|Lee Breyer and Kathryn Shea ARCWP - Presiders|
|Lee Breyer shares homily starter|
|Lee Breyer and Kathryn Shea ARCWP|
Theme: No gold, frankincense or myrrh, but…
Introduction and Comments
Presider: The Christmas shopping season has ended; the New Year’s ball has dropped. The twelfth night will pass away tonight. We can now relish in the wonder that is God Incarnate in the human person of the infant Jesus who came among us with Mary and Joseph in a stable in Bethlehem. Luke’s shepherds have already been there; the angels have sung their songs, and Mathew’s Maji have come and will soon go after paying their respects to Jesus. It is their presence that we honor today. We gather together on this, the feast of the Epiphany – the revelation of Emmanuel to both the Jews and the Gentiles – to celebrate that God has not only come among us but has become one in us…in all of us. And to start this commemoration, let’s start with a Mindy Simmons’ song “We Gather Here to Celebrate”.
Opening Song: “We Gather Here to Celebrate”
All: God of life, wholeness and holiness, you who directs all creation to its complete fulfillment in Jesus, the Christ of the Cosmos, help us to open our hearts to the message of the Gospel so that your peace may rule in our hearts and your justice guide our lives. Loving God, bless all of us gathered here now and all those of our community who are not physically with us today.
Presider: This is the day that our God has made …. All: let us rejoice and be glad in it!
Penitential Expression and Community Forgiveness
Presider: Creator God, we come to you with open hearts. To you, no desires are unknown and no secrets are hidden. Help us to faithfully understand Wisdom’s messages and receive the compassion to act on them. In doing so, may we live more fully to your plan, as simply and clearly told to us in the gospels.
All: Through your grace, strengthen us to recognize that all peoples, wherever they may be on earth, are all one family. We ask for your forgiveness for our hurtful actions to people of other beliefs, nationalities and races … they are all our brothers and sisters. May our actions make us worthy to be called your blessed people.
(with an outstretched arm We ask you, Good God, to grant us the graces of pardon and peace that were taught and shown to us in the life and teachings of Jesus so that we may - in turn – learn and be able to forgive each other our failures to care for one another and for our Earth. We ask this in the name of Jesus, the Emmanuel, our brother - and of the Spirit, the Wisdom, our Sister.
Glory to God
Presider: Let us give glory to our Loving God, in song.
All: Glory to God, glory, O praise God, alleluia; glory to God, glory, O praise the name of our God. (2x)
Liturgy of the Word
First Reading: Isaiah 60: 1-6 All: Thanks be to God.
Psalm 147. Create in me a clean heart, O God - A clean heart, O God, create in me. #779.
Second Reading: Ephesians 3: 2-3, 5-6 All: Thanks be to God.
Gospel Acclamation: Alleluia (Celtic version)
Gospel: Matthew 2: 1-12-->
Epiphany January 5, 2019
Today’s gospel provides us an interesting story and a challenge to our meditative skills.
Just as with many stories, a “quick read” of today’s gospel can give us some satisfaction by its having been entertaining and easy to follow. But as with some stories, the real understanding of the author’s message is somewhat hidden in the background and narrative in which it was written. We just heard a detailed story of the birth of Jesus, written by Matthew in about the year 85 AD. This content was not in the gospels of any of the other three authors in the several decades of their writing about Jesus and cannot be found anywhere else in the NT. Ever wonder why?
Mark’s gospel starts with John the Baptist and his baptism of a grown Jesus; Luke wrote a little about the shepherds who came to see the infant Jesus but he was more focused on Jesus’ lineage. John, in his gospel, started with a re-write of the beginning of the Genesis story and then moved on to discuss John the Baptist.
Were the followers of Jesus, the communities of the first nine decades of “Christians,” just not interested in those particular events in early life of Jesus. Well, you might say that! .As we can surmise from the other gospel writers, the major interests of their readers were twofold: who Jesus was and what he did among the people of his time.
So, what was Matthew’s intention in his writing of the infant Jesus; where was he getting this information that other gospel writers either did not have or did not think was important to their missions? Well, many if not most scripture scholars, think that Matthew “made up” much of his nativity story in his gospel. But why would he do that?
On the assumption that Matthew could use the presence of the Maji to teach his readers some important things, we might look at his teaching points.
Matthew’s inclusion of:
Bethlehem as Jesus’ birthplace…this is where David was anointed a king,
making Jesus a part of the Royal lineage.
Maji from the east…………………..they were Gentiles, not Jews….as were the shepherds.
who brought expensive gifts……...they were part of a monied class, not a poor one….as were the shepherds.
Jew and Gentile, rich and poor
Matthew made the point and demonstrated it in that Jesus, of the highly regarded Royal Line, was “open” to everyone… irrespective of their home location - or their nationality (Jew or Gentile) - or the status of their wealth (rich or poor)…
…..everyone was welcome to his cradle, and always will be
…..and that means us, all of us..
And we, Modern Day Maji, bring our gifts to Jesus, knowing that whoever we are, whatever we are … we are all welcome.
So according to the assumption of today’s theme: we have no gold, frankincense or myrrh. But we are still called to bring our unique gifts to Jesus, through our community members and others, on this celebration of the Epiphany. And what might those gifts be…what gifts do each of us bring to share with our brothers and sisters? Let us take a few meditative minutes to recognize them in our minds and hearts. Afterwards, we may feel like sharing some of them with the rest of us today. Oftentimes an example helps us to identify those gifts in ourselves.
And I offer you this afternoon, as an aide in your thought process, to think of our sister Imogene…and recognize her “many gifts to Jesus” through the MMOJ community. Those are the kind of gifts, some unique to ourselves, that we bring to Jesus today at this Epiphany liturgy.
Shared Homily: Community Reflection and Response
Homily starter: Gold, frankincense and myrrh we may not have, but what do we have with which we can gift Jesus, through our actions with our community members and others, on this celebration of the Epiphany … and for days to come? (This is a serious sort-of “new year intentions” piece.)
Profession of Faith
All: We believe in God, the Creator of the Universe, a divine mystery beyond all definition and understanding, the fountain of all that exists now or ever will and whose divinity infuses everything in it. We believe in Jesus, the cosmic Christ, who reflects the face of God and leads all of us to the fullness of our humanity. Through the Incarnation, we have become a new people, recipients of his mercy, so that we are called beyond the consequences of our brokenness. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Breath of God who keeps the Christ-vision present to everyone who is searching for meaning and wholeness in their lives. We believe that God’s kindom, invoked for in the Prayer of Jesus, is here with us now and will be forever for those with eyes to recognize it, hearts to receive it, and hands to share it with everyone. We say “amen” to a compassionate partnership and equality of all peoples, regardless of their genders, races, and beliefs. We say “amen” to a world of peace and justice for everyone, everywhere, with no exceptions. Amen.
Prayers of the Community
Presider: We are a people of faith. We believe in the power of prayer. We are mindful of God’s unconditional love and care for all God’s family. And so, in our prayers, we bring the needs of our brothers and sisters to our merciful and gracious Healing One.
(After each intercession, we respond: Compassionate God, we ask you to bless our petitions.)
Presider: We pray for those broken families, torn apart and suffering in their separations
…unsure of their futures. Compassionate God, we ask you to bless our petitions.
And for what other concerns do we pray for at this time? (Other petitions….).
Presider: Holy God, we ask you to strengthen us in our concerns and care for one another, here and throughout the world. We ask you to bless our efforts for justice and equality so that, with our sisters and brother, we may promote cultures of peace and nonviolence in our words and in our actions everywhere. As we always do, we make these prayers to you, O God, in the names of Jesus, our Brother, and the Holy Spirit, our Wisdom. Amen.
Offertory Procession and Song: “Table of Plenty” #310 verses 1, 2 and 3
Gathering of the Gifted
Presider: Blessed are you, God of Creation. Through your goodness we have this bread to offer…this grain of your earth that human hands have prepared for our use. It will become for us the bread of life. All: Blessed by God forever.
Presider: Blessed are you, God of Creation. Through your goodness we have this wine to
Offer…this fruit of the vine that human hands have prepared for our use. It will become for
us our spiritual drink. All: Blessed be God forever.
Presider: Jesus, who has often sat at our tables, now invites all of us to join him at his.
And all of us, the family of God, are welcome at this altar. Please join us now……
Presider: (when everyone is gathered around the table) Blessed are all of us who have been called to this table of plenty by the God who loves and lives in us. We are in communion with everyone who shares God’s gifts of peace and compassion….especially those who are oppressed and marginalized anywhere in the world.
Presider: Let us show our gratitude to the Creator of all that exists.
All: With hearts full of love, we give our God thanks and praise.
Presider: Let us show our gratitude to Jesus who shares with us his life-vision.
All: Open our hearts to your message through your words and examples while on the earth that we shared.
Presider: Let us show our gratitude to the Holy Spirit among us gathered at this family table.
All: Let us lift up our hearts to the strength and wisdom that directs us to wholeness.
And now let us show our gratitude to one another for our shared care in this MMOJ community. We will do so as we express our recognition of the Divine Spirit that dwells in each one of us. All: Namaste (with a nod and 3x)
Voice 1: Ever living and ever-loving God, we do well always and everywhere to give you thanks. In you we live and move and have our very being. In gratitude for your everlasting presence, we join with that large community of saints who have gone before us and now live with you in the eternal now, we sing with thankful praise….
All: Holy, Holy, Holy God, God of power, God of Light. Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed are all who come in the name of our God. Hosanna in the highest.
Voice 2: We thank you for the gift of Jesus in history - and the gift of Jesus in faith. Through him, you breathe life into us. His life on earth was deeply moved by his vision of your constant presence in everyone he met. You raised him up from among your people to baptize us in your Spirit. He reflected your being in everything he said and did in his life well lived. And he showed us, by his many spoken messages and lived examples, not only how we should live, but also for what we might even be killed, as was he, in the service of the gospel message.
Voice 3: And when is time on earth had come towards its end, Jesus - aware of and accepting his destiny - suffered much for the values that he deeply believed, lived and taught…his conviction that love is stronger than death. And then, providing an example of this insight for the understanding of ages to come, he opened wide his arms on a cross and died. Then the Sprit who raised Jesus from the dead showed us - in his resurrection - that life is eternal and that love is immortal. Jesus is with us today as he will be through the end of time.
All: O God, let your Spirit of life, healing and wholeness come upon these humble gifts that we have brought from our fields and placed on your table—this simple wheat and wine. May She make them holy so that they will become for us the Body and Blood of Jesus, our brother.
All: (with an outstretched arm, we pray that consecration together) We remember the gift that Jesus gave us on the night before he died. He gathered with his friends to share a final Passover meal. And it was at that supper that Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke the bread and gave it to them saying: take this all of you and eat it. This bread is you; this bread is me. We are one body, the presence of God in the world. When you do this remember me – and all that I have taught you. This is the new and everlasting covenant.
In the same way, Jesus took the cup of wine. He said the blessing and gave it to his friends saying: take this all of you and drink it. This wine is you; this wine is me. We are one blood, the presence of God in the world. When you do this, remember me - and all that I have taught you. This is the new and everlasting covenant.
Presider: Jesus, who was with God “in the beginning of the creation of the heavens and the earth,” is with us now in this bread. The Spirit, whom the prophets spoke of in history, is with us now in this cup. Let us proclaim this mystery of faith.
All: Jesus has died. Christ is risen. The cosmic Christ lives today through us.
Voice 4: Ever Present and Caring God, remember all of us, your Sacred People spread throughout the world, and grace us that we may continually grow in love and caring, mercy and compassion, and peace and justice. Bless Francis, our Pope; Bridget Mary, our Bishop; and the whole of your family wherever they may be – especially those who live on the margins of church and society. We remember in prayer the entire Communion of Saints, both those who are with us now on this earth and those who have gone ahead of us to their everlasting homes. We remember with overflowing gratitude those blessed people who have touched our lives and left your footprints on our hearts. We remember especially….(pause as names area mentioned).
Presider: and so we say… All: through Christ, with Christ, and in Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, Creator God, forever and ever. (singing) Amen. (X times)
All: (holding hands) Our Father and Mother, who are in heaven, blessed is your name….
Presider: God, we have just prayed that your kindom “may come” among us –we believe that is ”with us now” in a widely unrecognized way. Grant that we may open our heads to understand and acknowledge its current presence and open our hearts to make it known to others in its continued evolution. And may we use our hands to serve one another while awaiting its fulfillment in that blessed time.
The Sharing of Peace
Presider: Jesus, you said to your disciples…:”My peace I leave you; my peace I give you.: Look on the faith of those gathered here today and……All: grant us your peace. And may that peace be always with us.
Presider: Let us extend that peace now to one another as we join hands in a circle of love and sing together: “Let There Be Peace on Earth” #532.
Litany for the Breaking of the Bread
Presider: Loving God….All: you call us to Spirit-filled service and to live the Gospel of peace and justice. We will live justly.
Presider: Loving God…All: you call us to be your presence in the world and to be bearers of understanding and compassion, forgiveness and healing everywhere in your name. We will love tenderly.
Presider: Loving God…All: you call us to speak truth to power. We will walk humbly with you.
Presider: This is Jesus, Emmanuel, who liberates, heals and transforms us and our world. All are invited to partake of this sacred banquet of love. All: We are the Body of Christ.
Presider: As we come to share the richness of this sacred banquet……All: O God, we cannot forget the poverty of so many of our brothers and sisters, our families and neighbors.
Presider: We cannot eat this bread and forget those who are hungry….All: O God, your world is one world and we are stewards of its nourishment for all your people.
Presider: We cannot drink this wine and forget those who are thirsty…..All: O God, this very earth and its people cry out for environmental justice.
All: We cannot listen to your words of peace and not grieve for a world at war’s doors!
Communion Hymn: Instrumental or Solo
Introductions, Gratitudes and Announcements
Closing Community Blessing
All: May our hearts be glad on our journey as we dream new dreams, see new
visions, and create a new heaven and earth.
May we live and work for compassion and peace as well as justice and
non-violence in our hearts and promote that in the hearts of those we meet.
May we learn to bless and honor and hold in reverence one another, the earth,
and all creation.
May we make a real difference in our piece of the world – and help bring forth
and develop the kindom of God on Earth.
While not bringing gold, frankincense, or myrrh to the stable in Bethlehem,
may we make our very self a gift , wrapped in the lessons of the good news of the gospels.
Closing Community Hymn: “We are Called” #628