Sunday, February 2, 2020

Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community Liturgy, February 2, 2020 - Presiders: Dennis McDonald, ARCWP, and Ginny O'Brien

Dennis McDonald, ARCWP, and Ginny O'Brien led the Upper Room Liturgy with the theme:  Presenting Jesus and Ourselves to the world.
Opening Prayer / Peace Prayer
Good and gracious God, it is easy to get so caught up in the business and troubles of our own lives, that we forget we are called to be transformers for justice in this world.

There is so much pain, so much loneliness, so much sickness, so much loss, so much injustice in this world that it can sometimes seem like “just the way things are.”

Let us never forget that Creation contains the possibility of heaven on earth, a fellowship of humanity.

Let us never forget that the teachings of Jesus as well as the teachings of so many other great spiritual leaders can lead us to a world where suffering is greatly reduced.

Until that time, teach us not only to confront injustices but to comfort those who suffer and to be open to receiving comfort when we are the ones suffering. Amen.
from: Creating Justice (A Prayer) by Mark Sandlin January 26, 2020
Opening Song : Ruah by Colleen Fulmer

 A reading from the Book of Malachi

Pay attention, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me; and the One you are seeking will suddenly come to the Temple — the Messenger of the Covenant whom you long for will come, says YHWH. But who can endure the day of that coming? 
Who can stand firm when that One appears?
That day will be like a smelter’s fire, a launderer’s soap. The One will preside as refiner and purifier, purifying the children of Levi, refining them like gold or silver – then they will once again make offerings to YHWH in righteousness. The offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing as they were in former days, in years long past.

These are the inspired words from the Book of Malachi and the community affirms them by saying, Amen.  


A reading from the Gospel of Luke. 

When the day came for them to be purified, as laid down by the Law of Moses, the couple took Jesus up to Jerusalem and presented him to God. For it is written in the Law of Our God, “every firstborn heir is to to be consecrated to God.” They likewise came to offer in sacrifice “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons,” in accord with the dictate of the law of Our God.

Now there lived in Jerusalem a man named Simeon. He was devout and just, anticipating the consolation of Israel, and he was filled with the Holy Spirit. She had revealed to Simeon that he would not see death until he had seen the Messiah of God. Prompted by her, Simeon came to the temple; and when the parents brought in the child to perform the customary rituals of the Law, he took the child in his arms and praised God, saying:
“Now, O God, you can dismiss your servant in peace, just as you promised; because my eyes have seen the salvation that you have prepared for all the peoples to see — a light of revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of your people Israel.” 

As the child’s mother and father stood there marveling at the things that were being said, Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, the mother, “This child is destined to be the downfall and the rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that is rejected, so that the secret thoughts of many may be laid bare. And a sword will pierce your heart as well.” 
There was a woman named Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher, who was also a prophet. She had lived a long life, seven years with her husband, and then as a widow to the age of eighty four. She never left the Temple, worshiping day and night, fasting and praying. Coming up at that moment, she gave thanks to God and talked about the child to all who anticipated the deliverance of Jerusalem. 
When the couple had fulfilled all the prescriptions of the Law of God, they returned to Galilee and their own town of Nazareth. The child grew in size and strength. He was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was with him.

These are the inspired words from the Gospel of Luke, and the community affirms them by saying, Amen. 


Homily Starter by Dennis McDonald 
The Gospel story begins, “when the day came for them to be purified” but in reality this was meant for a woman, in this case, Mary.  When giving birth to a male child a woman was seen as defiled, and thus unable to touch anything holy or to enter the temple for 40 days.  At this same time, the child was brought to be presented and consecrated to God, with a sacrificial offering of “a pair of turtledoves or two pigeons”, as required by law.  It is clear that Joseph and Mary are devout followers of the law, which they pass on to Jesus. It is out of this foundation that Jesus undertakes his ministry later in life, after he has grown in wisdom and grace. 
The Gospel, also, introduces us to Simeon and Anna, both prophets, who present Jesus as “The one you are seeking” from the reading from Malachi. It is, in the Gospel of Luke, the introduction of Jesus as the Messiah, long promised.  There is a pronouncement by Simeon the he is destined for greatness but will also be rejected.  It sets the stage for the life Jesus will live, proclaiming the good news of justice and equality, touching and transforming lives through listening and healing, and teaching of the Holy One’s ever-present love around and within us. 
My thoughts, as I reflected on the prior two weeks, when we were asked to think about who first introduced us to Jesus, and then, who in our lives showed the light of Christ to us, had me ask, how do we, like Simeon and Anna, present Jesus to the world?
I first thought about how Jesus presented himself to the world.  He did so by proclaiming the good news of justice and equality, touching and transforming lives through listening and healing, and teaching of the Holy One’s ever-present love around and within us.  He engaged with those he met, sharing meals, stories, celebrations. I realized that in reading the Gospels, we don’t really hear about Jesus and a job or a vocation.  Oh sure, we hear that he is a carpenter’s son, but other than projecting that he must have been taught this craft by Joseph, there is nothing promoting this further, or speaking of his profession.  What we know about Jesus is that he walked among the people, and met them where they were in their lives, especially when in pain or sorrow.
It’s been interesting since I retired. Friends I run into, ask me now that I’m retired, what am I doing, or what am I planning to do?  What they’re really asking is, so are you going to get another job, whether part-time or full-time?  Some even have suggestions for me.  And I’ve found myself at times, pondering if I should be “doing” something.  We place so much value on what we do, gainfully, that it is difficult at times to just accept that we are living and engaging in life all around us, whether that be through work, through recreation, or in retirement. 
The answer to how we/I present Jesus to the world, whether that be family, friends, local community or beyond, is not, in the end, dependent on what we do related to what position we hold, or what social status we hold, but rather it is about how we interact with those we meet, and those we love.  Like Jesus, am I proclaiming and standing up for justice and equality for all?  Am I touching people’s lives with kindness and compassion?  Do I convey the depth of God’s love for them? 
Like Simeon, can I proclaim Jesus as a light of revelation? Like Anna, can I give thanks to the Holy One for the gift of Jesus as the One I have sought to bring fulfillment in and through me?
What did you hear?  How might you present Jesus to your world? What wisdom and/or grace can we share with our world?
Shared Reflection
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 1:  As we prepare for the sacred meal, we lay our stoles upon the table as a sign that just as Jesus is anointed, so is each of us. 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: 
 (Portions from Diarmuid O’Murchu and from ARWCP worship resources)  

All: Holy One, you are always with us. In the blessed abundance of creation, we gather to celebrate Your nourishing gift of life. May our hearts be open to You as You invite us to participate in the wise and wonderful work of co-creation. 

May we be ever aware of Your Spirit within and among us as our world unfolds amid pain and beauty into the fullness of life.   

We are grateful for Your Spirit whose breath inspired the primal waters, calling into being the variety and abundance we see around us. Your Spirit sustains and animates our every endeavor, inviting us to act in wisdom and in truth.  

In gratitude and joy we embrace our calling and we lift our voices to sing a song of praise: 

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)  

All:  As a community, we gather in the power of your Spirit, refreshing wind, purifying fire and living breath, for the variety and diversity of life. 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. 

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 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.  
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. 
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. 
Holy One, your transforming energy is always moving within us and working through us. Like Jesus, we open wide all that has been closed about us, and we live compassionate lives, for it is through living as Jesus lived, that we awaken to your Spirit within, 
Moving us to glorify you, 
At this time and all ways. 

Presider 2: 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  

 Presider 1: Please join in the 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 lift the 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 2: Our Eucharistic celebration is all-inclusive and nothing can separate us from God’s love. All are welcome to receive at this friendship table.  Please pass the bread and the cup with the words: __________.  

Communion Song/Meditation: Come Be In My Heart  by Sara Thomsen


Presider 1: Please extend your hands and pray our blessing together. 

May we continue to be the face of God to each other.  May we call each other to extravagant generosity!  May our light shine for all to see, and may we be a blessing in our time!  
All: AMEN  

Closing Song: Send Down the Fire by Marty Haugen