Thursday, December 31, 2020

Celebrating the Epiphany, Mary Mother of Jesus ICC, Sarasota FL January 2, 2021 Presiders: Peg Bowen, ARCWP & Jim Marsh, ARCWP Readers: Cheryl & Jim Brandi

Zoom link for video Jan. 2, 2021 4 PM Eastern Standard Time

Meeting ID 851-0809-5506

Password: 1066      

Welcome: (Peg)   We warmly welcome you to our Inclusive Catholic Community of Mary Mother of Jesus based in Sarasota, FL and wish you, and all those you love, a very Happy New Year! 

During this time of pandemic, we are blessed to have become a community without walls or boundaries, thanks to the technology of Zoom. While everyone will be “muted” for most of the liturgy, we invite you to pray the parts designated “All” and to sing out loud. We ask our readers to “unmute” for their reading and then “remute” again after finishing; the same goes for anyone praying a “Voice” part. Please have some bread and wine (or juice) on your table for communion.

The Magi by Henri Siddons Mowbray, circa 1915

(Jim) Today, we celebrate the Feast of Epiphany—the appearance of three wise men (all foreigners, not Jews) who follow a star to Bethlehem, bearing gifts to pay homage to a newborn named Jesus. Definitely, a mythic story we know so very well; all the more so to listen well and to be open to Spirit’s call. Let us begin our prayer in song!

Opening Song  Sound Forth the News that Wisdom Comes

Words © Jann Aldredge-Clanton, from Inclusive Hymns for Liberating Christians

Sound forth the news that Wisdom comes

to bring new life to birth.

Arise with hope, Her labor join,

and peace shall fill the earth,

and peace shall fill the earth,

and peace, and peace shall fill the earth.

No more let fear and custom hide

the path of Wisdom fair.

She leads the way to life and joy,

with gifts for all to share,

with gifts for all to share,

with gifts, with gifts for all to share.

Joyful are we who heed the call

of Wisdom in our souls.

With Her we break oppression’s wall,

so love may freely flow,

so love may freely flow,

so love, so love may freely flow.

Crown Wisdom Queen of heaven and earth;

Her reign will set us free.

Fling wide the gates that all may come

join hands and dance with glee,

join hands and dance with glee,

join hands, join hands and dance with glee.

Liturgy of Word

Reading I Isaiah 60:1-6

Arise, shine, for your light has come!  

The glory of YHWH is rising upon you!
Though darkness still covers the earth, and dense clouds enshroud the peoples,
upon you YHWH now dawns, and God’s glory will be seen among you!
The nations will come to your light and the leaders to your bright dawn!  Everyone will come, singing the praise of YHWH.

These are inspired words from the prophet Isaiah, and the community responds: AMEN!

Responsorial Psalm Psalm 72 (adapted by Nan C. Merrill)

Cheryl B: Bring justice to the peoples, O Beloved,

and your mercy to all generations!

May the people be known for mercy,

rendering justice to the poor!

Jim B: May we heed the cry of the poor—

the young and the old,

Helping to free all those in need,

awakening the souls of oppressors!

Cheryl B: May we know oneness with You

as long as the sun endures, 

as long as the stars shine, 

throughout all generations!

Jim B: In our day may justice flourish, 

and peace abound throughout all the nations!

May the leaders of nations from all the earth,

listen to Love’s voice;

May the leaders surrender to your Love.

Cheryl B: Long may you live in our hearts,

may praises be sung to You!

May our prayers rise up before You

and blessings of love be freely rendered!

Jim B: May we be ever grateful 

for the gifts of grain and vine to be shared with all.

May the people blossom forth in the cities, 

diverse like flowers in the meadow!

Celtic Alleluia

Gospel Reading Matthew 2:1-12

After Jesus’ birth—which happened in Bethlehem of Judea, during the reign of Herod—

astrologers from the East arrived in Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the newborn ruler of the Jews? We observed his star at its rising and have come to pay homage.” 

            Conjunction of Saturn and Venus with Milky Way observed from Koh Chang, Thailand

At this news Herod became greatly disturbed, as did all of Jerusalem. Summoning all the chief priests and religious scholars of the people, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born.

“In Bethlehem of Judea,” they informed him. “Here is what the prophet has written:

And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
are by no means least among the leaders of Judah;
since from you will come a ruler,
who is to shepherd my people Israel

Herod called the astrologers aside and found out from them the exact time of the star’s appearance. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, after having instructed them, “Go and get detailed information about the child. When you have found him, report back to me—so that I may go and offer homage, too.”

After their audience with the ruler, they set out. The star which they had observed at its rising went ahead of them until it came to a standstill over the place where the child lay. They were overjoyed at seeing the star and, upon entering the house, found the child with Mary, his mother. They prostrated themselves and paid homage. Then they opened their coffers and presented the child with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

They were warned in a dream not to return to Herod, so they went back to their own country by another route.

These are inspired words of the evangelist named Matthew, and the community responds: AMEN!

Homily Starter Jim M

Epiphany Homily Starter – 2 January 2021

Five weeks ago, we began a new church year with the Season of Advent culminating in the Christmas Season with rituals celebrating the Incarnation (God enfleshed), the Holy Family and all families, Epiphany today and ending next week with the Baptism of Jesus.

Within the last twenty-four hours, people the world over celebrated a new calendar year with merry-making and toasts; no doubt, folks have many hopes & dreams, and yes, maybe a resolution or two for this year.

I believe January 1 is also a significant date for this faith community. The RC Church has set this day aside to honor Mary, the Mother of Jesus since the II Vatican Council updated the liturgical calendar. The honorific title of “Mother of God” was bestowed on Mary. She is also known as Queen of Peace.

In the secular world, January 1 has been designated as “World Day of Peace.” Russ Banner is the impetus for us to voluntarily take a vow of nonviolence composed by Pax Christi members, and so Peg and I have incorporated this as our prayer after communion.

Our readings today from Isaiah and Matthew are rich with symbolism of light and inclusivity. God’s story is incomplete without our story, and each of our stories is part of the God story! The great mystic and Dominican preacher Meister Eckhart said it this way: “Anyone who truly knows creatures may be excused from listening to sermons, for every creature is full of God, and is a book.” Do you and I find ourselves in the Word just proclaimed?

We must remember that the Gospel writer, named Matthew, was writing to/for a Jewish audience. These people knew they were a chosen people and had a unique covenant relationship with God. In Luke’s Christmas story, we learn that shepherds, the lowest and most marginalized folks of the day, are the first visitors on the scene to witness the event.

Today’s story has wise ones from a foreign country, perhaps astrologers (certainly pagans by Jewish standards) following a star, finding the child, paying homage and offering gifts. So what is the message for us today?

It’s true that an epiphany is a manifestation, a revelation or sudden realization of something. Many would describe it as an “aha, I got it” moment; it’s an awareness or an awakening! So let’s put ourselves into this story. Do we identify with the Magi or Herod, or both?

The Magi are star-gazers and dreamers, risk-takers who embark upon a journey, not knowing where it will lead but trusting and hoping to experience something good. On the other hand, we have Herod who feels threatened by these visitors who announce a “newborn ruler” and seek directions, so they may pay homage to this child.

Our first reading is full of hope and promise. The prophet is speaking to the Jews who have returned from years of exile: “Arise, shine, your light has come … God’s glory will be seen among you… everyone will come, singing God’s praises.”

And here we are, progressive Christians, at the beginning of a new calendar year with hope and dreams as we await the Presidential Inauguration, our inoculation with the new vaccines to counter COVID, and a “return to normal” living. But let us also remember from the story that the Magi did return home, but it was by way of a different and new route.

Perhaps, we should take away from today’s feast of epiphany the awareness or awakening that we are the manifestation of divine life and presence in our world. While most profoundly revealed in Jesus, it is not limited to him. The Holy One’s reach and embrace is always much bigger than we can imagine or even understand. Each of us is and can be an epiphany. The light, the spirit, grace, whatever you wish to call it, is the divine treasure we each carry.

Epiphany is not a ‘once in a lifetime event.’ Every day, in very ordinary ways, you and I have the opportunity to offer our gifts to a world seeking good news. Pope Francis urges us to “forgive more, embrace more, love more intensely and leave the rest in God’s hands.” The prophet in our first reading tells us that if we do this, “God’s glory will be seen, everyone will come, and all will praise God.” May you and I be open to the next epiphany in our journey—the sacred revealed in the ordinary! 

So, what are your thoughts and reflections? Please unmute and remember to re-mute after sharing.


Profession of Faith (prayed by all)

Voice 1: We believe in God who is creator and nurturer of all. 

We believe in Jesus, the Christ, who is our love, our hope, and our light. 

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the breath of Wisdom Sophia, 

who energizes and guides us to build caring communities and to challenge injustices. 

We believe in the communion of saints, our heavenly friends, who support us on life’s journey. 

We believe in the partnership and equality of women and men in our church and world. 

We believe that all are one in the community of creation. 

We believe in God who calls us to live fully, love tenderly, and serve generously. Amen.

Liturgy of Eucharist

Jim: As we prepare for our sacred meal, we bring to our eucharistic tables the 

prayerful intentions of this community.

- For a peaceful transition of our newly elected U.S. leaders, Joe and Kamala in the coming weeks ….  

- For those who exercise leadership roles in all faith traditions ….

- For those who are infected by COVID-19 and their care-givers ….

- For those who are distributing and inoculating the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, as well

  as vaccines still undergoing research and trial ….

- For all those who are unemployed and underemployed, for migrants and refugees ….

- For those who work to promote justice by eradicating sexism, racism, and 

  discrimination of every kind ….

- For an end to the “arms race” and peaceful ways to resolve conflicts among nations…

- And for what else should we pray (unmute to be heard, then please mute again)

O Holy One, you know our needs before we even speak. Yet, we must speak, if only to remind ourselves of our responsibility to care for the least among us. With your grace, may we act justly and love tenderly in addressing the needs of our world, and may we walk humbly on the Earth all the days of our lives. AMEN

Peg: With open hands and grateful hearts, let us pray our Eucharistic Prayer 

(written by Jay Murnane)

O 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.

Voice 2: 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 join 

with your vision of harmony and peace, we sing:

Here in This Place  -

Holy One, may your presence here open our minds

May your Spirit among us help us to find

You are rising up now like a fountain of grace

From the holy ground here in this place, here in this place.

Holy, holy, holy God of love and majesty

The whole universe speaks of your glory

From the holy ground here in this place, here in this place.

Voice 3: Your wisdom invites us to draw on our tradition, as old as the stars, 

shining through Sarah and Abraham, Simeon and Anna, 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.

Jim:  We are grateful for your Spirit in this bread and wine and in us, mindful of our call to be the body of Christ in the world. Filled with your spirit, we, like Jesus, can give birth in our day your living word for the sake of hope, enfleshed in creativity and confrontation, in healing and reconciliation, in justice, universal and 

unconditional love.

Peg: On the night before he faced his own death, Jesus sat at the table 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.

(All lift bread)

When he returned to his place, he took the bread, spoke the grace, 

broke the bread and offered it to the saying:

Take and eat, this is my very self.

(All lift cup)

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.  


Voice 4: O 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.

Voice 5: 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 standing where he stood and for what he stood, we are united 

in your Spirit,  blessing you with our lives. Amen

Jim: Let us pray the prayer Jesus taught us:

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, Amen.    

(Adapted by Miriam Therese Winter)

Peg: What we have heard with our ears, we will live with our lives. 

As we share communion, we become communion, 

both love’s nourishment and love’s challenge. 

We are God’s dream enfleshed. Eat, drink and be nourished!

Light A Candle for Peace - Shelley Murley (Montessori children from around the world)

Light a candle for peace

Light a candle for love

Light a candle that shines all the way around the world

Light a candle for me

Light a candle for you

That our wish for world peace … will one day come true! (2x)

In peace around the world, 

in peace around the world, 

in peace around the world, 

in peace around the world.

Light a candle for peace

Light a candle for love

Light a candle that shines all the way around the world

Light a candle for me

Light a candle for you

That our wish for world peace will one day come true!

Prayer after Communion VOW OF NONVIOLENCE  (Russ Banner)

All: Recognizing the violence in my own heart, yet trusting in the goodness and mercy of God, I vow for one year to practice the nonviolence of Jesus who taught us in the Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the daughters and sons of God…You have learned how it was said, ‘You must love your neighbor and hate your enemy,’ but I say to you, ‘Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you. In this way, you will be daughters and sons of your Creator in heaven.

Before God the Creator and the Sanctifying Spirit, I vow to carry out in my life the love and example of Jesus, 

by striving for peace within myself and seeking to be a peacemaker in my daily life; 

by accepting suffering rather than inflicting it; 

by refusing to retaliate in the face of provocation and violence; 

by persevering in nonviolence of tongue and heart; 

by living conscientiously and simply so that I do not deprive others of the means to live; 

by actively resisting evil and working nonviolently to abolish war and the causes of war from my own heart and from the face of the earth.

God, I trust in Your sustaining love and believe that just as You gave me the grace and desire to offer this, so You will also bestow abundant grace to fulfill it.


Communal Blessing   (Prayed by all extending hands)

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

May we call each other to extravagant generosity!  

Go forth with the power of Sophia Wisdom to heal and transform our church and world! AMEN.

Closing Song Ancient Wisdom, Mother Earth  - Jann Aldredge-Clanton

Ancient Wisdom, Mother of earth, bringing all creation to birth,

with Her power, we will flower, feeling our sacred worth.

Refrain: O now return to Her for peace;

hope and justice will increase. 

Re-creating, liberating, She will all our dreams release.

Black Madonna, Mother of all, loving us whatever befalls,

always guiding and abiding, within our hearts She calls.  Ref

Guadalupe, Lady and Queen, from Her holy treasures we glean;

She is healing and revealing more than we've ever seen.  Ref

Christ-Sophia, Mystery of Old, in our souls Her blessings unfold,

Love abiding, always guiding into a future bold.  Ref


Star of Bethlehem by Waldemar Flaig

Announcement: Upcoming Adult Education Opportunity

An informal, discussion-based adult learning experience is being offered for faith community members who are interested in learning how liturgical prayers are formulated for Eucharistic ritual.  We will have a short introduction to the history of the liturgy, will discuss the RCC liturgical structure, and explore and imagine how liturgical prayers for the 21st century Catholic Christian can be written and prayed. Through course materials and group discovery, each participant will create a digital file or binder for their future use in planning liturgies.

This Liturgical Planning Mini Course will meet every Tuesday at 6 pm., EST, from January 5, 2021 through February 9, 2021 via Zoom technology.  Each session will be approx. 1 hour.  Reading material will be forwarded to those interested in participating.

All interested can register with Mary Eileen Collingwood, ARCWP by January 3, 2021


Cell Phone: 216-408-4657 

If you want to add an intercession to our MMOJ Community Prayer book, please send an email to

If you want to invite someone to attend our liturgy, please refer them our website at      

To support our community, please send your check to:

Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community

St Andrew UCC, 6908 Beneva Rd, Sarasota, Florida 34238