Saturday, December 23, 2017

Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community, Fourth Sunday of Advent, Dec 23 2017 Mindy Simmons and Katy Zatsick, Co-presiders, Linda Miska music minister

Left to right: Mindy Lou Simmons and Katy Zatsick ARCWP, Co-Presiders at MMOJ Liturgy for 4th Sunday of Advent

Katy presents flowers to Mindy on 5th anniversary of service as music minister in our community. 
Left to right: Gloria from Maine and Joann from Sarasota and Bridget Mary

Prelude: Linda Miska- Christmas carols, Instrumental

Welcome to the Fourth Sunday of Advent
Lighting the Advent Candle
All: Holy Creator, the day draws near when the glory of Jesus will make radiant the night of the waiting world. You are continually developing and expanding the universe, continually giving birth to each of us and all life on planet earth. Let us prepare the stable within our hearts for our Beloved Brother Jesus’ birth.
Presider: lights the Fourth candle as the community prays…
ALL: We light the Fourth candle of Advent and remember that in the being of every person on this earth, and in all that God has created, there burns luminous Goodness and Love – the presence of the Divine. Let us kindle the light of joy for others. Amen.
Opening Song: Angels we Have Heard on High, #82 verses 1-2
All: In the name of God our Loving Creator, and of Jesus our Brother, and of Sofia Holy Spirit our wisdom. Amen.
Presider: God is with you. All: And also with you.
Opening Prayer.
All: In eagerness we await your coming, Desired One among all peoples. May we come to realize with Mary that we are your highly favored ones and that you desire to be with us. Increase our faith and put a new spirit in our hearts so that we may bear your Word to the world. We ask this in the name of Jesus whose coming birth we celebrate. Amen.

First Reading from Alice Camille, “Talking to Angels-Closer to Mystery”* 
An angel comes to the town of Nazareth and announces the arrival of a great hope.  It’s a good thing, too, as the generation to which this news is given is not a happy one.  The nation is under foreign dominion.  The people are poor and oppressed.  Life has been hard for a long time.  Even religious institutions make things worse, with their crushing demands for tithes and behaviors.  And now this: the angel, the announcement.  Should the young woman who gets the news trust this messenger? 

This story never goes out of style.  Because life remains hard.  The poor are always oppressed.  Governments never fail to disappoint, and religious obligation often creates as many woes as it offers consolations.  Into such a world, the messenger always comes, and the good news is always given.  Do we trust it?  The inspired word of Alice Camille All: Thanks be to God

Reading Response “What do we do with Mary?” led by Mindy Simmons 

All: Oh What do we do with Mary?   What do we do this time?

       Oh What do we do with Mary?  Hey she stepped over the line.

Second Reading from Alice Camille, “Talking to Angels-Responding to the Angel”* 
The angel comes, and the announcement is made.  But that’s not the end of the story.  Mary must reply, just as each of us must reply when the good news arrives on our doorstep, in our own times.  The invitation to be the Christ-bearer is the most intimate and personal request heaven will ever make of us.  Do we respond: “Let it be done to me”? or do we say: “No, thanks, I’ve got my hands full here already?” Or do we remain silent, on the fence, unable to calculate the risk or contemplate the changes it will entail?  The angel soon departs.  What answer from you does the messenger take back to the throne of God this year? The inspired word of Alice Camille All: Thanks be to God

*From Living with Christ,” Dec 2017 issue “Talking to Angels” by Alice Camille pgs 19-21
Alleluia #932
Gospel reading : Luke 1:26-38
Alleluia #932
Shared Homily Starter-Mindy Simmons “How important is the story of Jesus’ divinity to your relationship with him as brother, guru, savior? Or respond to the questions from the 1st, 2nd angel readings.

Profession of Faith.
We believe in God who is creator and nurturer of all. We believe in Jesus the Christ our Brother born in a stable who lived in poverty. We believe in God’s Beloved Son who is our love, our hope, and our light. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the breath of Wisdom Sophia, who energizes and guides us to build caring communities and to challenge oppression, inequality and injustice. We believe that God loves us passionately and forgives us everything. We believe that God calls us to heal and to make whole the wounds of our world. We believe that we are radiant images of our God of Love and Evolution who calls us to live more fully, love tenderly, and serve generously. Amen.
Presider: Always mindful of God’s love and care for us especially as we celebrate the birth of Jesus, we bring the needs of God’s people to our loving Creator who guides human evolution.
Response: Come Brother Jesus be one with us.
Presider: Help us to recognize the signs of the times; and to judge all things in the light of your truth, we pray. Response.
Presider: You come to bring us hope and courage; may we support all who feel rejected and hopeless in their present struggles. Response
Presider: For what else should we pray…
Presider: We know you hear our prayers; those we speak and those we keep in our hearts. Energize your community coming to the stable of your birth each day. All: Amen

Song: Linda Miska, instrumental, “Go tell it on the Mountain”
Presider:  Blessed are you, O God, Creator of all.  This bread is your community of MMOJ listening to your angels, praying and taking action for justice. Through your divine providence, we have this bread to offer, it will become for us the Bread of life.   ALL:  Praise to God forever.
Presider:  Blessed are you, O God, Seeker of all.  This wine is our desire to live bringing peace, joy and love to others by following your Way through Jesus. Through your divine providence, we have this wine to offer, it will become our spiritual drink. ALL:  Praise to God forever.
All: Blessed are you, God who gives birth to all life, through your goodness we have this bread, this wine and our own lives to offer. Through this sacred meal and the gifts of faith and hope may we join your Son on the Way of eternal life. Amen.
Eucharistic Prayer.
All Sing: We are holy holy holy (x3) We are whole; You are holy holy holy (x3) You are whole; I am holy (x3) I am whole; We are holy holy holy (x3) We are whole.

All: Come Holy Spirit and transform this bread and wine. Fill them with the wholeness of our Cosmic Christ birthed in a stable and in our souls.

Remembering Jesus. (hand extended in blessing):
All: On the night before he died, while at supper with his friends, Jesus took bread, broke it, and shared it family and disciples saying, “Take this, all of you, and eat. This is my body which will be broken for you.” (Pause)

Then Jesus took a cup of wine and shared it with those present, saying, “Take this all of you and drink. This is the cup of my life-blood. Do this in memory of me.”

All (2nd Invocation of Spirit, with hand on each other’s shoulder): Come Holy Spirit to rest on us. Refreshed from our worship together and joined with your saints in heaven and on earth may we extend your Love born in a stable and humble estate to all whom we meet. Amen

Sung All: Amen, Amen, Amen

Prayer of Jesus “Our Father and Mother”
Song of Peace Love is flowing like a river, flowing out of you and me, flowing out into the desert, setting all the captives free. Hope is flowing…Joy is flowing…Alleluia

Litany for Breaking of Bread.
All: Loving God, you call us to speak truth to power. We will do so!
Loving God, you call us to live the Gospel of peace and justice. We will do
Loving God, you call us to be your presence in the world. We will do so!

Presider: This is Jesus born in a humble stable who liberates, heals and transforms us and our world. All are invited to partake of this banquet of love and to live as the Heart and Hands of Christ in our times. All: We are the Body of Christ.

During Communion-instrumental “God is Love” #483
Song All: God is Love #483, verses 1& 2

Prayer of Thanksgiving (Didache, 100CE)
Men 1: For the thanksgiving, give thanks this way: First, for the cup: We thank you, Abba God, for the sacred vine of David your son, whose meaning you made clear to us through our brother Jesus, yours ever be the splendor.

Women 2: And for the bread fragment: We thank you, Abba God, for the life and wisdom whose meaning you made clear to us through Jesus, yours ever be the splendor.

All 3: As this fragment was scattered high on hills, but by gathering was united into one, so let your people from earth’s ends be united into your single reign, for yours are splendor and might through Jesus Christ down the ages.

Prayers of Gratitude, introductions, announcements.

Final Blessing for Christmas and 2018.
All (hand extended over community):
May God’s Light encircle you
            May God’s Love enfold you
            May God’s Peace encourage you
           May God’s Hope fill your hear and soul.
            May God’s Presence enrich you
            As we celebrate your birth in the stable and in our hearts each day. Amen

Presiders: Let us go in the peace, faith, and hope of Jesus our Emmanuel, let our service continue! All:Thanks be to God.

Closing Song: #92 “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” verses 1,2,4

A Very Merry and Blessed Christmas to you all and to your families and friends.
A blessed and safe New Year in 2018.

Thanks to and adapted from a liturgy by Michael and Imogene Rigdon of MMOJ-Sarasota

Graveside Service Template by Mary Eileen Collingwood ARCWP

Come to me, all you,
who are burdened and weary,
and I will give you rest.
Come to me, as you are,
        and I will tend to you.  (Heart’s Journey/Monica Brown)

On behalf of (significant survivor) and his/her family: (List names) -- I welcome you here today.  We gather to honor (decedent’s name) and to give him/her our blessing as he/she experiences the transformation of his/her life that continues on beyond all human understanding. 
I am humbled and honored to be asked to lead this prayer for (decedent’s name), and for you, his/her family and friends.
Loving God, we are grateful for the wonderful gifts of the universe, for our place in it, and for (name), and all our loved ones who have gone before us, grateful that they will always have a special place in our lives.
As we all know, (name) has his/her own unique way of being and loving in this world, a personally unique way the world has never seen before, and a way that will never be duplicated.  (Share decedent’s qualities/gifts) And as we return his/her body/ashes to the earth from which it came, we trust in a God who loves us as (name) does, and as we are called to love one another.
O Holy Creator of every nation and people, from the beginning of creation you have manifested your love.  When our need for you was great, you sent Jesus to be born of Mary. Into (name’s) life Jesus brought joy and peace, justice, compassion, and love.  Through the waters of Baptism, (name) was welcomed into a community of faith that nurtured his/her spirit.  And through these waters today, we bless and release him/her* to the realm of your Holy Presence forever.                                              *sprinkle casket/urn with holy water.

Reader 1:
Let us now be attentive to this inspired message from Michael Morwood:
“We believe we exist in God, but in a God beyond our images and descriptions, a God beyond the many names we use:  Breath of Life, Creator, Source and Sustainer of everything that exists.
Everywhere we look, this energizing presence comes to visible expression.  We believe that each of us gives this presence and source a unique way of doing so. Everywhere we look, we can observe the perpetual rhythm of new life, followed by death, followed by new life.
So, we don’t believe that death is the final end of anything.  Rather, it is a transformation in the continuation of the ebb and flow of existence in ways we do not understand.
(Name’s) death speaks to us of the wonder of being human in a universe so vast and so magnificent, and of our existence within it as a mystery and power that we cannot fathom or put into words.
In a very real sense, this vast and magnificent universe of ours came alive and became aware in (name).  He/she gave God a way of coming to expression, here in our lives, here in a way that reached out and touched us, as (husband/wife, father/mother, grandfather/grandmother, brother/sister, brother/sister-in-law, uncle/aunt, cousin, co-worker, neighbor, loyal friend, etc.)
He/she lived and loved in God, God lived and loved in him/her, and in death he/she lives on in God and in us.”

We know that as we return this body/these ashes to the earth that it miraculously came from, we are not burying (name).  (Name’s) love lives in eternal life and lives within each of us.
And so, that Spirit within, now calls him/her forward: 
I am the wind, breathing with you, caressing you, blowing you to eternal life.

I am the sun, warming you, showing you the most brilliant sunset of your life,
easing you to eternal life.

I am the earth, holding you, healing you,
releasing you to eternal life.
I am a butterfly, flying with you, fluttering around you,
leading you to eternal life.

I am a star, glowing in the dark, shining closer and closer,
lighting your way to eternal life.

I am the Light, surrounding you, within you, beyond you,
 beckoning you to eternal life.  Let it be so.
 (©Diann L. Neu, D.Min., from Seasons of Compassion)

Reader 2:
And as (name) makes his/her journey forward, his/her arms are outstretched and beckoning us all with these words: 
My Beloved, if you need to weep,
Cry for your sister or brother
walking the street beside you.

And when you need me, put your arms around anyone,
and give them what you need to give me.

I want to leave you something--
Something better than words or sounds.

Look for me in the people I’ve known or loved;
and if you cannot give me away,
At least let me live in your eyes and not on your mind.

You can love me most by letting hands touch hands,
by letting bodies touch bodies,
And by letting go of children that need to be free.

Love doesn’t die, people do.
So when all that’s left of me is love,
give me away.

For you are the angels of your time,
called to be divine messengers
spreading love and peace to one another.

O Compassionate One,
you know the anguish of the sorrowful,
you are attentive to the prayers of the humble.
Hear us, your people
who cry out to you in our need,
and strengthen our hope in your lasting goodness.

Let us pray together:
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, Sr. Miriam Therese Winter)

Hail Mary, full of grace,
Our God is with you!
Blessed are you among women,
and blest is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.

Holy Mary, Mother of Jesus,
pray with us now,
and at the hour of our death.  Amen.

Eternal life grant to (name), O Holy One,
And let perpetual light shine upon him/her.
May he/she live in peace.

May his/her spirit and the spirits of all those who have gone before us, through the compassion of God, live in peace.

(Please extend your hands as we bless one another)
May the love of God and the peace of Jesus
bless and console us,
and gently wipe away every tear from our eyes,
in the name of the Divine:
Source of All Being, Eternal Word, and +Holy Spirit.

Go now as bearer of peace and as consoler to one another; and, as (name) did and will continue to do through us, extend a loving hand to others in our world. 
Thanks be to God.

What Will You Follow? Your Faith or Fears? | by Rev. Wendy, The Unity Center, San Diego

Published on Dec 11, 2017
Rev. Wendy continues her series, Your Spiritual Journey, as we look at the Christmas story, metaphysically and mystically. This week’s talk, looks at the challenges and opportunities of following your faith or following your fears. 

 Thanks to Mary Theresa Streck for Notes of Talk.
Topic: Faith

Faith or Fear – both are believing in something you cannot see – you choose.

“Sometimes your only available transportation is a leap of faith!”
Margaret Shepherd

Listen deeply to the guidance that will come through you.

Faith is easy when life is easy, challenging when life is challenging.

Reading from Luke 2:8-20 Story of Shepherds

How do we look at the Bible stories?
Not as the infallible word of God.
We look at it through mystical, metaphorical, and metaphysical eyes.
Look to see what it might reveal to us of our own soul’s awaking and journeying toward enlightenment.

What are the elements in this story that I can learn and apply to my journey and growth?

1.   On the spiritual path, you must pay attention to what you pay attention to especially at night.
Especially in the dark, challenging times in our lives.
What gets our attention, get us.
Where attention goes, energy flows.
The truth does not change being the truth just because circumstances are more challenging.
What must we pay attention to? The sheep were important to the shepherds – their livelihood.
Pay attention to the quality of our thinking.
“Watch your thoughts, for they become words. 
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it will become your destiny.”
Frank Outlaw

Pay attention to the thinking and mental energy that we are holding, a certain feeling that we know is counterproductive to what we want to create in our lives. Stop it as soon as we notice it. Again, again and again!!

2.   We acknowledge our fear, but we move forward with our faith.
Anything significant or new that you have done in your life required you to move through a bit of anxiety, fear, self-doubt or worry. 
There resides in us a spirit of courage.

3.   You have to be present and available to Spirit. The shepherds recognized the angels that came to them. Angels are the Divine ideas, insights, guidance that we get – often in the dark moments in our lives – that tell us: “Don’t be afraid. Something great is about to happen.”
The shepherds - Not only did they pick up on the message, but they picked up and left where they were to follow what that Divine message told them to do. 
Not enough for us to be just available to that Divine message; we need to act on it.
Pay attention to that still small voice. Trust that in answering it, you will have the courage to take the next step. 

4.   You will be given signs that you are on the right path. The shepherds were told, “You will find a babe laying in a manger, wrapped in swaddling clothes.” When we are on a spiritual journey and we ask to be guided, it is really important that we keep our eyes and ears open. That we pay attention to the signs along the way.  Sometimes the signs are right there in front of you.  How do you know it is a sign? There are many ways that we can tell if the sign is on the right track. When I know that I am doing what I am called to do, there is something inside of me that just feels right. Does not mean that I may not have doubt or fear, but it still just feels right. 
Sometime the sign is accompanied by a sense of peace.  Or it can be accompanied by a new-found energy or creativity. Or the sign is a new door opens and you walk through that door and there is something magical on the other side of that. 

5.   On the spiritual path, it really helps to have a few companions to keep you moving along. Spiritual coaches and cheerleaders.  We are meant to be on this journey supporting one another spiritually. It is critically important in our lives, not just to have good friends that we enjoy doing things with socially, but make sure that in addition to that, whether they are the same people or not, we have at least one or two people who are our spiritual partners, our spiritual cheerleaders that we can turn to when we know: my faith is wobbly right now. I know mentally what I need to do, but I’m not doing it. Can I lean on your faith until mine becomes strong again? There are times when I need you to be strong for me and times when you need me to be strong for you. Jesus did this and the people he picked were not perfect. His disciples were not perfect, but they believed in him and tried to follow what he taught before he launched his ministry. And later on when he sent them out to further his teaching, he did not send them out alone, but by twos knowing that they needed each other.