Saturday, January 5, 2019

A Christmas Season Liturgy, Karen Kerrigan ARCWP

Karen and Tasha

About this liturgy:
My name is Karen Kerrigan.  I was ordained a Roman Catholic Priest in The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests in November of 2018.  I am a very fortunate member of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Detroit, Michigan.  This community has a more than 100 year old commitment to serving their surrounding citizens.  In more recent decades, they have paid close attention to growing injustices, as the divide between the poor and rich in our city increased.  Parishioners are leaders in education, practical hands on service and works of social justice and activism.  I began going to St. Peter’s in November 2017. The outwardly focused spirit has grown on me ever since.  This church is officially an Episcopal Church and Part of the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan.  However, the congregation comes from many different denominations as well as nones (those who have not affiliation).  It appears the main attraction, to this church, is the strong commitment to the poor, the marginalized and the social justice works.  We have a full time pastor.  I am occasionally asked to lead and co-lead liturgies.  The following liturgy was written for this community for the weekend in between Christmas and New Year’s 2018.

Theme: “Divinity has clothed Herself in Human Skin” (Mary L. Coloe)
The Gift of Embodiment
A Christmas Season Liturgy stemming from John’s Prologue.

Officiant:  Good Morning and welcome to our liturgy on The Gift of Embodiment. My name is Karen Kerrigan and I am a priest in The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests.  Thank you for this opportunity to celebrate with you today.
    Today we will use a reading from Proverbs and The Prologue of John’s Gospel to find an expansive exploration of “The Word becoming Flesh” and to reflect on the meaning of our own gift of embodiment.
     Before we begin, in the tradition of this community we will take a few moments of silence before we begin.

Opening Prayer:
Officiant: What an astounding idea that, according to today’s Gospel, God said, your embodied experience and my embodied experience is… good! (pause) To help us be more fully present to the idea of the Incarnation, and the gift of embodiment, I wish to share this meditation.  (pause) So, please at this time, take a moment to find yourself to be comfortable, in the way you are seated. (pause)
If you wish, I invite you to close your eyes (pause)
Please take some deep breaths and slowly exhale. (pause)
Feel your feet on the floor.
Feel your bottom pressing on the seat of your pew. (pause)
Feel your back against the back rest. (pause)
Imagine your backbone as a string of pearls, (pause)
Imagine your tail bone points down, to the depths of mother earth.(pause)
Slowly, move your attention up your backbone. (pause)
Going further still, move your attention to the right and left to feel your shoulders.(pause) 
Feel your beautiful face (pause)
Feel the top of your backbone, as that string of pearls, is extending up your neck. (pause)
Feel the crown of your head, as your pearls reach up to the portal of the heavens.(pause)
Now, take a few more deep breaths and when you are ready, ever so gently, open your eyes.  (pause) Amen

Opening Song: For our opening song, Please join in singing; “Celebrate A New Day Dawning” The lyrics of this song follow the tune of Ode to Joy! 
Officiant: Let us Pray, (pause) Blessed be Our Beloved Holy One and Living God.
People: Glory to God Forever.
Opening Prayer: Our Beloved God, We come together rejoicing, as we celebrate that your Divinity, has clothed herself in human skin.  For we remember that you chose to, enflesh yourself in our human finitude.  You incarnated your Glory and made it accessible to our human experience. (pause) We ask that you help us to shift our focus, of where the enfleshment of Christ/Sophia can be found, from a manger so long ago, to the fullness of your presence, in our community today, through The Gift of The Holy Spirit. (pause) Amen (pause)
Is there anyone who brought a prayer, poem or reading to share with us today? (pause)
Healing Service:
Officiant: There is one other theme that we need to focus on for today’s liturgy. We come together today just before the New Year starts. And looking back on 2018, although I am grateful that I was ordained this year, there were many difficult times for our world, our society, our communities, myself, and for many of you as well.  Perhaps, you, like me, experienced difficulties and hurts in this old year.  Because of that, I can’t think of a better time to have our healing circle, than on this threshold of the New Year. (pause) Now, I invite everyone, who wants to, to gather in a circle around the altar for our healing practice. (pause for people to gather) Please take a moment to introduce yourself to the person on your left and your right. (pause)
Before, we start anointing each other, I invite you to take a moment to remember a difficult episode, that happened in your life during 2018.  I wish to pause now, to give you time to remember the hurt and ask God for healing, in your own way. (pause)
Now, I ask you to minister to, anoint and bless the person next to you, as she or he is setting out on their New Year’s Journey.  You may want to say something like;
“Dear                , I pray that God will heal you of any hurts from the old year and give you, deep healing and deep blessings as we enter the new year. (pass the anointing jars)
(After everyone has been anointed) Amen.  Please return to your seats. (pause)
Officiant: Let us have the first reading from Proverbs.
First Reading: Proverbs 8: 22 -36
Reader: (say) A Reading from The Book of Proverbs
 “Rejoice, for Our Adonai gave birth to me; Sophia/Wisdom, at the beginning,
before the first acts of creation.  I have been there, from everlasting, in the beginning,
before the world began.  Before the deep seas, I was brought forth,
before there were fountains or springs of water;  before the mountains erupted up into place, before the hills, I was born
 – before God created the earth or its fields, or even the first clods of dirt.
    I was there, when Adonai created the heavens, and set the horizon just above the ocean,
setting the clouds in the sky, and establishing the springs of the deep, giving the seas their boundaries and setting their limits at the shoreline.
When the foundation of the earth was laid out, I was the skilled artisan, standing right next to Adonai!
And, I was God’s delight day after day, rejoicing at being in God’s Presence continually, rejoicing in the whole world and delighting in humankind. (pause)
 “And so, my daughters and sons, hear me well: happy are you when you keep my ways!  
Dwell in my house and take my instruction seriously and grow wise; don’t neglect my lessons.  Happy are you who listen to me, and keep watch at my door, waiting at my gates.
For you who find me, find life, and earn the favor of Adonai…(pause)
Reader: (say) Hear what The Spirit is saying to the churches!
All: Thanks be to God.

Alleluia: (Play brief instrumental “Gloria in excelsis deo”)
Gospel Reader: (Go and get the Book of The Gospels and bring it to the podium)
(say) Please stand. (pause)
 “Gloria in excelsis deo” (pause)  A Reading from The Gospel of John (pause)
 In The Beginning, there was the Word, The Word was in God’s presence, and the Word was God.
The Word was present to God from the beginning.  Through the Word all things came into being, and apart from the Word nothing came into being, that has come into being.
In the Word was life, and that life was humanity’s light— a Light that shines in the darkness, a Light that the darkness has never overtaken. (pause)
Then came one named John, sent as an envoy from God, who came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that through his testimony everyone might believe.  He himself wasn’t the Light; he only came to testify about the Light—the true Light that illumines all humankind. (pause)
The Word was coming into the world— was in the world—and though the world was crafted through the Word, the world didn’t recognize it. Though the Word came to its own realm, the Word’s own people didn’t accept it.  Yet any who did accept the Word, who believed in that Name, were empowered to become children of God— (pause)
 Children born not of natural descent, nor urge of flesh nor human will—but born of God! (pause) And the Word became flesh and stayed for a little while among us; we saw the Word’s glory—the favor and position a parent gives a child—filled with grace, filled with truth. (pause)
John testified by proclaiming, “This is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘The one who comes after me ranks ahead of me, for this One existed before I did.’ ”  Of this One’s fullness we’ve all had a share—gift on top of gift. For while the gift of the Law was given through Moses, the Gift—and the Truth—came through Jesus Christ.  No one has ever seen God; except only, The Birthed and Begotten, ever at Abba’s side, who has revealed God to us.
Reader: “Gloria in excelsis deo” (pause)  The Gospel of Our Beloved Lord Jesus Christ.
All: Praise to You Jesus Christ.  Amen.
Officiant: Please be seated. 
   Today we can say, “Gloria in excelsis deo because Divinity has clothed herself in human skin. And since, we are talking about human skin, we might as well talk about, one of the things that we humans are good at, which is, we are good story tellers.  For sure, the gospel writers were good story tellers. For instance, on Christmas Eve we heard Luke’s infancy story about Jesus being birthed in the manger. This Lucan version has Jesus coming, to a specific place; Bethlehem and a specific time which was during the Reign of Caesar Augustus.
    But, today, as our Christmas celebration continues, we hear from The Gospel of John.  This Gospel writer starts his story, by pushing back the story of Jesus all the way to… “the beginning” (pause) way, way back before Sarah & Abraham, still further before Eve and Adam and even in our modern understanding of The Universe, John seems to be pointing us towards even before…The Big Bang, was this Word, that would become… one of us.   The Gospel Writer of John seems to be writing a New Genesis. He wants his readers to make several; shifts in consciousness. Could it be that we, in our time, need to make several shifts in consciousness as well?
  You may know that all of our Canonical Gospels; Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were written in the aftermath of the destruction of the temple and the fall of Jerusalem to the Romans in 70 AD.  The Gospel of John is the last of the four and was written to a mostly Jewish Community, at the end of the first century.  And I think we may find parallels, with the Gospel, for our own times on the brink of 2019.
    You see by the end of the first century, the persons who did not follow Jesus and were still Jewish, would replace The Tabernacle, as the place they would find God’s Glory, with The Torah, in what would become known as Rabbinical Judaism.
     Therefore, John’s Community was facing another huge loss as they were no longer welcome to worship in their synagogues.  Furthermore, in a departure from the Rabbinical Jews, they would replace The Tabernacle and The Temple with The Person of Jesus.  Yet still, they had another problem, for just like they no longer had the physical Temple so they no longer had the physical presence of Jesus either! 
   Here is where I am relating it to our times.  We live in a time of major change both in our understanding of our society and country as well as our Christian understandings.  For the community of John, in today’s reading, a new Genesis is being written.  This writer will move his readers from their Temple, from their synagogues and even from the physical Jesus and onto finding the fullness of Divine Presence in their gathered community itself with The Power of the Holy Spirit as the new house where God’s Glory is found. 
    How about us?  We are living 19 centuries after John’s New Genesis was written.  We are witnessing and facing multiple events of un-love in our society, in our world and perhaps many of us have experienced these un-loves in our own personal lives.  We as a community have taken many actions.  We show up, we cross boundaries, we share what we have, we speak up and we face the consequences of those who do not want the changes we seek.  However, as much as we are doing, I think more and more of us are recognizing that, many of the very scaffolds and institutions of our lives are collapsing.  Does it seem as if humanity is at a serious crisis that involves our very identity? Are we, with our many actions, like this Gospel of John writer?   John invites more than one shift in consciousness for his audience.  It seems that they had to find the new seat of God’s Glory, in themselves; collectively and individually through the power of The Holy Spirit.  Once more, in the tradition of John, they knew themselves not to be a closed community, or in our terms; an insulated silo, like some other Jewish Communities of their time chose to become. Their Community, would be a Community that would be outwardly focused. They would not gate or wall themselves in. Instead they would extend their table and keep their doors open.  St. Peter’s Community demonstrates how to do this.  I am encouraging us to continue to become more fully aware, that when we do these many good works and actions, and we support each other in doing so, we too are writing a New Genesis and honoring the House of God’s Glory present and active amongst and through us.
   After I close, we will take a few moments of silence and then I invite your responses.  But before I close my sharing, I am asking you to try on, a new chant in the tradition of our Activist Community.  I will call out, “Tell me what God’s Glory Looks like?” And I invite you to call back, as you point at yourself and gesture to the entire gathered group, please say; “This is what God’s Glory Looks like!” (pause) After we get that going, I wish to use other senses besides just vision and looks.  I will ask you to, “Tell me what God’s Glory Sounds like and even acts like?”  And I invite you to respond accordingly.  Ready?
Leader: So, “Tell me what God’s Glory looks like?”
All: (pointing to self and gesturing to the group) “This is what God’s Glory Looks like?”
Leader: “Tell me what God’s Glory sounds like?”
All: “This is What God’s Glory sounds like.”
Leader: “Tell me what God’s Glory acts like?
All: “This is what God’s Glory acts like.
Leader: “Gloria in excelsis deo”
All: “Gloria in excelsis deo”
(pause and invite people to respond to the Gospel and homily)

Statement of Faith;
Officiant: For this Feast of The Incarnation, I have combined; Our Statement of Faith with our prayers of the faithful. As we read and respond to these, I invite you to practice making the shift from finding God’s Glory exclusively in the person of Jesus to finding it now in us, the Community of Jesus, empowered with God’s Spirit.  Would you please stand and join our proclamation of faith found in your program. I am asking for a reader to be the Leader. The rest of us will read the “All” statements.
(1) We, like our brother; Jesus, are incarnated from Our Beloved God
and returning to God. Therefore we recognize our interconnection
with all other humans, all other creatures and the rest of creation.

All 1: We Remember and believe, Our Beloved Creator is saying; “It is good!”
(2)  We are called to be whole-makers, and empowering companions of everyone. 
All 2: We Remember and believe, Our Beloved Creator is saying; “We are good!”
(3) We have learned from Jesus ministry of restoring dis-membered bodies to wholeness and well-being.
All 3: We Remember and believe, Our Beloved Creator is saying; “They are good!”
(4)  We pray for more appreciation for our own loving sexual energy and recognize that this power dwells in others who may identify and orient it differently than we do. 
All 4: We Remember and believe, that God created human generativity in love and for love, and says; “Doing this is good!”
(5)  What we do here is always incomplete until, All have the opportunity to thrive with joy.  We pray for deeper conviction that we are sent to help provide others and ourselves opportunities to thrive, with joy. 
All 5:  We Remember and believe, that God created All, saying; “All are good!”
Officiant: Amen (pause)  Are there any prayers that you wish to share with the community?
(After, it appears the pray-ers have completed what they wish to share)
Officiant: We entrust these and all prayers we hold in our hearts to Our Beloved God!
 (pause) All: “Gloria in excelsis deo!” Amen
Offertory Song: (pause) Would someone please pass the offertory plate? (pause)
 For Our Offertory Song let us sing; “Do you hear what I hear?”

Officiant: At this time, I invite those who wish to join us around the altar bringing your program. (pause) I want this celebration of Eucharist to be inclusive as possible.  Therefore, I am asking if 1 of you would pray some of the parts.  I have numbered, The ALL statements. Please read the All statement together after my co-leaders or myself has prayed.(pause) 
Officiant:  As we prepare for the sacred meal, I invite each of us, to take an embodied moment and place our hands on Our Table. As you place your hands, silently, re-member yourself to deeper inner awareness that Our Table is connected to Jesus’ Table. Therefore, as we shift to Our Table we are connected with all those who gather around Tables throughout the world. 
Officiant: Also, Our Table re-members us to how deeply connected, we are to our ancestors who sat around so many tables.  In the silence of your heart, take a moment to also acknowledge, as long as there are those whose basic hungers are unmet, Our Table is incomplete. (pause)
               1: You, Our Beloved God,
                    have taught us that,
                    to be human is,
                    to be a guest house, for all.
  Officiant:  Every morning, teach us to,
                     welcome the day and others
                     as a new arrival
      All 2: We desire to be embodied with,
          Your conscious love every day.
Officiant: Our Gracious God, you the Loving, Embodier of all life, re-membering and restoring all that denies, betrays and abandons that which you deemed as whole and good. Your Joyous Spirit encompasses and envelops all that exists, we implore that your healing power be upon us all. So, we pray for today.
 1:  You, like a baker woman were kneading our way with healing and providing the leaven of caring companions sustaining the journey of your holy people.  
 Officiant: We now join with all of creation singing of Our Holy Wholeness!
All 4. (Chorus)
We are holy, holy, holy 

We are holy, holy, holy
We are holy, holy, holy

We are whole... 
(Verse) Spirit divine, Come to us 

Feeling love, 
Healing us 

Open our hearts, 
Allow us to see 

Beauty & love, 
Lives in us.
For we are (Chorus)
(song by Karen Drucker)

Officiant: We bring you these gifts with our desire to be more conscious of our own whole-making power. (pause)
Officiant: I invite you to extend your hands over the bread and wine and say the words in our program together. 
All (While Extending Hands):
      Come, Sweet Spirit of God upon our gifts of bread and wine.
      Transform them with your generative power and energy,
      to heal, empower and nourish us in our time of need.

Officiant: Our Beloved Spirit, you came to us fully enfleshed and embodied in Jesus.  Jesus even, came down the birth canal and become one of us.  As an adult, he was moved to heal those who were sick and broken.  He shared stories with and challenged his listeners to expand their care for themselves, each other and the earth. 
Officiant: As you, Our Beloved Jesus, worked to re-member us to wholeness, you were met with resistance, by those who benefitted from the dis-memberment of others felt threatened.  They were so alarmed that their domination strategies were in jeopardy, that they began to seek to destroy your body.
1: Nevertheless, you continued embodying your path of conscious love.  We now, want to remember how you gathered your closest friends around your table. 
(Officiant: Hold the paten or plate with the bread upon it)
Officiant: I invite you to pray the words of consecration together.
All: Just like a mother at a Seder meal, you took bread and broke it,
       Saying; This is my body, given for you, Eat it in my memory.
Officiant: (Holding up the bread and turning to the right and left, placing it back on the table)
All : ( while the bread & wine is being held up, everyone bows)
Officiant: (Hold up the cup)
       Then after supper was ended, you took the cup,
       Saying: This cup of liberation is my blood, given for you.
       And together…  

All (saying over the cup)
        “Take this all of you and drink from it;
       This is the cup of my life-blood,
       The new and everlasting covenant.
       I pour it out for you and for all.
       Do this in memory of me.”

Officiant: (Hold up the cup a little higher and turning to the right and left, placing it back on the table)
All: (everyone bows as the cup is elevated)
Officiant : (looking around at everyone)  Let us continue companioning one another with the power of this sacred remembering.
1: Trusting, in Our Beloved’s Steadfastness, in womb-like love, we are empowered to continue companioning each other, as we ourselves know healing.
Officiant:  Now, we celebrate your presence with us now,
          in this bread and cup and in each other. 
  (Before reading, invite people to intentionally place their right hand on the person to their right and their left hand on the person to their left)
Officiant : I invite you at this moment, to place your right hand on the shoulder of the person to the right of you.  Although, you need to hold your worship aid, I invite you, to have the intention of placing your left hand on the shoulder of the person to the left of you!  Together…

All (saying with hand on someone’s shoulder):
 My dear companions of empowerment, we need each other! Therefore, we now call upon Our Sweet Spirit of God, to hover over our companionship.  Come, Holy Spirit into our inner being so we can be fully empowered to come out at the world with; compassion, love and healing for whoever we touch.  (Please place your hands back where they were before)
Officiant: Our Beloved Jesus, in this bread we break and in this cup we share, let us recall that you intend all of life and creation to continue thriving and evolving.
1: So grant, that we may live, more fully in our humanity, in union with all peoples, living and dead, empower us to create a world where people are good to themselves and in peace and justice good to each other. 

Officiant:    I invite us to pray this Prayer, written in the Tradition of Jesus, found in your program.
Prayer of Jesus:
Our Mother, Our Father,
You are the Source of our wholeness,
You protect and nurture us,
As we dwell in your womb of love.
Your kin-dom come, your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil.
For the kin-dom, the power and the glory
are yours now and forever. Amen.

Sign of Peace
Officiant: God’s peace is with you.
All: And also with you.
Officiant: Please share a sign of peace and return to your seats when the music ends.
Peace Song: (Play Instrumental: “Let there be Peace on Earth”)

Officiant: Please join in our prayer for the breaking of the bread:
 (1)  Loving God, You call us to live the Gospel of peace and justice. 
All 1:  We will live justly.  
(1) Loving God, You call us to be Your presence in the world. 
 All 2: We will love tenderly
(1) Loving God, You call us to speak truth to power.
All 3:      We will walk with integrity in your presence.
(Presiders lift bread and wine)
Officiant: This is Jesus, Bread of Life. 
How Blessed are we to be called to this table where we actually,
 share Bodies with Our Beloved God.

All (while the bread & wine are held):  How Blessed are we to share in Your Embodied Presence, nourish us to continue embodying you, wherever we go.  Amen

Communion Song: “Today is The Beginning” Lyrics and Words by our own Adarsa.

Prayer of Thanksgiving After Communion

Let us pray.
O God who is end and beginning,
You draw near to us in word, sacrament and each other.
Strengthen us and renew us.  Kindle us in the fire of your Spirit.
May your light so shine through us that all may welcome your coming.
We ask this in name of The One who became flesh, just like us. 

Officiant: And through The Power of The Holy Spirit,
May you continue embodying love, peace and joy as you journey into this New Year.
In the Name of The Holy Three, may you be lovingly ever encompassed, enveloped and empowered. Amen.

Officiant: Let us sing Joy to the world. (page 100)