Donna Rougeux, ARCWP, and Kim Panaro, ARCWP, led the Upper Room Liturgy with the theme: The call to cultivate the gifts in ourselves and in others.
Welcome and theme
Welcome to you all. Today we are praying a special liturgy in solidarity with our friends in Ohio who are dedicating Hildegard Haus. On September 28 one of our ARCWP priests, Rev. Dr. Shanon Sterringer, will be here to lead us in a retreat on the theme of Hildegard of Bingen. Hildegard has been named a saint and a doctor of the church because she contributes unique and timeless wisdom to our understanding of the gospel. As Hildegard House, a center for Hildegard based teaching is dedicated, we pray for the success of that ministry. We also introduce ourselves in the first reading to a piece of her wisdom. Both Hildegard and the gospel writers known as Luke challenge us to look at the need to focus on that which is in need of help, that which is lost and that which can be unseen and unattended.
We are in the presence of all that is holy and lifegiving. We need only to breathe, pay attention and listen with the ears of our heart to the wisdom available to us. We dedicate this time together to hearing the words that will challenge us to look within our own hearts and minds to illuminate the places where we need to grow in courage , generosity and understanding. Amen
Opening: We Are Many Parts by Marty Haugen
Letter from Hildegard to Pope Anastasius IV
You, O man, who are too tired, in the eyes your knowledge, to rein in the pomposity of arrogance among those placed in your bosom, why do you not call back the shipwrecked who cannot rise from the depths without our help? And why do you not cut off the root of evil which is choking out the good and beneficial plants of sweet taste and delightful aroma? You are neglecting the King’s daughter who was entrusted to you, that is, heavenly Justice herself. You are allowing this King’s daughter to be thrown into the ground; her beautiful crown and tunic torn asunder by the crudeness of those hostile people who bark like dogs and who, like chickens trying to sing at night raise up their ineffectual voices. They are charlatans, crying out, ostensibly, for peace, but, all the while, biting each other in their hearts, like a dog that wags its tail among those known to him, but bites the honorable knight indispensable to the king’s household…But you, O man…rise up and run quickly to Justice, so that you will not be accused before the great physician of failing to cleanse his sheepfold and of neglecting to anoint his flock with oil.
Meanwhile, the tax collectors and the “sinners” were all gathering around Jesus to listen to his teaching, at which the Pharisees and the religious scholars murmured, “This person welcomes sinners and eats with them!”
Jesus then addressed this parable to them: “Who among you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, doesn’t leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and search for the lost one until it’s found? And finding it, you put the sheep on your shoulders in jubilation. Once home, you invite friends and neighbors in and say to them, ‘Rejoice with me! I’ve found my lost sheep!’ I tell you, in the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one repentant sinner than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need to repent.
What householder, who has ten silver pieces and loses one, doesn’t light a lamp and sweep the house in a diligent search until she finds what she had lost? And when it is found, the householder calls in her friends and neighbors and says, ‘Rejoice with me! I’ve found the silver piece I lost!’ I tell you, there will be the same kind of joy before the angels of God over one repentant sinner.”
Donna’s Homily Starter: Lost and Found
This strong letter from Hildegard to Pope Anastasius IV vividly names central Christian truths that were being lost. What was being lost was proper focus to what matters. She courageously laments a lack of compassion to lost ones and says that evil is “choking out the good and beneficial plants.” She is pointing out the need to take care of the lost but more importantly she challenges us all to look at why people are lost in the first place. Hildegard sees the need for healthy spiritual and physical growth of individuals and communities who are like plants in a garden. The implication is the pope needs to be a leader in inviting all people to the table and to be a strength spotter instead of a fault finder. Belongingness, talent finding and nurturing are core elements of a heathy community.
Her message to the pope is the solid wisdom that we today still find challenging and are called to implement. We must begin with the care we give ourselves then expand that care to others.
It is challenging to nurture our own strengths and talents when we listen to negative voices inside ourselves that say we are not thin enough, smart enough or not doing enough. We must replace these thoughts with positive awareness of what God has given us. When we are able to nurture our own strengths, we become equipped to spot and focus on the talents of others. This then emerges into a desire to nurture our community by asking and encouraging others to share their unique strengths.
To be better strength spotters we need to identify the uncelebrated gifts like a listener who doesn’t interrupt, or one who sets up the chairs and makes the coffee, the one who remembers to pray for those in need, the one who looks up and smiles and says “hello” to a stranger. Generosity of time, presence and hospitality are foundational to these uncelebrated talents.
As we reflect on Jesus’s lost and found parables we must ask ourselves if we are part of creating lost people, lost gifts and lost growth or are we part of celebrating found people. We must celebrate the way our community flourishes when all are invited to the table and all are using their unique talents. This is the way we build the kingdom. We are many parts but one body which means that we each need to see ourselves and the other though the eyes of the creator who bestowed these qualities on us.
What did you hear? What will you do? What will it cost you?
Communion: St. Teresa’s Prayer. Sung by John Michael Talbot
Closing: City of God by Dan Schutte