Friday, December 25, 2020

Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community Liturgy, Feast of the Holy Family December 26,2020, Presiders: Judy Connelly and Elena Garcia ARCWP Music Minister: Linda Lee Miller Lectors: Katy Zatsick ARCWP and Lee Breyer

CNS photo: Mike Crup

Zoom link for video, Dec. 26, 2020 4 PM Eastern Standard Time

Meeting ID: 862 4086 8327

Password: 1066                                                       

Theme: Humanity’s expectations of God as a Super Hero


(Let’s begin with a moment of silence)

Welcome: (Judy) We warmly welcome you to our inclusive Catholic community, Mary Mother of Jesus in Sarasota, Florida. All are welcome here. We invite you to pray the liturgy where it says: All. And please sing your heart out while muted! Everyone will be muted during the service. We ask all our readers to “unmute” for their reading and then “re-mute” again. All are welcome to share as inspired after the homily starter - unmute yourself and remember to re-mute yourself after your sharing. Please have bread and wine or juice with you as we pray our Eucharistic Prayer.

Sing: “Celebrate Sophia’s Birth” composed by Jann Aldrige-Clanton (was “Angels We Have Heard On High”)

Opening Prayer 

Elena and All: O Holy One, the season of Advent culminated yesterday. During that time of waiting we were encouraged to ponder in our hearts the call to Hope, Peace, Reflection and Spiritual growth in wisdom. Yesterday, Prince of Peace, we celebrated with joyful alleluias, the event of your incarnation. Today, as we gather to consider the blessings of Family, we ask you to open our minds and hearts that we may experience a flood of understanding and wisdom regarding the concept and reality of family as Holy. We ask this in Your name, Source of all Being, Eternal Word and Holy Spirit Sophia Wisdom.  So be it! 

Transformation Rite

Judy and All: O Holy One, you call us to life in relationship. Help us to know ourselves that we may be compassionate to others. Forgive the many times we have failed to be forgiving to those nearest to us and grant us the humility to ask pardon.  We ask this through the intercession of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.   So be it.


Judy and All: 

Glory to the Spirit of Life, to the Holy One who surrounds us, who lives within us, whose Sacred Word is shared by us.                                           Glory to the Spirit of Life, who cares for the health workers, postal workers, store clerks, garbage collectors and all those who serve our special needs in numerous ways.

Glory to the Spirit of Life, who offers us peace; peace in our hearts, peace in our thoughts, and peace with one another. 

Glory to the Spirit of Life, who sent Jesus who teaches us how to live the Gospels, who brings hope and healing to all those in need. 

O Holy One, you are one with us.  We are strong in our faith and will live life in hope and faithfulness to you, to be Church, committed to the message of the Gospel’s Sacred Word as shared by us. 

We depend upon the ever-present Spirit, Wisdom Sophia, to walk with us as we journey in the present and rejoice in the life before us.  

Liturgy of the Word   

1st Reading:(Katy)  “Christmas as Shattering The Containers of our Expectations” Ron Releaser 12/21/20

Funny how God invariably shatters the containers of our expectations. We have a notion of how God should act and God ends up acting in a way that shatters all of those expectations and yet fulfills our expectations in a deeper way. That’s certainly true of what happened in Bethlehem at the first Christmas.

For centuries, men and women of faith, aware of their helplessness to rectify everything that’s wrong in life, had been praying for God to come to earth as a Messiah, a Savior, to clean up the earth and right all that’s wrong with it. Exactly how this was to happen was perhaps more of an inchoate longing for justice, a hungry hope, than any kind of clear vision, at least until the great Jewish prophets came along. Eventually prophets like Isaiah began to articulate a vision of what would happen when the Messiah came. In these visions, the Messiah would usher in a “Messianic Age”, a new time, when everything would be made right. There would be prosperity for the poor, healing for the sick, freedom from every type of enslavement, and justice for all (including punishment for the wicked). The poor and the meek would inherit the earth because the long-sought Messiah would simply overpower all evil, drive the wicked off the face of the earth, and make all things right.

And after all those centuries of waiting, of longing, what did we get? What did we get? A helpless, naked baby, unable to feed himself. That wasn’t the way anyone expected this to happen. They had expected a Superhuman, a Superstar, someone whose muscle, intellect, physical stature, invulnerability, and invincibility would simply dwarf all the powers on the planet in a way that there could be no argument, no resistance, no standing against its presence. 

That’s still the way, mostly, we fantasize how God’s power should work in our world. But, as we know from the first Christmas, that’s not normally the way God works. What was revealed in Bethlehem is that normally we meet the presence and power of God in our world as a helpless infant lying in the straw, vulnerable, seemingly powerless, touching us subliminally.

Why? Why doesn’t the all-powerful Creator of the universe flex more muscle? Why is God normally revealed more in the body of an infant than in that of Superstar? Why? Because the power of God works to melt hearts rather than break them, and that’s what vulnerability and helplessness can do. That’s what infants can do. God’s power, at least God’s power to draw us into intimacy with each other, doesn’t normally work through might, muscles, and cool (invulnerability). It works through a lot of things, but it works with a special power through vulnerability and helplessness. Intimacy is predicated on vulnerability. You cannot overpower another person so as to make him or her love you, unless you overpower his or her heart the way an infant does.  We can seduce each other through attractiveness, draw admiration through our talents, and intimidate each other through superior strength, but none of these will ultimately provide the basis for a shared community of life for long … but the powerlessness and innocence of a baby can provide that. 

God’s power, like a baby sleeping in its crib, lies in our world as a quiet invitation, not as a threat or coercion. When Christ took on flesh in our world in Bethlehem two thousand years ago and then died seemingly helpless on a cross in Jerusalem some thirty years later, this is what was revealed: the God who is incarnated in Jesus Christ enters into human suffering rather than stands clear of it, is in solidarity with us rather than standing apart from us, manifests that the route to glory is downward rather than upward, stands with the poor and powerless rather than with the rich and powerful, invites rather than coerces, and is more manifest in a baby than in a superstar.

But that isn’t always easy to grasp, nor accept. We are often frustrated and impatient with God who, as scripture tells, can seem slow to act. Jesus promised that the poor and the meek would inherit the earth and this seems forever belied by what’s actually happening in the world. The rich are getting richer and the poor don’t seem to be inheriting much. What good does a helpless infant do apropos to this? Where do we see messianic power acting?

Well, again the containers of our expectations need to be shattered. What does it mean “to inherit the earth”? To be a superstar? To be rich and famous? To have power over others? To walk into a room and be instantly recognized and admired as being significant and important? Is that the way we “inherit the earth”? Or, do we “inherit the earth” when a coldness is melted in our hearts and we are brought back to our primal goodness by the smile of a baby? 

These are words shared in a reflection by Fr. Ron Rolheiser OMI, and we respond, So Be It


Response: (Lee) Psalm 105  (Nan Merrill-Psalms for Praying)

All: Awaken, listen in silence for the Voice of the Counselor

O give thanks to the Beloved and open your hearts to Love.

Sing praises with a glad heart and give witness to the truth with your lives!

Glory in the radiance of the Beloved, and let the hearts of those who call upon you rejoice!

Awaken, listen in silence for the voice of the Counselor

You are the promise of our wholeness, You await our readiness to choose life,

Your covenant of Love stands firm through all ages; 

You forgive us when we stray far from home.

As we sift through our dreams, guide us to the only Dream that brings peace-

knowing we belong to You.

Awaken, listen in silence for the voice of the Counselor

In You alone is our trust, O Holy One; Walking your Way is the truth that sets us free.

O that we may open our minds and hearts, and welcome you into our home,

That we may live each day conversing with You, O Loving Companion Presence!

Awaken, listen in silence for the voice of the Counselor

Gospel Acclamation: Alleluia

Gospel Reading: (Judy) Luke 2: 22-40

Then when the days stipulated by Moses for purification were complete, they took Jesus up to Jerusalem to offer him to God as commanded in God’s Law: “Every male who opens the womb shall be a holy offering to God” and also to sacrifice the “pair of doves or two young pigeons” prescribed in God’s Law.

In Jerusalem at the time, there was a man, Simeon by name, a good man, who lived in the prayerful expectancy of help for Israel. And the Holy Spirit was on him. The Holy spirit had shown him that he would see the Messiah of God before he died. Led by the Spirit, he entered the Temple. As the parents of the child Jesus brought him in to carry out the rituals of the Law, Simeon took him into his arms and blessed God: 

God, you can now release your servant; release me in peace as you promised. With my own eyes I’ve seen your salvation; It’s now out in the open for everyone to see: A God revealing light to the non-Jewish nations, and of glory for your people Israel. 

Jesus’ father and mother were speechless with surprise at these words. Simon went on to bless them, and said to Mary his mother,

This child marks both the failure and the recovery of many in Israel,

A figure misunderstood and contradicted- 

The pain of a sword-thrust through you-

But the rejection will force honesty,

As God reveals who they really are.

Anna the prophetess was also there, a daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher. She was by now a very old woman. She had been married seven years and a widow for eighty-four.  She never left the Temple area, worshiping night and day with her fastings and prayers. At the very time Simeon was praying, Anna showed up, broke into an anthem of praise to God, and talked about the child to all who were waiting expectantly for the freeing of Jerusalem.

When they finished everything required by God in the Law, they returned to Galilee and their own town, Nazareth. There the child grew in body and wise in spirit. And the grace of God was on Him. 

These are inspired words found in the Gospel of Luke the evangelist. 

And we respond: “So Be It” 

Homily Starter                                                                                                                                            Following the homily please unmute yourself if you wish to share and then re-mute when finished.

Questions to Ponder: 

Why doesn’t the Creator of the universe flex more muscle?

Where and how do you find the Presence of God?

Profession of Faith: (Elena) and All: 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 us 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 in the world. We believe that all are one in the community of creation. We believe that God calls us to live fully, love tenderly, and serve generously. Amen

Prayers of the Community (Lee)

Christ, you came to us from the depths of Mystery, Your vision always drew you forward and so we pray: 

All: May we seek our God in sincerity of heart.

Jesus our brother and companion, teach us how to communicate with gentle understanding and love---be with us each day in our families and communities as we try to grow in loving relationships.

May we seek our God in sincerity of heart.

You were obedient to Mary and Joseph—may we learn to follow you by listening to each other with discerning hearts.

May we seek our God in sincerity of heart.

You showed your love for your parents---let us be creative and generous in responding to those who fostered and nurtured us.

May we seek our God in sincerity of heart.

Be with those families wounded by alienation and pain---enable them to understand differences and support one another in suffering.

May we seek our God in sincerity of heart.

Comfort loved ones who grieve for missing, kidnapped or runaway children---give them strength to keep the light of hope burning in their homes and in their hearts.

May we seek our God in sincerity of heart.

Who of what else shall we lift up in prayer?   (After each petition say)

May we seek our God in Sincerity of heart.

Holy One, we lift up to you these petitions and all those that remain in the silence of our hearts.

Preparation of the Gifts

Elena: Blessed are you, God of Creation, through your goodness we have this bread to offer -this grain of the earth that human hands have prepared for our use. It will become for us the bread of life.

All: Blessed be God forever.

Elena: Blessed are you, God of Creation, through your goodness we have this wine to offer-this fruit of the vine that human hands have prepared for our use. It will become for us our spiritual drink. 

All: Blessed be God forever.

Elena: Let us give thanks to the Creator of all that exists.

All: With hearts full of love we give God thanks.


Jill: In the midst of the end-of-year weariness, as we gather here we declare our intention to live as if the greatest gift in the world were about to be placed into our hands, 

and as if the Giver has understood our deepest needs, our most heartfelt prayers.

Judy: Like Mary, may we be surprised by our calling; like Simeon and Anna, may the years increase our faith; like sleepy shift workers on a hillside, may our eyes be opened;

like Joseph may we listen to our dreams; for this season requires our creative imagination.

Kevin: There is a Presence in our world that asks to be seen, who will stay awake?

There is one coming to our world that seeks a welcome, who will offer hospitality?

Even now Jesus the Christ is moving towards us.

(written by Ann Siddall, posted on the Stillpoint Spirituality Centre and Faith Community)


(Adapted from Bridget Mary Meehan's Eucharistic Prayers)

Maryal and All: Mothering God, you brought forth all creation from your Life-Giving Womb. O Love of the Ages, we praise you and leap for joy in your presence. Holy One of ancient Israel, you revealed yourself in Mary’s womb, in a shining star, in humble shepherds, in a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes. You embrace us with infinite love in every situation and relationship. You dwell in the depths of our hearts. 

Judy:  Holy One we now join with our community, our family and friends everywhere, as well as all holy men and women, to celebrate your divine life within us. In solidarity with Jesus, and with all the faithful men and women who have gone before us, we lift up our hearts and sing:

Holy, Holy, Holy

All: Holy, Holy, Holy, Creator of heaven and earth. All beings are pregnant with your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed are you who dwell in all things. Hosanna in the highest.

Kevin: Praise to you all-giving God, born of Mary. You are the body and blood of woman. We glorify you, nurturing God for the dawning of the sacred promise of God’s Anointed, fulfilled in Jesus, the Christ.

Jill S: We celebrate the birth of Jesus, our newborn Emmanuel, who came to give us the

fullness of life. During this holy season, we share the bread of freedom and lift the cup of salvation. 

(Please raise hands toward bread and wine for the Invocation of the Holy Spirit)

Elena and All: Come Holy Spirit deepen your Presence within us and in these gifts of bread and wine, that they may become the body of Christ.

Elena and All: As Jesus gave birth to the New Covenant, he took the bread and shared it with all who were present saying:  Take this all of you and eat it. This is my body.   

Then Jesus took a cup of blessing, spoke the grace, and offered it to all those who were present

saying: Take this all of you and drink of the covenant, made new again through my life in you. Whenever you remember me like this, I am among you.

Elena: Let us now eat and drink mindful that The Holy One is present in each one of us. Thus we proclaim the sacred presence of our nurturing God. 

Communion Meditation Song:    “I Am the One Within YOU” Jan Phillips sung by Linda Lee

Judy: God of new beginnings, thank you for nourishing us in your sacrament. May your tender presence continue to open our hearts to the daily miracles of life that surround us each day, through Emmanuel, God-with-us.  All: Amen

Maryal and All: Christ, by your life, death and rising, you have blessed us with abundance that will never end. God of all people, you call us “beloved.” Give us courage to accept your faith in us and to live your compassion in the world. You infuse us with Sophia, Holy Wisdom, to serve you in the last and the least. 

Harvey and All:  Sacred Spirit, we remember Mary, the Mother of Humanity, who birthed Jesus into our world. We rejoice that the Universal Christ remains always and ever present within and around us. We remember all those who have transitioned from life on earth to complete union with the Sacred Presence: Mary of Nazareth and all great saints, prophets and martyrs. 

Kirsten and All:  We remember our sister priests, strong extraordinary women: Adele, Judy, Tish, Joan and Michele.  We remember, too, family members and friends.  We remember all those whose lives have been lost to Covid, to war, to racism and all other “isims” that exist in our world.  And we remember those you wish to be remembered…. All are beloved souls who have blessed our lives and who continue to inspire us.

Diane B and All: God of our dreams, may we give birth to the Word Made Flesh in us every day. May we give birth to the church of our dreams and hopes. May we give birth to a deep reverence for earth and live in harmony with all creatures on the earth. Amen

Lee:  Let us pray together the prayer of Jesus                                                                                                

O 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 we need. 

You remind us of our limits, and we let go. 

You support us in your 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, Miriam Therese Winter, MMS) 




Elena: Our God is with you.   All: And also with you.

 (Everyone please extend your hands in mutual blessing)

Judy and All: May our loving God fill us with radiant joy. May our liberating God fill us with deep peace, and may our compassionate God bless us always with strength to serve the broken and excluded. Amen

Judy and Elena: As we leave here in the peace of Christ and the joy of God, let us be mindful of our connection to each other, for as children of God we are family.  May we strive to be the joyful and compassionate people that God created us to be. And let our service continue!

All: Thanks be to God. Let it be so!

Closing Song: : Pax Amor Christi – Kathleen Deignan, CND, PhD (Professor of Theology and Spirituality at Iona College              

 Preview YouTube video Pax Amor Christi              

Pax Amor Christi

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