Sunday, November 17, 2019

Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community Liturgy - November 17, 2019 - Presider: Lynn Kinlan, ARCWP

Afire with Divine Presence Liturgy for Sunday, November 17

Welcome: Today’s theme is all about patience and perseverance as foundational to keeping and living our faith in challenging times. It is worth remembering that Jesus is present to those who doubt and the gospel for today offers wisdom to those in need.

A word about the gospel before we begin; there is little proof that it was Jesus who said these words attributed to him by Luke more than fifty years after Jesus died. Writing after the temple was destroyed, Luke may have used known history and may have wanted to show Jesus as omniscient about what was to come. Or, maybe the truth is less calculated and far more inspiring than that. There was plenty of apocalyptic thinking around the time of Jesus predicting that the Jews were on a collision course with the Roman occupation. It might not be rocket science or require a crystal ball to see that the beloved temple was on the frontline of trouble to come.

Whether we are hearing Jesus or his intermediaries, there remains a potent message of living a faith that is at once subversive and hopeful, dangerous and promising, elusive and true. It is our ancient heritage and a revelation as close to Jesus as we have.

Opening Prayer adapted from Joyce Rupp

A Prayer to be Freed from Tizzies

Dear God, You who did not invent tizzies,
be with me when I get caught
in the wild worrying of my mind
and the needless scurrying around
in my fearful heart.

Let me fall headfirst into the truth
of your never-ending presence,
wrap your kind arms around me
and calm my doubts and fears.

Dear God, You did not invent tizzies,
I did,
and only I can send them on their way,
and I will,
if you strengthen me
to let go of my anxious hold
on what is nonessential.

Opening Song: Come be in my Heart by Sara Thomsen

First Reading is from Nilus of Ankara with notes added by Edith Barnecut 

In time of great trial it is of great profit to us patiently to endure for God’s sake, for it is said, “By patient endurance you will win life for yourselves.” The Holy One did not say by your fasting or your solitude and silence, or your singing of psalms, although all of these are helpful in saving your soul. Bu by “patient endurance” in every trial that overtakes you, and in every affliction, or any kind of disgrace, either small or great; whether it be bodily weakness or any trial whatsoever caused either by other people or by evil spirits.

The apostle writes:” With patient endurance we run the race of faith set before us,” For what has more power than virtue? What has more firmness or strength than patient endurance? It is the Queen of virtues, the foundation of virtue, a haven of tranquility. It is peace in time of war, calm in rough waters, safety amidst treachery and danger. It makes those who practice it stronger than steel. No weapons or brandished bows, no turbulent troops or advancing siege engines, no flying spears or arrows can shake it.

Not even the host of evil spirits, not the dark array of hostile powers, nor the devil himself stand by with all his armies will have power to injure the man or woman who has acquired this virtue through Christ.

These are the inspired words of Nilus and the inspired notes of Edith Barnecut. Amen. 

Gospel from the disciple known as Luke:

Some disciples were speaking of how the temple was adorned with precious stones and votive offerings. Jesus said, “You see all this? The day will come when one stone won’t be left on top of another—everything will be torn down. They asked, “When will this happen Rabbi?”

Then he said to them “Nation will rise against nation. There will be great earthquakes, plagues and famines. But before any of this, they’ll arrest you and persecute you, sending you to prison and bringing you to trial. And it will all be because of my name. This will be your opportunity to give your testimony.

Do not worry about your defense beforehand for I’ll give you the words and a wisdom that none of your adversaries can take exception to. You’ll be betrayed by parents, brothers, sisters and friends and some will be put to death. Yet not a hair on your head will be harmed. By patient endurance you’ll save your lives.”

These are the inspired words of the disciple known as Luke and we affirm them by saying, Amen.

Starter Homily by Lynn Kinlan ARCWP: 
They will know we are Christians by our resolve. Usually, it is said they will know we are Christians by our love. But what kind of love? Heartfelt love sustains and nourishes. True love grows and ripens with time. Love that has heft, breadth and depth — that requires a firm determination to hang in there, which is the definition of resolve. In preparing for today, we realized that the hallmark of faith, of members in our community in particular is resolve determination and hopeful perseverance.

Faith like ours is not for the faint of heart. Jesus lived and preached and died for a faith in radical love that depends on what Nilus, a monk from the 5th century, calls the Queen of virtues – patient endurance. As Edith Barnecut, a Benedictine sister explains, patience gives us the strength of steel and makes for calm in rough waters.

Neither Nilus nor Edith is talking about assuming the patience of a doormat or the endurance of a fanatic. It isn’t about pious acts or following rules. Rather, patient endurance is all about the ability to seek balance and the visionary’s skill of taking the long view. These are the skills that save us from the tizzies and allow us to approach holiness with the hope that all manner of things shall be well. Hopefulness is the child of patience.

The gospel from Luke similarly suggests that our worry will turn to wisdom, that betrayal and loss and disaster cannot harm a hair on your head if you persevere. Luke doesn’t mean perseverance that is plodding nor keeping the faith by adhering to rules. The resolve of the gospel is more hopeful than that, more promising; it provides the opportunity to stand up for what we believe, to claim the joy of exceptional wisdom and the grace of saving each other and blessing our very lives.

And so the days of Roman occupation, of persecution for being Christian. Of violence that destroyed the holy temple – these were frightening days but they were also the time during which faith in Jesus blossomed and scripture was revealed and inspired. It may be that the most challenging of times are the times when our faith comes to fruition and we are lit afire with Divine Presence. There is blessing in our every challenge, love in every path toward faith. For we are children of God and we are resolved. 

Communion Meditation: There is a Season by Kathy Sherman

May we be blessed with Your wisdom to seek middle ground in the midst of division and to find peace. May we sustain ourselves and each other with patient endurance that will nurture and grow our faith in easy times and challenging times. Amen.

Closing Song: Sing Out Earth and Skies by Marty Haugen

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