Thursday, March 29, 2018

Holy Thursday at Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community in Albany, NY

Upper Room - Holy Thursday: Eucharist as Re-membrance: A Living Presence - 2018
Door to Upper Room, Jerusalem - photo by Mary Theresa Streck
Kathleen Ryan, ARCWP and Lindy Sanford, ARCWP led the Upper Room liturgy for Holy Thursday. 

Welcome and Theme
Presider 1: We gather together on this journey of Good News for the fullness of the Body of Christ for the life of the world. Our liturgical style is highly inclusive and you are invited to pray our Eucharistic prayer. We are happy you are here with us today. All are welcome to share in our simple Eucharistic meal of re-membrance around this friendship table.

Opening Prayer
Presider 2:  O Holy One, throughout his life, Jesus revealed that nothing can separate us from Your infinite love. He lived a life of apparent joy in sharing meals with the people of the Galilean countryside. The open table of his public life challenged the discriminatory social code of his time and taught us that all people are to be included as equals in Your kin-dom. May we, like Jesus, continue to open our table, and our lives to all, especially those in need.

Opening Song:  We Come to Your Feast by Michael Joncas

Community shares a meal together and continues liturgy during the meal


First Reading: On Being a Eucharistic Community

Meals are the most frequent settings for Gospel stories. They range from informal picnics on hillsides to banquets given by dignitaries. They introduce us to some of the most of diverse and colorful of Gospel characters: a woman with long hair who washes Jesus’ feet, a little boy who has loaves and fishes hidden in the folds of his robe, and a short man, named Zacchaeus, who is about to have an unexpected dinner guest. Meals transport us from the wedding in Cana to a quiet dinner at a little house in Emmaus. They invited us to a party for a prodigal and let us share a Passover supper with a carpenter’s son.

This theme of inclusivity is one of the benchmarks of Jesus’ teaching. Everyone ought to have a place at the table, especially those who have been marginalized. This includes many who do not qualify for the guest list–people who have been relegated to the margins of life. Inclusivity is a Gospel mandate. Everyone belongs!

These are the inspired words of Fran Ferder & John Heagle
Upper Room, Jerusalem - photo by Mary Theresa Streck
Alleluia:  Servant of God, lowly and humble
                 Show us the way to live a life of love

Gospel according to Mary of Magdala:

2: 1 There came a man out of the land of Judea, sent from the Spirit, whose name was Jesus, son of Joseph of the tribe of Judah. In him was life, and that life was the light of humanity, the light that shines against the darkness, and never has the darkness overcome it.

2: 2 Jesus lived and walked among us. We saw his glory, such glory as of a true son of humanity, full of grace and truth. He was in the world, and through him the world would be born anew, but the world did not recognize him.

2: 3 He came to his own, and those who were his own did not receive him. But as many as did receive him, to them he gave the power to become the children of the living spirit, for those who believed in his teachings were born in to life not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of the Spirit.

These are the inspired words of Mary Magdala, Beloved Companion of Jesus, and we affirm these words by saying, Amen.
used with permission from
Lindy’s homily reflection:
We just heard the Gospel according to Mary of Magdala
She spoke about a man she once knew….He grew up not far from her hometown…. so friendly and kind….  a man who accepted everyone just the way they are…. who seemed to see something interesting in every pebble…. beauty in every little creek....wonder in every insect and little bird, too.

She says this man spoke of peace and joy he found listening to the Spirit within….  showing him all these things….  he told everyone who would listen that we are loved...just the way we are…. loved by the Holy One…. that Spirit….  that Voice within….  this man said that if we accept that love….  listen to that Voice…. follow that Spirit…. share that acceptance with each other….  and with everyone we see, too…. together we can change, change the world. 

Kathie’s homily reflection:

We have come to know the Jesus that Lindy described, the Jesus we hear about week after week in the Gospel stories. We read and study, pray and celebrate together and know that anything
Jesus did we can do and we can do much more. 

We celebrate Eucharist every week here at the Upper Room. Tonight, Holy Thursday, is a particularly special celebration. Of course there is the importance of the bread and wine but tonight there is more. We are breaking bread, drinking grape juice, eating soup and in a little while having dessert. All of these actions are Eucharist. Tonight’s liturgy reminds us of Jesus sitting around the table with his friends, caring for them as he washes their feet, and we are doing just what he did.

 Sitting around this table, enjoying our soup, our bread and dessert, washing each other’s hands, and enjoying the company. Being thankful for what we have and for each other.

The first reading says “Inclusivity is one of the benchmarks of Jesus’ teaching.”  Here at the Upper Room we strive to be an inclusive community, everyone is invited. Every one belongs.

Let us continue our celebration.

Washing of Hands

Presider 1: We are washing one another hands as a gesture in imitation of what Jesus did in washing the disciples’ feet.  It is a symbol of our willingness to serve one another and meet one another’s needs.  

Song during ritual: The Servant Song

Presider 2: Closing prayer for ritual

God of life, help us to remember,
that, for some, the earth is parched.
We lift to you those for whom clean water is
not a basic right but a luxury.
We cry out, O God, against conflict and violence
that leaves crops to wither and drives families from their homes
to lands where fresh, clean water is only a dream.

All: In this season of rebirth, may we heed your call
to hunger and thirst for righteousness —
and may your justice and righteousness
roll down as an ever-flowing stream.
Statement of Faith

All: We believe in one God, 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 God's Word,
bringer of God's healing, heart of God's compassion,
bright star in the firmament of God's
prophets, mystics, and saints.

We believe that we are called to follow Jesus
as a vehicle of God's love,
a source of God's wisdom and truth,
and an instrument of God's peace in the world.

We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the life of God that is our innermost life,
the breath of God moving in our being,
the depth of God living in each of us.

We believe that God's 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  - at conclusion)  We pray for these and all unspoken concerns. Amen.

Presider 2: O Holy One, you have been called by many names by many people in the centuries of our planet’s life. Yet, no name truly defines you or describes you.  We celebrate you as the marvelous, loving energy of life who caused us and our world to be. We celebrate you as the Source of light and life and love, and we celebrate your presence and all-ways care.

Presider 1: Please join in praying the Eucharistic prayer together:

Cosmic Birther of all that is, that was and that will be, we gather as a holy people, called forth to celebrate as companions on the journey of faith.  We come to the table of plenty as a community of believers celebrating the dignity of all people and the call to be a voice for our sisters and brothers who are oppressed and exploited.

We celebrate the example provided by our brother, Jesus, who offered hope and new life to all those to whom he ministered. Encouraged by his life and his ministry we sing a song of praise with all of creation.     (Lyrics adapted by Dennis McDonald-sung acapella)

Holy, Holy, Holy One, God of Justice, God of light
Heaven and Earth are filled with your glory
Hosanna in the Highest
Blest is the One who comes in the name of our God
Hosanna in the Highest, Hosanna in the Highest.

ALL:  We thank you for Jesus, our way to the truth about living.

We recognize our call to continue the ministry of Jesus and commit ourselves to work for justice and peace in the world today. Grant us nourishment as this table providing strength and perseverance as we stand up and speak truth to power.

Empower us with the grace of openness to be accepting of all who join us at the table of blessing as we recall the meals when Jesus gathered with people who hungered for acceptance and sustenance. Let us live lives focused on your bountiful love.

We recall now one of those meals when he had gathered with companions of the journey.  Jesus, hoping to lead by example, welcomed them to the table by first washing their feet, a sign of servanthood to be emulated. 

They reclined for the meal and Jesus, in the midst of eating, took bread and wine, symbols of nourishment and health, praised the Source of all Being, and blessed and broke the bread. He then passed the bread 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
(Share the bread saying, “We are called to welcome others to the table”)

Jesus then lifted the cup, again praised the Source of Life and blessed the cup.  He passed it saying,

Take this all of you, this is the cup of my life-blood, the life of a new and everlasting covenant. In prophetic solidarity it is poured out for you and for all.  Whenever you do this, remember you are called to give of your body and life-blood, to be a servant to those in need.
(Share the cup saying, “We are called to servanthood”)

Invocation of the Spirit

We call upon the Spirit to bless and consecrate those gathered here. May the Spirit of justice and compassion transform us so that we may bring love, hope and encouragement to those we meet along the journey.

We pray with our companions who have journeyed before us, both living and dead, that we may create a world in which all can gather at the table of friendship and in unity bring about a world that ends injustice and suffering.

We bring all of these gifts and prayers to you, O Holy One, Source of all that is good and holy, now and forever, Amen.

Presider 1: Let us pray as Jesus taught us

Creator of all,
You are with us.
Holy is your name.
May Your kin-dom come,
Your will be done
by all who share the work of your creation.
Give us bread for the world’s hunger
And forgiveness in your mercy
As we forgive those who are in debt to us
For You are compassion, justice and love
Amen, amen, amen!

Post Communion Song: Anointed by Kathy Sherman
(Reflection time/Listen)

Do not be afraid, It is I who am sending you.
I will go with you, wherever you go.
Do not be afraid, for my Spirit is upon you.
You will work miracles in my name.
You can heal the brokenhearted.
You can feed all those who hunger.
You will touch the eyes of the blind and they will see.
You will welcome to the table the poor and the unwanted. 
You will shine like bright stars in the night.
Be not afraid, I am with you.

Do not be afraid, It is I who believe in you.
I will go with you, you will have all you need.
Do not be afraid, for my courage will uphold you.
You will work miracles in my name.
You can stand with those who struggle.
Give comfort to the weeping.
You will be a voice for the ones who can’t be heard.
You will celebrate the journey.
With Your justice, love, and beauty
Making hearts and minds and bodies whole.
Be not afraid, I am with you.

Do not be afraid, It is I who am loving you.
I will go with you, you will know I am near.
Do not be afraid, for my fire burns in your heart.
You will work miracles in my name.
You can live with bold compassion,
Embracing all creation,
You will dance away divisions for a time
that’s now.
You can sing a song of blessing
And the song will be remembered
And that song will ring out for all times.
Be not afraid, I am with you. Be not afraid, I am with you, with you, with you.


Side 1:
Know that the God of all creation
Is here with us,
Understanding our hearts.
From those hearts,
We speak a blessing:

Side 2:
The richness of the promise
Of light and water be yours
The light that calls you
To continue in hope
The water that flows
In renewal and generosity.

Side 1:
The healing of the promise
Of love be yours
The love which has formed you
And called you
And makes of you creators of a world.

Side 2:
Strong vision be yours
Strong and gentle hearts
And resilient spirits.
May God’s own peace
The peace born in justice
And shared in tenderness and cherishing
Be with you always.


Presider 1:  Please join in our closing song: We Are Called by David Hass

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