Saturday, December 21, 2019

Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community - Christmas Liturgy - Presiders: Mary Brandon and Mary Theresa Streck, ARCWP


photo by Filip Bunkens on Upsplash




Welcome: In the darkness of this solstice evening, we are celebrating the birth of Jesus. Our theme tonight is: Christ, Our Light.

Receiving the Stole

Lighting the Fourth Advent Candle

We light this fourth candle and remember that we are called to create, to share and be light in all our ways, and to commit ourselves to the works of peace and justice needed in our world.
Let us kindle the light of love! Amen.
Opening Songs: Christmas Carols

LITURGY OF THE WORD

First Reading: Adapted from Isaiah 9: 1-6

The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
upon those who dwelt in the land of deep shadows
a light has shone.


For a child is born to us, a son is given us;
They name him Wonder-Counselor, Prince of Peace.
His dominion is vast and forever peaceful.

Psalm Response: adapted from Psalm 96
Sung Response:
May the Christ Light Shine in You.
May the Christ Light shine in Me.
And together we will shine
With God’s love to the world.
(music by Kathy Sherman CSJ)

Spoken: Your light enlivens the world, O Holy One
There is none to compare with you!
All of Creation is clothed with your majesty.
Mirroring your love throughout the cosmos.
Rejoice in the Radiant One, O people of the light,

Sung Response: May the Christ Light Shine in You...

Second Reading: Light and Enlightenment excerpted from the Universal Christ by Richard Rohr

Have you ever noticed that the expression “the light of the world” is used to describe the Christ (John 8: 12), but that Jesus also applies the same phrase to us? “You are the light of the world.” (Matthew 5: 14)


In the beginning of John’s Gospel we hear: “The true light that enlightens every person was coming into the world” (John 1: 9). In other words, we’re talking not about a one-time Big Bang in nature or a one-time incarnation in Jesus, but an ongoing, progressive movement continuing in the ever-unfolding creation. Incarnation did not just happen two thousand years ago. It has been working throughout the entire arc of time, and will continue.

Christ is the light that allows people to see things in their fullness. The precise and intended effect of such a light is to see Christ everywhere else. In fact, that is my only definition of a true Christian. A mature Christian sees Christ in everything and everyone else. That is a definition that will never fail you, always demand more of you, and give you no reasons to fight, exclude, or reject anyone. Isn’t that ironic? The point of the Christian life is not to distinguish oneself from the ungodly, but to stand in radical solidarity with everyone and everything else.

All: Alleluia
Cantor: A holy day has dawned upon us.
For a great light has come upon the earth.
All: Alleluia

Gospel: Adapted from Jn 1: 1-14

In the beginning was the Christ,
Who was with the Holy One,
And is the Holy One.
All things came to be through The Christ,
and what came to be was life,
and this life was the light of the human race;
the light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.

Mary Theresa’s Homily Starter: 

In the darkness of this solstice evening, we celebrate the return of the light to the northern hemisphere and more importantly, the birth of Jesus, fully human, a bright light in the firmament of the prophets and mystics and saints.


Child of Mary and Joseph, Jesus grew in wisdom and grace as he recognized and responded to the Living Light, the Divine Light within. For those with ears to hear and open hearts, he was a light in the darkness.

His followers longed for one who would relieve their suffering and bring about a new world order rooted in justice where everyone had a fair share. 


He was for them an incarnation of the Christ, an anointed one whose inner light radiated the Holy One’s unconditional love and radical unity with creation.

And you would think that was enough. But, no, Jesus turned to his followers and reminded them that the Living Light, Light of the Holy One, the Christ Light, resided in them as well. 

Understanding the meaning of the Incarnation of the Christ, Richard Rohr wrote these inspired words: 
“The loving message of the Divine Incarnation is bigger than just one man. It is the ultimate character of all reality, including each one of us in community as the ongoing Body of Christ.” 

For me, there have been significant individuals in my life who were luminous souls walking with me through some dark times. 

And there are luminous souls who are walking with us now. Just this morning I sent you Dr. Shanon Sterringer’s response to the Bishop of Cleveland’s threat to excommunicate her for being an ordained priest. She, like Jesus, and her patron Hildegard, is a light in the dark times in our Church.

So, In the darkness of this solstice evening, let us recognize and celebrate the Light of Christ that will not be overcome by the darkness.

And we celebrate not only the life and teachings of Jesus but also the Living Light in each other and in all those who have illuminated the way to the Holy One – all the prophets, the mystics, the saints, and our dear companions on this amazing earthly journey. 

We are, like Jesus, meant to be fully human expressions of the Christ “who is forever being born in the human soul and history (Rohr).” 


Mary Brandon's Homily Conclusion:


From the very beginning, our lives have been cyclical. At the solstices, the sun reaches its highest or lowest point in our sky, giving us the longest or shortest day of the year. At the equinoxes, day and night are almost equal. Spring equinox, summer solstice, autumn equinox, winter solstice.....the same every year. Living on earth, as we circle the sun, our time is governed by patterns of light and darkness, summer and winter, warmth and cold, and life and death. When are ancestors learned how to farm, they planted and harvested at the equinoxes, but it was the solstices that caught their attention. The extremes. They watched their days shrink from the bright abundance of high summer to the bleak, dark cold of winter, and they invented rituals to make sure the light would come back again: to bring the new day, the new year, the rebirth of life.

The rebirth rituals have become traditions that we still celebrate, whether or not we remember where they came from. Some of them are so old that only their monuments remain. On the morning of the winter solstice at the great earthwork Newgrange, in County Meath, Ireland, the day’s first beam of sunlight shines in through a passage that Neolithic people built there five thousand years ago to catch it. For seventeen minutes, a dark room deep within is filled with the sunshine of the shortest day.

It’s a universal impulse to celebrate the light as a symbol of continuing life. The candles in our liturgy that we light to dispel the darkness belong to the same family as the menorah candles of Hanukkah or the oil lamps of Diwali. Christianity and many other faiths share their intention: they are the lights of hope, reaching for the triumph of good over evil.

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.

LITURGY OF THE EUCHARIST

Presider 1: 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 feel free to voice your intentions beginning with the words, “I bring to the table…..” 
Presider 1: We pray for these and all unspoken intentions. Amen. 

Presider 2: With open hearts and hands let us pray our Eucharistic prayer as one voice:
(written by Jay Murnane) 

All: Holy One, you are continually creating the universe, continually giving birth to all of us. We sense the need to do the same, to set ourselves free from a sense of emptiness and barren hopelessness.

We celebrate you as the Source of light and life and love, and we celebrate your presence and all-ways care. We give thanks, and joined with your vision of harmony and peace, we 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! 

Gift of love and peace! 
Gift of love and peace!
Jesus Christ, Jesus our hope and light! 
A flame of faith in our hearts!
A flame of faith in our hearts!
Proclaiming the day, shining throughout the night! 
Alleluia, sing! 
Alleluia, sing!
(Alleluia Sing by David Haas) 

Your wisdom invites us to draw on our tradition, as old as the stars, shining through Sarah and Abraham, shining through your prophets in every age and every culture. We join that enlightening, enlivening tradition with what we are as we risk fidelity to a dream.

Filled with your spirit, we, like Jesus, can give birth in our day to your living word for the sake of hope enfleshed in creativity and confrontation, healing and reconciliation, justice, universal and unconditional love. 

Please extend your hands in blessing.

All: 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. 

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.

Presider 1 lifts plate as the community prays the following:

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) 


Presider 2 lifts the cup as community prays the following:

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.

Holy One, we dare again to dream the ancient dreams and open ourselves to marvelous visions. There are mountains of arrogance to lower, valleys of fear and separation to fill in, to create a community and communion that stretches throughout our consciousness and around our world.

In this way, working to renew the face of the earth, we are opened up to your Spirit, the Spirit of light and life and love born in Jesus.

For it is through his life and teaching, all honor and glory is yours, Holy One, forever and ever.

All: Amen.

Presider 2: Let us pray as Jesus taught us:

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, Amen.
Adapted by Miriam Therese Winter

Presider 1: 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 hold up bread and wine) 

Presiders: "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. 

Presider 1: 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 the Light of Christ!”

Communion Song: Christ Be Our light by Bernadette Farrell
https://youtu.be/JhQ0_XMUtvQ



Communion Meditation: Mary Did You Know – Sung by Dennis McDonald

Closing Prayer: Presider 2: Holy One, Source of light and dark, we are grateful for the cycle of seasons and the constancy of the sun, moon and stars. During this passage of darkness and light, we are reminded of the beauty and wonder of our creation. May we bask in the gathering light and revel in its luminous grace. Strengthen our capacity to recognize your presence in both the dark of night and the light of day. Amen

BLESSING

Presider 1: 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 we, like Jesus, be a shining light and a blessing in our time!

All: AMEN

Closing Song: Let Your Light Shine in Us by Kathy Sherman 










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