Monday, December 4, 2017

Upper Room - First Sunday in Advent Liturgy 2017

Upper Room  - First Sunday in Advent 2017

Lindy Sanford, ARCWP, and Mary Theresa Streck, ARCWP led the Upper Room liturgy for the first Sunday in Advent. The Upper Room’s Advent liturgy is printed below and you are welcome to use any part of it. Lindy’s and Mary Theresa’s homily reflections are below the first reading by Barbara Reid.  

Welcome to the First Sunday of Advent, the first Sunday of Year B in the Lectionary of readings. The readings in Year A focused on the Gospel of Matthew and this year, the focus is on the Gospel of Mark. We will be spending time this year reflecting on the meaning of Mark’s message both then and now. Our theme for today’s liturgy is: Waiting in Joyful Expectation.

Today we are also participating in the National Weekend of Prayer for LGBTQ Justice.  We will pray a prayer between the readings for justice in the LGBTQ community.

Advent Candle Lighting Blessing Prayer
Presider1: Like our ancestors, we honor the cycles and the seasons that remind us of the ever-changing flow of life of which we are a part.  Ritual acts give life meaning—they honor and acknowledge the unseen web of Life that connects us all.

All: We light this first candle and remember the Holy One, our Mother, who created light and life out of darkness by loving.  The dark shadow of space leans over us and we are mindful that the darkness of greed, exploitation, and hatred also lengthens its shadow over our small planet Earth. Let us kindle the light of hope! Amen.
Opening Song: Fire of Love by Kathy Sherman


First Reading: A reading from Abiding Word by Barbara Reid.
Advent is not a time of waiting for the coming of the Christ Child – that already happened more than two thousand years ago. It is, rather, a time when we break our normal routine and move into heightened alert to perceive more intensely the ways of Emmanuel, “God-with-us.” The watchfulness that Jesus speaks about in today’s gospel is not waiting in dread, nor is the object of our vigilance unknown. Rather, it is attentive listening for the familiar footsteps of the Beloved.
In the end, it is not we, but the Holy One who is faithful and watchful, who shepherds us with gentle strength, who tenderly cares for us.
The beginning of a new liturgical year is a season to hollow out space in the busiest of days to rejoice in the extraordinary gift that has already been given us in Emmanuel, God with us. It is a time to let ourselves be remolded. It is a season to wait in anticipation for what this new piece of art will become.
These are the inspired words of Barbara Reid and we affirm them by saying, Amen.

Prayer of Faith-filled People - National Weekend of Prayer for LGBTQ Justice
We are grateful for the gift of our lives and the gift of other people in our lives.
R/. Each of us is created with dignity and worth.
We are called to love one another and to do nothing to others that we would find hateful to ourselves.
R/. We honor the many ways that people live and love.
Our common life is enriched when queer, transgender, bisexual, lesbian, and gay people can come out—sharing the gifts of their sexual orientation and gender identity.
R/. True justice flourishes when all people can live and flourish. 
We suffer when LGBTQ people are oppressed, excluded, or shamed by religious people who overlook the fundamental call to love one another.
R/. Love does not exclude. We are all worthy.
May we work to build a world where all people are celebrated and loved.
R/. We celebrate sexual and gender diversity as a blessing that enriches us all. 

Gospel   MK 13: 33-37          

Shared Homily
Lindy’s and Mary Theresa’s homily reflection:

Lindy begins with: “It is not we, but the Holy one who is faithful and watchful, who shepherds us with gentle strength, who tenderly cares for us.”

In a world in chaos and fear and pain we cry out.  As we cry out for life, God responds with never ending love, for we are each part of the Divine, daughters and sons of the Holy one, who is waiting for us to emerge spiritually. When we love one another in the way our brother, Jesus, asked of us, we are relating to the Divine essence in each one...  There we see the Divine energy within them, and within ourselves.  When we discover that there is no separation between us and the Holy One we live in and who lives within us, the fire of Divine love pours out onto all creation.

The Holy One is faithful and watchful, shepherding us with gentle strength and tenderly cares for us as we emerge.

Community shares reflections on reading.

Mary Theresa concludes with:  I love these lines in the first reading:
“The watchfulness that Jesus speaks about in today’s gospel is not waiting in dread, nor is the object of our vigilance unknown. Rather, it is attentive listening for the familiar footsteps of the Beloved.”

When I read these words, I was imaging the feelings I have when I am waiting for a loved one who I have not seen in a while. I look at my watch, keep looking out the window. It is a feeling of joyful expectation. And the attentive waiting simply intensifies the joyful encounter with the loved one.

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 2:  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 concerns beginning with the words, “I bring to the table….. 

Presider 2: As a community, we bring these and all the unspoken concerns of our heart to this Eucharistic table.” 

Presider 1: 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 2: Please join in praying the Eucharistic prayer together.  
(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 this song of praise: 

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! 
(from Alleluia Sing by David Haas) 

We thank you for those in times past who believed the 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 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. 

Presiders come to table

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 1 lifts plate) 

When he returned to his place at the table, he lifted the Passover bread, spoke the blessing, broke the bread and offered it to them saying: 

Take and eat of the Bread of Life
Given to strengthen you
Whenever you remember me like this
I am among you

(Presider 2 lifts cup) 

Jesus then raised a cup of blessing, spoke the grace saying: 
Take and drink of the covenant 
Made new again through my life in you. 
Whenever you remember me like this, 
I am among you. 

Let us share this bread and cup to proclaim and live the gospel of justice and peace
All: We give thanks for our tradition, which is a living history of your love for all creation. We join ourselves with that tradition, as the visionaries and healers and peacemakers of our own time in history. 

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

Each Advent we make a place in our prayer for all those who are oppressed and marginalized 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 as Jesus taught us: 
O 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 

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 and the cup of blessing. 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 table. As you pass the bread and cup please say “You are a bearer of Light and Hope.”

Communion Song:  -  I am the One Within You by Karen Drucker

Presider 1: Let us pray our blessing for each other:
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: Go Light Your World by Chris Rice

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