Sunday, November 24, 2019

Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community's Thanksgiving Liturgy - Presiders: Dennis McDonald, ARCWP, and Denise Hackert-Stoner, ARCWP

Dennis McDonald, ARCWP, and Denise Hackert-Stoner, ARCWP led the Upper Room in the Thanksgiving liturgy below. Dennis' homily starter follows the readings. 

Celebrating Our Mystical Oneness in the Cosmic Christ 

Opening Prayer: 

For the exploding stars whose elements made life on earth possible, we thank you. 

For the colorful leaves of autumn which decay and nourish the seedlings of spring, we thank you. 

For the cycle of bud, flower, fruit and seed which ensures a food supply for all creatures, we thank you. 

For honey bees, butterflies, bats and hoverflies, for all pollinators, without whom our world would be devoid of flowers, we thank you. 

For the wisdom of elders whose stories and shared experience enrich the lives of the young, we thank you. 

For the young, whose energy, daring, and sense of fun enrich the lives of elders, we thank you. 

For all of these things we give thanks, Oh Holy One. You are the star, you are the leaves, you are the bud, flower, fruit and seed. You are the bee, the butterfly, the bat, the hoverfly, the elder, the child. You are the ground in which we grow, the air we breathe. In you we live, move, and have our being. 

We thank you. 

Opening Song: Table of Plenty by Dan Schutte
Second Reading: Gratitude excerpts by Christine Valters Paintner (Abbey of the Arts) 

Gratitude is a way of being in the world that does not assume we are owed anything, and the fact that we have something at all, whether our lives, our breath, families, friends, shelter, laughter, or other simple pleasures, are all causes for celebration. We can cultivate a way of being in the world that treats all these things as gifts, knowing none of us “deserves” particular graces.

We might begin each day simply with an expression of gratitude for the most basic of gifts, life itself. Awakening each morning for another day to live and love, grateful for our breath and a body that allows us to move through our day. Then we can offer gratitude for a home and all the things that are important to us about this place of shelter. 

Gratitude has a way of transforming our approach to life into one that is more open-hearted, generous, and joyful. Rather than moving through our day feeling cynical or burdened, we can consciously choose our thoughts. This doesn’t mean that we have to offer gratitude for injustices or abuse, we are always called to resist those. But it does mean we might be able to tap into greater joy to replenish us for those moments when we do need to fight for dignity and kindness. Gratitude overflows into joy and makes us feel connected to something bigger than ourselves.

These are the inspired words of Christine Valters Paintner, and we affirm them by saying, Amen. 


Gospel: Matthew 6: 25-30

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet God feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?

These are the inspired words from the Gospel of Matthew, and we affirm them by saying, Amen.
Homily Starter by Dennis McDonald

The release of Frozen Two this weekend, had me reflecting back on the original movie, and how it ties into today’s readings. Elsa discovers, quite by accident, a gift that she has been given but has not learned how to control. She is led to believe by others, that this is not a gift to be shared, and is, rather, dangerous and needs to be controlled. It is not something to be grateful for. I imagine that each of us can identify with this story in some way, at a time in our life when we were discouraged from using our gifts or talents. Henri Nouwen invites us to find gratitude in both the ups and downs of our lives, to see the gift in both the positive and the negative moments of our lives. We are called to see the growth and the evolution of our lives that comes from the struggles we experience.

What is the blessing that we receive from these experiences? It is difficult to see the blessing, especially in the moment(s) of living through the pain or sorrow we face. Both Nouwen and Christine Valters Paintner, in our second reading, provide the message that living in a spirit of gratitude, consistently, will assist in achieving a life that is “more open-hearted, generous, and joyful, allowing us to “tap into a greater joy to replenish us for those moments when we do need to fight for dignity and kindness”.

There is a study that was done in 2015, in which those participants who journaled daily about what they were grateful for each day, had a transformation in the approach to life to one of gratitude, which resulted in a better outlook on life, fewer health issues, less stress, and improved compassion and empathy toward others. 

If we return to Frozen and what in the end breaks the spell for Elsa, it is the unconditional love of her sister, Anna, when she saves Elsa’s life. In that moment, the ice that keeps Elsa’s heart frozen, melts, and she is able to recognize and value the love that surrounds her. It often takes the love and kindness of others to help us through the dark times, the struggles. Heidi, a woman responding to a discussion on the Growing Edge website, stated: “We touch each other, need each other, are changed, soaked through by each small miracle of a kindness, of tenderness, of generosity, of lifting each other out of the mud”. How often have we been assisted in seeing the value of something we have faced, by others in our lives, thus allowing us to see the transformation that has occurred, that has brought us to a better place in life.

The gospel reading today calls us to recognize that the Source of Life, the Divine is with us, and will care for us, even in our darkest moments. Richard Rohr says, “God protects us into and through death, just as she did with Jesus”. The Gospel reading asks, “Can anyone of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? We are called to live a life of Gratitude in all things, to trust in the love of the Divine and others in our lives. In this season of thanksgiving, as we also approach the season of winter darkness, let us recognize the Light though dimmed, continues to shine, and in time, brightens and illuminates the darkness.

Statement of Faith:

We believe in the Holy One, a divine mystery
beyond all definition and rational understanding,
the heart of all that has ever existed,
that exists now, or that ever will exist.

We believe in Jesus, messenger of the Divine Word,
bringer of healing, heart of Divine compassion,
bright star in the firmament of the Holy One's
prophets, mystics, and saints.

We believe that we are called to follow Jesus
as a vehicle of divine love,
a source of wisdom and truth,
and an instrument of peace in the world.

We believe in the Spirit of the Holy One,
the life that is our innermost life,
the breath moving in our being,
the depth living in each of us.

We believe that the Divine kin-dom is here and now,
stretched out all around us for those
with eyes to see it, hearts to receive it,
and hands to make it happen.

Presider 1: As we prepare for the sacred meal, we lay our stoles upon the table as a sign that just as Jesus is anointed, so is each of us. And we bring to this table our blessings, cares and concerns. Please feel free to voice your concerns beginning with the words “I bring to the table….” We pray for these and all unspoken concerns. Amen.


Presider 2: Please join in the praying of our Eucharistic Prayer:

All: Ever gentle God, as co-creators of our planet, we offer you the gifts of bread, wine and our lives. May we celebrate our oneness with all creatures great and small in your precious family.

As one with You, we gather as a community to celebrate your gift of life pulsating within and around us and in the glories of nature everywhere.

O Birthing God, you stirred the waters of creation; you dwell on earth, and in every living being. We lift up our hearts to you and with thanks and praise we sing:

Holy, Holy, Holy by Karen Drucker 

We thank you for our brother, Jesus, who showed us so simply, so tenderly, how the world is in our hands. He had nothing in this world but your love, companions on the journey, and his very self. Together, that was more than enough, and that remains our clarity in the midst of confusion: the miracle of healing, new hope, nurturance, nourishment, liberation and life. 

(All Extend Hands)

On the night before he died, Jesus gathered for the Seder supper with the people closest to him. Once again he showed us how to love one another.

Presiders stand at table, Presider 1 lifts bread.

All: Back at the table, he took the Passover Bread, spoke the grace, broke the bread and offered it to them saying, Take and eat, this is my very self.

Presider 2 lifts the wine as community prays the following: 

Then he took the cup of blessing, spoke the grace, and offered it to them 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. 

Presider 1: Let us pray the mystery of faith: 

ALL: This bread is you, this bread is me. We are one body, a reflection of God’s treasures, in communion with all creation. 

All: Christ of the Cosmos, we thank you that there are 18 galaxies for every person, that our bodies are made of stardust. Every place we turn, you are present, loving us. You call us, “beloved” and invite us to join the dance of creation in a mystical celebration of our oneness with all living things in your divine love. 

Christ of the Cosmos, we rejoice that You, who are more than we can imagine or dream of, dwell in mystery beyond all comprehension. We remember that it was you, who said: “Anything I have done in the name of the Holy One, you can do, too…and even more.” 

Christ of the Cosmos, we remember Mary, mother of Jesus, faithful disciple and St. Francis who sang canticles to brother sun and sister moon. We remember our sisters and brothers, the great cloud of witnesses who have cared for earth’s creatures and have blessed our world with their loving service to God’s people. 

We praise you in union with them 
we awaken to your Spirit within, 
Moving us to worship you truly, 
O Holy One, 
At this time and all time and in all ways. 


Presider 2: Let us pray together the prayer of Jesus:
Adapted from Miriam Therese Winter

O Holy One who is within, around and among us,
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. Blessed be!"

Presider 2: Please join in praying the prayer for the Breaking of the Bread. 

All: Christ of the Cosmos, we will live our oneness with you and all creation. 
Christ of the Cosmos, we will work for healing of the earth. 
Christ of the Cosmos, we will celebrate justice rising up in a global communion everywhere. 
Presider 1: Let us pray our communion prayer together: 

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

Presider 2: Our Eucharistic celebration is all-inclusive. We belong to the Loving One and to each other. Everyone is invited to receive at this friendship table. 

Please pass the bread and the cup with the words: The Christ dwells within you.

Communion Song: For the Beauty of the Earth

Prayer after Communion

Presider 2:

Lover of the Universe, we are full of awe at your extravagant love flowing through all living things. We immerse ourselves in the beauty of nature that surrounds us each day. We are one with our brother Jesus, in union with the Holy Spirit.

ALL: Amen

Concluding Rite

Presider 1: Christ of the Cosmos is with us.
ALL: And loves through us.

Presider 2: Please extend your hands in praying the blessing:

R: Sing a joyful noise to the Beloved, all the earth! All peoples of the earth, serve Love with a glad heart! Join hands in the great Dance of Life! ALL: Alleluia! Amen!

L: Know that the Beloved of your heart

is the Divine Presence! Love created us! We all belong to a Cosmic God! We are born to be loving expressions in the whole, holy story of the Universe. ALL: Alleluia! Amen!

R: Open the gates of your heart with gratitude! Enter Love’s court with praise! Give thanks to the Beloved! Bless Love’s holy Name! ALL: Alleluia! Amen!

L: God is good, and God is Love. Love endures in your hearts, forever. With faith, truth, joy, now and in all that is to come, we proclaim

ALL: Alleluia! Amen!

Closing Song: Canticle of the Sun by Marty Haugen

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