Thursday, March 18, 2021

Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Liturgy, 5th Sunday of Lent, March 20, 2021, Presiders Janet La Galbo and Katy Zatsick ARCWP, Readers: Jerry Bires and Joan Pesce, Music Minister Linda Lee Miller

Zoom Link

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85108095506?pwd=Y3IyS0xkaWZ1WGRUOXlZMm5qcE1Fdz09         

 4:00 PM Eastern Daylight Time

ID 851- 0809-5506

Passcode 1066

Theme: “We Reflect on our Sacred Time of Lent Experience 2021” 

Photo by James Lee on Unsplash

https://unsplash.com/photos/ww-g7AEbn6U





Photo by Jerry Larry on Unsplash

https://unsplash.com/photos/7uvixXrQkfw


Welcome -Jan:                                                                              

Welcome to our MMOJ liturgical gathering for the last Sunday of Lent. We rejoice that we can celebrate liturgy together during difficult times. We extend to one another words of welcome, peace, and thanksgiving assuring each other that all here are a part of this holy gathering. We invite you to pray the liturgy with us. You will be muted during the liturgy except for the presiders and readers. We thank our readers Jerry and Joan, our music minister Linda Lee and our ITs Peg Bowen and Pat Macmillan. For the shared homily and sharing gratitude, please unmute and re-mute yourself. Please have bread and wine/juice in front of you for communion and a lighted candle to remind us that God is always present. 


Katy- Theme: Today we celebrate the last Sunday of Lent and our prayers, writings, and reflection focus on our spiritual experience of this Lent.  How have we experienced God who is all that exists as Love Energy of Evolution and creation? Have we spent time alone with God and what have we heard and experienced of Holy Mystery’s presence in our lives? What is now written on our hearts? Jesus asks us to follow his Way, have we heard a Word from our Wise Elder Brother and how are we responding? And will respond as we experience Jesus’ resurrection in our souls once more? 


Opening Song: There is Only Love by Karen Drucker



https://youtu.be/MLRcGBAIccQ


Jan and All: Opening Prayer

Loving God, we come to listen to your Word, to experience your Word alive within us. May we find springs of Living Water as we journey through this wilderness time. May we learn and grow into who you call us to be following your path for our unique life.  In the closing days of our Lenten journey may we spend time uncovering your gifts within us.  May we discover new beginnings through your Unconditional Love and your Presence in our lives. Amen. 


Remembering our living in the Communion of Saints and inviting their wisdom as we complete our Lenten journey

 Katy and All: Loving God, we live and move and have our being in You. We give thanks for those throughout history who witnessed to your presence through lives characterized by love, mercy, compassion, generosity and forgiveness. We remember Mary and Joseph your parents and our own special saints we have known in our life time. May our ancestors in life and faith (pause: recall to mind those who shared wisdom with you) journey with us now as we spend time listening to Jesus Christ who is our Way 


Katy-Sign of Peace: Let us offer each other a sign of the Peace of Christ who walks with us through our Lenten journey.  (Namaste pose or other greeting) 

Katy and All: Namaste. May the Peace of Holy Mystery be yours as we journey with Jesus’ in his final weeks of earthly life. 


Liturgy of the Word


Joan: First Reading taken from Sr. Ilio Delio, “The Unbearable Wholeness of Being; God, Evolution, and the Power of Love” p 69-70


If God is at the heart of this physical, evolving cosmos, then love is the energy that makes everything precious and alive.  God is the ultimate wholeness and depth of love, the inner Omega of everything from the smallest quark to the largest galaxy. Because divine love is totally (author’s emphasis) other- centered the whole cosmos is a theophany, a revelation of God’s glory. Michael Meerson states: “God’s ultimate reality cannot be located in substance (what it is in itself) but only in personhood; what God is toward another. God exist as the mystery of persons in communion. God exists in freedom and ecstasies. Only in communion can God be what God is, and only in communion can God be God at all…Since love produces communion among persons, love causes God to be who God is” …The revelation of God as love (Jn 4:13) means that God is the most dynamic, most relational, most unitive, and most personal love---the love of all love. The inspired word of Ilio Delio and we affirm by saying. All: So be it. 


Responsorial Psalm: Karen Drucker “I am the one within you” 



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xpa1U_Pa-E


Jerry: Second Reading Jeremiah 31:31-34 

Behold the days are coming, says YHWH, when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and the House of Judah. …But this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says YHWH: I will put my Law in their minds and on their hearts, I will be their God and they will be my people.  The inspired word of Jeremiah and we affirm by saying All: So be it. 


Katy and All: Holy Mystery, Loving, Creating, Liberating, in you we live and move and have our being. 


Jan: the Gospel is from John 12:20-26 (from the Message, the Bible in Contemporary Language by Eugene H. Peterson)

There were some Greeks in town who had come up to worship at the Feast.  They approached Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee; “Sir, we want to see Jesus. Can you help us?” Philip went and told Andrew. Andrew and Philip together told Jesus.  Jesus answered, “Time’s up. The time has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over.  In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life.  But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal. 


If any of you wants to serve me, then follow me. Then you’ll be where I am, ready to serve at a moment’s notice.  Holy Mystery will honor and reward anyone who serves me. We affirm these inspired words of John and affirm them by saying:  All: So be it. 


Katy All: Holy Mystery, Loving, Creating, Liberating, in you we live and move and have our being. 


HOMILY STARTER


Katy: Let us listen to our reflection music, then you may share your thoughts/experience of God’s Presence this Lent or your thoughts on our readings. 


Linda Lee:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9fnOG6jyIJo


Jan responds:


Katy responds: In reflecting on our journey in the desert with Jesus this lent, what has been your spiritual experience? 

“God doesn’t always ask for huge things. God asks for the doable things to be done differently.  

SEE! God is PRESENCE even in the unlikely ones around us.  PRESENCE is the familiar and the stranger because GOD IS and we must be.

KNOW! God is PRESENCE in the cool refreshing water of success and the wholeness. 

TRUST! God is PRESENCE in the dirt and in the doubts, in the trying and in the wondering, in the starting over and in the going home.

PRESENT ONE: Act in us—for us—save us—come.”  (Linda Ballard, OSC, 2006)

During this Lent, what has Holy Mystery placed on my heart? Has Holy Mystery creator of all touched me through nature?   

How has Jesus the Universal Christ asked me to follow on his Way? How has Holy Mystery shown love toward me this Lent? 


AFFIRMATION OF FAITH 

(from ARCWP Community of St Bridget)

Jan and all: We believe that where people are gathered together in love,

God is present and good things happen and life is full.


Jerry and all: We believe that we are immersed in mystery, that our lives are more than they seem, 

that we belong to each other and to a universe of great creative energies, whose source and destiny is God.

We believe that the spirit of God beat in the heart of Jesus of Nazareth,

and God’s Good News was heard by the broken and wounded.


Joan and all: We are glad that the spirit of peace is present with us, the People of God

as we gather to celebrate our common existence, and the fidelity of God.

And most deeply we believe that in our struggle to Love, we incarnate God in the world.


Jan and all: And so aware of mystery and wonder, caught in friendship and laughter, 

we become speechless before the joy in our hearts as we celebrate the sacredness of life 

in this bread broken and wine poured out to be shared by all.  Amen.  (John Shea, adapted.)


PRAYERS OF THE COMMUNITY

 You, O Holy One are our place of refuge; You continue to call us forth to be your people in a world of division and distress. You speak to us in the silence of our hearts, and we listen. And then we speak to you from the fullness of our hearts. And this listening and this speaking comes from an awareness of your presence within us and all of creation.  Response All: May we listen for Sophia Wisdom as we journey.


Jan: For the healing of all those impacted by Covid 19 especially for those who have lost friends or family. R: 

Jerry: For the Biden-Harris administration, all State and local elected officials that the American Rescue Plan will bring relief to all especially those most in need. R.

Joan: That all Americans will support the Constitution of the United States and the Rule of Law with equal justice for all. R. 

Jan: That House bill HR 1 pass in the Senate to protect equal voting rights across this nation at Federal and State levels. R

Katy: (lifting up MMOJ Book of Community Prayers) For all the intercessions in our MMOJ Book of Prayers. R. 

Katy: For what else should we pray: 


Katy and All: O Holy Mystery, you bring to birth your ever evolving creation of the universe and humanity.  During our Lenten journey give us courage to act justly and work collaboratively to change systems that keep people poor and marginalized in our society.  May our lives give praise to you as we walk you Way. Amen


PREPARATION OF THE GIFTS

Jan: (lifting up the bread) Blessed are you, O God, Creator of all.  In this time of our Lenten journey, our bread is your MMOJ community as we gather together bringing our souls’ openness to know you ever deeper.  Through your divine providence, we have this bread to offer, it will become for us the Bread of Life.   ALL:  Jesus, fill our souls with your Spirit as we journey to be with Jesus on Palm Sunday


Jerry: (lifting up the wine) Blessed are you, Holy Mystery.  This wine is our desire to live following your Way of Love, as we complete our Lenten journey, we remain open to be filled with your grace and presence.  Through your divine providence, we have this wine to offer, it will become our spiritual drink.  ALL:  Jesus, fill our souls with your Spirit as we journey to be with Jesus on Palm Sunday. 


Katy and All: Blessed are you, God of all creation and life, through your goodness we have this bread and wine and our own lives to offer as our gifts to you. Through this sacred meal and the gifts of Sophia Wisdom may we on our Lenten journey become your Loving Presence for all. Amen. 


EUCHARISTIC PRAYER


Holy, Holy, Holy:  MMOJ We are holy, holy, holy …you, I, we.  



https://youtu.be/orKBBIj5LZA


Jerry: We thank you for Jesus, who loved so greatly, taught so clearly, and proclaimed so courageously.  Jesus set people free from images, ideas and religious practices that bound them in fear and a false sense of separation from you. Through Jesus, we know our loving actions become a share in your life.  In Jesus, we see your Spirit challenging us to make your presence more visible on earth.


Joan and All: We thank You for Your Spirit of life and love among us. We are grateful that Your Spirit sets us free to discover your presence within us and in all of creation.  And for this we thank and praise You.  All: Loving God, intensify the presence of Your Spirit in these our gifts, as they, and we, become the Body and Blood of Jesus the Christ for our holiness and the wholeness of all creation. 


(Please extend your hands in Blessing over the bread and wine) 


Katy and All: We remember that on the night before he died while at supper with his friends, family and disciples, Jesus took bread, spoke the blessing, broke the bread and offered it all those present saying: “Take and eat, this is my body.”    (Pause)

 

Jan and All: When supper was ended, Jesus took the cup of wine, spoke the blessing and offered it to his family, friends and disciples saying: “Take and drink of the covenant made new again through my life in you. Do this in memory of me.”

 

Jerry: Let us proclaim the mystery of faith.  

Jerry and All: Nurtured by your Word, nourished by your food, called anew to be your people as we journey through Lent, we acclaim your praise.


Jan: Loving God, through Jesus You entrusted this pledge of love to us.  We celebrate the memory of his life, death and resurrection, and bring to You the gifts You have given us: reconciliation, justice, and peace. You fill us with Your Spirit in the sharing of this meal. You keep us in communion with one another and with all living beings. Your Spirit makes us a sign of unity, a model of equality and instruments of Your peace. 


Jan and All (Lift up the bread and wine) and sing: 


Great Amen:  Linda Lee Miller 



https://youtu.be/Dy76fpfkNsg


Katy and All: Let us pray together the prayer of Jesus who knowing we would walk through our Lenten desert in challenging times taught us this prayer: 


Heavenly Mother, Heavenly Father, 

Holy and Blessed is your true name.

We pray for your reign of peace to come,

We pray that your good will be done,

Let heaven and earth become ONE.

Give us this day the bread we need,

Give it to those who have none.

Let forgiveness flow like a river through us,

From each one to each one to each one.

Lead us to holy innocence

Beyond the evil of our days.

Come swiftly Mother, Father, Come!

For yours is the power, the glory, and the mercy—

Forever your name is All in One. Amen          

(Parker Palmer, Quaker Writer and Teacher, WI)


(All: Lift up the Bread and wine/juice)


Jan and All: This is the bread of Life; we will taste and see that our Loving God is good. We are worthy to receive the Body and Blood of Christ because we are the Body of Christ.  Amen. 

Jerry and Joan: Let us now eat and drink mindful that The Holy One is present in each of us as we journey through entering into a deeper relationship with our Brother Jesus and our human family. All: Jesus you affirm our worthiness and by your word, we will heal the world.    


Communion Meditation:  


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AaLQuVNrh2Q
  

Irish Blessing by Bill Leslie                                                                                        

Katy 

God of new beginnings, thank you for nourishing us in your sacrament. Reminding us again of the power of your Infinite Presence within; we complete our journey through Lent. May we continue to open our hearts to the daily miracles of life that surround us each day as you speak to us through our thoughts, feelings and events of each day. We ask this in Your Holy Name.  All: Amen


Katy-Prayers of Gratitude, Introductions, and Announcements.


Katy and Jan: Let us raise our hands in blessing as we pray:

All: O God, may we give praise and rejoice for your call to renew and deepen our relationship with you this Lenten journey.

May we be ready and eager to accept your invitation to grow deeper in relationship with You in the depths of our souls and being.

May we hear Your truth for us in the silence of our bodies, minds and souls.

May we be open for healing transformation of our character defects during this holy season. 

May we have the strength to serve you more faithfully as we await resurrection with you on Easter.

May our efforts to grow ever deeper into our relationship with you be pleasing to you. 

This we ask through Jesus Christ who is our Way, our truth and our life. Amen

All: Thanks be to God. Let our journey be so!


Closing Song: “I have loved you” written by Michael Joncas, adapted and sung by Linda Lee 


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VNIQL9zotuY

“Jan’s response: This Lent my journey to awareness of God’s presence has taken me outside to nature. We have a flowering plant called “Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow “. Each blossom opens in its own time. The first day each blossom is a deep purple color. The second day that blossom becomes a pale lavender, and the third day it transitions to brilliant white. This spoke to me of the journey we take from our mourning purple of Good Friday to our dazzling white of Easter Morning. A Resurrection message from God in our garden.’

https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/shrubs/yesterday-today-tomorrow/
yesterday-today-tomorrow-plant.htm



If you want to add an intercession to our MMOJ Community Prayer book, please send an email to katyrcwp@tampabay.rr.com


If you want to invite someone to attend our liturgy, please refer them to the day’s liturgy at www.MaryMotherofJesus.org

Or www.BridgetMarys.blogspot.com


To support our community, please send your check to:

Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community

St Andrew UCC, 6908 Beneva Rd, Sarasota, FL 34238



Tuesday, March 16, 2021

The Vatican ‘Doubts’ Same Sex Love, But More Doubt the Vatican by Dr. Mary Hunt, My Response How Can Pope Francis and the Vatican Doubt Same-Sex Love When Bible Defines God as Love?

 https://religiondispatches.org/the-vatican-doubts-same-sex-love-but-more-doubt-the-vatican/


My Response: I agree with Dr. Mary Hunt's thought-provoking analysis.  Couples in a committed love relationship are a reflection of divine love. I believe Jesus is calling us to affirm that same sex love is holy and blessed. The  "Doubts"statement by the Vatican does not reflect the inclusive embrace of Jesus for LGBTQI persons and therefore, must be rejected. Since the beginning of our movement, Roman Catholic Women Priests have blessed same-sex partnerships and officiated at same-sex marriages. Ministry in Christ's name must embrace every member of God's family as beloved. How can Pope Francis and the Vatican hierarchy, call same-sex loving relationships sinful when the bible defines God as love? Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP, https://arcwp.org

https://religiondispatches.org/the-vatican-doubts-same-sex-love-but-more-doubt-the-vatican/

Mary Hunt:

"Beware the Ides of March, the day Julius Caesar went to his reward in 44 BCE. This was the day that the “Responsum of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) to a dubium regarding the blessing of the unions of persons of the same sex” was unleashed for public consumption. In the time it took Brutus to plunge his sword, what today one would call a New York minute, the statement has been rejected widely.

The agency was answering its own “Doubt” about whether the institutional Roman Catholic Church could—really the question is should—bless same-sex partnerships. The “Response” was a clear, clipped “Negative.”

The Responsum, dated February 22, 2021, was signed by Luis F. Cardinal Ladria the Prefect, and Archbishop Giacomo Morandi, the Secretary of the CDF with the explicit approval of Pope Francis, of whom many hoped for better. The rest of the short document was an Explanatory Note, footnotes to other Vatican documents, and a Commentary as if somehow no did not mean no.

The backstory: Some German bishops, among others, have been in conversation about such blessing ceremonies. They knew that marriage was off the table, but they also knew that Catholics wanted some acknowledgement of the goodness of same-sex love and would go elsewhere if they couldn’t get it at home. Market share is always a factor in these matters, not to take anything away from the Germans’ good will.

Georg B├Ątzing, president of the Bishops’ Conference in Germany, understated that there are “no easy answers” on these questions, noting that the document reflects current official teaching. True enough. What it does not reflect is current practice.

In Catholicism, practice always comes first, then often a heavy-handed condemnation, then documents trickle out that confirm what is already the case. Of course this can take decades, even centuries, but that is the usual order of things. This little theological tidbit might actually foreshadow something.  

Catholics in many parts of the world already bless same-sex unions. That genie left the bottle some years ago. Now that the Vatican has hoisted its flag, they may regret not staying quiet. I foresee story after story of good Father So-and-So who blessed Bob and Bill, Olivia y Cristina, Jacques et Georges. More common are the stories not of priests, many of whom remain too timid to bless themselves, but of lay people, indeed whole communities that gather to affirm the goodness of couples who love. 

Some of those celebrations are actually weddings, the Sacrament of Marriage, which is alluded to with trepidation in the document. Beware—same-sex blessing ceremonies would “constitute a certain imitation or analogue to the nuptial blessing.” True enough, they do not imitate the Sacraments of Orders (Ordination) nor Penance (Confession) for goodness sake. Committed love is committed love.

The Vatican statement is focused narrowly on blessing ceremonies, what it categorizes as ‘a sacramental,’ not a sacrament. The difference, spelled out awkwardly in the document, is that sacramentals point to the sacrament, so these too have to be nixed for same-sex couples. If a same-sex union were to be blessed—that is, prayed for and with, heaven forfend—it might occur to the people blessed that they were somehow, however remotely, like heterosexual people who marry. They might even get the notion that they could marry! So in this stroke of theological genius, the Vatican is foreclosing that option before it even arises by stopping the sacramental, the blessing, ahead of the sacrament, the marriage. Alas, it is too late.

Earth to Rome: lots of communities are already celebrating both same-sex blessings and same-sex weddings, indeed even calling them Catholic marriages, naming them as sacraments because they are. According to contemporary Catholic definitions, a sacrament is an occasion when a community lifts an everyday human experience to public expression because it is holy. For example, a baby does not ‘become’ Christian through the Sacrament of Baptism. The fact of their being part of a Christian community is highlighted in the baptismal ceremony (i.e., sacrament) for everyone to affirm and embrace.        

Likewise, with ordination. Magic words spoken by a bishop do not a priest make. The ordinand’s demonstrated commitment to ministry is recognized and affirmed in the Sacrament of Ordination. That is why in Catholic teaching, the ministers of the Sacrament of Marriage are the people who make a covenant with one another, not the priest who is a witness along with the rest of the community called church. As was true in the civil arena, it is a short step from heterosexual marriage to same-sex marriage in religion.

So the Vatican’s ethical contortions in this document are all the more pitiful. It claims that the church can bless “individual persons with homosexual inclinations” who live according to the Church’s teachings, i.e., a celibate existence. But should such persons find love, happiness, companionship, energy to create family and spark community, should it occur to such persons and their loved ones that their lives are healthy, good, natural, holy, and worthy of celebration and encouragement, the answer, to quote this dubious document, is “Negative.” Happily, the Roman Catholic institutional Church is only a small and shrinking part of a much broader Catholic community that has more common sense and ethical savvy. Catholic people are far more generous in their thinking and blessing than many Vatican officials.        

Meanwhile, it’s heartening to know that on the strength of this document, people, including some priests and deacons, are jumping out of the woodwork to offer their pastoral services to bless same-sex couples. Thanks to the media coverage of this “doubt,” ministerial resources offered by groups like DignityUSA, New Ways Ministry, and the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics are getting broader attention. Some other Christian denominations around the world are making clear that they will bless Catholics whether the Catholic Church does or not.

My guess is that there may be some good queer people in the Vatican at work on this. They know that when the institution publishes such an egregious statement that claims that God “does not and cannot bless sin,” despite the many and varied same-sex couples who live exemplary lives, there is bound to be hearty rejection, a lack of reception as it’s called theologically. Like the ban on birth control before it, that which is not received lays the groundwork for future normative Catholic practice. So shall it be for Catholic same-sex unions, marriages, weddings, even divorces. The Vatican doth doubt too much."

Happy Memories of Ireland with Jack Meehan, Faith, Family and Our Celtic Heritage

 https://youtu.be/SJK6kwq3d8s


https://youtu.be/SJK6kwq3d8s




Saving Jesus from the Church by Rev Robin Meyers PhD



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cnfJcZkZ2OU

From video:

The number #1 reason for the demise of the Church is clergy.

9 churches close door everyday.

Church should be marching to the beat of the Jesus drummer.

Prediction: Pumped propaganda disguised as news.

Control of the government by special interests corporations with blessing of  Church.

Fact:

3%, not 90%  of Planned Parenthood money goes to abortion.



Roman Catholic Women Priests Canada's Online Magazine- Articles and Link

 The March 15th issue of Roman Catholic Women Priests Canada's online magazine, The Review at rcwpcanada.altervista.org features the following original and linked articles:



  • The Annunciation and a mature view of Marian apparitions
  • Misogyny and gender inequity in the Roman Catholic Church
  • With Iraqi Christians, Pope Francis Extols Women Brutalized by ISIS
  • Sr. Norma Pimentel at center of new documentary on migration
  • Women's voices necessary for genuine discernment at synods
  • Reflections on the Sunday Readings by Susan Roll
  • RCWP Canada Bishop's Message:  Justice for Women
  • Comments to the Editor
  • Beyond Stereotypes: Women as Full Participants as Leaders in Faith Communities -- NGO CSW 65 Forum started yesterday, continues all week, still time to register
  • Blessings of Women on International Women's Day and always
  • A Climate-Conscious Lent

Sincerely,

Felix Kryzanowski
Editor, RCWP Canada's The Review

Laptop and desktop:  rcwpcanada.altervista.org

Sunday, March 14, 2021

People's Catholic Seminary Announces New Course: PCS 505 - A New New Testament: Exploring Our Sacred Texts


People’s Catholic Seminary Announces New Course beginning in April, 2021

This course provides new perspectives on the legacy of Jesus in the earliest Christian communities that include a fresh mixture of the traditional New Testament Gospels alongside a treasure chest of ancient texts that were lost for centuries and now have been discovered and translated: the Gospel of Mary, the Gospel of Thomas, the Acts of Paul and Thecla, the Prayer of Thanksgiving, and The Thunder: Perfect Mind. These texts are just as important as the canonical New Testament in shaping early Christian communities and beliefs. They reveal a fuller portrait of the life, teachings, and ministry of Jesus that broaden intellectual understanding and spiritual growth.


For more information and to enroll: https://pcseminary.teachable.com/p/pcs-505-a-new-new-testament-exploring-sacred-texts 

Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community - Second Sunday in Lent 2021 - Presiders: Julie Corron, ARCWP, and David DeBonis

 



Please join us between 9:30 and 9:55 am via Zoom
Here is the Zoom link:
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82512159155
phone-in for (audio only).Phone Number: (646) 558-8656
Meeting ID: 825 1215 9155


Welcome and Theme Julie: Good morning. Welcome to the fourth Sunday of Lent and our celebration of Living in the Light. Not just the light from the sun, returning as spring approaches, but the light of the Holy One, the light of our souls.


Opening Prayer and Peace Julie: Let’s take a moment to make the transition from the world of busyness and things to the world of the spirit. I invite you to close your eyes and rest for a moment. Holy One, surround each of us with your light. Let it warm us and help us bloom into the fullness of our being. Let us find it in ourselves to answer your call to live in the light. AMEN.


Opening Song: Anthem by Tom Conry https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HP2gwC5TGFs


LITURGY OF THE WORD

 

Reading 1 Mike:

A reading from Saving Jesus From the Church.


We have been travelling down the creedal road of Christendom since the 4th century when a first century spiritual insurgency was seduced into marrying its original oppressor. Before there were Bishops lounging at the table of power, there were ordinary fishermen who forsook ordinary lives to follow an itinerant sage down a path that was not obvious, sensible or safe. 


In the beginning, the call of God was not propositional. It was experiential. It was as palpable as wine and wineskins, lost coins and frightened servants, and a tearful father.  Students who once learned by following the teacher became true believers who confuse certainty with faith.  


We have a sacred story to tell that has been stolen from us, and in our time the thief is what passes as orthodoxy itself (right belief instead of right worship). Arguing over beliefs divides us, but agreeing to following the essential teachings of Jesus could unite us. We could become imitators, not believers. 


Those two roads that “diverged in a yellow wood” not so long ago looked equally fair but now one is well worn. It is the road of The Fall and redemption, original sin and the Savior. The other is the road of enlightenment, wisdom, creation-centered spirituality, and transformation. This is the road less travelled and it seeks not to save our souls but to restore them.


Our task is to let the breath of the Galilean sage fall on the neck of the Church again not by listening to formulas of salvation but to a gospel that is all but forgotten. After centuries of being told that “Jesus saves,” the time has come to save Jesus from the church. 


These are the inspired words of Robin Meyers, author of Saving Jesus From the Church, and the community affirms them by saying AMEN.


Response before Gospel (Alleluia / Spirit of the Living God) Dennis


Gospel Joan:

A reading from the gospel of John.

 

Jesus said to Nicodemus:
“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so the Chosen One must be lifted up, 
so that everyone who believes in the Chosen One might have eternal life.

Yes, God so loved the world as to give the Only Begotten One, 
that whoever believes may not die but have eternal life.
God sent the Only Begotten into the world not to condemn the world, 
but that through the Only Begotten the world might be saved.
Whoever believes in the Only Begotten avoids judgment, 
but whoever doesn’t believe is judged already 
for not believing in the name of the Only Begotten of God.
On these grounds is sentence pronounced:
that though the light came into the world, 
people showed they preferred darkness to the light
because their deeds were evil.
Indeed, people who do wrong hate the light
and avoid it, for fear their actions will be exposed;
But people who live by the truth come out into the light, 
so that it may be plainly seen that what they do is done in God.” 

These are the inspired words of the anonymous storyteller we call John and the community affirms them by saying AMEN.


Homily Starter Dave


Today’s gospel includes some of the most beautiful and well-known words of scripture: “For God so loved the world as to give the only begotten one.”  And especially in these challenging times, I find it comforting to remember that the Divine is not some far off detached entity, but a loving one. 


This gospel, however, can also be confusing and open to misinterpretation. The first reading refers to changes in thinking that occurred from 1st to the 4th century when Christianity was given legal status from the Roman Emperor and the Church altered its messaging in response to the power struggles and politics of the time. 


Such changes likely explain the traditional interpretation of the Gospel reading, and one that many of us may have heard when growing up: If we say that we believe, we will be saved and live eternally.  Those who do not believe will be condemned. 


Let’s examine this popular but most likely incorrect interpretation, along with the meaning of the terms saved and eternal life, using 1st century thinking. 


First, salvation is a gift from God, not something earned. God’s love is not conditional. At the same time, as people of free will we may choose to accept the invitation to live in the light and to bring the light or, as we all do at times, we may choose the darkness. Even then, God does not judge or condemn. But by our own choices we sometimes limit ourselves to a life that is so much less than it could be.  


Many of us were taught that being saved meant saved from some original sin and that eternal life referred to living on in heaven after we die. But scripture scholars tell us that John viewed salvation as removing barriers that we have created between ourselves and the Divine and that eternal life actually referred to living in a recreated earth in the here and now. One scholar notes that many gospel verses that were speaking about the earth were “spiritualized” in order to fit the false idea of an everlasting home in heaven.


Also, the gospel never intended for us to be focused on our own personal salvation but rather the salvation of all peoples. Biblical commentator Almquist puts it this way: “The goal of life should be our transformation into the image of Jesus, working to bring this recreated earth to the hungry, the poor, the sick, and those living at the margins of life.” 


And what about the word believe, which appears five times in these seven verses. Again, an interpretation that is not consistent with the gospel writer’s intention could suggest that all we have to do is believe and, as we know, many people take false comfort in the idea that the only requirement for eternal life is to name Jesus as their savior. 


The insurrectionists who stormed the Capital building on January 6th carried a large wooden cross, blasted Christian music through speakers, carried signs saying “Jesus saves” and, once inside the Capital building, gathered in a circle holding hands, praying to Jesus for strength.  Believing is easy; living in the light and bringing it to all peoples is not.  


According to the author of the first reading, the question is not if we believe in Jesus but rather if we can follow Jesus, not are we are saved but rather are we radically disturbed and transformed by the presence of Jesus. And finally, when our faith becomes a journey toward wisdom and compassion, rather than a system of creeds and consequences, there is hope for the world. 

  

We welcome your shared wisdom on the readings. Please remember to unmute yourself before you begin and then mute yourself when you are done.

Shared Reflections

Thank you/wrap up: Julie


Statement of Faith Susan:


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.


LITURGY OF THE EUCHARIST


Julie:  As we prepare for the sacred meal, we share our intentions.

Dennis reads the intentions gathered from the community 


Katie: With open hearts and hands let us pray our Eucharistic prayer in one voice:


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.


You know our limitations and our essential goodness and you love us as we are. You beckon us to 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:


Holy, Holy: Here in This Place by Christopher Grundy

https://youtu.be/sgkWXOSGmOQ 



Mary: 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. 


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. 


Please extend your hands in blessing.


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 our call to be the body of Christ in the world. 


Dave: 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 to fix that memory clearly with them, he bent down and washed their feet. 

 

All lift the plate and pray:


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.

 (pause)   

 

All lift the cup and pray:


Julie: 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.

(pause) 


We share this bread and cup to proclaim and live the gospel of justice and peace. We choose to live justly, love tenderly, and walk with integrity. 


Please receive communion saying: I am / We are the Face of the Holy One.

Communion Song: Stand in the Light by Jordan Smith .


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gDrOVOoTjRU
 



Prayer after Communion Dave:


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


We pray for all of us gathered here and like Jesus, we open ourselves up to your Spirit, for it is through living as he lived that we awaken to your Spirit within, 

moving us to glorify you, at this time and all ways.

Amen. 


Ed: 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 


BLESSING


Julie: Please extend your hands and pray our blessing:


ALL:  May the Fire of Love ignite our hearts and radiate through us.

May the Spirit truth and justice burn within us.

May we continue to be the face of the Holy One, and 

May we be a blessing in our time.

AMEN.

 

Closing Song: Be a Light by Thomas Rhett  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nifQoIgCRgo-