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Meeting ID: 825 1215 9155
November 1, 2020 Liturgy of the Beatitudes
Welcome and Theme:
Julie: Good morning and welcome to the Upper Room. Our liturgy this morning celebrates All Saints and All Souls Day with the theme of Extravagant Blessings. We are indeed blessed to have you with us today.
Tim: Holy one, we celebrate today to connect with each other and to remind us of Your presence. We belong to You and You belong to each of us. Today we consider our saints, those who inspire us to get up when we feel beaten down, to speak when others cannot speak, to see clearly the path we must follow, those who have gone before us or are around us now. May we always be aware of your presence and great love. AMEN.
Peace and Opening Song: Julie: Before we begin the Liturgy of the Word, let us take a moment to settle ourselves, find a bit of peace within ourselves and each other. Please join us in singing Namaste. https://youtu.be/Hxf8QFTkYY8
LITURGY OF THE WORD
Bridget: Our first reading is from Nadia Bolz Weber.
What if the beatitudes aren’t about a list of conditions we should try and meet to be blessed? What if these are not virtues we should aspire to but what if Jesus saying blessed are the meek is not instructive –what if it’s performative? …meaning the pronouncement of blessing is actually what confers the blessing itself. Maybe the sermon on the mount is all about Jesus’ seemingly lavish blessing of the world around him especially that which society doesn’t seem to have much time for, people in pain, people who work for peace instead of profit, people who exercise mercy instead of vengeance. So maybe Jesus is actually just blessing people, especially the people who never seem to receive blessings otherwise. I mean, come on, doesn’t that just sound like something Jesus would do? Extravagantly throwing around blessings as though they grew on trees?
So if you are here mourning, or feeling forsaken, abused, unseen, or no-longer-useful. If you, perhaps like myself, are all too aware that it is not your strength and virtue that qualify you to be called a saint, but your need for a God who makes beautiful things out of dust, then this meal we are about to eat is for you. It is as much for we who believe we have no need for it as it is for we who believe we are not worthy of it. And know that it is not your ability to do for yourself, but your hunger that qualifies you to be fed. For it is a beatitude meal: the broken, blessed and given body of Christ. So as you come, behold who you are. And as the blessings Jesus pronounced on the mount so long ago – know that it is here that you become what you receive.
These are the inspired words of Nadia Bolz Weber and the community affirms them by saying AMEN.
Gospel: Matthew 5:1-12A
Bernie: A reading from Matthew.
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on the mountainside, and after he sat down and the disciples had gathered around, Jesus began to teach them:
“Blessed are those poor in spirit:
the kindom of heaven is theirs.
Blessed are those who are mourning:
they will be consoled.
Blessed are those who are gentle:
they will inherit the land.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice:
for they will have their fill.
Blessed are those who show mercy to others:
they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are those whose hearts are clean:
they will see God.
Blessed are those who work for peace:
they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted because of their struggle for justice:
the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
“You are fortunate when others insult you and persecute you, and utter every kind of slander against you because of me. Be glad and rejoice, for your reward in heaven is great.”
These are the inspired words of the anonymous storyteller we call Matthew and the community affirms them by saying AMEN!
Tim: During the years attending Catholic elementary school, I was enthralled by the litany of saints during Mass on the Solemnity of All Saints: “St. Peter, pray for us. Saint Brigid, pray for us.” I was thrilled whenever my patron saint, Timothy, was included in the litany! To me, sainthood was an achievement which seemed unreachable to me—only a special few achieved sainthood. As I got older in my teen years, the Gospel reading of the Beatitudes, always read on November 1, was a path I could strive to follow.
As my spiritual journey continued after college, I was a member of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps down in a flood-ravaged area of West Virginia; 2 years later I joined the Roman Catholic congregation of priests and brothers, the Glenmary Home Missioners, to become a priest. During this time as a volunteer, and the 4 years of my Glenmary study and experience, I strove through prayer and sacrifice and work to live a virtuous life. Yet, I began experiencing what is described by Nadia Bolz Weber, the author of today’s first reading, a disconnect. My path to move from sin to a virtuous life, a theme throughout my Catholic upbringing, the “...list of conditions we should try and meet to be blessed,” was not inspiring me anymore. The prayers and sacrifices of mine, my “good works,” seemed too self-serving, insular from the world. A hierarchical church, lacking inclusivity, concentrating on rites and rituals that emphasized personal sacrifice and salvation and so often silent on society’s justice concerns—I could not continue on.
While I continued to love the Catholic church, sainthood and the church seemed much bigger than the Roman Catholic church. Nadia Bolz Weber writes that in the Beatitudes, perhaps Jesus was “...blessing the world around him especially that which society doesn’t seem to have much time for, people in pain, people who work for peace instead of profit, people who exercise mercy instead of vengeance.” She implies we can be saints while also being sinners. Take off one’s blinders, look around. Accept the blessing, recognize the saints in all the religions, all genders, races, sexual orientations, cultures. Accept that I can be a saint, today—it is my choice.
So, again we return to the Beatitudes, and the saints around us.
During March and April, I felt so powerless watching my beloved New York City close down as COVID spread, and simultaneously the country and the world. Hospitals filled up, nurses, doctors, first responders and health care staff had and continue to make the difficult decision to treat the infected and risk their lives with infection:
“Blessed are those who show mercy to others...”
I felt stunned by the incredible death toll of my fellow New Yorkers—500 a day, 600, 700, 800 a day, funeral homes overflowing! And for every person who died throughout the world, there is a friend, a spouse, a child, a parent, a family left to say goodbye in a new, socially distant manner, no church or temple or mosque with open doors:
“Blessed are those who are mourning...”
I watched as our school teachers were asked to immediately learn how to and then begin their teaching online, many students lacking computer resources, with many teachers simultaneously caring for their own young children, with cafeteria workers suddenly needing to get nutritious lunches to student homes:
“Blessed are those who are gentle...”
I read and watched as cars across the country lined up for hours, in order to receive food they, the newly unemployed, now needing help to put food on the table. Unprecedented and staggering. And I read about the workers and volunteers at the food banks and food pantries who just accepted the challenge, working tirelessly, risking their own health, people donating food, all working to feed the hungry
“Blessed are those whose hearts are clean...”
And then, there was an 8 minute 46 second video, George Floyd tortured and killed, a death we could not ignore, unveiling the unjust daily killing of black men and women in this country, a systemic, long-standing police racial bias that was graphically and clearly exposed. An up swelling of Black Lives Matter demanding reform:
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice...”
In mid-October, I read about the remaining 545 immigrant children who were separated from their parents at the border of Mexico over 2 years ago, who have yet to be reunited with their parents. I read about the parents and children living in inhumane conditions on the Mexican border, awaiting their turn to plead for asylum in this country, hoping for a better, safer life, and the people advocating for them:
“Blessed are they who are persecuted because of their struggle for justice...”
We and others continually strive to be better, to seek justice, to remain aware of and concerned for the poor, to allow grace to flourish. We do what we can, with the gifts and energy we have. The Spirit is within each of us, we are connected to each other throughout the world, and remain connected even when we have let go of our last breath within the communion of saints.
This Upper Room community is filled with much wisdom. Please, consider sharing your thoughts.
Homily Wrap Up:
Julie: Thank you all for your heartfelt and insightful comments. You are a blessing to our community.
Statement of Faith:
Tim: 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.
Julie: As we prepare for the sacred meal, we bring to this table our blessings, cares and concerns. Dennis will read the intentions.
Liturgy of the Eucharist
Tim: With open hands let us pray our Eucharistic Prayer together:
O Holy One, the first passion of Jesus was his passion for you and for justice so that all may reap the beauty and bounty of Creation in equal measure. Jesus lived to incarnate your justice for all the world according to your covenant with Israel. In solidarity with Jesus, and with all the faithful men and women who have gone before us, we lift up our hearts and sing:
Holy, Holy, Holy https://youtu.be/nTewBnxBy30
Words and Music by Karen Drucker
We are Holy, Holy, Holy.
We are Holy, Holy, Holy.
We are Holy, Holy, Holy.
We are whole.
Spirit divine, Come to me
Feeling love, Healing me .
Open my heart, Allow me to see,
Beauty & love, Lives in me.
You are Holy, Holy, Holy…
Julie: 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.
We are standing in the right place with Jesus when we let go of money, possessions, pride and privilege, to become vulnerable and open to you, to accept poverty of spirit and reliance on you.
We are standing with You when we are compassionate for all human beings, and when we extend empathy and love to everyone, especially the poor, oppressed, and mournful. We remember all those who suffer and die each year from war, poverty and unjust disease. We mourn for them, and for all creatures we destroy, and for the earth itself.
Tim: We are blessed when we are gentle, nonviolent, courageous and humble, like your saints. We pray to grow in awareness of our unity with all of creation and co-create with You our earth as a sanctuary of peace.
We rejoice, O Holy One, as we join the lineage of Your prophets of justice and peace. We, Your daughters and sons, continue to work with Your grace as we arise and walk forward in the footsteps of our peace-loving brother, Jesus.
Julie: On the night before he died, Jesus did more than ask us to remember him. He showed us how to live in humility and generosity when he washed the feet of his friends.
All lift their plates and pray the following:
Tim: At the table, he took the Passover Bread, spoke the grace, 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)
All lift their cups and pray the following:
Julie: 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)
Tim: 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.
Julie: You are the face of God and a blessing to us all.
All consume their bread and wine at this time.
Communion Meditation/Song: We Are All Angels by Karen Drucker https://youtu.be/DwsQFuivQrU
Prayer after communion:
Tim: Holy One, 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. Amen.
Julie: Let us pray as Jesus taught us:
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 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
(Miriam Therese Winter)
Tim: Let us raise our hands and bless each other.
May we be blessed with a restless discomfort about easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships.
May we seek truth boldly and love deeply.
May we continue to be the face of the Holy One, and
May our names be a blessing in our time.
Julie: Please join us in singing Anthem by Tom Conry
The Eucharistic Prayer is adapted from Beatitudes for Peace by John Dear.