Saturday, February 29, 2020

Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community Liturgy First Sunday in Lent , Feb. 29, 2020, Presiders: Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP and Mary Theresa Streck ARCWP, Music Minister Linda Lee Miller

Theme: Led by the Spirit we encounter our inner goodness and choose wisely
From left to right: Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP and Mary Theresa Streck ARCWP

Presider: Welcome to Mary Mother of Jesus, an inclusive Catholic Community where all are welcome to share Eucharist at the Banquet Table. We use inclusive language in our scripture readings and prayers. We invite sharing at the homily that is related to our readings and respectful, as well as the prayers of the community Everyone prays the words of Consecration in the Eucharistic Prayer. We welcome our newcomers at the announcement time after Communion.  All are invited to join us for supper after liturgy.

Opening Song: We Are Called by David Haas

Come, Live in the light!
Shine with the joy and the love of our God!
We are called to be light for the kin-dom,
to live in the freedom of the City of God.

We are called to act with justice,
We are called to love tenderly,
We are called to serve another;
To walk humbly with God!

Come, open your heart!
Show your mercy to all those in fear.
We are called to be hope for the hopeless,
So all hatred and blindness will be no more!

Sing! Sing a new song!
Sing of that great day when all will be one!
God will reign, and we’ll walk with each other
As sisters and brothers united in love!

Communal Reconciliation Rite
Presider: We pause now to remember the times that opposing forces have influenced us and pray that we will make wise choices according to our best selves to grow more deeply loving in challenging relationships and situations. Recall one missed opportunity, one broken or damaged relationship. Now imagine this person or situation in the light of divine healing love as we ask for forgiveness, and make wise choices according to our best selves.

Presider: Let us extend our arms in a sign of mutual forgiveness as we pray:  
All: Please forgive me, I am sorry, I love you, I thank you.

Opening Prayer
All: Holy One, like Jesus, we face daunting temptations and stressful situations that challenge us to make wise choices. Like Jesus, led by the Spirit into the wilderness, we open ourselves in our struggles to experience the divine light within that illuminates our goodness and liberates us for generous service.


Mary Al Gagnon

The First Reading is adapted from Wonderous Encounters by Richard Rohr

 Temptations Are Attractions to Partial Goods Mark 1:12–15; Matthew 4:1–11; Luke 4:1–13

In all three Lectionary cycles, the Gospel for the first Sunday of Lent is devoted to the temptation scene of Jesus in the desert from Matthew, Mark, or Luke. That seems to be the way that he experiences his forty days in the desert, so it seems like an appropriate way to start ours.

(What is the) meaning and application for us today? I see the three temptations as the primal and universal temptations that all humans must face before they dare take on any kind of power—as Jesus is about to do. They are all temptations to the misuse of power for purposes less than God’s purpose. They are sequentially the misuse of practical everyday power, the misuse of religious power, and the misuse of political power. These are the constant tragedies that keep defeating humanity. Jesus passes all three tests, and thus “the devil left him” because he could not be used for lesser purposes. If you face such demons in yourself, God can and will use you mightily. Otherwise, you will, for sure, be used!

But let me point out something we almost always fail to notice. We can only be tempted to something that is good on some level, partially good, or good for some, or just good for us and not for others. Temptations are always about “good” things, or we could not be tempted: in these cases “bread,” “Scripture,” and “kingdoms in their magnificence.” Most people’s daily ethical choices are not between total good and total evil, but between various shades of good, a partial good that is wrongly perceived as an absolute good (because of the self as the central reference point), or even evil that disguises itself as good. These are what get us into trouble.

Jesus is the master of spiritual discernment here, which is always much more subtle and particular than mere obedience to external laws. Note that Jesus quotes no moral commandments here, but only wisdom texts from Deuteronomy.

These are the inspired words of Richard Rohr and we affirm them by saying, AMEN.

Psalm 51

Response: You are merciful, Gracious One, according to your steadfast love.

You are merciful, Gracious One, according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant kindness you forgive me where my thoughts and deeds have hurt others.
Lead me in the paths of justice, guide my steps on paths of peace!

Response: You are merciful, Gracious One, according to your steadfast love.

Teach me, that I may know my weaknesses, the shortcomings that bind me,
the unloving ways that separate me, that keep me from recognizing your life with me;
for I was brought forth in love, and love is my birthright.

Response: You are merciful, Gracious One, according to your steadfast love.
Katy Zatsick ARCWP

Second Reading: Gospel of Thomas (50)
Jesus said to them: If they say to you, ‘Where have you come from?’ say to them, ‘We came from the light, the place where the light generated itself and established itself, and has been made manifest in their image.’ If they say to you, ‘Is it you?’, say, ‘we are its children.’ These are the inspired words of the Gospel of Thomas and we affirm them by saying, Amen. 

Sung Response before Gospel: Spirit of the Living God

Spirit of the Living God
Fall fresh on me
Spirit of the Living God
Fall fresh on me.
Melt me mold me
Fill me use me
Spirit of the Living God
Fall fresh on me.

Gospel: A reading from the Gospel of Luke LK 4 1-15

Now Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wild. For forty wilderness days and nights he was tested by the Devil. He ate nothing during those days, and when the time was up he was hungry.

The Devil, playing on his hunger, gave the first test: “Since you’re God’s Son, command this stone to turn into a loaf of bread.”

Jesus answered by quoting Scripture: “It takes more than bread to really live.”

Then the Devil took Jesus up higher and spread out all the kingdoms of the earth on display at once. Then the Devil said, “They’re yours in all their splendor to serve your pleasure. I’m in charge of them all and can turn them over to whomever I wish. Worship me and they’re yours, the whole works.”

Jesus refused, again backing his refusal with Scripture: “You will do homage to God alone; God alone will you serve with absolute single-heartedness.”

For the third test the Devil took Jesus to Jerusalem and put him on top of the Temple. He said, “If you are God’s Son, jump. It’s written, isn’t it, that ‘God has placed you in the care of angels to protect you; they will catch you; you won’t so much as stub your toe on a stone’?”

 “Yes,” said Jesus, “and it’s also written, ‘Don’t you dare put our God to the test.’”

That completed the testing. The Devil retreated temporarily, lying in wait for another opportunity.
Jesus returned to Galilee powerful in the Spirit.

These are the inspired words of Luke, disciple of Jesus, and we affirm them by saying, Amen.

Homily and Shared Reflections

Homily Starter- First Sunday of Lent, Feb. 29, 2020, Bridget Mary Meehan

Instrumental music plays in background

In this meditation, I invite you to reflect on Jesus’ struggles in the wilderness and your challenges to make wise choices in the use of your practical, spiritual and political power.  

So let us begin by taking a few deep breaths, close your eyes and relax your body….

Like Jesus, in the wilderness, let us encounter the primordial energy that is the source of our being…

Let us be aware that we dwell in the Light… each of us comes from the Light and each of us, like Jesus, is light illuminating the world…

In the chaos that swirls around us in our world, we are led by the Spirit into the depths our deep goodness to make choices to live fully, love tenderly and walk humbly with our God…

In the Gospel, Jesus is led by the Spirit into the wilderness where the tempter asks him to turn stones into bread…

Instead, when Jesus is led out of the desert,  he decides to share meals with the hungry and outcasts…

You are led by the Spirit every day of your life…

Be aware of your practical, everyday power to make wise choices in self- care,  in challenging relationships and situations…

The tempter calls on Jesus to go to the pinnacle of the temple and call on angels to rescue him…

Instead, Jesus led out of the desert, overturns tables in the temple and challenge abusive power and exploitation by religious leaders…

Be aware of ways you can tap into your spiritual power, your inner  strength to comfort the afflicted and to co-create  a more open, inclusive family of faith where all are welcome and no one is excluded or oppressed…
The tempter calls on Jesus to become a political ruler…

Instead, Jesus led by the Spirit out of the desert,  serves the least and lowest, dines with prostitutes and tax collectors and confronts the imperial rulers who put him to death…

Be aware of your political power to voice your opinion in support of human rights and to vote for our country’s leaders who will support justice and equality for all….

Loving Spirit, guide each of us in this time of turmoil to make wise choices that reflect your goodness illuminating our world. Amen.

Shared Homily

Richard Rohr frames the temptations of Jesus as universal challenges to misuse of practical everyday power, religious power and political power. Share examples of how to use these powers to transform our lives.  

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.

Prayers of the Community
Presider 1: We share our prayers for the needs of our community at this time. Please begin your sharing by praying: I bring to the table…..
Response: Amen

Presider 2: O Holy One  we walk  in faith that nothing is impossible when we make wise decisions to care for others in need through the power of your Spirit working in us.   ALL: Amen

Song during collection: Be Not Afraid by Bob Dufford

You shall cross the barren desert,
but you shall not die of thirst.
You shall wander far in safety
though you do not know the way.
You shall speak your words in foreign lands
and all will understand.
You shall see the face of God and live. 

Be not afraid.
I go before you always.
Come follow me,
and I will give you rest.

If you pass through raging waters in the sea,
you shall not drown.
If you walk amid the burning flames,
you shall not be harmed.
If you stand before the pow'r of hell
and death is at your side,
know that I am with you through it all. 


Blessed are your poor,
for the kingdom shall be theirs.
Blest are you that weep and mourn,
for one day you shall laugh.
And if wicked ones insult and hate you
all because of me,
blessed, blessed are you!



Presider1: Blessed are you, God of all life, through your goodness we have bread, wine, all creation, and our own lives to offer. Through this sacred meal may we become your new creation.
All: Blessed be God forever.

Presider 2: Join us around the table.

Presider 1: God dwells among us.
All: And in all people everywhere.

Presider 2: Lift up your hearts.
All: We lift them up to make wise decisions toward what is good and holy.

Presider 1: Affirm the power of Light within you and within all. 
All: We trust in the wisdom of the Spirit guiding us.
Voice 1: 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.

Voice 2: You know our limitations and our essential goodness and you love us as we are. You call us to love with 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:

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

Voice 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.

Voice 4: 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 2: Please extend your hands in blessing.

All: 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 your presence with us now and 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 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.

All: Let us share this bread and cup to proclaim and live the gospel of justice and peace.

Voice 5: Holy One, your transforming energy is within us and we join our hearts with all who are working for an inclusive church and just world.  We pray for wise leaders in our religious communities. We pray for courageous and compassionate leaders in our world communities. 

All: Like Jesus, we open ourselves up to your Spirit, 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 1: Let us pray as Jesus taught us: Sing: Our Father and Mother…

Sign of Peace: Let there be peace on earth (Join hands and sing)


Presider 2: Please join in the prayer for the breaking of the bread:
All:  Holy One, we will serve the least and the last. Holy One, we will care for our sisters and brothers in need, Holy One, we will advocate for justice and equality.

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 sacred Banquet.  Please pass the bread and the cup with the words: You are the Body of Christ.

Communion Song/Meditation 


Presider 1: Please extend your hands in blessing.
Chant 2 times hand raised in blessing 

May you be free from fear, 
May you be free from compulsion,
May you be blessed by love,
May you be blessed with peace.

Closing Song: Let Justice Roll Like a River By Marty Haugen

Take from me your holy feasts,
All your offerings and your music;
Let justice flow like waters,
And integrity like an ever-flowing stream.

Let justice roll like a river,
and wash all oppression away;
Come, O God, and take us,
move and shake us,
Come now, and make us anew,
that we might live justly like you.  

How long shall we wait, O God,
For the day of your mercy to dawn,
The day we beat our swords into ploughs,
When your peace reigns over the earth?

Even now return to me,
Let your hearts be broken and humble,
For I am gracious, generous and kind;
Come and see the mercies of God.

You have been told the way of life,
The way of justice and peace;
To act justly, to love gently
And walk humbly with God.

Celebrate International Women's Month with the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Ash Wed Ecumenical Liturgy with Distribution of Ashes and Communion Service- Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP and Rev. Paul Werner

Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP, Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community and Rev. Paul Werner Pastor of United Church of  Christ 
"Remember the remarkable things God does with dust."

"Come and See" Jesus- our Companion Invites Us into the Heart of Goodness - Ash Wednesday

In her new book, Jesus, Friend of the Soul, Joyce Rupp offers reflections for the Lenten season that invite us to respond to Jesus 'invitation: "come and see."

"By spending time with the qualities of Jesus, we are able to become more acquainted with his personal traits of goodness. We do so by going to where his Spirit stays- in the home of our hearts and in the larger dwelling place of the world. As our hearts ignite with a renewed desire to give ourselves more totally to the abiding love of Jesus,  we become credible invitations for others to come and see this divine Companion who enthralls us with his Beloved Presence. "

My Prayer:
Loving Companion, I open myself this Lent to go deep into my heart where you dwell in infinite goodness. May I let go of anything that prevents me from seeing , feeling, thinking or acting according to your Way of loving and serving. May I grow in kindness, compassion and joy in my thoughts, actions and ministry. Amen. 

Monday, February 24, 2020

Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community - Liturgy for February 23, 2020 - Presiders: Kathleen Ryan, ARCWP, and Dave Debonis

Kathleen Ryan, ARCWP, and Dave Debonis led the Upper Room liturgy with the following theme: Bring some one that is difficult in your life to mind, he or she may be a politician, a friend, a family member, a neighbor…maybe there are two or three people.  Perhaps they bring suffering to you or you to them. Let us hold them during this liturgy and carry them all week and perhaps through lent.

Opening Peace Prayer Song:  Berakah the Blessing by Jan Novotka

First Reading: A Reading from Matthew 5:39-48
I tell you, ‘offer no resistance when you’re confronted with violence. When someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn and offer the other. Should any one press you into service for one mile, go two miles.”

You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your God, for God makes the sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.

For if you love those who love you, what merit is there in that?
Do not the tax collectors do the same?
And if you greet only your sisters and brothers,
what is unusual about that?” You are to be lavish and unsparing in your generosity, in the way the Holy One’s generosity is lavish and unsparing.”

These are the inspired words of Matthew a disciple of Jesus and the community affirms them:  AMEN

Second Reading: An Adapted Reading from Jennifer Sanders: Dangerous Words.

I consider Matthew 5:43-48 one of the most dangerous passages in the Bible. Why? Let me make something really clear. Jesus is not telling you to make yourself into a doormat for the powerful people of this world.  You are not being asked to accommodate your abuser. Jesus does not want you to let people walk all over you.
So, what does this reading mean?

This isn’t really so much about the enemy or the persecutors. It’s about us. Jesus is speaking to us about what we do.  If we are trying to follow Jesus, we do not have to let others hurt us but we are called to let God work through us so that we see the full humanity of others, even when they do not see it in us.  We do not let hateful people make us hateful. We do not let poisonous people turn us toxic.

This is not easy.  The temptation to give in to the world’s cynicism, brutality, and hard-heartedness is strong. But if you want to follow Jesus you must cultivate the heart of God in your own heart.  To love after the example of Jesus is active, tenacious, daily love. Sometimes it means loving people even when you don’t like them.
And sometimes – let’s be real – there are people who have hurt you so badly that you may not be able to love them. There is value, however, in continually nurturing in your heart a Spirit of love, compassion and forgiveness. There is healing in that practice.  Even if someone has hurt you so badly that you genuinely cannot love them, continue to opt for love over hate, for forgiveness and compassion and realize that people who cause harm in this world have themselves been deeply damaged.  They are so damaged that those damages overflow and spill on to others. 

By orienting ourselves consistently to justice and love, for ourselves and for others, we can heal ourselves – so that we cause less damage in this world.

And when we get knocked off that path -as will happen – we pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off and we keep going. Or maybe someone else reaches down and gives us a hand up and we keep going together. That’s the meaning of community and relationship.

We do not give in to enmity. We do not give in to hatred and hard-heartedness. Not as individuals and not as a community. In community we practice love and compassion and justice and are strengthened for these tasks for our own individual journeys.

These are the inspired words of Jennifer Sanders a disciple of Jesus. The community affirms these words with:  AMEN

Starting Homily-Dave

Last week at our liturgy, Deb Trees reminded us that Jesus challenges us to move beyond rule-following and toward a full embracing of the spirit of the laws and accepting of our status as children of the Divine.  Today, the reading from Matthew reinforces this theme as Jesus instructs his followers to turn the other cheek and offer no resistance against violence. Jesus adds that loving those who love us is truly not enough; we must love and be lavishly generous even with those who persecute us.
We have often said here in the upper room that the gospels are meant to challenge us, make us think. and even disturb us. But as Jennifer Sanders, author of the second reading, notes this reading could be dangerous, if misunderstood.
In what Kathie and I think is a very important analysis, Sanders helps us to find a balance between self-love and love of others. She notes that it is inevitable that at some time in our lives we will encounter people who hurt us deeply and, despite our best efforts, we find ourselves not only unable to like them but perhaps also unable to love them. How many of us have experienced this and did not know how to deal with the resulting mix of emotions we felt?  
Sanders reminds us that at these times we do not have to move toward shame and failure. Instead, we can continue to love and protect ourselves, while at the same time nurturing in our hearts the healing Spirit of love, compassion and forgiveness. We can always opt for love over hate and we can offer our prayer that the wounds of our offender be healed.
We are also reminded that we are not doing this alone. Our interdependence is a gift. As a community we can together love those who are difficult to love. We can lessen the burden on each other and collectively choose love.  
Finally, consider the poor and the marginalized hearing this Gospel. Imagine what they could be thinking as they consider having to love those who consistently disrespect and disregard them. Imagine the confusion and fear this reading could cause to those who already feel that they have no power. Let us always stand with them and empower them through our good works and in our hearts.

Emerson Powers writes that Jesus’ call that love be the antidote to evil inspired others, including Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. Let us be so inspired.

Closing Homily-Kathie

The insights and sharing in our community are always amazing.  Thank you so much. We are on the cusp of lent.  Every year we talk about what we will do differently.  The Ash Wednesday ritual reminds us that we are dust and we will return to dust—but our community, our theology of blessing reminds us that we stardust. Stardust is light and power. (and is beautiful.) The readings and our shared homily challenge us to remember our light, and our power in all our relationships.

Communion mediation:  The Prayer of St Francis sung by Susan Boyle

Closing song Go Light Your World by Chris Rice