Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Liturgy to Celebrate Mirth and Spirituality, Presider Ann Harrington ARCWP

Prayers and Concerns

Opening Song
Gather Us In

Opening Prayer
An Invitation
All:  The table of bread and wine is now to be made ready.
It is the table of company of Jesus, and all who love him.
It is the table of sharing with the poor of the world,
with whom Jesus identified himself.
It is the table of communion with the earth,
in which Christ became incarnate.
So come to this table,
you who have much faith
and you who would like to have more;
you who have been here often
and you who have not been for a long time;
you who have tried to follow Jesus,
and you who have failed; Come.
It is Christ who invites us to meet him here.
Iona Abbey Worship Book, Wild Goose Publications,
The Iona Community, www.ionabooks.com.
Liturgy of the Word 1 Samuel 5: 6-12  

Laughter Came From Every Brick
            Just these two words He spoke to me                        And laughter came from every brick
            changed my life,                                             in the street and from every pore in
            "Enjoy Me."                                                    the sky.

            What a burden I thought I was to carry-        After a night of prayer,
            a crucifix, as did He.                                       He changed my life when He sang,   
                                                                                    "Enjoy Me."
            Love once said to me, "I know a song,
            would you like to hear it?"
                                                by Daniel Ladinsky or Teresa of Avila

Canticle of the Sun, verses 1-3, Laughter Came from Every Brick, Gospel John 1: 43-47

In some recess of my mind I hear, how dare you be composing a liturgy around mirth during lent!  But I tossed that thought and here goes.  First a couple of jokes to set the mood:

  Mark's best friend, Dennis, became a family member over the 36 years we knew him.  He had struggles with clinical depression, so when things looked very bleak for him in 1984 we invited him to live with us in South Carolina.  He was very involved during the twins birth and early years.  He was their God Father.  Eventually we all moved to NC.  Dennis to Marion, us to Greenville.  After an 8 year absence Dennis shows up again and is in very bad shape emotionally and we invite him to move to Greenville on the condition that he work with a therapist and face some of his issues.  He did this, found a job, a wife and visited and had dinner with us frequently.  And oh, he was always a ready helper on home improvement projects. And we always had plenty of those. Well, life took another of those downturns for Dennis and on Feb. 29, 2012 he committed suicide.  The reason I am telling you this is that Dennis was a clown and loved to make people laugh.  We think he chose Leap Day to die as a joke, remember nothing counts on leap day or so the legend goes.  So as I was reflecting on all this I thought a liturgy to celebrate what is funny about life would be a good way to remember Dennis.

The internet being the lovely thing it is, has a video of a Jesuit priest, James Martin giving a lecture titled, "Between Heaven and Mirth".  He says, "some people think being religious means being deeply serious all the time, when your deadly serious, your probably seriously dead".  He goes on to say that people who are in touch with God smile and are joyful.  Teilhard de Chardin said, "joy is the surest sign of the Holy Spirit".  Why does Jesus not seem funnier in the Gospels?  It might be that we don't get first century humor.  It might be that we've heard the parables so many times, we miss the joke.  In today's Gospel we can get a glimpse of how that story did contain humor.  Father Martin goes on to say that the saints were attractive people who other people wanted to be around.  We generally avoid the "Debbie Downer" types.  Here are some quotes attributed to saints:
St. Lawrence while he is being burned at the stake, "Turn me over, I'm done on this side."  And before he died, "It's cooked enough now".

St.  Augustine:  "Give me chastity, but not yet!"
St. Thomas More on his way to be hanged:  "I pray you take care of me on the way up, as for coming down, I will take care of myself".  Meaning he didn't fear death.  Isn't this the fear that trips us up?

John XXIII when asked, "How many people work in the Vatican, responded, "Oh about half of them".

And what does a good laugh do for us?  It opens our minds, and an open mind is a very good thing.  When we laugh the opposite of the fight or flight syndrome happens, it releases endorphins, those feel good chemicals that trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine.  Humor is fun, a "foretaste of heaven" says the good Father.  I say maybe it is the real reality, the heaven already present among us that we miss most of the time.

After all, Abraham fell on his face and laughed when he heard God tell him he and his wife Sarah they would conceive a child even though he was 100 and she was 90.  Who wouldn't?  That child was named Isaac, which means "the laugh".

And to close I offer these two jokes:

A man was lying in bed on a Saturday morning. His wife said to him, “Get out of bed and go to “shul”.  “I don’t want to go to shul”, said he, “and there are three really good reasons for that. First, I am tired. Second, I don’t like the service and I really dislike the sermons. Third, the congregation doesn’t like me.”  So his wife said, “Those excuses are no good.  Get out of bed and go to shul for three reasons. First, a decent Jewish family goes to shul together. Second,  God will never forgive you, if you don’t come to shul. And third, you are the rabbi.”

    A Jewish kid is sent to a Jewish school by his parents. After two weeks he is kicked out for fighting and laziness. So his parents raise the money and send him to a private school. However, after two weeks he is kicked out for fighting and laziness. Having no choice, the parents send the kid to a public school. However, after just one week he is suspended for fighting, lateness and laziness. His parents feel terrible. What to do, what to do! Finally they decide there is only one thing more they can do. So they enroll him in a Catholic school. Weeks go by and the boy is still in school. In fact, he has good grades and the nuns speak well of him. His parents are amazed. They ask the kid, “How is it you got kicked out of Jewish school, out of private school and out of public school but you don’t get kicked out of Catholic school?”  “You should see,” says the kid,  “what they have hanging on the wall.”

So now, I invite you to share a funny thing that happened to you on your way to heaven, maybe made you laugh at yourself, helped you relax and not take yourself too seriously.
Offertory  "We Remember" by Josh Groban
                                    Eucharistic Prayer
Presider:  When the hour had come, Jesus took a place at the table and said to them, "I've longed to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.  Jesus took bread, gave thanks for it, broke it and gave it to them saying: 

All:  "This is my body which will be given for you.  Do this in remembrance of me".

 Presider:  Then taking the cup of wine Jesus gave thanks and said:

All:  "Take this and share it among you.  This cup is the New Covenant in my blood which will be poured out for you".  (Luke 21)
I give you a new commandment:  Love one another the way I have loved you.  This is how all will know that you are my disciples, that you truly love one another.  (John 13)

                        Litany for the Breaking of the Bread
            All:  Loving God, you call us to life, a new life, abundant life
            Loving God, you call us to be transformed by the Life of the Spirit
            Loving God, you call us to join with you in creating the world anew!

Presider:  (lift bread and cup) Through the sharing of this bread and wine may we awaken to the sacredness of our lives and the beauty all around us.  May we experience your divine presence, O Creator God, so deeply, that our lives become reflections of Jesus.  Amen

All:  This is the body of Christ for the Body of Christ. 

Communion Song  Canticle of the Sun, verses 4-6

Blessing  May the spirit of pardon and forgiveness reside with us
and be always ready to heal our divisions.  
May the spirits of mirth and laughter, hope and faith,
playfulness and prayer, compassion and love
 be perpetual guests in our hearts.
                        adapted from Edward Hays  Prayers for the Domestic Church

Presider:  May the Love that passes all understanding be our guide.  Take what you have received and share it lovingly with all you meet.  All:  Amen

Presider:  Christ has no body now but yours.  Go be the eyes, ears, arms and feet of Christ Sophia.  All:  Thanks be to God!

Closing Song  Spirit in the Sky  Circle Dance and Free Style

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