|Lee Breyer and Kathryn Shea ARCWP Presiders at First Sunday of Liturgy, Nov. 30, 2019|
Presider. Welcome to Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community where everyone is welcome to share in our celebration of the Eucharist. We use inclusive language in our scripture readings and prayers. We also welcome your respectful comments when the entire community can share the homily. Everyone is invited to gather around the Table to pray the Eucharistic Prayer and the Communion. We warmly welcome our newcomers to the liturgy and will invite you to introduce yourselves, if you wish, at the announcement time that follows the Communion. Then everyone is invited to join us for supper at a local restaurant after the liturgy.
Presider: Today we begin a new Liturgical Cycle, one that fittingly begins with Advent, the period of our four-week preparation for the celebration of Jesus’ birth on earth. Today, the first day of that solemn time, we will light a candle that will brighten the dimness around it. And then we will light one of the four in a wreath of candles around it, focusing our attention to the solemn purpose of the waiting time until Christmas. But first, let us take a few minutes to collect our minds, hearts and spirits.
The Blessing of the Wreath and The Lighting of the Advent Candles
Dim the sanctuary light (as is done during the “private” prayer time)
Creator God, we pray that the richness of your blessing will rest on this Advent wreath, ourselves and our community as we prepare for the celebration of Jesus’ birth among us, on this earth. This wreath is a symbol of your never-ending care for us
Light the larger central candle
We ask you to bless this central candle; may it be a constant reminder of your gift of Jesus, your beloved Son, as a light that will always shine in the darkness of our lives with his mission reflecting you.
Light the first smaller candle
With the lighting of this first candle, may we renew within ourselves our efforts to prepare ourselves this Christmas to be the lights in the world that Jesus was born to be -- as our model and example.
Then after the first candle is lighted (a closing piece)
May the flame of Christ’s presence in each one of us grow increasingly brighter so that, with this Christmas, we may reflect a fresh and ever-greening presence of the God of Light in everything we do and say, with everyone we meet every day. We pray that the richness of God’s blessing may rest on this Advent wreath, ourselves and our communities, as we await the celebration of Christmas. We ask this in the name of God, our creator – Jesus, our brother – and Sophia, our wisdom and strength. Amen.
Now return the lights of the sanctuary to their usual brightness.
Opening Song: Sing Our Earth and Skies, #553, verses 1, 3, 5
Presider: Nurturing God, in your goodness, you blessed all of creation…made all of it sacred in your everlasting care. We are grateful that you graced our planet Earth with your presence in the Incarnate Jesus of Nazareth. We believe that you, through him, are a part of our very being.
All: He was, through his life, his teachings and example, committed to show us how to live as fully as you would have us do so. Through him, you had the experiences of joy and sorrow, success and failure, effort and exhaustion, all the events and challenges that we encounter in our lives – and the very things that we ask you for your support and strength through your Spirit. What we ask of you now, Loving God, is to bless all of us gathered here today - and those of our community who are not with us now. Open our minds and hearts to the messages of the gospel of Jesus, today and always. Amen.
Penitential Rite and Community Forgiveness
(We will pause briefly to reflect on our ever-growing ability to show more understanding and love with our brothers and sisters, as well as with all of creation.)
Presider: Creator God, to you all hearts are open, no desires are unknown, and no secrets are hidden.
All: We ask your help that we may better understand Sophia’s messages to each one of us so that we can be truly faithful to them - and then that we may spread her graceful concern, compassion and care among all your people - wherever we meet them.
Presider: Jesus, grant us the courage we will need to spread your example of universal love.
All: Help us to grow in our understanding, confidence and strength in our living and sharing your messages that bring the grace of peace to everyone of us here today and to everyone that we meet.
Presider: Loving God, we ask you to pour out your healing mercy to us here today - and especially on those who are in so many difficult settings and in so many dangerous places where forgiveness and compassion are so badly needed.
All: We know that you understand the frailties of our human nature. Grant us that - despite our weaknesses - we may increasingly develop our ability to extend the forgiveness that you grant us with all our brothers and sisters, wherever they are.
All: (extend an arm) Loving God, the Father and Mother of mercy, through Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, he bonded the world and all creation to you. He sent the Spirit among us to give us the strength and compassion to love one another as She does with us. Loving God, help us understand the virtues of pardon and peace so that we may - in turn - learn to forgive each other for our failures to care for one another and for our planet Earth. We ask this of you, our healer and comforter. Amen.
Glory to God
Presider: Let us give glory in song to our loving Holy One.
(Sung) Glory to God, Glory, O praise God, alleluia. Glory to God, glory, O praise the name of our God. (3x)
Liturgy of the Word
First Reading: Jeremiah 33: 14 -16 All: Amen; thanks be to God.
Psalm 85. Responsorial: My God, Let Us See Your Kindness (#780)
Gospel Acclamation: Alleluia (Celtic version)
Gospel: 1 John 2: 2 - 3, and 7 - 8 All: Amen; thanks be to God.
Homily Starter: Lee Breyer
Today is a rich day for the liturgy. In the first reading, from the book of Jeremiah, YHWH promised that, when the time came, a branch from the line of David would come to us and bring justice and integrity to us. Seven centuries later, that promise was fulfilled in the person of Jesus. And now, in Advent, we prepare for the celebration of Jesus among us. And among our preparation pieces are the symbols of the wholeness of life that Jesus brings us, the wreath, and the acknowledgement, in the center of all the candles, that he is the True Light of our lives, the gift of God, to show us- through one of us – how we are to live the love of God That is how to follow God’s commandment to love one another as God has loved us. John put it pretty directly, firmly, and clearly, “if God loves us so much, we must have the same love for one another.”
And in a short time after Advent, we will be preparing for the coming of the New Year. And in doing that, it is customary to reflect on the past year and ask plans for the coming one. That usually contains resolutions for how we can “do better” in so many ways, about so many things for the year. And, maybe for some of us, how we might be able to do that before a month is past.
Here, with the two major days before us, I wonder if we put as much thought and efforts, about our loving actions, in the preparation of Christ’s birth on Christmas that we may do for our activities for our social plans on New Year’s Day.
What kinds of observations, comments or plans would you have about these two preparations, in your experience?
Shared Homily/Community Reflections and Responses
Profession of Faith
All: We believe in God, the Creator of an unfinished world in an ever-evolving cosmos. We believe in God whose divinity infuses all that exists and, through that, makes everything in the universe sacred. We believe in Jesus, the Christ, who is our love, our hope, our peace and our light. Through his incarnation, we are a new people, one called beyond the consequences of our brokenness. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Breath of Wisdom who keeps the Christ-vision present to all those who are searching for meaning and wholeness in their lives. She is the Holy Sustainer who heals and energizes us when our strengths grow weary in our journeys. We also believe that God’s kindom is here with us now and will always be there for those with eyes to recognize it, minds to understand it, and hearts and hands to make it known to their brothers and sisters wherever they may be. We say “amen” to the partnership and equality of all people, regardless of gender, race, and beliefs. We say “amen” to a world of peace and justice for everyone, everywhere, with no exceptions. In all of this, we do surely believe.
Prayers of the Community
Presider: We are a people of faith who deeply believe in the power of prayer. We are mindful of God’s unconditional love and care for each of God’s family. And so, in our prayers, we bring the needs of our brothers and sisters to our merciful and gracious Healing One.
After each intercession, respond: Compassionate God, we know you bless our petitions.
Presider: We pray for those broken families, torn apart…suffering in their separation… unsure of their futures. Compassionate God, we know you bless our petitions.
Presider: For what other concerns do we pray … (other intentions are mentioned here….)
Presider: Holy God, we ask you to strengthen us in our concerns and care for one another, here and throughout the world. We ask you to bless our efforts for justice and equality so that, with our sisters and brothers, we may promote cultures of peace and nonviolence in the world. As we always do, we make these prayers to you, O God, in the names of Jesus, our Brother, and the Holy Spirit, our Wisdom. Amen.
Offertory Procession and Song: Table of Plenty #310 all verses
Gathering of the Gifted
Presider: Blessed are you, God of Creation. Through your goodness we have this bread to offer…this grain of the earth that human hands have prepared for our use. It will become for us the bread of life. All: Blessed be God forever.
Presider: Blessed are you, God of Creation. Through your goodness we have this wine to offer…this fruit of the vine that human hands have prepared for our use. It will become for us our spiritual drink. All: Blessed be God forever.
Presider: Jesus, who has often sat at our tables, now invites all of us to join him at his.
And all of us, the family of God, are welcome at his table; please join us now.
Presider (when everyone is around the altar): Blessed are we who have been called to this table of plenty by the God who loves and lives in us and the Sustainer who supports and cares for us. Let us show our gratitude to them - and our care for one another - as we express our recognition of the Divine Spirit that is in each of us. All: Namaste (3x)
Voice 1: Gracious God, you have set this banquet table and have invited all of us to the feast of unending delight. Here we celebrate your divine love beyond what words can ever describe. Your divine compassion connects us to the young and the old, the first and the last, the highest and the lowest…to everyone, everywhere.
Voice 2: Ever living and ever-loving God, we do well always and everywhere to give you thanks. In you we live and move and have our very being. In gratitude for your everlasting presence in us, we join with the large community of saints who have gone before us and who now live with you in the eternal now, as we sing with thankful praise….
All: Holy, Holy, Holy God, God of power, God of light. Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed are all who come in the name of our God. Hosanna in the highest.
Voice 3: We thank you for the gift of Jesus in history - and the gift of Jesus in faith. Through him, you breathe life into us. His life on earth was moved by his vision of your presence in everyone he met, everywhere he went. You raised him up from among your people to baptize us in your Spirit. Jesus reflected your being in everything he said and did in his life well lived. And he showed us, by his many spoken messages and lived examples, not only how we should live, but also for what we might even die, as did he, in the service of the gospel message.
Voice 4: And when his time on earth had come to an end, Jesus - aware of and accepting his destiny – suffered much for the values that he deeply believed, lived and taught…his conviction that love is stronger than death. And then, providing an example of this insight for the understanding of those in ages to come - he “paid the price” - he opened wide his arms and died. Then the Spirit, who raised Jesus from the dead, showed us - in his resurrection - that life is eternal and that love is immortal. Jesus is with us today as he will be through the end of time. The Spirit that blest Jesus is a foretaste of the pascal feast of heaven that awaits each one of us as well.
All: O God, let your Spirit of life, healing and wholeness come upon these humble pieces that we gathered from your fields and placed on your table – this simple wheat and wine. May She make them holy so that they become for us the Body and Blood of Jesus, our brother.
All (with an outstretched arm, we pray the consecration together.): We remember the gift that Jesus gave us on the night before he died. He gathered with his friends to share a final Passover meal. And it was at that supper that Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke the bread and gave it to them saying: take this all of you and eat it. This bread is you; this bread is me. We are one body, the presence of God in the world. When you do this, remember me - and all that I have taught you. This is the new and everlasting covenant. [Pause]
In the same way, Jesus took the cup of wine, said the blessing and, gave it to his friends saying: take this all of you and drink it. This wine is you; this wine is me. We are one blood, the presence of God in the world. When you do this, remember me - and all that I have taught you. This is the new and everlasting covenant.
Presider: Jesus who was with God “in the very beginning of the creation of the heavens and the earth” is with us now in this bread. The Spirit whom the prophets spoke of in history is with us now in this cup. Let us proclaim this mystery of faith.
All: Jesus has died. Christ is risen. The cosmic Christ lives through us in the world today.
Voice 5: Ever living God, in memory of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, we are blessed by your gift of this life-giving bread and this saving cup. May all who will share this sacred meal be brought together in unity by the Holy Spirit. And may that Spirit, the Divine Presence that moved so freely in Jesus’ life, bless us by her manifestation in ours as well.
Voice 6: God, remember all of us, your Sacred People throughout the world, and grace us that we may continually grow in love and caring, mercy and compassion, and peace and justice. Bless Francis, our Pope, Bridget Mary, our Bishop, and the whole of your family wherever they may be - especially those who live on the margins of church and society. We remember in prayer the entire Communion of Saints, both those who are with us now on this earth and those who have gone ahead of us to their everlasting homes. We remember with overflowing gratitude those blessed people who have touched our lives and left footprints on our hearts. We remember especially …(pause as names are mentioned).
Presider: And so we say… All: Through Christ, with Christ, and in Christ, through the power of the Spirit, all glory and honor are yours, Creator God, forever and ever (singing) Amen.
All (holding hands): Our Father and Mother, who are in heaven, blessed is your name…..
Presider: God, we have just prayed that your kindom “may come” among us -- we believe that
it is “with us now,” even though in widely unrecognized ways. Grant that we may open our heads to acknowledge its current presence and our hearts to make it known in its continued evolution in time and place. And may we use our hands to serve one another while waiting for its fulfillment in that blessed time.
The Sharing of Peace
Presider: Jesus, you said to your disciples, “My peace I leave you; my peace I give you.” Look on the faith of those gathered here today and…
All: …. grant us your peace. May we follow the example that you have given us - and with the strength of the Spirit – be witnesses of that peace in our parts of the world, to everyone we meet, and everywhere we travel, with no exceptions. Amen.
Presider: May the peace of God be always with us, and let us extend that peace to one another as we join hands in a circle of love and sing “Let There Be Peace on Earth” #532.
Litany for the Breaking of the Bread
Presider: Loving God…. All: you call us to Spirit-filled service and to live the Gospel of
peace and justice. We will live justly.
Presider: Loving God…. All: you call us to be your presence in the world and to be bearers of understanding and compassion, forgiveness and healing everywhere in your name. We will love tenderly.
Presider: Loving God… .All: you call us to speak truth to power. We will walk humbly with you.
Presider: This is Jesus, Emmanuel, who liberates, heals, and transforms us and our world. All are invited to partake of this sacred banquet of love.
All: We are the Body of Christ.
Presider:, As we come to share the richness of this sacred table … All: O God, we cannot forget the poverty of so many of our brothers and sisters, our families and neighbors.
Presider: We cannot eat this bread and forget those who are hungry… All: O God, your world is one world and we are but stewards of its nourishment for all your people.
Presider: We cannot drink this wine and forget those who suffer from thirst…All: O God, this very earth and its people cry out for environmental justice everywhere.
All: We cannot listen to words of peace and not grieve for a world at war’s doors.
Communion Hymn: Instrumental
Post Communion Meditation: Instrumental (Here I Am, God)
Prayer of Thanksgiving after Communion
Presider: Loving God, may this Eucharist in which we share Christ’s healing love deepen our
oneness with you and with one another. May we reflect, like Mary, your liberating love for all. We are grateful for all the saints who gave so much of themselves in living the messages of the beatitudes and serving as examples of God’s love and compassion in our world. May we emulate them in all that we do. We ask this in the name of our model, Jesus the Christ. All: Amen.
Introductions, Gratitudes, Announcements
Closing Community Blessing
All: May our hearts be glad on our journey as we dream new dreams, see new
visions, and create a new heaven and earth.
May we live and work for understanding and compassion, justice and non-violence in our hearts and in those of everyone we meet.
May we learn to bless and honor and hold in reverence all creation, the earth, and one another.
May our loving and liberating God fill us with radiant joy and deep peace… and bless us always with the strength to serve the sick and the stranger.
Closing Community Commissioning
Presiders: As we leave this sacred place in the peace of Christ, let us be the people that God created us to be; let us be the light in the world that Jesus, by his example was in his time, and calls us to be always. Let us birth Christ anew in our world today…and in all the tomorrows of the future.
All: Thanks be to God. Let it be so!
Closing Community Hymn: This Little Light Of Mine
This Little Light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine 3 X Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.
Hide it under a bushel? NO! I’m gonna let it shine, 3X Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.
This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine 3 X Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.