Tuesday, November 29, 2016

First Sunday of Advent 2016 - Upper Room, Albany, NY

On Sunday, November 27, Jim Marsh, ARCWP and Marge Milanese, Spiritual Director, led the Upper Room Community in the first Sunday of Advent liturgical celebration. Jim offered a homily starter (printed below) based on the readings for the day.

Receiving the Stole
We your community call you forth and bless you as you lead us in liturgy today.

Welcome and Theme
Presider 1: Welcome to the Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community. Thank you for gathering here with us so that we can birth again and again the message of Jesus.  Together, we birth the dawning of a new age, a new humanity in our time. Today’s theme of light and hope calls us to acknowledge ourselves as active participants, essential coaches, and helpful companions in a momentous birth – the daily bringing forth of Peace, Joy, and Inclusivity into our fear-filled world.

Opening Song: The Upper Room is committed to using songs that express a theology of blessing and inclusive language. The following song was written by Jan Alderedge-Clanton, http://www.jannaldredgeclanton.com/music.php

 Rejoice, Rejoice
 (sung to the tune of O Come, O Come Emmanuel)

Come now, dear friends, for advent time is here;
It's time to cast out doubt and crippling fear –
for soon now, before are wond’ring eyes,
this season will bring forth its own surprise:

Refrain: Rejoice rejoice!
Our freedom is at hand:
The Dawn of Justice shines upon the land.

This holy season teaches us that we
Who share, with Christ, are one humanity
Must struggle to bring fragile earth
Into the peace that heralds a new birth. 

Let us together ponder how we may
Initiate a new and better day
In hope we are strong, our faith is great
no more delay lest justice come too late.

Opening Prayer
Presider 2: O Holy One, in this season of Advent we celebrate your presence with us. As co-creators, we are birther and birthed. We are in labor with you and we are midwives - birthing a time when all creation will learn to live in peace with justice. You bless us with your generous love. May we learn from our brother Jesus to share our bounty with all who are in need and treat everyone with honesty and fairness.

Reading of the Day
Gospel of the Day

Shared Homily

Homily Starter by Jim Marsh, ARCWP

Are we a bit uncomfortable as we close one liturgical year and begin another? Where’s the good news in images of conflict and tension around the globe or even in our own cities and neighborhoods, even our divided nation after our recent presidential elections ….. “one will be taken and one left behind?” 

If we follow the Lectionary cycle for this year, we will primarily be reading Matthew’s good news.  In the three years since we have used this Gospel, have we changed—are we different—have we grown?  Are our homes more caring, our neighborhoods safer, our workplaces more kinder because of our “light?”

In that first reading, we hear from the prophet Isaiah who had a vision and a message of hope and encouragement for his people who were in a spiritual funk.  Do we also dream of a time when weapons of war will be turned into implements for agriculture…when nations will not raise the sword against another, and never again shall they train for war?  When will that day come?  I dare say such transformation will not happen if we are still swinging our swords and slinging our divisive words toward our neighbor. 

Advent is the time to “wake up,” to be alert and aware as we heard in our second and third readings today. 

Advent is our time to watch for the light emerging and hope arising even in the darkest days.  Advent is a time of waiting and anticipation of the in-breaking (incarnation) of God in our lives again and again and again.  Advent is a time to make room for what the Holy One desires to birth within us and among us.  As the beloved mystic, Joan Chittister said “Advent [that is to say Incarnation] makes us look for God in all those places we have, until now, ignored.”  It is a time for hope and desire!
Let us use our Advent time wisely to make conscious choices about what will occupy our mind, heart, time and energy as individuals and as a faith-filled community ….. my prayer is that our meeting next week after Eucharist will be productive as we   “enflesh” our mission together for the future. 

My friends, there is a light within each of us that our world so desperately needs!

There are many wonderful images, words and phrases in today’s readings.  What did you hear?  How will you respond? What will it cost? 

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.


Presider 1: As we prepare for the sacred meal, we lay our stoles upon the table as a sign that just as Jesus is anointed, so is each of us. And we bring to this table our blessings, cares and concerns.  Please feel free to voice your concerns beginning with the words “I bring to the table….”

Presider 2: Source of light, we seek you in this season of winter, when the days are short and we lift up our hearts and ease our souls into that quiet place which is your presence among us.  

Presider 1: Please join in praying the Eucharistic prayer together.
(written by Jay Murnane)

All:  Source of All That Is, we seek you in a cold season, when the earth, icy beneath our feet, 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.

We are grateful for crisp air, skies sparkling with a million stars, the wonder of snowfall upon the land. We are grateful as our earth circles towards the winter solstice when the time of light grows longer each day.

During this gentle season of Advent, we recognize that you have made us capable of bringing forth justice, like a rising sun. We are one with all who have gone before us, and all creatures throughout this holy earth, and all the energies of the universe, and so we sing:

Holy, Holy, Holy…2x (Karen Drucker)

We thank you that the good news is a simple message, meant for all of us, and written in the marrow of our bones: we are your children, we are like you, we are all one.

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

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 start their lives over again with right relations.

Blessed is Miriam, who believed that she could birth a new beginning for the earth by opening herself up to the unbelievable.

And blessed is her child Jesus, who felt the sorrows of humankind in the nerve endings of his soul, and responded with deep and tender compassion.

As he spent his days with a small circle of friends in the work of healing and making peace, so he spent one of the last nights of his life with them, to celebrate the ancient festival of Passover.

ALL: On the night before he faced his own death, Jesus sat at the Seder 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.

(presider lifts bread)

When he returned to his place, he took bread, gave thanks and offered it to them saying:

Take this bread and eat it;
It is my very self.

(presider lifts cup)

He then raised a cup of blessing, spoke the grace and offered the wine saying:

Take and drink of the covenant
Made new again through my life
Poured out for you and for everyone
That you might really be free.

Whenever you remember me like this,
I am among you.


All: We give thanks for our tradition, which is a living history born of the love of creator and creation. We join ourselves with that tradition, as the visionaries and healers and peacemakers of our own time in history.

We also celebrate the many creative traditions which guide and form human beings, and we are grateful that there are many paths to wisdom and life.

Each Advent the world holds new horror and desolation, and we make a place in this prayer for every anguished scream and hopeless silence in so many places throughout this earth, and right here among us.

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.

Presider 2: Let us pray the prayer Jesus:

Source of all Life, 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

Presider 1: Please join in our prayer for the breaking of the bread:

All:   Loving God, You call us to live the Gospel of peace and justice.  We will live justly.  
Loving God, You call us to be Your presence in the world. 
We will love tenderly.
Loving God, You call us to speak truth to power.  We will walk with integrity in your presence.

(Presiders hold up bread and wine)

Presider 2: "This is the bread of life. Through it we are nourished and we nourish each other.

All:  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.

Presider 1: Our Eucharistic celebration is all-inclusive. You are a spark of the Divine and nothing can separate you from God’s love. All are welcome to receive at this friendship table. 

Presider 2: Please join in singing our communion song.

God Beyond All Names
by 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.

God, beyond all words,
all creation tells your story,
you have shaken with our laughter,

you have trembled with our tears.

God, beyond all time,
you are laboring within us;
we are moving, we are changing,

in your spirit ever new.

God of tender care,
you have cradled us in goodness,
you have mothered us in wholeness,

you have loved us into birth.

Presider: Let us pray:
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 our name be a blessing in our time!

All: AMEN                                   

Closing Song: May the Christ Light Shine in You
Kathy Sherman

May the Christ light shine in you.
​May the Christ light shine in me.
Then together we will shine with

God's love to the world.

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