Sunday, March 10, 2019

Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community - First Sunday in Lent 2019 - Presiders: Lynn Kinlan, ARCWP, and Tim Perry-Coon

Lynn Kinlan, ARCWP, and Tim Perry-Coon led the Upper Room Liturgy for the first Sunday in Lent with the theme: " A Journey of Transformation".  This week we find Jesus retreating alone into the desert for forty days of prayer and meditation. How can we join Jesus during this season to transform ourselves and prepare for the glory and hope that is Easter? 

Opening Prayer:
If you would enter into the wilderness,
do not begin without a blessing.

Do not leave without hearing who you are: Beloved, named by the One
who has traveled this path before you.
Do not go without letting it echo in your ears, and if you find it is hard to let it into your heart, do not despair.

That is what this journey is for.
I cannot promise this blessing will free you
from danger, from fear, from hunger or thirst,
from the scorching of sun or the fall of the night.
But I can tell you that on this path
There will be help, there will be rest.

You will know the graces that come to our aid
Bearing comfort and strength
The ones that come alongside to lean toward our ear
And with curious insistence whisper our name:
(Beloved is Where We Begin by Jan Richardson)

Opening Song:  Jerusalem My Destiny by Rory Cooney

First Reading: In the Center of Your Soul by James Kavanaugh

There is quiet water
In the center of your soul.
Where a son or daughter
Can be taught what no one knows.

There’s a fragrant garden
In the center of your soul
Where the weak can harden
And a narrow mind can grow.

There’s a rolling river
In the center of your soul
An eternal giver
With a rich and endless flow.

There’s a land of muses
In the center of your soul
Where the rich are constrained
And the poor are free to travel

So remain with me, then
To pursue another goal
And to find your freedom
In the center of your soul

These are the words of James Kavanaugh, a disciple of Jesus and the community affirms them by saying: Amen.

Gospel Acclamation:
Spirit of the Living God
Fall fresh on me
Spirit of the Living God
Fall fresh on me.
Melt me, mold me
Fill me, use me
Spirit of the Living God
Fall fresh on me

Gospel Reading from Luke:

 Jesus returned from the Jordan filled with the Holy Spirit, and she led him into the desert for forty days, where he was tempted by the Devil. Jesus ate nothing during that time, at the end of which he was famished.

The devil said to Jesus, “If you are God’s Own, command this stone to turn into bread.” Jesus answered, “Scripture has it, ‘We don’t live on bread alone.’”

Then the Devil took Jesus up higher and showed him all the nations in the world in a single instant. The Devil said, “I’ll give you all the power and the glory of these nations; the power has been given to me and I can give it to whomever I wish. Prostrate yourself in homage before me, and it will all be yours.”

In reply, Jesus said, Scripture has it, ‘You will worship the Most High God; God alone will you adore.’”

Then the Devil led Jesus to Jerusalem, set him up on the parapet of the Temple and said, “If you are God’s Own, throw yourself down from here, for Scripture has it,
‘God will tell the angels to take care of you;
With their hands they’ll support you,
That you may never stumble on a stone.’”

Jesus said to the Devil in reply, “It also says, “Do not put God to the test.’”
When the Devil had finished all this tempting, Jesus was left alone. The Devil awaited another opportunity.

These are the words of the Gospel of Luke and the community affirms them by saying: Amen.

Homily refection by Lynn Kinlan, inspired by discussion with Tim Perry-Coon

Once we remove the focus of atoning for sins or a sacrificial giving up something from Lent, we can rescue the season as a gentle and lovely one of opportunity and invitation.

When Tim and I got together to discuss the readings and plan we thought of Lent as a fresh slate, a possible new beginning – like New Year’s but without the pressure. We are imagining these 6 weeks between now and Holy Week as a chance to peer outside our usual habits and triggers that worry and bother us in our lives and to be willing to be transformed, altered in our relationships, perhaps in the way we treat ourselves, in how we balance our priorities in busy lives. The phrase from last Sunday about ‘action alignment’ also comes to mind.

Our Gospel for this first Lenten Sunday has Jesus moved by the Spirit to retreat into the desert following his baptism and before he begins to become well known in his public ministry.  His cousin John the Baptist has just been imprisoned and Jesus must have on his mind how to balance being filled with the Spirit and dealing with the danger and the fame that lie ahead for him.

He’s thinking about the best use of his talents and how they might be wrongly used or misinterpreted. After all, one can do the right things for the wrong reasons. Luke uses the devil as a foil which Tim and I prefer to think of as a metaphorical device rather than a red Lucifer with a pitchfork… the devil represents all the temptations, personal, political, prideworthy that can beset any of us when we are not at our best. Jesus really feels like our brother in this story.

He gets the best of his demons by quoting from the Moses sermons in Deuteronomy and on his prayerful intimacy with God. Of course, he is not really alone in the desert even after the devil figure leaves. He is filled with the Spirit and a sustaining faith in the never ceasing love of the Holy One. He is willing to seize the chance at being transformed by spending time away to pray and reflect.

Our first reading is by former priest James Kavanaugh who became an author and poet and wrote a seminal bestselling book in 1967 called “A Modern Priest looks at his outdated church”.  In the heady days after Vatican II it sold millions of copies. Publishers wanted more of the same critique but James felt moved to writing (less lucrative) poetry.

 Our first reading is one of his oldies and goodies. He describes the center of the soul as a place of personal freedom, quiet water, growth and understanding. I suspect Jesus connected to the center of his soul in the desert and it is such a connection that we can hope and plan for in these weeks leading to Easter joy. All we need is the willingness and the space and time….

What did you hear? What will you do and what will it cost you?

Liturgy of the Eucharist

Presider: Please join in praying our Eucharistic Prayer:

ALL:  O Divine Fire of Love, glowing embers dance in our hearts. Our souls are purified by the searing truth that ignites our spirits and by the fire that penetrates the cold around us, setting our hearts aglow with tenderness.

How often have we felt tender love that is without limits or boundaries! How often have we been consumed with delight by love in a human touch!  How often have we been embraced through Earth's beauty, a part of the beloved creation that surrounds us! We are energized to work for justice and peace in our world and we raise our voices with grateful hearts as we sing:

Holy, Holy, Holy by Karen Drucker

ALL:  Holy Mystery, may we listen with assurance and excitement as the infinite, boundless, depths of love are revealed within and among us. May we awaken to the promise that we are always, no matter what the obstacles or setbacks we experience, embraced with love and compassion. May we be consumed with such a hunger and thirst for justice that our words and actions inflame others to become signs of justice. May we have eyes to see human need, hearts to care for our sisters and brothers and hands and feet to lighten others' burdens.

We are thankful for Jesus, and his strong, but gentle presence, whose message blesses and transform our lives. He showed us how to live as your new creation.

Presider 1: (lifts bread as community prays the following:)

All: On the night before Jesus died, he gave us a special gift of love divine. He took bread, broke it and shared it with friends who gathered around the table saying:

Take and eat of the Bread of Life 
Given to strengthen you  
Whenever you remember me like this  
I am among you. (pause) 

Presider 2  (lifts the cup as community prays the following: )

All: Jesus then raised a cup of blessing, spoke the grace saying: 
Take and drink of the covenant 
Made new again through my life in you. 
Whenever you remember me like this, 
I am among you.  (pause)

All: Let us share this bread and cup to proclaim and live the gospel of justice and peace.

All: As we celebrate this memory of Jesus, let us experience, like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, in the sharing of the bread and the cup of blessing, the divine presence in our midst.
May we become Spirit-Fire, as we fan the flames of love over the entire cosmos.
May all of our families and friends, the young and old, the sick and dying and all those in need experience nurturing love this day.

May all creation dance and become one heart, one mind, one spirit with everything. May we touch the earth with reverent awe and live in harmony with all creatures. May we turn away from all efforts to dominate anyone or anything. May we see the divine presence shining in the stars and in the sun. May we embrace the universe's treasures and celebrate life's simple pleasures each day. May love kindle our friendship with all life, as we dwell as one with all of creation.

Presider 2: Let us pray together the prayer of Jesus:

ALL:  O Holy One, who is within, 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.
The Prayer of Jesus as interpreted by Miriam Therese Winter

Presider 1: Please join in the prayer for the breaking of the bread: (Presiders break the bread)

ALL: O Holy One, we are called to live the Gospel of peace and justice.  We will live justly.
We are called to be presence of Love in the world.  We will love tenderly
We are called to speak truth to power.  We will walk with integrity in your presence.

Presider 2:  This is the Bread of Life and the Cup of Blessing, through it we are nourished and we nourish each other.

ALL:  What we have heard with our ears, we will live our lives; as we share communion we will become communion, both love’s nourishment and love’s challenge.

Presider 1: Our Eucharistic celebration is all-inclusive. You are a spark of the Divine and nothing can separate you from Divine love. All are welcome to receive at this table.  Please pass the bread and the cup with the words “You are a Spark of the Divine.  

Communion Meditation: Deep Within by David Haas

Presider 2: Holy One, we are thankful for this holy meal which reminds us of the need to willingly give of ourselves completely. Our hearts are fueled with divine energy. May we share the love we have experienced with all of creation and may we live always as instruments of faithful love. Amen.

Final Blessing:
Presider 1: Please extend your hands in blessing.

ALL:  May the Fire of Love ignite our hearts and radiate through us; may the Spirit of truth and justice burn within us forever. Amen.

Closing Song: Be Light for Our Eyes by David Haas

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