Sunday, December 1, 2019

Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community - First Sunday in Advent - Presiders: Margaret and Ed Dilgen and Jim Marsh, ARCWP

First Sunday of Advent – December 1, 2019 
Opening Prayer: Lighting of Advent Candle 
Like our ancestors, we honor the cycles and the seasons that remind us of the ever-changing flow of life of which we are a part. Ritual acts give life meaning—they honor and acknowledge the unseen web of Life that connects us all. 

Community member lights candle and community prays: 
We light this first candle, and remember the Holy One, our Mother, who created light and life out of darkness by loving. The dark shadow of space leans over us and we are mindful that the darkness of greed, exploitation, and hatred also lengthens its shadow over our small planet Earth. Let us kindle the light of hope! Amen. 

Opening Song: You Come, You Come Emmanuel 
You come, you come, Emmanuel,
You gather all who stumbled and fell. 
You share your life; you share your love; 
Your dawn breaks fourth in wondrous light above. 

Refrain: Rejoice, rejoice, O people of the earth! In God's great love, we comprehend our worth! 

You come, with grace, O Source of Light, 
You teach us to find courage in the night. 
Your way is justice, mercy and peace, 
Your wisdom is the path to true release. Refrain 


First Reading “Sparks of Advent Light” – Joan Chittister, OSB 

Hope is a thin and slippery thing, sorely tested and hard to come by in this culture. We have seen the social fabric of the country rent, not only by others but even by our own hands. We have sold violence and defended violence for years. We have cut back on social programs and increased our military spending on Neanderthal weaponry that wounds the national infrastructure and gives little or no security. We have substituted power for hope and found ourselves powerless. We feel hopeless. 

But hope is not for easy times, Advent reminds us. Hope comes only when hope is gone, when our "hands are feeble" and our "knees are weak" over what is coming upon our worlds. Then hope and only hope reigns supreme. 

Hope is not insane optimism in the face of palpable evil or dire circumstances. It is not the shallow attempt of well-meaning but facile friends to "cheer us up" in bad times. It's not the irritating effort of ill-at-ease counselors who work to make us "reframe" our difficulties so that everyone around us will not have to deal with them, too. No, hope is not made of denial. Hope is made of memories. 

Hope reminds us that there is nothing in life we have not faced that we did not, through God's gifts and graces-however unrecognized at the time-survive. Hope is the recall of good in the past, on which we base our expectation of good in the future, however bad the present. It digs in the rubble of the heart for memory of God's promise to bring good out of evil and joy out of sadness and, on the basis of those memories of the past, takes new hope for the future. Even in the face of death. Even in the fear of loss. Even when our own private little worlds go to dust, as sooner or later, they always do. Or as former Czech president Vaclav Havel put it: "Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.” 

Advent calls us to hope in the promise that God is calling us to greater things and will be with us as we live them. 

These are the inspired words of Joan Chittister, a disciple of Jesus, and we respond: AMEN! 


Gospel Matthew 24: 37-44 

The coming of the Promised One will be just like Noah’s time. 

In the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, having relationships and getting married, right up to the day Noah entered the ark. They were totally unconcerned until the flood came and destroyed them. So, it will be at the coming of the Promised One. 

Two people will be out in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. 
Two people will be grinding meal; one will be taken and one will be left. 
Therefore, be vigilant! For you do not know the day your Savior is coming of salvation. 

Be sure of this: if the owner of the house had known when the thief was coming, the owner would have kept a watchful eye and not allowed the house to be broken into. You must be prepared in the same way. The Promised One is coming at the time you least expect. 

These are the inspired words of Matthew, the evangelist, and we respond: AMEN! 

Homily Starter Margaret Dilgen 

Happy Advent! 

When I was a child, Advent meant waiting for Jesus's Birthday or Santa.  We are not children anymore. Advent is not a time for waiting anymore. The waiting is over. 

Jesus has been here. His messages are incredible. They continue for us today. Every time we read or hear the gospels we learn or become aware of something new. 

Our first reading is taken from Joan Chittister's Advent Readings,” Sparks of Advent Light. She speaks of Hope. Hope is a thin and slippery thing. It's not for easy times or the faint of heart. It's not insane optimism. 

Advent calls us to Hope in the promise that God is calling us to greater things. We are adults in 2019. We are not waiting; we are Sparks of Advent Light. 

How will you be a Spark of Advent Light or what thoughts do you have about Advent at this time in your life? 

Shared Reflections 

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. 


Jim: As we prepare for this sacred meal, we are aware that just as Jesus is anointed, so is each of us. As bearers of LIGHT and HOPE, we bring to this table our blessings, cares and concerns. Please voice your
intentions beginning with the words, “I bring to the table…..” 

“We pray for these and all unspoken intentions. Amen!”

Ed: With open hearts and hands, let us pray our Eucharistic Prayer as one voice (written by Jay Murnane)

All: Source of all that is, we seek you in this season, when the earth is resting and preparing for new life. Like the earth, we long for new life and hopeful beginnings. This is the time of the pregnant woman, filled with life and hope powerful enough to topple structures of oppression. This is the time of her song of fidelity and celebration.

During this gentle season of Advent, we recognize that you have made us capable of bringing forth justice, like a rising sun. One with all who have gone before us, we sing a song of praise:

Blessed be our God! Blessed be our God!
Joy of our hearts, source of all life and love!
God of Heaven and Earth! God of Heaven and Earth!
Dwelling within, calling us all by name!
Alleluia, sing! Alleluia, sing!

Blessed be our God! Blessed be our God!
Joy of our hearts, source of all life and love!
God of Heaven and Earth! God of Heaven and Earth!
Dwelling within, calling us all by name!
Alleluia, sing! Alleluia, sing! (“Alleluia Sing” by David Haas)

We thank you for those in times past who believed the good news, and lived what they believed.

Blessed is Isaiah and every visionary who insisted on a better future that would break through the deception, disaster and broken promises of the age in which they lived.

Blessed is John, in the stark desert of careful focus, inviting the people to be born again in your love.

Blessed is Miriam, who believed the words of Isaiah and opened herself up to the unbelievable. And blessed is her child Jesus, who felt the sorrows of humankind in his soul, and responded with deep and tender compassion.

Please extend your hands in blessing

We are grateful for your Spirit at our Eucharistic Table and for this bread and wine which reminds us of our call to be the body of Christ in the world.

Presiders stand at table

All: On the night before he faced his own death, Jesus sat at the Seder supper with his companions and friends. He reminded them of all that he taught them, and to fix that memory clearly with them, he bent down and washed their feet.

Margaret lifts plate as the community prays:

When he returned to his place at the table, he lifted the bread, spoke the blessing, broke the bread and offered it to them saying: 

Take and eat, 
this is my very self. (pause)

Jim lifts the cup as community prays:

Then he took the cup of the covenant, spoke the grace, and offered it to them saying:
Take and drink. 

Whenever you remember me like this, 
I am among you. (pause)

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

All: We give thanks for our tradition, which is a living history of your love for all creation. We join

ourselves with that tradition, as the visionaries and healers and peacemakers of our own time in history.

We celebrate the many creative traditions which guide and form us and we are grateful that there are many paths to wisdom and life.

Each Advent we make a place in our prayer for all those who are oppressed and marginalized in so many places throughout this earth, and right here among us.

We are grateful for the gift of your Spirit, always drawing beauty and balance out of chaos. And like Jesus… Standing where he stood, and for what he stood, and with whom he stood, we are united in your Spirit, and worship you with our lives. Amen.

Ed: Let us pray as Jesus taught us…

Holy One, you are 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. Amen. (Adapted from Miriam Therese Winter) 

Margaret: Please join in our prayer for the breaking of the bread. 

All: Holy One, You call us to live the Gospel of peace and justice. We will live justly. You call us to be Your presence in the world. We will love tenderly. You call us to speak truth to power. We will walk with integrity in your presence. 

Presiders lift bread and wine and say:

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 with our lives. As we share communion, we will become communion, both Love’s nourishment and Love’s challenge.

Jim: Our Eucharistic celebration is all-inclusive and nothing can separate us from God’s love. All are welcome to receive at this table. Please pass the bread and the cup with the words:
“You are a bearer of Light and Hope.”

Communion Song: Within Our Hearts be Born by Michael Joncas


Margaret: Please extend your hands and pray our blessing together. 

May we continue to be the face of God to each other.

May we call each other to extravagant generosity!
May our light shine for all to see, and may we be a blessing in our time. AMEN!

Closing Song: Go Light Your World by Chris Rice

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