Sunday, August 16, 2020

Upper Room Liturgy of Transformation - August 16, 2020 - Presiders: Kathleen Ryan, ARCWP, Ann Bayly and Jean Talbot

Welcome everyone, to our Sunday morning zoom liturgy. Our theme today is teasing out what St. Francis said: Preach the Gospel and sometimes use words;” or maybe what Mother Teresa taught us “do small things with great love.”  Either way our actions often speak with more love than our words.

Presider 1: Opening Prayer:  Abba God-----Allow us to keep asking you for your help in the path to "saving our world from destruction, fighting this pandemic, and in stamping out racism and injustices we see every day.   Remind us not to think that we are "bothering" God when we ask.  Jesus promised us that anything we ask you, in his name, would be granted.  Let us be "bold" like the Gentile woman in this Gospel.  Let our voices become loud and persistent.    Amen

Opening Song: Namaste


A reading from A Parable, The Woman and the Homeless Man

For a long time, she has been attending to the persons on corners who are asking for handouts. She often has small bags ready to give each one with $5, socks and a granola bar. This has been one of her ministries since I have known her.
Last week she was getting ready to leave for work and she and her husband had a “spat” about a missing document that was sorely needed. The woman left for work upset with herself, for not being able to find it, and doing what we all often do when we are upset, berating ourselves for “messing up.”

As she was getting off her exit for work she saw him. The man standing with his sign, “homeless and hungry”. As always, she stopped, gave him $5, asked his name, “Damien” he said. The woman asked Damien to pray for her.

Damien asked her “what was goin’ on?” Damien made the woman feel like whatever her problems were at that moment were worthy of him forgetting his and focusing on her.  Damien’s concern touched her heart. The woman told him she needed some prayers that morning and she knew he was beloved by God.

Damien walked over to the car, laid his hands on the hood and prayed, “Dear Heavenly Father, I ask you to look out over this woman. Please bless her and comfort her. Bless and comfort those who care for her. Help her with what worries her…”    The woman drove away teary eyed, blessed, refreshed, and remembered she too is loved and worthy of that love.       (adapted with permission by KR)

These are the inspired words of a woman disciple, beloved of the Holy One.
The community affirms these words with AMEN


A Reading from the Gospel of Matthew
At that time, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.
And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out,
“Heir to the House of David, have pity on me!
My daughter is horribly demon-possessed.”
Jesus did not say a word in answer to her.
Jesus’ disciples came and asked him,
“Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.”
Jesus turned to the woman and said,
“My mission is only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel.”
But the woman prostrated herself saying, “Help me Rabbi.”
He said in reply,
“It is not right to take the food of the children
and throw it to the dogs.”
“True Rabbi” she replied, “but even the dogs get to eat the scraps
that fall from the table.”
Then Jesus said to her in reply,
“Woman, you have great faith!
Your wish will come to pass.”
At that very moment her daughter was healed.
A reading from Matthew, a disciple of Jesus.
The community affirms these words with AMEN
We just heard the gospel and the surprising, no, shocking way Jesus spoke to this Canaanite woman. Ann found a commentary suggesting Jesus may have been evolving in his understanding of his mission. Mary Theresa said something very similar to me when we were talking about this gospel passage.  The idea of Jesus evolving and “growing in wisdom” is comforting. After all, we have said many times, here in our community, anything Jesus does we can do.  But still this harshness from Jesus is disquieting.
The Jesus Seminar theologians concluded that Jesus did not say these words but the words were put in his mouth by followers of Peter to reinforce their theory that Jesus came specifically for the Jewish nation.
There is much here to reflect on, but for a moment let’s put aside what Jesus allegedly said, or not, and look at his actions.   
This gospel passage starts with Jesus heading to Tyre and Sidon. Tyre and Sidon are 40 miles north of the Sea of Galilee and 120 miles from Jerusalem. Why would Jesus schlepp 40 miles in the opposite direction of his now known destination of Jerusalem?  Tyre and Sidon were Roman Seaports, filled with Gentiles, and pagan temples.  There must have been something, someone, some good reason to walk an extra 40 miles.  Perhaps Jesus heard an inner call to go to Tyre. We can only guess.   Has that ever happened to you? You go somewhere, maybe not really wanting to go, you go anyway and you meet someone, help someone, and in the end, you are the better for it.
Let’s look at the Canaanite woman for a minute. She is a pagan, an outsider, and the disciples see her as a nuisance. This unnamed woman’s actions tell us so much more about her. At that time women certainly did not speak to men in this manner. She approached Jesus out of desperation-her daughter- “please heal my daughter.” This woman was strong and bold, she dared to risk herself for the sake of her daughter. She held Jesus’ feet to the fire, she did not let him get away with the “party line.”  She cajoled, argued, debated with Jesus. Maybe best of all, she challenged Jesus to not just speak words of love but to act in love.  Jesus was better for the meeting with this woman. He grew that day. Do we too have the courage to be a nuisance in order to heal those in need?
This brings us back to the first reading, a simple everyday story. The interchange between the homeless man and the woman changed them both. We know the woman grew that day because she told us her story.  Will any one of us see a homeless person again and not remember this story?  I believe her sharing changed me, perhaps this story changed all of us.  Can we grow in humility and wisdom enough to see that even as we strive to serve, we must also be willing to be served by “the least among us?” 
Shared Reflections

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.


Presider 2:  As we prepare for the sacred meal, we bring to the table our prayers and intentions: (Ann read the intentions.)                
 We pray for these and all unspoken intentions. Amen. 

Presider 3: With open hearts and hands let us pray our Eucharistic prayer in one voice:

O Great Love, thank you for living and loving in us and through us as we set our hearts on belonging to you. May all that we do flow from our deep connection with you and all creation.

You know our limitations and our essential goodness and you love us as we are. You beckon us to your compassionate heart and inspire us to see the good in others and forgive their limitations. Acknowledging your presence in each other and in all of creation, we sing:

Song:   Alleluia, Sing!

Presider 3: Guiding Spirit, when opposing forces in us tug and pull and we are caught in the tension of choices, inspire us to make wise decisions toward what is good.

We thank you for our brother, Jesus, and for all our sisters and brothers who have modeled for us a way to live and love in challenging times. Inspired by them, we choose life over death, we choose to be light in dark times.

Presider 1: Please extend your hands in blessing.

We are ever aware of your Spirit in us and among us at this Eucharistic table and we are grateful for this bread and wine which reminds us of our call to be the body of Christ in the world.

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. 

Community lifts their plates

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.

 (pause) Community consumes the bread  

Community lifts the cup

Presider 2: 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.
(pause) Community drinks from the cup

We share this bread and cup to proclaim and live the gospel of justice and peace.

Presider 3: Holy One, your transforming energy is within us and we join our hearts with all who are working for a just world.  We pray for wise leaders in our religious communities. We pray for courageous and compassionate leaders in our world communities. 

We pray for all of us gathered here and like Jesus, we open ourselves up to your Spirit, for it is through living as he lived that we awaken to your Spirit within,
moving us to glorify you, at this time and all ways. Amen

Presider 1: Let us pray as Jesus taught us: 

Holy One, you are 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 

Communion Song:  Prayer of St. Francis

Loving source of our being, you call us to live the gospel of peace and justice. We choose to live justly, love tenderly, and walk with integrity in your presence.

Presider 2: Please extend your hands in our final blessing.

May the Fire of Love ignite our hearts and radiate through us.
May the Spirit truth and justice burn within us.
May we continue to be the face of the Holy One, and
May we be a blessing in our time.

Closing Song: Go Make a Difference

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