Sunday, September 20, 2020

Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community - Liturgy for Season of Creation - Week 3 - Wilderness - Presiders: Denise Hackert-Stoner and Gayle Eagan

Please join us between 9:30 and 9:55 am via Zoom 

Here is the Zoom link:


Should you not be able to connect via ZOOM, here is the phone-in information (audio only).

Phone Number: (646) 558-8656

Meeting ID: 825 1215 9155

Welcome:  Denise 

Gayle and I extend a warm welcome to all as we celebrate the third Sunday in the Season of Creation.  We approach this liturgy with a spirit of Awe and amazement as we consider the mystery, beauty and wonder of wild places.

Opening Prayer:  Gayle:  

Wondrous Creator, You who are the light that bursts through our readings this morning, first to a puzzled Moses in the burning bush, and then the light that envelops Jesus, Moses and Elijah, much to the bewilderment of Peter, James and John, transform us with the light that illuminates nature in the rising and setting of the sun every 24 hours of our lives.  Let the brilliance and unique quality of each sunrise and sunset, Your gift to all creation that keeps on giving, draw us into the daily rhythm of Your love and light within our souls and remind us to cherish the beauty that surrounds all You have created on this planet Earth and to fully comprehend that every being on this earth shares the rising of the sun and the setting of the sun with us every day.  May the reality of sharing Your light bring us to embrace our brothers and sisters and all creation in peace and justice.  Amen  

Opening Song:  May the Longtime Sun, Sara Thomsen



First Reading (Bridget):  Exodus 3: 1-5 (Inclusive Bible)

Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian.  Leading the flock deep into the wilderness, Moses came to Horeb, the mountain of God.

The messenger of YHWH appeared to Moses in a blazing fire from the midst of a thornbush.  Moses saw – “The bush is ablaze with fire, and yet it isn’t consumed!”  Moses said, “Let me go over and look at this remarkable sight  - and see why the bush doesn’t burn up!”

When YHWH saw Moses coming to look more closely, God called out to him from the midst of the bush:  “Moses!  Moses!”  

Moses answered, “I am here.”

God said, “Come no closer!  Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground!”

These inspired words were written by one of our ancestors in faith.  And the community responds by acclaiming, “AMEN.”

Second Reading (Ginny):  

The Peace of Wild Things, by Wallace Berry

When despair for the world grows in me

and I wake in the night at the least sound

in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,

I go and lie down where the wood drake

rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.

I come into the peace of wild things

who do not tax their lives with forethought

of grief. I come into the presence of still water.

And I feel above me the day-blind stars

waiting with their light. For a time

I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.  

These are the inspired words of Wallace Berry, and the community responds by acclaiming, “AMEN.

Alleluia: (Deb)

Gospel (Sandi): Luke 9:38-36 (NIV)

Jesus took Peter, John and James up onto a mountain to pray.  As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.  Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus.  They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem.  Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him.  As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what he was saying.)

 While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and covered them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud.  A voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.”  When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone. The disciples kept this to themselves and did not tell anyone at that time what they had seen.

Homily starter: Denise

“Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.” 


We stand on holy ground wherever we are in this world.  As the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote, “The world is charged with the grandeur of God.”  The land we walk upon and all that dwells upon it is sacred.  Holy.  From and of God.

A century ago there were vast stretches of wilderness everywhere on earth.  Today, only twenty-three percent of earth’s land (excluding Antarctica) and only thirteen percent of ocean remains untouched by human influence. Yes, over three-quarters of the earth’s landmass has been co-opted for use by one species.  And almost ninety percent of its oceans!  

There are still wild places left though.  Some have been tamed with trails and restrooms, picnic areas and boat launches, so they are not technically wilderness.  But these places are gateways to nature, where we can witness a sunrise or sunset without any buildings in the foreground, meander through woodlots and meadows, meet wildlife of all sorts.  Some of these precious places are committed to dark skies and are far enough away from towns so that we can stand in awe under the dome of the night sky.  These places are precious.  The people and organizations protecting them are precious.  

Some years ago I was bemoaning to a friend my feared loss of another untouched wilderness area to arctic drilling. My friend, a long-time environmental educator and former national park ranger spoke simply to my worries when he responded, “If you want to save the earth take a child into nature.”  I believed him then, and over the years I have come to embrace his advice more and more.  Because we won’t save what we don’t love.  And we can’t love something we haven’t experienced.  And how else can we know the beauty of a butterfly’s egg or recognize the close buzz of a hummingbird unless someone takes us out to see and hear?  How can tomorrow’s caretakers of the remnant of wilderness left to them know to care for it unless they have seen and experienced it?  

In the marvelous story from Exodus Moses notices something.  He stops what he has been doing.  He looks.  He sees.  And what he sees is the Divine.  In a bush in the wilderness.  In the story of the transfiguration, Jesus does what he often does when he feels called to prayer:  he seeks out a wild place.  And Peter suggests doing what so many have done to the wilderness ever since:  Build on it!  And development has led to Wallace Berry’s “despair for the world.”  But let’s not despair.  Let’s go outside.   If we can, let’s take a child with us.  Let’s stop.  Let’s notice.  Let’s trust that even in the blinding light of day the stars await.  Let’s seek out the presence of still water.  Let’s see the Divine.  In whatever wonder we happen to meet out there.

We hope to hear your thoughts about today’s readings or your ideas about how they relate to the wilderness.  We’d like to hear about your favorite places to meet nature, your experiences with children in nature, or any way nature or wilderness areas have influenced your spiritual life.  Your thoughts are important to us, and we look forward to hearing them!

Shared Homily 

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences.  The wisdom of this community so enhances our shared liturgy.

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.


Gayle: As we prepare for the sacred meal, remember that just as Jesus is anointed so is each of us.  And, we bring to this table our blessings, cares, and concerns.  (Intentions are read)

Gayle: We invite you to silently add your own intentions (Pause……..)

For these and all unspoken intentions, we pray.  Amen.

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

O Holy One, maker of wild places, you are always with us.  You call us into the vastness of creation to be one with all of it.  From the tallest tree, to the wildest ocean, to the tiniest flower that blooms for only a day, you have blessed all of it with your goodness and your love.  May we joyfully accept the blessing of life that comes only from you as we participate in the wise and wonderful work of co-creation to which you call us.  

Your Spirit moves among us and all of creation, calling into being the waters, earth and sky, and everything that dwells within them.  We are creators because we are born of your Spirit.  When we are wise it is because your Spirit directs us in Wisdom.  Gathered today in that Spirit we offer thanks and praise as we sing:

Here in this Place


As a community, we gather in the power of your Spirit, refreshing wind, purifying fire and flowing water, for the variety and diversity of Creation. We seek to live as Jesus taught us, wise and holy as Spirit-filled people, courageous and prophetic, ever obedient to your call.

Please extend your hands in blessing.

As we recognize your Spirit here at this Eucharistic table we see in them your gifts of wisdom, light and truth which remind us of our call to be the body of Christ to the world.

On the night before he faced his own death, Jesus sat at the Seder 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. When he returned to his place, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and offered it to them saying:

(All lift their plate as the community prays the following): 

Take this bread and eat it;

This is my very self.

 (consume bread and pause)

All lift their cup as community prays the following: 

Gayle: Jesus then raised a cup of blessing, spoke the grace and offered the wine 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.

(drink and pause) 


In union with saints known and unknown, and with all the creatures in every place on earth, we unite our thoughts and prayers, asking wisdom to discern more wisely your call to us in the circumstances of our daily lives. 

We seek to act justly and courageously in confronting the suffering that desecrates the Earth and its peoples; to take risks in being proactive on behalf of the marginalized who suffer the environmental injustices of fouled air, tainted water, and a poverty of parks and public spaces that bring people together to enjoy nature. We pray for inspiration to act with the harmony and unity and synthesis that is modeled for us by the trees of the forest, and the stars of the evening.

Holy One, your transforming energy is always moving within us and working through us. 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.


Denise:  Let us pray as Jesus taught us with an eye toward this Season of Creation:

Generous Creator, the intricate and elegant biodiversity of our world is your hallowed autograph on our lives, on our souls and in our hearts. 

We yearn for the wholeness of being in harmony with Your will and with all living things. 

Each day we draw on your creative, life-giving energy with gratitude and awe as we find nourishment in, seed and field, river and forest. 

May we be stewards and co-creators with you in caring for the gifts of Your Creation.  

We acknowledge our shortcomings, especially our neglect of the environment on this Creation Sunday. We seek to be reconciled with those we have hurt and we resolve to do better.  

With your unfailing wisdom and the wind of Your Spirit, inspire us that we may reach out and love one another and care for the world, our home.

Strengthen us to work for local and global justice so that we may one day reap a harvest of equality and fairness as if they were wildflowers, propagating spontaneously, unerringly and in surprising abundance. Amen.

Gayle: We are called to live the Gospel of Creation in harmony and gratitude with all our sisters and brothers across the Earth. We will live justly, love tenderly and walk with integrity in Your Presence.

Denise: Let us pray together our closing blessing:

Creator of all that is, we celebrate your glory in every sunny day, every drop of rain, every green and growing thing.  May we recognize your wisdom in all of these your creatures, and treat each one with love and respect.  Let us embrace our brothers and sisters near and far in our shared commitment to sustain this precious earth which you have left in our care.


Closing Song: 

Deep Peace, Sara Thomsen

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