Monday, January 6, 2020

Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community - Liturgy for Epiphany - Presiders: Kim Panaro, ARCWP, and Kathleen Ryan, ARCWP

Feast of the Epiphany and Blessing of Miracle Margaret Joyner

Welcome and Theme
Opening Prayer
We begin our ceremony with a prayer to the Source of all Life.

O Holy One, you continually remind us that you love your creation by sending us brand new possibilities in the form of daughters and sons.  May Miracle grow in her understanding of your infinite love as she learns the meaning of faith through service. May she come to appreciate her possibilities as co-creator of her life in You. Amen.

Opening Song: How Could Anyone by Libby Roderick

How could anyone ever tell you
You were anything less than beautiful
How could anyone ever tell you
You were less than whole
How could anyone fail to notice
That your loving is a miracle
How deeply you’re connected to my soul

Anointing of Miracle
Kim: This blessing begins with a statement of intent on the part of Kyra Burke and the godparents Britt Pollatolo and Tyler Burke. Miracle is too young to speak for herself so her mom and godparents will speak on her behalf. I invite Kyra and Miracle to stand with Britt and Tyler. Kyra what do you ask of this community?

Kyra: I ask that this community celebrate and bless my daughter Miracle.

Kim: Kyra this community welcomes the opportunity to bless Miracle. We also want to acknowledge and bless you as her mother. Just as you gave birth to her that same birth created you as a mother. Will you also accept the blessing of this community?

Kyra: Yes I will.

Kim: Kyra you are teaching Miracle to live justly, to love tenderly and to walk with integrity for all to see and celebrate. You are teaching her about our brother Jesus and his message of love. You also are teaching her the truth and beauty found in all spiritual traditions. Will you continue to do this to the best of your ability?

Kyra: Yes I will.

Kim: (to the godparents) Britt and Tyler do you promise to help Kyra to teach Miracle about the source of all life and about Jesus our brother and about the spirit of the Holy One within her?

Britt and Tyler: We do.

Kim: At the dawn of creation God breathed on the waters making them the wellspring of all holiness. From age to age oil has been used to anoint priests, prophets, leaders and visionaries.

Kim: (to all present) Please extend your hands in blessing the water and the oil. The Holy One calls us to be co-creators of a world filled with miracles. As co-creators with you we bless this water and oil as symbols of your grace-filled presence in this community.

Kim: (presiders and godparents anoint Miracle and Kyra; Kyra anoints Miracle) Kyra and Miracle you were created in love and welcomed to life with love. We anoint you with this oil in recognition that human love is sacred, that you are sacred.

Kim: I invite you, family and friends to extend your hands and take this moment to anoint Miracle and Kyra with a silent blessing.

First Reading: Isaiah 60:1-6

Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem!  Your light has come,
the glory of the Lord shines upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth,
and thick clouds cover the peoples;
but upon you the LORD shines,
and over you appears his glory.
Nations shall walk by your light,
and kings by your shining radiance.
Raise your eyes and look about;
they all gather and come to you:
your sons come from afar,
and your daughters in the arms of their nurses.

Then you shall be radiant at what you see,
your heart shall throb and overflow,
for the riches of the sea shall be emptied out before you,
the wealth of nations shall be brought to you.
Caravans of camels shall fill you,
dromedaries from Midian and Ephah;
all from Sheba shall come
bearing gold and frankincense,
and proclaiming the praises of the LORD.
This is a reading from the prophet Isaiah and the community affirms these words by saying: Amen


Gospel Reading

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea,
in the days of King Herod,
behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying,
“Where is the newborn king of the Jews?
We saw his star at its rising
and have come to do him homage.”
When King Herod heard this,
he was greatly troubled,
and all Jerusalem with him.
Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people,
He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea,
for thus it has been written through the prophet:
And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
since from you shall come a ruler,
who is to shepherd my people Israel.”
Then Herod called the magi secretly
and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance.
He sent them to Bethlehem and said,
“Go and search diligently for the child.
When you have found him, bring me word,
that I too may go and do him homage.”
After their audience with the king they set out.
And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them,
until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.
They were overjoyed at seeing the star,
and on entering the house
they saw the child with Mary his mother.
They prostrated themselves and did him homage.
Then they opened their treasures
and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod,
they departed for their country by another way.

These are the inspired words from the authors known as Matthew and the community affirms these words by saying: Amen

Community pauses for silent reflection on the readings

Homily: Feast of the Epiphany 2020
Kim Panaro ARCWP

Today is the Feast of the Epiphany. The story of the 3 Wise Men, 3 Kings or Magi from the East is a familiar tale. It is the stuff that holiday songs and nativity scenes are made of.  Most certainly not an actual historic event, what can we see through the eyes of 21 century faith.  Why would the writer we call Matthew have crafted a story about Jesus’ encounter with men from differing cultures and religious traditions?

There is much academic debate on who the Magi were. Scholars believe that they would most likely have been wealthy astrologers from what is now the region of Iraq and Iran.  The Magi practiced a combination of modern astronomy and astrology. They knew about ancient Hebrew prophecy but they were Gentiles that represented a variety of ethnic and racial groups.  Their religious tradition was likely Zoroastrianism. They believed in the discernment of truth through studying the movement of the stars and the interpretation of dreams. The Jewish leaders did not approve of these practices because it took God’s intention and plans out of the equation in favor of the presumed randomness of natural events. The Magi often consulted with Roman authorities and so the consultation with Herod is believable. Interestingly, after they encountered Jesus, they still trusted in the truth of their dreams instead of their pact with Herod. Thus, they returned home by a different road. Listening to the still small voice of God in their dreams they made a wise decision. 

Matthew seems to be challenging religious and political agendas.  The Romans and the Jews in this period were all waiting for a strong leader to be born to lead their people to victory in the known world. Well, the Magi’s recognition of Jesus as an embodiment of the Christ challenges the listener to understand that God has introduced a new plan for humankind. The Magi followed their own tradition of reading the stars and interpreting dreams to encounter the child who would be called king, divine and martyr. This is the meaning of the 3 specific gifts. When their homage was over, they did not convert to Judaism. They remained astrologers. They stayed true to their own path to spiritual truth. In doing so, they also protected the vulnerable child Jesus. Herod’s plot to destroy the Christ child was foiled by faithful astrologers.

In our day, we see that same Christ child threatened. The children living in cages on our southern borders, the refugees in Syria, the babies in the Iraq and Iran, the Ukraine, the West Bank and Gaza. It goes on and on.  Yet, like the Magi, we are each called to be Wise Men and Women who discern the call of the Holy one to protect and defend the divine Christ light in every person Matthew demonstrates that race, religion and country of origin are irrelevant in God’s plan for a just and compassionate world. Just as the Magi did not collude with Herod’s plan to hold on to power by spilling innocent blood, we must do the same. We must actively and intentionally seek ways to thwart the efforts of those who would harm these children, young and old, for their own greedy intentions.  Today we bless another embodiment of the Christ light, Miracle Joyner.  She, like Jesus, is a spark of the divine. Our blessing today does not add to that Light. No, it is a recognition that once again, Emmanuel is with us in the form of a human baby.  Just as Jesus had his mother Mary, Miracle has her mother Kyra. She will need her family and community to teach her how to hear her own voice, the voice of the Holy One and to follow her unique call. She, like Matthew, demonstrates to the world that God’s kin-dom is here and now. It is not reserved for any race, religion, country, or gender.  In a troubled world full of Herod’s it is easy to become overwhelmed.  The beauty of community is that none is called to do it all, but all are called to do something.  On this Epiphany Sunday we recognize the divine spark in Jesus, in Miracle, in refugees worldwide and all people.

Receiving of Candles

Kim: Kyra may this candle remind you of Jesus who opened people’s minds and hearts to see the light of God’s presence within them. Miracle may this candle remind you of Jesus who opened people’s minds and hearts to see the light of God’s presence within them.


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.

Presiders stand at table

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

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.

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 gluten-free bread and the alcohol-free juice with the words: “Love shines in you!”

Communion Song /Meditation
Christ Be Our Light
By Bernadette Farrell


Presider 1: Please extend your hands and pray our blessing together.
May you always remember that the Source of All lives as a divine spark within you to inspire, renew and uplift you and all that you meet along your journey. ALL: AMEN

Sofia’s Blessing written by Mary Anne Nolan                                 

Presider 1: As we close this liturgy, Miracle and Kyra will bless us as we have blessed them with the sprinkling of water. Let us affirm Miracle by singing her favorite song to her, You Are My Sunshine by Jimmy Davis

Blessing is based on Baptismal Rite written by Mary Theresa Streck D.Min

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