Friday, March 20, 2020

Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community Liturgy, Fourth Sunday of Lent, March 21, 2020 Presiders: Sally Brochu ARCWP and Janet Blakeley ARCWP also Music Minister


Theme: “While I am here, I must make God visible to the world”. (Today’s Gospel)

We welcome each you to our community gathering through ZOOM – a way of being together and being a “home church”. Even though we are “sheltering in place”, this is one way for us to share the Liturgy of the Word and Liturgy of Eucharist. Please prepare and place your own bread and wine on a table in front of you so that we can collectively consecrate these elements during the Consecration.  Our theology of the Eucharist allows us to do this.  

Opening Song:   “Gather Us In”  verses 1,4

Here in this place a new light is streaming now is the darkness vanished away.
See in this space our fears and our dreamings, brought here to you in the light of this day.
Gather us in the lost and forsaken, gather us in the blind and the lame;
Call to us now and we shall awaken, we shall arise at the sound of your name.

Not in the dark of buildings confining, not in some heaven light years away,
but here in this place a new light is shining, now is the kin-dom, now is the day
Gather us in and hold us forever, gather us in and make us your own
Gather us in all peoples together, fire of love in our flesh and our bone.

Opening Prayer:
Presider:  Holy One, you created us holy and whole, yet life took us to places where we sometimes lost sight of you and your love for us. Still we are trying to expand our awareness of your unconditional love for us. Help us to keep your love at our center of being as we struggle with life, especially in these difficult times. For even when we fail, your love is unfailing. Creator God, give us the eyes to see, hearts and souls to heighten our awareness of you, so that we can respond to your call as you draw us closer to you. Help us trust in the future. Amen.

Communal Reconciliation Rite
Presider: We pause now to remember the times we have not asked for forgiveness.
(Pause briefly.   Please extend your hand in blessing and say the Ho’oponopono Prayer)
 I am sorry.   Please forgive me.   I thank you.  I love you.

First Reading:  First Letter of John 2:7-10

Beloved, I am writing no new commandment to you but an old commandment, one you have had from the beginning. This old commandment is the word that you have heard. Yet I do write you a new command to you since you are experiencing it anew. The word of love holds true in the Christ, and among you. Chaos is yielding to new insight through which you will see and understand differently.
Whoever says they know and understand this commandment, and yet hates another, remains blind to its meaning. Whoever choses to love is truly understanding. Nothing will cause that person to stumble and fall.

These are words of an early pastor and we affirm them by saying Amen.

                                                             LITURGY OF THE WORD
Psalm 23 – (As adapted by Nan Merrill)
O my Beloved, You are my shepherd, I shall not want;
You bring me to green pastures for rest and lead me beside still waters, renewing my spirit;
You restore my soul. You lead me in the path of goodness to follow Love’s way.

Refrain: O my Beloved, You are my shepherd, I shall not want.
Even tough I walk through the valley of the shadow and of death, I am not afraid;
For You are every with me; your rod and your staff they guide me,
They give me strength and comfort.

Refrain: O my Beloved, You are my shepherd, I shall not want.
You bless me with oil, my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life;
And I shall dwell in the heart of the Beloved forever. Amen.

Refrain: O my Beloved, You are my shepherd, I shall not want.

Gospel Acclamation: #391
All sing: “Open my eyes, God, help me to see your face, open my eyes, God, help me to see” X2

Gospel: John 9:1-3.5-17,24-41

As Jesus walked along, he saw someone who had been blind from birth. The disciples asked Jesus, “Rabbi, was this person’s sin that caused the blindness or that of the parents?” “Neither,” Jesus answered. “It wasn’t because of anyone’s sin – not this person nor the parents”. It was so God’s works might be made visible through this child of God……While I am here, I must make God visible in the world.”

With that, Jesus spat on the ground, made mud with his saliva and smeared it on the eyes of the one born blind. Then Jesus said, “Go. Wash in the pool of Siloam” which means “sent”. So the person went to wash and returned, able to see.

Neighbors, and those who had gotten used to seeing the beggar born blind, began to ask, “Isn’t this the one who used to sit and beg?” Some said “yes”. Others said “no”, that the one who had been healed only looked like the beggar. But the one whose vision had been restored said “Yes. I am the one.” Then the people asked “then how were your eyes opened?” The answer came, “The one they call Jesus made mud and smeared it on my eyes, and told me to go to Siloam and wash. When I went and washed, I was able to see.” “Where is Jesus?” they asked. The person replied, “I don’t know.”

Then they took the one who had been born blind to the Pharisees. It was on a Sabbath that Jesus made the healing mud paste for the one born blind. The Pharisees asked how the person came to see. The person again answered, “Jesus put mud on my eyes. I washed it off. Now I can see.” This prompted some Pharisees to say, “This Jesus is not from God because he does not keep the Sabbath.” Others argued, “But how could a sinner perform signs like this?” They were sharply divided.

Again, the one born blind was summoned by the Pharisees. They persisted, “Just what happened? How were your eyes opened?” “I already told you, but you won’t listen to me. Why do you want to hear it all over again? Do you want to become disciples of Jesus too?” They retorted scornfully, “You’re the one who is Jesus’ disciple. We’re Moses disciples. We know God spoke to Moses, but we have no idea where this Jesus comes from”. The one born blind retorted, “That is so amazing! You are blind to where Jesus is from even though he opened my eyes! You say that God does not listen to sinners, You say God listens to those who are devout and who do the desire of God’s heart. It is unheard of that anyone ever gave sight to a person blind from birth. If Jesus were not from God, he would never have done such a thing!” “What!” they exclaimed. “You are steeped in sin, and have been from birth, and you’re teaching us?” With that they kicked out the accused.

When Jesus heard of the expulsion, he sought out the one whose sight had been restored and asked, “Do you believe in the Chosen One?” “Who is the Chosen One that I may believe?” “You are looking at him,” Jesus replied. “The Chosen One is speaking to you now.” The healed one said “Yes, I believe,” and praised Jesus. Jesus said, “I came into this world to bring justice, so that those who are blind might see.”

These are the inspired words of the Gospel writer, John, and we affirm them by saying AMEN.

Gospel Acclamation: #391
All sing: “Open my eyes, God, help me to see your face, open my eyes, God, help me to see” X2

Homily and Sharing

Statement of Faith  (Taken from “The Friends in Faith” and shared by Joan Meehan)
Gathered together as people of faith, we profess our belief in God who is larger than we can name, unable to be contained, yet present in each one of us. We have come to know this God in the living of our lives, and in the holiness of the earth we share.
We believe in a God revealed in all peoples – all genders, religions, and orientations. We embrace a compassionate God, who champions justice and mercy, and is always faithful when we call. Our God gives and forgives, patiently loving without conditions.
We gratefully believe in a God who feels our deepest struggles, and celebrates our deepest joys. A God who both dances with us in celebration, and holds us when we cry. This God is not the “other” to us, but shares our breath in every moment and promises we are never alone.
We believe in a God who believes in us – believes that we are precious and incredible gifts, worthy to claim image and likeness to the divine. We hold fast to our God who journeys with us, who continually calls us to choose the shape of our days through the choices we make. This God accepts us as we are and shares each hope we have for becoming. This is the God in whom we believe, our Creator, our Mother and Father, who became human in Jesus, our brother. Our God is the Spirit of Life, the voice that continues to speak love, and asks us to answer. In this God we choose to believe. AMEN.

Prayers of the Community
 Presider: As we prepare for the sacred meal, we first bring to this table our blessings, cares and concerns.   All please feel free to voice your concerns beginning with the words “I bring to the table….”  

Our response is “Holy One, may your healing touch open our eyes for us to see how to respond.”

Presider: I bring to the table all people around the world who are dealing with spread of the Coronavirus, that government officials will have the wisdom and resolve to put in place measures to stop the spread and respond quickly to all those who have contacted this virus. We pray,

Presider: For what else shall we pray? Please raise your hand and say “I bring to the table” so we can turn on your mic.

Presider: We pray for these and all unspoken concerns that we hold in our hearts.   Amen.

Offertory Song: #391 “Open My Eyes, God”

Open my eyes, God, help me to see your face, open my eyes. God, help me to see.
Open my ears, God, help me to hear your voice, open my ears, God, help me to hear.
Open my heart, God, help me to love like you, open my heart, God, help me to love.

Preparation of Gifts (presiders lift up bread and wine)
Presider: 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 as we respond to your call to use our gifts in loving service to our sisters and brothers.
All: Blessed be God forever.
                        LITURGY OF THE EUCHARIST
Presider:  God is within you, blessing the world through you.
All: And within you.
Presider: Lift up your hearts.
All: We lift them up in the Holy One.
Presider: O Holy One, we lift up our hearts to You, You who gently invite us to enter into a deeper relationship with you that will affect how we live our lives and decisions we make.  This transformation usually comes through difficulties and pain, yet you are there with us through all our days. Come Holy Spirit, be with us and with all who have gone before us, as we lift up our hearts in praise and sing:
All: We are holy, holy, holy (we, you, I, we) by Karen Drucker
Presider: Holy One, we celebrate the life of your son and our brother, Jesus.   He lived his life and walked forward to his death knowing that You were leading him.   We walk forward in his pathway and follow his teaching.
Presider: We pray for the grace to see the suffering of others, to respond with open and loving hearts

All: On the night before he died, Jesus gathered for the Seder supper with the people closest to him.   He washed their feet.   For this they would remember him.  
Presider: Let each of us lift the bread to be blessed and consecrated.
All: When he returned to his place, he lifted the Passover bread, spoke the blessing, broke the bread and offered it to them saying:
Take and eat of the Bread of Life given to strengthen you.   Whenever you remember me like this, I am among you. (pause)
Presider: Let each of us raise the cup of blessing.
All: Jesus then raised a cup of blessing, spoke the grace 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. (pause)
Presider: We are called to do everything Jesus did, to be the living presence of a love that does justice, of a compassion that heals and liberates, of a joy that generates laughter, of a light that illumines right choices and confronts the darkness of every injustice and inequity.
All: We trust you to continue to share with us your own Spirit, the Spirit that filled Jesus, for it is through his life and teaching, his loving and healing that all honor and glory is yours, O Holy One, forever and ever. AMEN.

Presider: Let us pray as Jesus taught us:
Prayer of Jesus: “Our Father and Mother…”
Sign of Peace:
Presider: In these uncertain times, may God’s peace be with you to sustain you and give you peace of heart.
All:  Namaste, Namaste, Namaste.

Presider: Let us each lift up the bread and wine.
All: This is the bread of life and the cup of blessing.   Through it we are nourished and we nourish each other.  
All: Through him, we have learned how to live.                                                
Though him, we have learned how to love.                                                                       
Through him, we have learned how to serve. AMEN.

Take the time now to receive Holy Communion. If there are two or more of you gathered, share it with one another.
Communion song: “Taste and See” - Instrumental

Presider: Does anyone have a Prayer of Gratitude to share? Please, raise your hand and say “Prayer of Gratitude” so we can open your mic.


Presider: As we close our liturgy, we call upon our God of Love to heal our world and all of its nations. All are in dire need of healing from the spreading Coronavirus and we are in need of peace and the quieting of fear. Give us eyes and vision to see the needs of our world and the courage to respond in love. Our world desperately needs this. Amen.

Presider: Just as we began in silence, let us finish in silence and quietly bless and pray for each other.
Go now in the peace of Christ and let our service continue.

*****We would appreciate your feedback on how this experience was for you. If you have any suggestions on how to improve this gathering and if this is something you would like to continue to do.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community, Fourth Sunday of Lent Liturgy - Presider: Dennis McDonald, ARCWP

Fourth Sunday of Lent

Welcome and Theme: From Darkness to Light
Opening Prayer: We gather this day, as the world and our country face the darkness of disease.  May we bring forth light during this time of darkness by the compassion, hope, and love that we share with each other, and those in need.  Let us call upon the Spirit of Hope and Courage within each of us, that we may persevere during this difficult and trying time. Amen

Opening Song: Be Light For Our Eyes 


A reading from the Letter to the Ephesians (5:8-14)
There was a time when you were darkness, but now you are light in Christ. Live as children of the light. Light produces every kind of goodness, justice and truth. Be correct in your judgment of what pleases our Savior. Take no part in deeds done in darkness, which bear no fruit; rather, expose them. It is shameful even to mention the things these people do in secret; but when such deeds are exposed and seen in the light of day, everything that becomes visible is light. That is why we read: Awake, O sleeper, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”

Hear what the Spirit is saying in the Letter to the Ephesians. Amen

Response to reading:

Spirit of the Living God 
Fall fresh on me (2x)
Melt me, mold me, 
Fill me, use me 
Spirit of the Living God 
Fall fresh on me

A reading from the Gospel of John

As Jesus walked along, he saw someone who had been blind from birth.
With that, Jesus spat on the ground, made mud with his saliva and smeared the blind one’s eyes with the mud. Then Jesus said, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” — “Siloam” means “sent.” So the person went off and washed, and came back able to see. Neighbors and those who had been accustomed to seeing the blind beggar began to ask, “Is this not the one who used to sit and beg?” Some said yes; others said no — the one who had been healed simply looked like the beggar. But the individual in question said, “No, it was I.”

They took the one who had been born blind to the Pharisees. It had been on a Sabbath that Jesus had made the mud paste and opened this one’s eyes. The Pharisees asked how the individual could see. They were told, “Jesus put mud on my eyes. I washed it off, and now I can see.” This prompted some of the Pharisees to say, “This Jesus cannot be from God, because he does not keep the Sabbath.” Others argued, “But how could a sinner perform signs like these?” They were sharply divided.

Then they addressed the blind person again: “Since it was your eyes he opened, what do you have to say about this Jesus?” “He is a prophet,” came the reply.

“What!” they exclaimed. “You are steeped in sin from birth, and you are giving us lectures?”
With that, they threw the person out. When Jesus heard of the expulsion, he sought out the healed one and asked, “Do you believe in the Chosen One?” The other answered, “Who is this One that I may believe?” “You are looking at him,” Jesus replied. “The Chosen One is speaking to you now.”

The healed one said, “Yes, I believe,” and worshiped Jesus. And Jesus said, “I came into this world to execute justice — to make the sightless see and the seeing blind.”

Hear what the Spirit is saying in the words of the Evangelist known as John. AMEN!

Homily and Shared Reflections  - Dennis McDonald, ARCWP

In his book, “The Fourth Gospel: Tales of a Jewish Mystic”, Bishop John Shelby Spong, views a segment of the Gospel, written by one of the five writers to whom the Gospel is attributed, as, what he calls, the “Book of Signs”.  He shares that this part of the Gospel identifies various characters, from Mary to Nicodemus to the Man Born Blind, the one in our Gospel reading today, as not real people, but rather as  mythical characters, and the stories surrounding them actually have a deeper underlying message.  
In today’s Gospel, the man born blind represents members of the Johannine Community, for whom this Gospel was written.  Following the death of Jesus, his followers continued to worship in the Synagogue, living a Jewish life, while recognizing Jesus as the Messiah.  In the beginning the leaders of the Synagogue accepted this, but as time went on both sides realized that it was just not working. In the end, the followers of Jesus were expelled from the synagogue. The Jewish leaders did not see how they could continue to allow those recognizing a Messiah, who they did not accept, to stay within the synagogue.  This is where the story of the Man Born Blind comes into play.  This person born blind meets Jesus, and Jesus opens his eyes, brings him from darkness into light.  The members of the Johannine Community were living in the dark, continuing to stay within the darkness of their traditional faith, even though they had grown beyond it.  Their eyes had been open to a new truth.  They had found a new way, a new path, a new tradition. They came to recognize Jesus as the “light of the world”, and they were following him and what he had taught as a way of life. The author of the story is providing an explanation to members of the Johannine Community of
As we approach the end of March, Women’s History Month, and its theme celebrating women who fought for the vote, it made me think of the women in the Roman Catholic Women Priest movement who decided not to wait for the Roman Catholic Hierarchy to recognize their call to priesthood.  Like the Jewish leaders in today’s Gospel, the Church Hierarchy has failed to open their eyes and recognize the divine call that women have heard for many, many years.  When those women act upon that divine call they are expelled from their traditional faith. But these women are responding to something greater than that tradition.  They are responding to the call implanted in them by their Creator.  They bravely step out and accept and embrace their true calling, their true self.   These women, as Bridget Mary Meehan, loves to say, are “not leaving the Church, but leading it” to a new way of being, creating a community of equals where everyone’s gifts are recognized and welcomed.  As the reading from Ephesians states, “Live as children of the light. Light produces every kind of goodness, justice, and truth”.  This is what these women and we have been called to, to wash the mud from our eyes and step out in new sight to a world that is hungry for light, for justice, and for truth. 
So, what did you hear? What “mud” may still be blocking you from seeing the Light in your life? When or how have you stepped out to shine the light for others?
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:  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 voice your intentions beginning with the words, “I bring to the table…..”  

Presider: We pray for these and all unspoken intentions. Amen.  

Holy One, we yearn to be close to you and to live in the embrace of your gentle wisdom. Your divine grace and love lead us away from our anxieties, fears and distractions and toward all that is blessed and joyous.  

Each of us is divinely created in Your image. We are precious to you and to each other because of who we are. We are beloved and blessed in your unconditional love, quite apart from how we act or fail to act.  

Thankful for Jesus who treated all of Creation with respect and abundant love, we resolve to follow his example to be a light in the darkness. We recognize Your loving Presence here with us today and always, and we sing: 

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! 
(Alleluia Sing by David Haas)

Dearest Holy One, there are times when we feel scarcity and emptiness even though we know You love us more than our human imagination can grasp. May we have the presence of mind to live in Your love. We strive to see You reflected in every person we meet. Guide us in sharing our gifts and in being open hearted so that we may accept help from others.   

We thank you for Jesus, who knew what it was like to be an outsider in occupied and foreign lands. May his presence prompt us to bring gospel kindness and understanding to the divisions and conflicts of our time.  

Presider: Please extend your hands in blessing. 

We call upon your Spirit that is present in us at this Eucharistic table. We are grateful for the bread and wine that remind us of our call to be the light of Christ to the world.  

On the night before he faced betrayal and death, Jesus shared supper with his 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 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. 
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. 

Holy One, your transforming grace inspires us to follow our consciences and bring comfort to wherever people are in need.  We pray for wisdom, patience and persistence to make a difference in our world. We resolve to love as Jesus loved, to discern the better angels of our nature with hearts open to your Spirit. Amen.  

Presider: 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: Please extend your hands in blessing. 
May the infinite beauty and joy of Creation continue to astound us   
May the Presence of the Divine always comfort and inspire us  
May we be the face of the Holy One in all we say and do, and  
May we be a blessing in our time. AMEN. 
Closing Song: Awake, O Sleeper

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Homily for 5th Sunday of Lent by Beverly Bingle RCWP, Seeing as God sees...

I saw a headline saying 
that the Pope is praying for the “lonely elderly” 
and realized that, 
though I’ve been at home alone for almost a week now, 
I’m not lonely. 
It’s Lent—always a time to stop and pray 
and think about our relationships—
with one another, with our family, our friends, strangers, 
and with God. 
A time to take stock, 
and this year we have lots of time to do just that. 
So I’ve been spending time thinking and praying… 
and talking with my chickens 
and walking in the garden. 
My days have not been lonely at all. 
But some people ARE lonely. 
They’re feeling restricted, caged in, isolated. 
They’re blind to the beautiful sproutings of spring—
the crocuses in bloom, 
the green spears of daffodils pushing up, 
the return of the songbirds, the bright sunny skies, 
the robins and blue jays showing up 
to join the year-round sparrows. 
Their loneliness, their isolation, keeps them from seeing. 
It’s like the passage about the man born blind that we just read. 
John creates this story to show that Jesus is the light of the world. 
The religious leaders do not “see”—do not understand—
because they only pay attention to the sabbath rules 
that Jesus is breaking. 
The blind man sees. 
And it’s like Samuel, in the first reading, 
who looks at outward appearances 
and wants to anoint Eliab as king, 
but he learns to see David’s heart and anoints him instead. 
Too often we look at the scriptures 
and see only the literal language of the past. 
We are blind to the meanings 
hidden in those symbols and metaphors from 2,000 years ago. 
We have no frame of reference for the stories that carry our faith. 
The man born blind finds his parents unwilling to stand up for him; 
his neighbors take him to the religious leaders; 
his religious leaders excommunicate him. 
People in our time find themselves free 
yet suffering exclusion in the same way: 
LGBT folks, partners in interracial marriages, divorced folks, 
those different somehow from what others think is right: 
their color, gender, marriage partner, divorce, religious belief. 
It’s a lifelong work to try to see as God sees, 
to learn to walk as children of light. 
One of the saintly folks at Holy Spirit, 
after spending the morning helping out at Claver House, 
sent me a note after the soup kitchen closed down on Monday that showed that she has learned to walk as a child of light. 
“There were only 15 guests who showed up,” she wrote. 
“Having just returned from there, 
I am full of the most terrible heartbreak. 
How truly wrenching it is to be in the midst 
of such desperation, poverty, and hopelessness 
that most of us are ‘safely’ distanced from. 
It would break your heart to be with these people, 
to watch a guy shaking so badly 
that he puts his head on the table 
trying to overcome what was probably a drug withdrawal.
And she wrote this about the volunteers who help there. 
“The people who for years 
have been committed to feeding their souls and bodies 
are nothing less than saints 
with a deep awareness of the need to help in any way they can 
to comfort these lonely, unkempt, sometimes smelly people, 
their clothes stained with dirt, wearing out-sized shoes, 
who can still laugh and joke with each other and keep going. 
It is the most spiritual experience one could witness—
it is like receiving Communion, the broken body of Christ.  
It changes you on the spot to realize 
there is so much misery and need in our greedy world.”
She sees. 
She is a follower of Jesus, a light to the world.
And so are you!

Public Domain