Kathleen Ryan, ARCWP, and Mary Skelly led the Upper Room liturgy with the theme: Listen to the voice of the Holy One in and around us.
Kathleen's homily reflection follows the readings.
Opening Peace Prayer
As we prepare to celebrate Eucharist today, let’s use this time as an opportunity to clear out some of the concerns, experiences and even important times we’ve encountered in the last week and concentrate on being in the here and now at 10:00 on a cold December 30th in New Covenant Church.
Let’s close our eyes and look and notice any distractions we may still be carrying as we entered our safe place. Remember this is your time to connect with God and the Universe. If you have anything that is affecting your emotions, place them in an imaginary basket. Take that basket and place it outside our room and put it in the hallway. The concerns will remain in the basket ready for you to pick them up after our liturgy but right now they don’t need to be here.
Next, think of someone who loves you unconditionally and imagine that person’s love enveloping you. It can be an energy or maybe a white light. Once you surround yourself with this love, send it to the person sitting to your right…….. then direct it to the person seated on your left. Finally, send your love out into the entire planet and feel it coming back to you.
Now, you can open your eyes and be ready to enter into the spiritual realm of our Eucharist.
Opening song: Namaste by Mark Hayes
A Reading from The Only Necessary Thing by Henri Nouwen
We must learn to live each day, each hour, yes, each minute as a new beginning, as a unique opportunity to make everything new. Imagine that we could live each moment as a moment pregnant with new life. Imagine that we could walk through the new year always listening to a voice saying to us: “I have a gift for you and can’t wait for you to see it!”
We must open our minds and our hearts to the voice that resounds through the valleys and hills of our life saying: “Let me show you where I live among my people. My name is ‘God-with you.’
We must choose to listen to that voice, and every choice will open us a little more to discover the new life hidden in the moment, waiting eagerly to be born.
These are the inspired words of Henri Nouwen, a disciple of Jesus.
And our community responds with: AMEN!
A Reading from the Gospel of Luke
The parents of Jesus used to go every year to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, and when Jesus was twelve they went up for the celebration as was their custom. As they were returning at the end of the feast, the child Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem, unbeknownst to Mary and Joseph. Thinking Jesus was in their caravan, they continued their journey for the day, looking for him among their relatives and acquaintances.
Not finding Jesus, they returned to Jerusalem in search of him. On the third day, they came upon Jesus in the Temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. All who heard Jesus were amazed at his understanding and his answers.
When Mary and Joseph saw Jesus, they were astounded, and Mary said, “Son, why have you done this to us? You see that your father and I have been so worried, looking for you.” Jesus said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know I had to be in my Abba’s house?”
But they did not understand what he told them. Then Jesus went down with them to Nazareth and was obedient to them. Mary stored these things in her heart, and Jesus grew in wisdom, in years and in favor with God and people alike.
These are the inspired words of Luke, a disciple of Jesus.
And our community responds with: AMEN!
Kathleen Ryan’s Homily Reflection:
The “Holy Family” is going about their lives just as anyone would at that time. They traveled to Jerusalem because that was what they did to honor their faith tradition. This was not an easy walk. Eighty-five miles from Nazareth to Jerusalem. Traveling was dangerous: robbers, and the military presence of Roman soldiers. They traveled in a caravan of family and friends for protection.
We know how the story goes - when it is time to leave, Jesus hangs back and his parents leave without him. Three days later they find him in the temple. Remember last week we talked about Luke’s early narratives being historically inaccurate but still true. What is true in this narrative?
For me one of the important truths is Jesus “listening and asking questions.” He was not just a smart aleck kid dazzling his elders with his brilliance. Jesus was going about life as any young boy would have at that time. Listening and asking questions was the way all Jewish students learned from their teachers.
Jesus had many teachers, not just those learned men in the temple, and we know this because Luke tells us Jesus was obedient to his parents and went home and grew in wisdom. The word obedient gets a bad rap nowadays. We tend to think of it as a do-as-you-are-told kind of word. However, in Latin, the word obedient is audire and actually means listen. Jesus listened to his parents and to the voice of his Abba.
In Henri Nouwen’s reading he reminds us to listen to the voice that is all around us. My name is “God-with-you.” Every time we choose to listen to that voice, God within and all around, we grow a little more in wisdom.
Each week we celebrate together, we choose to come here and listen, and share, and we do grow in wisdom and love.
Tomorrow night we ring in the New Year and maybe make some resolutions for 2019. What will you hear this coming year? What will your choices be? What will they cost you?
Communion meditation: Pilgrim companions Dan Schutte
Closing: City of God by Dab Schutte