Sunday, May 3, 2020

Upper Room Liturgy Inclusive Catholic Community: Fourth Sunday of Easter - Presiders: Julie Corron, ARCWP, and Denise Hacket-Stoner, ARCWP

Fourth Sunday in Easter, May 3, 2020
Opening Song:

Come Be Beside Us, Jan Phillips

Come be beside us.
Come be around us.
Come be within us.
Come be among us.


First Reading: Gate A-4 by Naomi Shihab Nye

Wandering around the Albuquerque Airport Terminal, after learning my flight had been delayed four hours, I heard an announcement: “If anyone in the vicinity of Gate A-4 understands any Arabic, please come to the gate immediately.” Well – one pauses these days. Gate A-4 was my own gate. I went there.

An older woman in full traditional Palestinian embroidered dress, just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing. “Help,” said the flight agent. “Talk to her. What is her problem? We told her the flight was going to be late and she did this.”

I stooped to put my arm around the woman and spoke haltingly. “Shu-dow-a, Shu-bid-uck Habitbti? Stani schway, Min fadlick, Shu-bit-se-wee?” The minute she heard any words she knew, however poorly used, she stopped crying. She thought the flight had been cancelled entirely. She needed to be in El Paso for major medical treatment the next day. I said, “No, we’re fine, you’ll get there, just later, who is picking you up? Let’s call him.”

We called her son, I spoke with him in English. I told him I would stay with his mother till we got on the plane and ride next to her. She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just for the fun of it. Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while in Arabic and found out of course they had ten shared friends. Then I thought just for the heck of it why not call some Palestinian poets I know and let them chat with her? This all took up two hours.

She was laughing a lot by then. Telling of her life, patting my knee, answering questions. She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool cookies – little powdered sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and nuts – from her bag – and was offering them to all the women at the gate. To my amazement, not a single woman declined one. It was like a sacrament. The traveler from Argentina, the mom from California, the lovely woman from Laredo – we were all covered with the same powdered sugar. And smiling. There is no better cookie.

And then the airline broke out free apple juice from huge coolers and two little girls from our flight ran around serving it and they were covered with powdered sugar, too. And I noticed my new best friend –by now we were holding hands – had a potted plant poking out of her bag, some medicinal thing, with green furry leaves. Such an old country tradition. Always carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.

And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and I thought, This is the world I want to live in. The shared world. Not a single person in that gate – once the crying of confusion stopped – seemed apprehensive about any other person. They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those other women, too.

This can still happen anywhere. Not everything is lost.

These are words of hope by Naomi Shihab Nye. Let us affirm that hope by saying AMEN.

Gospel: (John 10: 1-10)
“The truth of the matter is,
whoever doesn’t enter the sheepfold
through the gate
but climbs in some other way
is a thief and a robber.
The one who enters through the gate
is the shepherd of the sheep,
the one for whom the keeper opens the gate.
The sheep know the shepherd’s voice;
the shepherd calls them by name
and leads them out.

Having led them all out of the fold,
the shepherd walks in front of them
and they follow
because they recognize the shepherd’s voice.

They simply won’t follow strangers –
they’ll flee from them
because they don’t recognize the voice of strangers.”

Even though Jesus used this metaphor with them, they didn’t grasp what he was trying to tell them. He therefore said to them again:

“The truth of the matter is,
I am the sheep gate.
All who came before me
were thieves and marauders
whom the sheep didn’t heed.

I am the gate.
Whoever enters through me will be safe –
you’ll go in and out and find pasture.

The thief comes only to steal
and slaughter and destroy.
I came that you might have life
and have it to the full.”

These are the inspired words of the anonymous storyteller we call John and the community affirms them by saying AMEN.

(Silent Meditation)

Homily Starter: Denise Hackert-Stoner, ARCWP
Today is Good Shepherd Sunday. The name evokes images of a dewy-eyed Jesus with a lamb stretched across his shoulders, shepherd’s crook in hand. And later in this chapter from John’s gospel Jesus does identify himself as the shepherd. But not in the part of the story we hear today. In today’s gospel Jesus clearly identifies himself (twice!) as the gate through which the shepherd enters. He is the way by which the shepherd safely leads the sheep to pasture and then back to the fold for the night; the door inviting both shepherd and sheep to abundant life.
The explanation that Jesus gives to the metaphor begs the question: if Jesus is the gate, then who is the shepherd? Who is this trusted person for whom the gate keeper swings wide the gate in welcome? Whom the sheep follow happily, recognizing a familiar voice as they are led through the gate of love and justice to live a full life?
So I ask you today, have you been shepherded? Who has shepherded you? For whom have you been shepherd?

Shared Reflections

Closing Reflection (Julie)

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. 

Julie:  At this time let us bring to mind our intentions, blessings and concerns. Dennis will read the intentions received from the community. (Dennis reads the intentions.)

Julie: Let us silently add any additional intentions. (pause) We offer these prayers from our hearts. Amen.  

Denise: Please join in praying the Eucharistic prayer together:

ALL: O Holy One, you have birthed us in goodness, gifted us with life and cherished us in love. In the heart of our being, your Spirit dwells; a Spirit of courage and vision, a Spirit of wisdom and truth.
In the power of that same Spirit, we lift our hearts in prayer, invoking anew the gift of wisdom and enlightenment, that we may continue to praise and thank you, in union with all who sing the ancient hymn of praise: 
Holy, Holy, Holy (Karen Drucker)

We are Holy, Holy, Holy…3x (Karen Drucker)
We are whole. 

Spirit divine, Come to me 
Feeling love, Healing me. 
Open my heart, Allow me to see, 
Beauty & love, Lives in me. 

You are Holy, Holy, Holy… 

ALL: Holy One, we see around us the work of your hands, the fruit of your wisdom and love. The unfolding story of creation witnesses unceasingly to your creative power. We, your creatures, often deviate from that wisdom, thus hindering your creative presence in our midst.

Sending among us Jesus, our brother, you birth afresh in our world the power of Sophia-Wisdom, and in the gift of Your Spirit, your creative goodness blooms anew, amid the variety and wonder of life.
Denise: 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 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.  

(All lift bread at their own table.)

All: 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.

All eat the Bread of Life.

(All lift cup at their own table.)

All: 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. 

All drink the Cup of blessing.

All: In union with all peoples living and dead, we unite our thoughts and prayers, asking wisdom and courage:
·      To discern more wisely your call to us in the circumstances of our daily lives
·      To act justly and courageously in confronting the pain and suffering that desecrates the Earth and its peoples
·      To take risks in being creative and proactive on behalf of the poor and marginalized
·      And to love all people with generosity of heart, beyond the labels of race, creed and color.

All: And may we ever be aware and alert to the new things your Spirit makes possible in us, as our world unfolds amid pain and beauty, into the fullness of life to which all are called, participation in the wise and wonderful work of co-creation.

All: Like Jesus, we will open up wide all that has been closed about us, and we will live compassionate lives, for it is through living as Jesus lived that we awaken to your Spirit within, moving us to glorify you, O Holy one, at this time and all ways. Amen.

Julie: Let us pray together the prayer of Jesus:

ALL:  O Holy One, who is within, 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.  
The Prayer of Jesus as interpreted by Miriam Therese Winter 

Julie: Please listen to our Communion Meditation, John Michael Talbot’s “I Am the Good Shepherd (Psalm 23).”

Denise: Please raise your hands in blessing.
All: May we be blessed as we pass through the gate which is Christ,
May we be blessed as we live out our lives in Christ,
May we be blessed and bless one another with the abundant life of Christ.

Closing Song: Anthem, Tom Conry

We are called, we are chosen,
We are Christ for one another,
We are promised to tomorrow,
While we are for him today.
We are sign, we are wonder,
We are sower, we are seed,
We are harvest, we are hunger.
We are question, we are creed.


Then where can we stand justified?
In what can we believe?
In no one else but Christ who suffered,
Nothing more than Christ who rose.
Who was justice for the poor,
Who was rage against the night,
Who was hope for peaceful people,
Who was light.


Then how are we to stand at all,
This world of bended knee?
In nothing more than barren shadows,
No one else but Christ could save us
Who was justice for the poor,
Who was rage against the night?
Who was hope for peaceful people,
Who was light.


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