Thursday, May 21, 2020

Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community - Seventh Sunday of Easter - Presiders: Mary Theresa Streck, ARCWP, and Joan Chesterfield, ARCWP

Upper Room Liturgy – May 24, 2020
Ascension: Transition to Spiritual Awakening

"Ascension, according to the Gospel of Mary is more accurately a descent into the heart; so further up is actually further in."
Mary Magdalene Revealed by Meggan Watterson

Presiders: Mary Theresa Streck, ARCWP, and Joan Chesterfield, ARCWP

Welcome and Theme
Welcome! The theme for today’s liturgy is Ascension: Transition to Spiritual Awakening. In his teachings, Jesus told his followers in so many different ways that the kin-dom of the Holy One is not "out there" but within.  The second coming is not going to be on a cloud descending from the sky, but in our hearts when the "eyes of our hearts have been enlightened" and we live into a different kind of engagement with the Holy One and all of creation. Ascension, according to the Gospel of Mary is more accurately a descent into the heart; so further up is actually further in. Let us begin with our opening prayer. 

Opening Prayer
Holy One, we gather today mindful of Your creative, energizing magnificence at work in all places: in the vastness of the universe, in the evolutionary development of life on earth, and in every breath we take. In You we are one with everything and everyone. We open our hearts and minds to Your creative Presence, an energizing Power in the depths of our own being, knowing that we need not ask You to “Come”, but rather knowing You are always here with us in life, in being, in spirit, in love. Amen.
(adapted from Prayers for Progressive Christians by Michael Morwood)

Opening Song: Root of the Root by Sara Thomsen

This centering song invites us to awaken to the guiding light within.
Words and music by Sara Thomsen
Return returning
Return returning
To the root of the root
Home of your home
Return, return
Come home, come home
Come home, come home
Come home, come home
To the home of your home

Shining light, guide me
Golden light, inside me


Our first reading is Kinship by Greg Bolye

Mother Teresa diagnosed the world’s ills in this way: we’ve just “forgotten that we belong to each other.” Kinship is what happens to us when we refuse to let that happen. With kinship as the goal, other essential things fall into place; without it, no justice, no peace. I suspect that, were kinship our goal, we would no longer be promoting justice—we would be celebrating it.

Often we strike the high moral distance that separates “us” from “them,” and yet it is God’s dream come true when we recognize that there exists no daylight between us. Serving others is good. It’s a start. But it’s just the hallway that leads to the Grand Ballroom.

Kinship—not serving the other, but being one with the other. Jesus was not “a man for others”; he was one with them. There is a world of difference in that.

No daylight to separate us. Only kinship. 

Inching ourselves closer to creating a community of kinship such that God might recognize it. Soon we imagine, with God, this circle of compassion. Then we imagine no one standing outside of that circle, moving ourselves closer to the margins so that the margins themselves will be erased. We stand there with those whose dignity has been denied. We locate ourselves with the poor and the powerless and the voiceless. At the edges, we join the easily despised and the readily left out. We stand with the demonized so that the demonizing will stop. We situate ourselves right next to the disposable so that the day will come when we stop throwing people away. The prophet Habakkuk writes, “The vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment and it will not disappoint . . . and if it delays, wait for it.” Kinship is what God presses us on to, always hopeful that its time has come.

These are the inspired words of Greg Bolye and we affirm them by saying, Amen.

Alleluia (Sung)
Gospel: A Reading from the Gospel of John
Adapted from John 17: 1-11

Jesus prayed, “Abba, the hour has come.
Give glory to your son, so that your son may glorify you.
I revealed your name to those whom you gave me.

Now they know that everything you gave me is from you,
because the words you gave to me, I have given to them,
and they accepted them and truly understood that I came from you.

And they have believed that you sent me.
I pray for them.
Now I will no longer be in the world,
but they are in the world, while I am coming to you.”

These words are adapted from the Gospel of John, and we affirm them by saying, Amen.

Homily Starter by Mary Theresa

As a child, I was enamored by superheroes. I could not wait to get home from school to watch another episode of Superman. He could do what no humans on earth could do and he was the hero for those who embraced “truth, justice and the American way.” And if you remember, the opening of each show began with the words, “Look, up in the sky…” Humans in perilous situations depended on this superman from another world to save them.

And for so many centuries, Christians fixed their gaze on Jesus as a superhero savior and worshiped him. Salvation was through him and to be a good Christian, they simply had to believe in Church creeds and doctrines, and pray to a remote God through the priestly class.
But, Jesus never asked his followers to worship him. He invited them to embrace his message of compassionate love and follow him. He identified with being fully human and claimed familial unity with the Beloved, the Holy One. He taught his followers to take care of one another especially the poor and most vulnerable, and trust in the Divine Spirit working through them. He invited them to embrace the difficult work of discipleship.

The first followers of the Way of Jesus found themselves in a transition time when Jesus was no longer physically present to them. This was a time not of their choosing, and their world, as they knew it, was forever altered. They had to ask themselves fundamental questions about how to be a follower of Jesus. There was no manual, no creed, no catechism, no dogmas and doctrines, but they had each other and an awakening awareness of the power of the Spirit at work through them.

Like the first disciples, we are in a time of transition, certainly not of our choosing, and the Spirit is working in and through us for ourselves and for the global community. Theologian Diana Butler Bass, in her book Christianity After Religion, believes that the Great Global Awakening of the 21st Century is evident in the questions people are asking of religious institutions. These questions are big questions about believing, behaving and belonging and are leading to a different kind of engagement with faith.

The questions, “What do I believe? What creed do I follow?” are shifting to “How do I believe?  How do I engage this belief in the world? How does the living encounter with the Holy One make a difference in my life and in the life of others?”.

The questions, “How do I do it?  What manual do I follow?” is shifting to “What am I going to do?  What is my vocation and purpose?”

The question of “Who am I?” is changing to “Whose am I?” Whose life am I linked with? How do those connections, those communities make me a richer and different person?”

The first reading from Tattoos on the Heart by Greg Boyle is a loving and compassionate response to the questions of “How do I believe,”? “What am I going to do?” and “Whose am I?”

I believe the first followers of Jesus were responding to similar questions.  And, like them, we are coming to a greater awareness of the Spirit guiding us in our transition to our great awakening and evolving spiritual transformation.

What are your thoughts?

Presider 2: Let us pray together our Statement of Faith:

Statement of Faith

All: We believe in one God, 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 God's Word,
bringer of God's healing, heart of God's compassion,
bright star in the firmament of God's
prophets, mystics, and saints.

We believe that We are called to follow Jesus
as a vehicle of God's love,
a source of God's wisdom and truth,
and an instrument of God's peace in the world.

We believe in the Holy Spirit,
The life of God that is our innermost life,
the breath of God moving in our being.
The depth of God living in each of us.

We believe that God's 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 for the Community

Presider 1: As we prepare for the sacred meal, we acknowledge that just as Jesus is anointed, so is each of us. And we bring to this table our blessings, cares and concerns. 

Presider 1:  We pray for these and all unspoken intentions. Amen.


Presider 2:  We are a priestly people. We are anointed. With open hands and hearts, let us pray our Eucharistic prayer as one voice:

All: O Nurturing, Mothering one, You are always with us. We are grateful for Your constant loving and unconditional presence. At times we forget that You are holding us, attending to us. We fall and You pick us up. You send strangers, friends and family to our aid. We are never without Your Light and Spirit.

We experience great joy and we experience great pain and suffering. You are with us in the joy and the pain and suffering. When we experience Your presence we long to sing our hymn of praise:

Holy, Holy, Holy
(Words and music by Karen Druker)

We are holy, holy, holy,
We are holy, holy, holy,
We are whole.

Spirit Divine, Come to Me,
healing Love, healing Me.
Open my heart, allow me to see,
Beauty and love, lives in me.

You are holy, holy, holy…

All: Creator and Lover of all beings, we cannot grow in the darkness of this world without Your Light. Our desire to be in Your light is a gift from You. Help us keep our hearts and minds open to You through our love and care for each other and all creation.

Presider 2: Please extend your hands in blessing

All: This bread and wine is a sign of Your nourishment and a sign of Your great love. Your Spirit is upon us and we belong to You and one another.

We thank you for Jesus, simple servant, lifting up the lowly, revealing you as God-With-Us, revealing us as one with you, and all creation.

On the night before he died, Jesus gathered for the supper with the people closest to him. Like the least of household servants, he washed their feet. Once again, he showed us how to love one another.

All lift their plate as the community prays the following: 

All: Back at the table, he took the Passover Bread, spoke the grace, broke the bread and offered it to them saying, Take and eat, this is my very self.
 (consume bread and pause)  

All lift their cup as community prays the following: 

Then he took the cup of blessing, spoke the grace, and offered it to them 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)  

All: Bread and wine is transformed by Your Spirit and we are transformed when we open ourselves to Your Spirit. Every time we share this bread and wine we choose to be transformed. We choose to love as You love us.

As we celebrate and recognize You in this bread and wine we love and recognize you in each other. We are filled with gratitude and joy. Glory and Praise to you both now and forever. Amen

Presiders hold bread and cup:

Through him, we have learned how to live.
Through him, we have learned how to love.
Through him, we have learned how to serve.


Presider 1: Let us pray together the prayer of Jesus:

O Holy One, who is 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.


Presider 2:  Please extend your hands and pray our blessing together:

May the Spirit within us be a source of healing and consolation. May the Spirit within us strengthen us when we feel weak, warm us when we are cold-hearted, bend us when we are stubborn, move us when we are uncaring, guide us in the way of love. May we allow the Spirit within to empower us in all we do. Amen. (Michael Morwood)
All: Amen.

Presider 1: Our Closing song is a moving tribute to all of the generous souls who walk with us. Here is Good Job, by Alicia Keys.

Good Job

You're the engine that makes all things go
And you're always in disguise, my hero
I see your light in the dark
Smile in my face when we all know it's hard
There's no way to ever pay you back
Bless your heart, know I love you for that
Honest and selfless
I don't know if this helps it but
Good Job
You're doing a good job, a good job
You're doing a good job
Don't get too down
The world needs you now
Know that you matter
Matter, matter yeah
You're doing a good job, a good job
You're doing a good job
Don't get too down
The world needs you now
Know that you matter
Matter, matter yeah
Six in the morning
As soon as you walk through that door
Everyone needs you again
The world's out of order
It's not as sound
When you're not around
All day on your feet, hard to
Keep that energy, I know
When it feels like the end of the road
You don't let go
You just press forward
You're the engine that makes all things go
Always in disguise, my hero
I see a light in the dark
Smile in my face
When we all know it's hard
There is no way to ever pay you back
Bless your heart
Know I love you for that
Honest and selfless
I don't know if this helps it but
Good Job
You're doing a good job, a good job
Good job
You're doing a good job
Don't get too down
The world needs you now
Know that you matter
Matter, matter yeah
It's a good job
You're doing a good job, a good job
Good job
You're doing a good job
Don't get too down
The world needs you now
Know that you matter
Matter, matter yeah
The mothers, the fathers
The teachers that reach us
Strangers to friends
That show up in the end
From the bottom to the top
The listeners that hear us
This is for you
You make me fearless
You're doing a good job, a good job
You're doing a good job
Don't get too down
The world needs you now
Know that you matter
Matter, matter yeah

MMOJ Music for Seventh Sunday of Easter

 OPENING Song: “Blessing Song” by Jan Phillips

PROMISE SONG: “I Will Not Leave You Comfortless” by Jan Phillips


Gospel Acclamation (2nd Half)

Offertory Song: How Can Anyone Ever Tell you by Jan Phillips

All: We are holy, holy, holy (Karen Drucker)

Communion Meditation Song:  “In the Stillness” by Karen Drucker

Closing Song:  Blessing to the World – Karen Drucker

Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community - Feast of Ascension - Presiders: Elena Garcia, ARCWP, and Judy Connelly

Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community 
 Feast of the Ascension /Seventh Sunday of Easter 
 May 23, 2020 
 Presiders: Judy Connelly and Elena Garcia ARCWP 
 Lectors: Michael Rigdon and Kevin Connelly 

Theme: “I will not leave you comfortless”                                                         
Elena: We warmly welcome you to the inclusive catholic community of Mary, Mother of Jesus in Sarasota, Florida where all are welcome.   Because of the pandemic, we have been unable to gather in St. Andrew UCC Church where we have met for many years.   As usual, God has brought good out of what seems bad, and has given us the gift of being able to go beyond the boundaries of space and time to include friends and family from North and South, East and West- something we would love to have done before, but couldn’t imagine how!  

Elena: Let us join in to sing our OPENING Song: “Blessing Song” by Jan Phillips

Judy: Let us pause for a moment to reflect, on a time when in hindsight we wish we had been less judgmental, more patient, more compassionate, more present, kinder etc. Now imagine this person(s) or situation in the light of healing love as we ask for forgiveness and reconciliation.
Please raise your hand in blessing and say the “Ho’oponopono Prayer.”  
Judy and All:           I am sorry.   Please forgive me.   Thank you.   I love you.  

Elena:  Almighty and Eternal God, gladden us with holy joy and grant us the grace to rejoice with devout thanksgiving, for the Ascension of Jesus the Christ, your Son is our exaltation. Where the Head has gone before in glory, the Body is called to follow in hope. We ask this in the name of Jesus, the Christ, your son who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit Sophia Wisdom, one God forever and ever.
Elena and All: Amen

                                                               LITURGY OF THE WORD
FIRST READING: (Michael)  Acts 1:1-11
The first reading is from the Acts of the Apostles
Dear Theophilus, in the first volume of this book I wrote on everything that Jesus began to do and teach until the day he said goodbye to the apostles, the ones he had chosen through the Holy Spirit, and was taken up to heaven.  After his death, he presented himself alive to them in many different settings over a period of forty days.  In face-to-face meetings, he talked to them about things concerning the kin-dom of God.  As they met and ate meals together, he told them that they were on no account to leave Jerusalem but “must wait for what the Father promised: the promise you heard from me.  John baptized in water; you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit. And soon.”
When they were together for the last time they asked, “Master, are you going to restore the kin-dom to Israel now? Is this the time?”
He told them, “You don’t get to know the time.  Timing is the Father’s business.  What you’ll get is the Holy Spirit.  And when the Holy Spirit comes on you, you will be able to be my witnesses in Jerusalem, all over Judea and Samaria, even to the ends of the world.”
These were his last words.  As they watched, he was taken up and disappeared in a cloud.  They stood there, staring into the empty sky.  Suddenly two men appeared – in white robes!  They said, “You Galileans! – why do you just stand there looking up at the empty sky?  This very Jesus who was taken up from among you to heaven will come as certainly – and mysteriously – as he left.”
This is a reading from the Acts of the Apostles and we affirm it by saying
Michael and All:  “Amen”.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM 66:  (Michael)  Psalm 47 from “Psalms for Praying” by Nan Merrill.
Michael and All: Clap your hands people of all nations!

Michael:    Acclaim the Creator with joyful songs! Rejoice in the beauty of diversity!
The Beloved of our hearts is mighty, reigning over all of Creation: the land, sea and air.
Love Consciousness invites all people to co-creation, the nations to peace.
Love Consciousness is our heritage, our birth right, to be awakened in every soul. 

Michael and All: Clap your hands people of all nations!

Michael:  Let the Love you are sing praises with loud acclamation; join the cosmic dance of celebration!
Sing praises to the Creator, Sing praises to the Beloved, sing praises one and all!
For Love Consciousness created the universe, let us dance to the flute and the harp.
Love Consciousness hovers over the nations, awaiting our awakening to Love.

Michael and All: Clap your hands people of all nations!

Michael:   May the leaders of the nations gather as One, choosing to walk in peace.
For Earth is made of Love and Light; abandoning ourselves to your Will,
We can choose the path of healing. We sing songs of gratitude for Earth:
Our home, to You, O Great Healer, Life of our lives.

Michael and All: Clap your hands people of all nations!

PROMISE SONG: “I Will Not Leave You Comfortless” by Jan Phillips

SECOND READING: (Kevin) Ephesians 1:17-23

I ask – ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of Glory – to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the intensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him – endless energy, boundless strength!
All this energy issues from the Christ: God raised him from death and set him on a throne deep in heaven, in charge of running the universe, everything from galaxies to governments, no name and no power exempt from his rule. And not just for the time being, but forever.  He is in charge of it all, has final word on everything.  At the center of all this, Christ rules the church. The church , you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church.  The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence.
These are the inspired words of Paul in a letter to the Ephesians and we affirm them by saying
Kevin and All: “Amen”


 GOSPEL READING:  (Judy)  Matthew 28:16-20

Meanwhile, the eleven disciples were on their way to Galilee, headed for the mountains Jesus had set for their reunion.  The moment they saw him they worshiped him.  Some, though, held back, not sure about worship, about risking themselves totally.

Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge:  “God authorized and commanded me to commission you:  Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking  them by baptism in the three-fold name: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you.  I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.”

This is the Good News as shared by the Apostle Matthew and we affirm these words by saying
Judy and All:  “Amen”.

Gospel Acclamation (2nd Half)
Homilist: (Elena) If you feel called to share, unmute yourself, raise your hand and wait to be asked to speak.  Mute yourself again after speaking.

STATEMENT OF FAITH  (Taken from “The Friends in Faith” and shared by Joan Meehan)
Elena: Let us now profess our faith.
Elena and All: 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 struggle, 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.

Judy: As we prepare for the sacred meal, we bring to this table our blessings, cares and concerns.  We give you thanks, Christ Jesus for your appearances to your early followers and the many ways you appear to us. We cry out in Joy!
Judy:  Christ Jesus you sent your followers to preach the good news to all creation.
Judy and All: May all people and all creatures experience your justice and love through those who profess faith in you.
Judy:  You told us that signs and wonders would accompany our profession of faith.
Judy and All:  Safeguard us from literalism and give us the wisdom and insight to hear your words in the reality of our lives.

Judy:  After leaving your disciples you continued to work with them.
Judy and All: Strengthen our faith in your presence in times of darkness and disillusionment.

Judy:  We see with you our overworked and stressed friends and neighbors who care for the sick and who keep our civilization running. 
Judy and All:  Stand beside them, strengthen them, and work through them.

Judy: For what else shall we pray?  
            Unmute your microphone Speak your concern when there is an opening
            Re-mute your microphone

(Judy)  We pray for these and all unspoken concerns we hold in the silence of our hearts.  
All: Amen.

OFFERTORY SONG: “How Can Anyone Ever Tell you” by Jan Phillips or Shaina Noll

PRESENTATION OF GIFTS     (Please set out your own bread and wine.)

Elena: Blessed are you, God of all life.    Through your goodness we have bread, wine, all creation, these prayers of the heart, 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.
Elena and All: Blessed be God forever.

Elena: God is within you, blessing the world through you.
Elena and All: And within you.

Elena: 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 make decisions.   This transformation seems to come through difficulties and pain, yet you are there with us always.   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 (Karen Drucker)

Judy: Our Holiness is your Holiness within us. Help us to seize opportunities to reveal it to the world.

Judy and All: You pour out Your Spirit anew upon this bread and wine and upon us as we become more deeply the Christ Presence in our world. On the night before he died, Jesus gathered for the Seder supper with the men and women he loved.   He washed their feet.   For this they would remember him.

Judy : Please lift the bread as we pray the Prayers of Consecration:
Judy and 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, my body, given to strengthen you.   Whenever you remember me like this, I am among you. (pause)
Judy: Please lift the cup as we pray:

Judy and 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)

Elena: Let us share this bread and cup, and welcome everyone to the Banquet as we live the gospel of justice and peace in our world.
Elena and ALL: 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.
Elena and 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
Elena:  Let us pray as Jesus taught us:
Prayer of Jesus: “Our Father and Mother…”
Judy:  Sign of Peace: If you are with others now, please turn to them and share a sign of peace. Then let us all face the screen and express a sign of peace to one another.   
“May God’s peace be with you”
Prayer for the Breaking of the Bread
Elena: Please join in the prayer for the breaking of the bread.
Elena and All:  O God of Courage, You call us to live the Gospel of peace and justice.
We will live justly.   O God of Compassion, You call us to be your presence in the world.   We will love tenderly.   O God of Truth, You call us to speak truth to power.   We will walk with integrity in your presence.
(All hold up the bread and wine.)
Judy:  This is the bread of life and the cup of blessing.   Through it we are nourished and we nourish each other .
Judy and 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.

Elena:   Please now receive Communion with the words “ I am (You are) the Body of Christ” and “I am (You are) the Blood of Christ”

Communion Meditation Song:  “In the Stillness” by Karen Drucker

Judy: Let us raise our hands and bless each other.
Judy and All: May you be blessed with a restless discomfort about easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships.  
May you seek truth boldly and love deeply within your heart.
May you continue to be the face of the Holy One to all you meet.
May your name be a blessing in our time.

Elena:  Prayers of Thanksgiving, Announcements:

Closing Prayer
Elena:  O Holy One we believe that Jesus, your Incarnate Word lives in you and in us. Strengthen our faith ,hope and love that your reign will be proclaimed in our lives and the presence of your Spirit be manifested in our thoughts words and actions. We ask this through Jesus and in the Holy Spirit.
Elena and All:  AMEN
Closing Song:  Blessing to the World – Karen Drucker