|From right to left: Lee Breyer and Kathryn Shea ARCWP|
Opening Song and Welcome: All Are Welcome # 415 (verses 1,3,5)
Presider (after the song): Welcome to Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community where everyone is welcome to participate in the Eucharistic Celebrations. We use inclusive language in the scripture readings and prayers. We invite respectful and reading-related comments when we share the homily. Later there will be an opportunity to share personal intentions in the Prayers of the Community. Everyone, with no exceptions, will be invited to gather around the altar table and take part in praying the Consecration and sharing the Communion. We are delighted to see everyone here today - both the “old timers” and the newcomers - and we are grateful that we can all pray together in this liturgy of peace. Everyone is invited to join for supper at a local restaurant after the liturgy.
Presider: As we gather here this afternoon for our liturgy, let us look at today’s theme … “and let peace begin with me.” How frequently have we wished for and prayed “Let there be peace on earth” and robotly finished with ….”and let it begin with me?” For some of us, this may have become a habit! But today we can give more focused attention to these words -- the “first step or starting position” of that peace. But right now, let us acknowledge and share our blessed peacefulness in this community gathering. And what could be a better way to express this than with “our camp song,” Karen Drucker’s “We are holy.” So, let’s sing it….
All: God of life, wholeness and holiness, you direct all creation to its fulfillment in Jesus, the Christ. Come now, O Wisdom, open our heads to the messages of the Gospel so that your gift of peace may rule in our hearts and your gift of justice may guide our lives. May we recognize your goodness and beauty everywhere … as we live in harmony with everything in your ever-expanding creation. May we reflect your compassion in healing the wounds of hatefulness and violence, discrimination and oppression, anywhere on this, our planet home.
Loving God, bless all of us gathered here today and all those of our community who are not with us now. We ask this of you, in the names of our brother Jesus and our sister Sophia. Amen.
Penitential Rite and Community Forgiveness
Presider: Compassionate God, to you all hearts are open, no desires unknown, and no secrets hidden.
All: We ask you to send your Spirit to us so that we may live more fully according to your will for us and we give thanks that you have called us to be your chosen people.
All: (with an outstretched arm): God, our Father and Mother, help us to hear Wisdom’s messages, to faithfully understand them and to compassionately act on them with our brothers and sisters. Loving and Understanding God, teach us the virtues of pardon and peace so that we may – in turn – learn to extend your gift of forgiveness to others. We ask this in the names of the Holy Spirit, our healer and comforter.
Glory to God
Presider: Loving God, heart of the universe, we thank you for the breath of the Spirit supporting us in our search for peace and we thank you for the example and teachings of Jesus that taught us how to make it happen. For this, we give you glory.
All: Glory to God, Glory, O praise God, alleluia. Glory to God, glory, O praise the name of our God. (3x)
Liturgy of the Word
First reading: Romans 12: 9-18
The first reading is from Paul’s writing to the church in Rome in the mid first century.
Paul, an obscure Roman citizen, crafted an extraordinary letter to a small gathering of people in the busy and powerful center of an extensive Empire. And this letter is considered to be a premier document of Christian theology. Today’s selection is gathered from texts in chapter 12, verses 9 through 28. This is what Paul wrote….
Your love must be sincere, don’t fake it. Hate what is evil and cling to what is good.
Love one another with the affection you have for sisters and brothers. Try to outdo one another in showing mutual respect.
Look on the needs of God’s holy people as your own; be generous in offering hospitality.
Do not repay evil with evil. Do not even try to overcome evil by doing evil in return, but rather overcome evil by doing good works.
Bless those with whom you disagree; bless and don’t curse them. Do everything you can so that you may be at peace with one another. Look for and discover beauty in everyone.
Again, do not let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.
This is the Word of God that is as good a directive to us today as it was to the people centuries ago. In our recognition of this and our gratitude for it, we all say:
Psalm 119: Responsorial: (#526) Let There Be Peace on Earth…..see parts below.
1: I have learned, O God, that my role on the earth is to follow your teachings. The law you have revealed to me is more precious than thousands of gold pieces.
R. Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me. (first line of the song)
2: The eyes of all look hopefully to You, and You then give them nourishment in due season.
R. Let there be peace on earth the peace that was meant to be. (second line of the song)
3. O God, you are just in all Your ways, and holy in all Your works.
R. Let there be peace on earth…. (The whole song from the beginning)
Second reading: 1 John 4: 7-11 and 18-21
This reading is taken from the First Letter of John, chapter 4, verses 7 to 11 and 18 to 21. For John, the basic conviction in his message is that love and God are intricately related; they cannot be separated. This this is a major theme in each of his three letters to his communities.
My friends, let us love one another, because love is of God’; everyone who loves a brother and sister is begotten of God; and has knowledge of God.
Those who do not love one another know nothing about God --- for God IS love.
God’s love was revealed in our midst in this way -- by sending the Only Begotten into the world so that we might have faith through the teachings and examples of the Anointed One.
Love, then, consists in this -- not that we have loved God, but that God has loved us, and has sent the Only Begotten One to show us how we should live. Beloved, if God has loved us so very much, we must have the same love for one another.
So, we love because God first loved us. If you say that you love God but do not love your sister or brother for some reason, you are a liar. For you cannot really love God whom you have not seen, if you dislike your sister or brother whom you do see.
If we really love God, we must love our brother and sisters as well: we have this commandment from God.
To this timely message we all say:
Thanks be to God.
Gospel Acclamation: Celtic Alleluia
Gospel: Matthew 5: 43 - 46
Today’s gospel is just a short piece from Matthew that pretty well summarizes what we have just heard today - and so many other times - in this liturgical cycle. Today’s selection is from the 5th chapter, verses 43 to 46.
You have heard it said “Love your neighbor – and hate your enemy”. But I tell you, “love your enemies and even pray for them.” This will prove that you are the Children of God. After all, if you love only those who love you, what merit is there in doing that? It is not fulfilling God’s commandment of love.
Today, we have heard the messages of peace – love of God and love of neighbors – from our New Testament scriptures. While directed to populations of centuries ago --- then , we know they are meant for each one of us --- now. And for them, we say:
Thanks be to God.
Shared Homily/Community Reflection
Homily starter: “…. And let peace begin with me.”-->
When you read the theme on coming in and participated in the responsorial” -- Let there peace on earth… and let it (peace) begin with me” you might have thought this would be something like a talk from a workshop on non-violence. That would have been a reasonable idea. But then, when you heard the scripture readings…with their concentration on God and love…you might have thought this would be about our personal peaceful behavior with the neighbors we should love. Again, that’s reasonable too…but not where I am going.
“Let it – peace - begin with me” refers to my initial response to a stimulus, one that literally “begins” with me,” one in my head that precedes my reasonable thoughts of possible next steps. And, I think, most people assume that it refers to my behavior toward the many “neighbors” I should love. Yes, of course it does, but it is not limited to the “neighbors” --- those who are “external” to me. It also refers to my initial response to me, the “internal” me.
All too often, speaking just for myself and with “softer” language, I have been in situations in which my initial response to the “something” that I disliked was “anger” in mood and action, neither of which was “peaceful.” Therefore my behavior was violent to myself…from the very beginning...and the subsequent action, most often, sustained that “violent” feeling to a more or lesser degree. I may have said to myself, “let peace begin with me” … but didn’t give that a chance! On those occasions, I did not understand what that meant -- nor have the tools to assuage it. I might not have looked for positive alternatives to what upset me before getting eaten up by a negative emotional response. In other words, that would be the common saying: be “ready, fire, aim.”
But if we are to “let peace begin with me” and “love the neighbors” whose words and/or actions upset me and promote “unpeaceable” responses,”’ how can I (or we) do it?
Others here most probably have developed ways of doing that in their own lives. Some persons might want to share their “methods” with us shortly. And, while you are thinking about that, l will give you the example described to us by an unnamed community member not long ago and who was “warned” that I would present it today as a beautiful and effective story of what I was trying to describe. This selection identifies the context and a real stimulus that is recognizable to all of us. It describes the thoughtful process and concludes with a very positive result. This is that person’s description of “letting there by peace in the world and letting it begin with … [Personal data is deleted. Lee]
“I find for myself, that in order to keep fighting the good fight, I need space and time to pull back from it and renew my own faith and energy. I need time to reflect on what it means to be a disciple of Jesus and how I spread peace to all I encounter when I feel so angry… I need to be with other like-minded [persons] who do work for peace and justice in our world every day … I constantly anchor myself in maintaining the vison of peace in our time… God has given us every gift we will need… Imagine the power in that!”
So what sustains [us] in these difficult time? How do you transform your anger into action? How do you maintain a continued presence of peace?
And now, as the saying goes, “the floor is open” to anyone who would like to share a comment.
Statements of Faith
All: We believe in God, the Creator of the unfinished and ever-expanding universe, the One whose divinity infuses all that exists, making everything, everywhere, sacred. We believe in Jesus, the Christ, the touch of God in earthly humanity. Through him, we become a new people, called beyond the consequences of our brokenness. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Wisdom who keeps the Christ-vision present to all those who are searching for meaning and wholeness in their lives – and the Sustainer who strengthens us to be instruments of God’s peace and justice in the world. We say: Amen to love and to courage, to hope and to truth. We say: Amen to the partnership and equality of all people of different genders, nationalities, races and faiths-- everyone, everywhere, with no exceptions. In all of this, we surely believe.
Prayers of the Community
Presider: We are a people of faith, believing in the power of prayer. We are always mindful of God’s unconditional love and care for each and every one of us. And so, we bring the needs of the people - throughout the world - to our merciful and gracious God. After each intercession, our response is: Compassionate God, bless our petitions.
Presider: We pray for those many broken families, on our borders and in our states, who are torn apart…suffering in their situations…unsure of their futures. Compassionate God, ….
Presider: And for whom or what else do we pray at this time? (make other intentions here …)
Presider: Healing God, we ask you for your healing grace and relief to those hurting people in difficult conditions that we mention now as well as those who are on our minds and in our hearts. We also ask you to bless our efforts for justice and equality so that, with our sisters and brothers, we may promote cultures of peace and nonviolence in our world. As always, we make these prayers in the names of Jesus, the Christ, and the Holy Spirit, our Wisdom. Amen.
Offertory Song: Here I Am, God #379 (all verses)
Preparation of the Gifts
Presider: Blessed are you, God of Creation. Through your goodness we have this bread to offer, this grain that the earth has given us and human hands have prepared for our use. It will become for us the bread of life. All: Blessed be God forever.
Presider: Blessed are you, God of Love. Through your goodness we have this wine to offer, this fruit of the vine that the earth has given and human hands have prepared for our use. It will become for us our spiritual drink. All: Blessed be God forever.
Gathering of the Gifted – The Call of the Community
Presider: Jesus, who has often been at our tables, now invites us to be guests at his. Everyone is welcome to share this sacred meal around our family table. (The invitation to everyone….)
All: Gracious God, you have set the Banquet Table and have invited al of us to your feast of unending delight. Here we experience your divine love beyond what any words can describe. Your gift of compassion connects us to everyone everywhere on our journeys into the heart of your peace and mercy. We ask you now for your grace that we may love tenderly, act justly, and walk humbly with you in solidarity with our sisters and brothers. We pray that we may live always as prophetic witnesses to the gospel of Jesus. Amen.
Presider: Friends, let us recognize the presence of our God who is with us here and now.
Presider: God dwells in each one of us
All: Namaste! Namaste! Namaste!
Presider: Let us give thanks to the Creator and Sustainer of all that exists.
All: With grateful hearts, we give God thanks and praise.
Presider: Holy Spirit, we recognize your presence among us as we gather at our family table.
All: Fill us with love and peace for one another, always and everywhere.
Presider: Let us lift up our hearts.
All: We lift them up to the Holy One, living in us and loving through us.
Voice 1: Ever present and always caring God, we do well always and everywhere to give you thanks. In you we live and move and have our very being. Your Spirit dwelling in us gives us the hope of unending peace and joy with you. And so, with grateful voices, we sing;
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 those 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. On earth, Jesus burned with the constant vision of his mission. He revealed you to us through his compassionate life well lived. Jesus showed us not only how we should live, but also for what we might even die.
Voice 3: And when his time on earth had come to an end, Jesus - aware of and accepting his destiny – gave up his life for the values that he deeply believed, lived and taught…his conviction that love is stronger than death. In providing an example of this wisdom for all those people in ages to come, he “paid the price,” he was put to death for following his blessed mission. Then the Spirit, who raised him from the dead, showed us that life is eternal and that love is immortal. And that same Spirit that lived in Jesus will be resurrected in each one of us. The Jesus of history and faith is with us today as he will be through the end of time.
(With an outstretched arm as we pray the 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 and shared it with 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. (Pause)
In the same way, Jesus took a cup of wine, 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, of whom the prophets spoke 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 through us in the world today.
Voice 4: May all who share this sacred meal be strengthened in their unity by the grace of the Holy Spirit. And may that Spirit, that Wisdom, that moved in Jesus move as freely in our lives as she did in his.
Voice 5: God of blessing and peace, help us to continually grow in love. May we always remember that we are your Body and Blood on the earth and reflect your care and concern for your whole family everywhere. Remember your church throughout the world, together with Francis, our Pope, Bridget Mary, our Bishop, and all in your sacred family everywhere – especially those who live on the margins of church and society. -- and in places of violence and war. We remember, as well, the communion of saints, both those living and dead, especially those who touched our lives and left warm footprints on our hearts. We remember…(pause)
All: We believe that the Spirit of God is at work in and among us and will grace us with more than we could ever ask for or even imagine. And now we hold hands as we sing …. Amen.
The Prayer of Jesus
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 it is with us here and now, and we ask that you strengthen in us your grace and love so that we may open our hearts to make it more obvious to others as we serve one another.
The Passing of Peace
Presider: Jesus, you said to your disciples, “My peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.” Look on the faith of those gathered here and ….
All: … grant us your peace. O God, following the example of Jesus and with the strength of the Spirit, help us spread that peace throughout the world, to everyone, everywhere, with no exceptions. Amen.
Presider: May the peace of God be always with us, and let us extend that peace to one another as we join hands in a circle of love and sing… Peace is Flowing Like a River (#529)
Litany for the Breaking of Bread
Presider: Loving God…All: you call us to Spirit-filled service and to live the Gospel of non-violence for 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 forgiveness and understanding, healing and compassion 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, 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: Gracious God, as we come to share the richness of your table, we cannot forget the poverty of so many of our brothers and sisters.
Men: We cannot eat this bread and forget those who are hungry. O God, your world is one world and we are stewards of its nourishment for your people.
Women: We cannot drink this wine and forget those who are thirsty. O God, the very earth and its people cry out for environmental justice.
All: We cannot listen to your words of peace and not grieve for the world at war’s door.
During Communion: Instrumental
Community Prayer of Thanksgiving
Presider: Caring God, may this Eucharist in which we always share Christ’s healing love deepen our oneness with you and our unity with one another. May the wonder and thanksgiving of this blessed meal fill us with a deeper knowledge, understanding and experience of your love and compassion for all of us. May all this be reflected to all those with whom we come in contact. Amen.
Community Prayers of Gratitude and Announcements
Closing Community Blessing
All (with an extended arm in blessing): O God of Compassion, Jesus showed us how to love one another and to heal our hearts. Through the power of your liberating Spirit at work within us, we will be better able to give and receive forgiveness, to live joyously, and to work for healing, justice and equality for one another and our earth. Jesus gave us his peace, may we spread that peace to all our brothers and sisters everywhere, with no exceptions. Amen.
Closing Community Commissioning
Presider: We are the Face of God in the world; may we reflect God well. May we be “the people that God created us to be.” And as we all go in the peace of Christ, let our service continue in all we do! ALL: Thanks be to God. Let it be so! Alleluja!
Closing Song: This Little Light of Mine
This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine 3 X
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.
Hide it under a bushel? NO! I’m gonna let it shine, 3 X’s
Let it shine 3X
Let it shine over the whole wide world, YES! I’m gonna let it shine, 3 X,
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.
Repeat first verse