Saturday, April 6, 2019

"An Open Letter to Catholic; The Church You long for Already Exists," Marianne Duddy-Burke, Executive Director, DignityUSA
Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community celebrates Elena's Garcia's ordination.
left to right: Pat MacMillan, Elena Garcia ARCWP, Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP, Bob MacMillan

Amen! There are women priest led communities in many states in the U.S. and around the world.
A new model of priestly ministry has evolved that is egalitarian, inclusive and honors the gifts of the Spirit in the people of God. Many communities have dialogue homilies, ordained and non-ordained presiders and everyone who is present prays the words of institution/consecration. We are the Body of Christ celebrating the Presence of Christ on the table, around the table and in everyone and everywhere.  All are welcome and are invite to celebrate Eucharist and the other sacraments in our beloved faith tradition. 
Visit our Roman Catholic Women Priests for links to our inclusive worshipping communities.
My community is Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community in Sarasota, Florida, Liturgy 4:00 PM on Saturdays.

Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community Fifth Sunday of Lent, April 6, 2019 Presiders: Janet Blakeley, ARCWP and Sally Brochu, ARCWP Music Minister: Mindy Simmons Lectors: Cheryl Brandi and Ann Cooke

Left to right: Sally Brochu ARCWP and Janet Blakeley ARCWP co-presided at liturgy 

Janet:  Welcome to Mary, Mother of Jesus, an inclusive Catholic Community where all are welcome to share Eucharist at the Banquet Table.   We use inclusive language in our Scripture readings and prayers.   We invite respectful sharing at the homily that is related to our readings. We welcome all of you to share your intentions at the Prayers of the Faithful. In the Eucharistic Prayer we invite anyone to ‘voice’ one of the prayers if you are comfortable doing so and all pray the words of Consecration.   We welcome all newcomers and we are so pleased that you joined us today.   All are invited to join us for supper after the liturgy.

Opening Song: #432 “Blest Be Our God”, verses 1,2,3

Opening Prayer:
Sally:  Holy One, your words are on our lips and in our hearts.   Like Jesus, we embrace you and rely on you for our strength and courage. We are ever- expanding our awareness of your unconditional love for us. Help us to keep your love at our center of being as we struggle, not only with our own wrongdoings but with that of the world, and yes, in our Church. When we fail, your love is unfailing.  With this awareness we trust in the power of your Spirit moving within us to make wiser choices to liberate, heal and empower all as we work for justice and equality.   Amen
Communal Reconciliation Rite
Janet: We pause now to remember the times we have not asked for forgiveness.
(Pause briefly.   Please extend your hand in blessing and say the Ho’oponopono Prayer)  I am sorry.   Please forgive me.   I thank you.  I love you.
                                    LITURGY OF THE WORD
First Reading: Book of Esther (C:12, 14-16, 19-20, 23-24, 30)
Response: “With God there is love and renewal.”
If you, O God, should mark our wrongdoings, who then could stand?                            Rather there is forgiveness with you, that you may be revered.
Response: “With God there is love and renewal.”
I wait. My whole being waits for God, and relies on the Word of the Holy One. My whole being hopes in God, more than those who watch for the morning, more than those who watch for the morning.
Response: “With God there is love and renewal.”
O people, have hope in God. With God there is love unfailing. With the Holy One is great power to redeem. It is this One who will liberate God’s own people from all humiliation and wickedness.
Response: “With God there is love and renewal.”

Second Reading: Letter from Paul to the Philippians – 1:1-11
Gospel Acclamation:
All sing: “Spirit of the Living God”
            Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me.  (us, all)
            Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me.
            Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me.
            Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me.

Gospel: John 8: 2-11

Homily and Sharing

Our first reading from the Book of Esther is the story of the queen of Persia who saved the Jewish people in exile by her wisdom and courage, but more importantly by her faith and trust in God.   Esther was a beautiful, intelligent Jewish woman and a woman of means, who went into exile in Persia with her people.   Because of her beauty and intelligence, Esther became quite visible and caught the eye of the king of Persia.   She hid the fact that she was Jewish and eventually married the king.   She glorified God by saving her Jewish people from the destruction that the king had planned for them. This faith-filled woman’s story needs to be continually told.  Yet, the Book of Esther is not found in all Scriptures. It is found in The Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Scriptures, but not the Protestant or Jewish Scriptures. This book is found in the Apocrypha – that is, books that remained hidden, secret, or rejected.   Critics felt that God was not the focus of the story!   But when I read it, I heard the presence of God everywhere!  God was at the center of it. One could think that Esther is shown as a woman with power.   Perhaps it is a little too threatening to show her – a woman – as an agent for change. 

The Gospel reading is about a woman “caught in adultery” who was brought to Jesus.   This woman - unlike Esther but like so many women in Scripture - is nameless. She stands before the crowd alone because the laws concerning adultery did not apply to men.   Looking at the situation through a contemporary lens, we see that the “#Me Too” movement has already worked significant change in our society.   Where what was previously considered acceptable, or tolerable, is no longer.   In fact, we may be approaching a paradigm shift where greater justice and respect will begin to permeate relationships within our society, especially how women are treated.  That certainly is my hope, but we still have a long way to go.   This change has to be fostered and supported where we need to speak out against these injustices. 

Returning to the story, I have always been intrigued by what Jesus might have written on the ground that would give some understanding of why all the men left the scene.   Whatever it was, they left and Jesus told her gently that he did not condemn her.   What an impact that must have had on her – to feel a sense of freedom and release from condemnation and harm.   That’s the reason I chose the photo on the liturgy to capture her exhilaration and gratitude for being saved from death!

Let me close with the words of the Second Reading.   Paul wrote the Philippians: “My prayer is that your love may abound more and more, both in understanding and in wealth of experience so that with a clear conscience and blameless conduct you may learn to value the things that really matter.  It is my wish that you be found rich in the harvest of justice which Jesus Christ has ripened in you, to the glory and praise of God.”   To continue our quest for justice in our world, our church, we need to ask God for the courage to change what we can, most especially our hearts.      

Q. Our Jewish brothers and sisters say that in every parable or writings of Scripture, there are at least 4 or 5 levels of meaning.  What other meanings do you see in today’s readings?     

Statement of Faith  (Taken from “The Friends in Faith” and shared by Joan Meehan)
Gathered together as people of faith, we profess our belief in God who is larger than we can name, unable to be contained, yet present in each one of us. We have come to know this God in the living of our lives, and in the holiness of the earth we share.
We believe in a God revealed in all peoples – all genders, religions, and orientations. We embrace a compassionate God, who champions justice and mercy, and is always faithful when we call. Our God gives and forgives, patiently loving without conditions.
We gratefully believe in a God who feels our deepest struggles, and celebrates our deepest joys. A God who both dances with us in celebration, and holds us when we cry. This God is not the “other” to us, but shares our breath in every moment and promises we are never alone.
We believe in a God who believes in us – believes that we are precious and incredible gifts, worthy to claim image and likeness to the divine. We hold fast to our God who journeys with us, who continually calls us to choose the shape of our days through the choices we make. This God accepts us as we are and shares each hope we have for becoming. This is the God in whom we believe, our Creator, our Mother and Father, who became human in Jesus, our brother. Our God is the Spirit of Life, the voice that continues to speak love, and asks us to answer. In this God we choose to believe. AMEN.
Prayers of the Community
 Sally: As we prepare for the sacred meal, we bring to this table our blessings, cares and concerns.   All please feel free to voice your concerns beginning with the words “I bring to the table….”  
 Our response is “Holy One, may we love and serve all.”
Janet: We pray for these and all unspoken concerns that we hold in our hearts.   Amen.
Offertory Song: #391 – “Open My Eyes, God”
Presentation of Gifts:

Preparation of Gifts (presiders lift up bread and wine and book of prayers)
Sally: Blessed are you, God of all life, through your goodness we have bread, wine, all creation, these prayers of the heart, and our own lives to offer.   Through this sacred meal may we become your new creation as we respond to your call to use our gifts in loving service to our sisters and brothers.
All: Blessed be God forever.
Janet: All are welcome to join us around the table.

                        LITURGY OF THE EUCHARIST
Sally:  God is within you, blessing the world through you.
All: And within you.
Sally: Lift up your hearts.
All: We lift them up in the Holy One.
Sally: O Holy One, the first passion of Jesus was his passion for you and his passion for justice, namely, to incarnate your justice by demanding for all a fair share of a world belonging to - and ruled by - your covenant with Israel.   In solidarity with the unnamed woman who anointed Jesus, the first to recognize the cost of his fidelity to you, and with all believers who have gone before us, we lift up our hearts and sing:
All: We are holy, holy, holy (we, you, I, we) by Karen Drucker
Voice: Holy One, we celebrate the life of your son and our brother, Jesus.   He lived his life and walked forward to his death knowing that You were leading him.   We walk forward in his pathway and follow his teaching.
Voice: We pray for the grace to let go of money, possessions, pride and privilege, to become vulnerable and open to You, to accept poverty of spirit and reliance on you.  
Voice: We pray for compassion for all human beings, to feel empathy and love for everyone, especially the poor, oppressed, and mournful.   We remember all those who suffer and die each year from war, poverty and unjust disease.   We mourn for them, for all creatures we destroy, and for the earth itself.  
Voice: We pray to be gentle, nonviolent, courageous and humble.   We pray to grow in awareness of our unity with all creation and to co-create with You our earth as a sanctuary of peace.  
Voice: We rejoice, O Holy One, and we are glad as we join the lineage of your prophets of justice and peace.   We, your daughters and sons, continue to work with your grace as we arise and walk forward in the footsteps of our brother, the nonviolent Jesus. 
All: On the night before he died, Jesus gathered for the Seder supper with the people closest to him.   He washed their feet.   For this they would remember him.  
Sally: (Lifts bread as community prays the following)
All: When he returned to his place, he lifted the Passover bread, spoke the blessing, broke the bread and offered it to them saying:
Take and eat of the Bread of Life given to strengthen you.   Whenever you remember me like this, I am among you. (pause)
Janet: (Lifts the cup as community prays the following)
All: Jesus then raised a cup of blessing, spoke the grace 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. (pause)
All: Let us share this bread and cup, and welcome everyone to the Banquet as we live the gospel of justice and peace in our world.
Voice: We are called to do everything Jesus did, to be the living presence of a love that does justice, of a compassion that heals and liberates, of a joy that generates laughter, of a light that illumines right choices and confronts the darkness of every injustice and inequity.
All: We trust you to continue to share with us your own Spirit, the Spirit that filled Jesus, for it is through his life and teaching, his loving and healing that all honor and glory is yours, O Holy One, forever and ever.

Sally: Let us pray as Jesus taught us:
Prayer of Jesus: “Our Father and Mother…”
Sign of Peace:
Janet: While remaining in your place, please turn to the person on either side of you and say “Peace be with you”
Prayer for the Breaking of the Bread
Sally: Please join in the prayer for the breaking of the bread. (Presiders break the bread.)
All: O God of Courage, You call us to live the Gospel of peace and justice.  
We will live justly.   O God of Compassion, You call us to be your presence in the world.   We will love tenderly.   O God of Truth, You call us to speak truth to power.   We will walk with integrity in your presence.
(Presiders hold up the bread and wine.)
Janet: This is the bread of life and the cup of blessing.   Through it we are nourished and we nourish each other.   All are welcome to join in the Feast. 
All: Through him, we have learned how to live.                                                 Though him, we have learned how to love.                                                                       Through him, we have learned how to serve. AMEN.

Communion song: “Blessed Are the Gifts That We Receive” – written by Mindy Simmons

Sally: It is time for our prayers of gratitude and announcements.
Janet: Let us raise our hands and bless each other.
All: May you be blessed with a restless discomfort about easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships.  
May you seek truth boldly and love deeply within your heart.
May you continue to be the face of the Holy One to all you meet.
May your name be a blessing in our time.

Closing Song:  #402 – “To Praise You” -  verses 1,2,6

This liturgy was, in part, composed for the Season of Lent by Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP, and Mary Theresa Streck, ARCWP.