - Presiders: Kathleen Ryan, ARCWP, and Katie Nimcheski, ARCWP

Theme: Visitation - Human Connection


Kathie: Welcome: As we celebrate this last Sunday in Advent we hear the Gospel story of Mary and Elizabeth. Two strong sacred women.  They may have had fears and doubts of what was to come but they were together. Our opening song is called Sacred Women, but I promise you the song includes our Sacred Men as well.

Let us pray:  Holy One, we know you are with us in all things. And yet, at times we are filled with fears and doubts.  As we celebrate today may we rest contentedly in your Love and in the amazing experience of our loving community.  Amen.

Let us light our Advent Candle!

Katie:  Like our ancestors, we honor the cycles and the seasons that remind us of the ever-changing flow of life.  Ritual acts give life meaning—they honor and acknowledge the unseen web of Life that connects us all.

(Mary S lights the 4th candle)

  As we light this fourth candle and remember that we are called to create, share and be light in all our ways of relating to all of Creation and commit ourselves to work for peace and justice in our world.     

ALL: Let us kindle the light of love!

Opening Song
Sacred Woman by Kate Sutherland


Phillis S:  A Reading from Rt. Rev. Steven Charleston, Choctaw

“Something sacred is coming this way.  That is how my ancestors would have said it. In the midst of all this turmoil and confusion, when we cannot clearly see the path before us, when we feel trapped in a situation we cannot control, then I believe the wise elders of my holy heritage would climb to the high place of the heart, draw the circle of reason and faith around them, and stand to sing their prayers into the open sky of the history to come.  

They would not shrink into a corner afraid, but rise up to catch the first light of what was coming into being all around them.

We are living in a time of emergence.

We are the witnesses to a great renewal.

The world is full of the fear of birth and change, but that transformation will one day be our blessing. 

Do not be afraid, but be believing.

Come to the place where the ancestors are already standing. Come and see.

Something sacred is coming this way."  

These are the words of Steven Charleston a disciple of the Holy One and the community affirms them by saying AMEN

Alleluia  Dennis

Christina C:  A Reading from the Gospel of Luke.  (1:39-45, 56)

Mary set out and hurried to the hill country to a town of Judah, where she entered Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth.  As soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!  But why am I so favored, that the mother of the Messiah should come to me?  The moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leaped for joy.  Blessed is she who believed that what our God said to her would be accomplished!  Mary said: “My soul proclaims your greatness, O God, and my spirit rejoices in you, my Savior. For you have looked with favor upon your lowly servant, and from this day forward all generations will call me blessed.  For you, the Almighty have done great things for me., and holy is his name. Your mercy reaches from age to age for those who fear you.  You have shown strength with your arm; you have scattered the proud in their conceit; you have deposed the mighty from their thrones and raised the lowly to high places.  You have filled the hungry with good things, and have sent the rich away empty. You have come to the aid of Israel your servant, mindful of your mercy—the promise you made to our ancestors—to Sarah and Abraham and their descendants forever.” Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months and then returned home.

These are the inspired word of Luke, a disciple of Jesus. The community affirms them by saying AMEN!


Shared Homily

In the first reading, the line, “The world is full of the fear of birth and change” grabbed my attention. We are definitely living in an era where constant change is happening all around us and within us, so our fears and pain are very real. Many catalysts for this fear include the unpredictability of new covid-19 variants or the unpredictability of school shootings. We fear the political polarization in our country and divisiveness. For some of us, the inability to keep up with the changes in technology or trying to protect ourselves from internet and phone scams keeps us in a state of fear. 

In our gospel today, we see Mary also facing fears of massive change about to happen in her life during a very tumultuous time in history. As a remedy for her fears, she reaches out to Elizabeth maybe because she knew that Elizabeth was also about to experience the same things she was going through, their first pregnancy. Once they were together, scripture revealed a much different picture. Elizabeth began rejoicing, and Mary started singing the song we know as “The Magnificat.” Apart, they may have been fearful, but together their fear turned into joy and hope. 

What we see today is that fear and even pain are natural during times of birthing great change, but God has already provided us with the built-in remedy of human connection that we need to actively seek out. Some of us have access to friends and family or even spiritual directors to help us temper our fears. Reverend Steven pointed out in our first reading that we also have access to our ancestors who have gone before us. All of these people (living in this life or in the next) are temples for The Divine Comforter that can provide us the human connection we need to turn our fear into joy as we wait for something sacred to come.

What did you hear in these readings? What will you do? How will they change you?

Mary B   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. 



Katie:  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. Please feel free to voice your intentions beginning with the words, “I bring to the table…..” 

Kathie: General intentions.     We pray for these our blessings, cares, and concerns and bring them to our table of friendship and love. Amen. 


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

(written by Jay Murnane) 


All: 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: 

"Here In This Place" by Christopher Grundy

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


Kathie: 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. 

Please extend your hands in blessing.

All: 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. 

Katie: 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. 


All lift their 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 their cups and pray the following:

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.


Katie: Let us share this bread and cup to proclaim and live the gospel of justice and peace with the words:  The Holy One dwells in you.

Communion Meditation/Song: Magnificat by Jo Boyce

Kathie: Prayer after Communion:

Holy One, 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.  

Bernie K: 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   


Katie: Please extend your hands and pray our blessing together.

May we continue to be the face of God to each other.  May we call each other to extravagant generosity!  May our light shine for all to see, and may we be a blessing in our time! 


All: AMEN 


Closing Song: LIGHT OF THE WORLD – Lauren Daigle 

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