Today we celebrate the Epiphany for 2022. The official date of the Epiphany is January 6th, which is Thursday. Perhaps you can remember that this is the 12th Day of Christmas, and in some traditions, it is called Little Christmas and is celebrated with the same intensity of December 25th. For us today, let us bring our attention to this morning, this time in our lives. With awareness and reflection, please place your feet on the ground, close your eyes and listen to the sounds around you. Take a deep breath and become grounded to this Liturgy and our time together. And welcome to 2022…
Dennis - Opening Prayer:
O Christ-Light from the beginning of time you have graced the universe with your brilliance and your love. As we gather to celebrate travelers who followed a star to discover the birth of a child, and the Divine light within him and within them, may we remember our own birth into the light and love of Holy Mystery. May we, in this time of giving, reach out, now and throughout the year, to those in need of your loving touch and healing graces. In your holy name we pray, Amen.
Opening Song: Light a Light. By Bridget Ball and Chris Shaw
Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you. See, darkness covers the earth, and thick clouds cover the peoples; but upon you the LORD shines, and over you appears his glory. Nations shall walk by your light, and kings by your shining radiance. Raise your eyes and look about; they all gather and come to you: your sons come from afar, and your daughters in the arms of their nurses.
Then you shall be radiant at what you see, your heart shall throb and overflow, for the riches of the sea shall be emptied out before you, the wealth of nations shall be brought to you. Caravans of camels shall fill you, dromedaries from Midian and Ephah; all from Sheba shall come bearing gold and frankincense, and proclaiming the praises of the LORD.
These are the inspired words of the prophet Isaiah, and the community affirms them by saying, Amen.
A reading from the Gospel of Matthew
After Jesus’ birth—which happened in Bethlehem of Judea, during the reign of Herod—astrologers from the East arrived in Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the newborn ruler of the Jews? We observed his star at its rising and have come to pay homage.” At this news Herod became greatly disturbed, as did all of Jerusalem. Summoning all the chief priests and religious scholars of the people, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born.
“In Bethlehem of Judea,” they informed him. “Here is what the prophet has written: ‘And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the leaders of Judah, since from you will come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.’” Herod called the astrologers aside and found out from them the exact time of the star’s appearance. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, after having instructed them, “Go and get detailed information about the child. When you have found him, report back to me—so that I may go and offer homage, too.
After their audience with the ruler, they set out. The star which they had observed at its rising went ahead of them until it came to a standstill over the place where the child lay. They were overjoyed at seeing the star and, upon entering the house, found the child with Mary, his mother. They prostrated themselves and paid homage. Then they opened their coffers and presented the child with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
They were warned in a dream not to return to Herod, so they went back to their own country by another route.
These are the inspired words from Gospel writer known as Matthew and the community affirms them by saying, Amen.
Debbie: Homily Starter & Shared Homily
Our readings today are familiar and can almost lead to a sense of complacency as we think of the theatre-like quality of the story of the Star and the Three Kings. A place we have come from if we are cradle Catholics. An easy lesson in giving if we have young children learning the faith.
Sr. Mary McGlone, CSJ in her reflection on this year’s Epiphany for NCR brings forth a few other ideas. We might ask, what was Matthew getting at with the story of the Magi and following the Light. She notes that Matthew was paralleling Isiah’s vision, of a people who shine the light inside of them for others to see and experience the presence of God. Part of Matthew’s message is to call the People of his day to be a part of Jesus’s message of Heaven on earth; God is already here with each of us.
Sr. Mary also comments on the Courage of those travelers in this story. We might see ourselves in this light, bringing forth the message to others of the real presence of God in our daily lives. As we shine forth in the truth of what we know and believe, we may impact the world around us. Without being aware of whom we touch, our very attitude of faith, love and mercy has an effect. We become a part of the Way with our individual gifts, given in gratitude and love.
As we keep these thoughts in our hearts, let us think of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, witnessing and accepting the gifts of each person and spirit crossing their paths. Happy and Holy Christmas to each of us. Please feel free to share your thoughts on these readings today.
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.
Liturgy of the Eucharist
Dennis: As we prepare for this sacred meal, we are aware of our call to serve, and just as Jesus is anointed, so is each of us. We bring to this table our blessings, cares and concerns.
We bring these and all deeply held blessings, cares, and concerns to the table of friendship and peace.
Debbie: Please join in praying the Eucharistic prayer together:
All: O Holy One, you have birthed us in goodness, gifted us with life and cherished us in love. In the heart of our being, your Spirit dwells; a Spirit of courage and vision, a Spirit of wisdom and truth.
In the power of that same Spirit, we lift our hearts in prayer, invoking anew the gift of wisdom and enlightenment, that we may continue to praise and thank you, in union with all who sing the ancient hymn of praise:
Here in this Place – Holy Holy Holy by Christopher Grundy
Dennis: Holy One, we see around us the work of your hands, the fruit of your wisdom and love. The unfolding story of creation witnesses unceasingly to your creative power. We, your creatures, often deviate from that wisdom, thus hindering your creative presence in our midst.
Sending among us Jesus, our brother, you birth afresh in our world the power of Sophia-Wisdom, and in the gift of Your Spirit, your creative goodness blooms anew, amid the variety and wonder of life.
Please extend your hands in blessing.
All: We invoke Your Spirit upon the gifts of this Eucharistic table, bread of the grain and wine of the grape, that they may become gifts of wisdom, light and truth which remind us of our call to be the body of Christ to the world.
On the night before he faced his own death and for the sake of living fully, Jesus sat at the Seder supper with his companions and friends.He reminded them of all that he taught them, and to fix that memory clearly within them, he bent down and washed their feet.
All lift their plate and pray the following:
Debbie: When he returned to his place at the table, he lifted the Passover bread, spoke the blessing, broke the bread and offered it to them saying:
Take and eat; this is my very self.
All lift their cup and pray the following:
He then raised high 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.
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.
Please consume the bread and drink the cup with the words:
Communion Meditation: Who lights the Stars by Michael Singer & Kathy Zavada
Debbie: In faith and hope we are sustained; in grace and dignity reclaimed. In praise, we thank you.
In union with all peoples living and dead, we unite our thoughts and prayers, asking wisdom and courage: - to discern more wisely your call to us in the circumstances of our daily lives; - to act justly and courageously in confronting the pain and suffering that desecrates the Earth and its peoples; - to take risks in being creative and proactive on behalf of the poor and marginalized; - and to love all people with generosity of heart, beyond the labels of race, creed and color.
Dennis: May we ever be aware and alert to the new things Your Spirit makes possible in us, as our world unfolds amid pain and beauty, into the fullness of life to which all are called, participating in the wise and wonderful work of co-creation.
Like Jesus, we will open up wide all that has been closed about us, and we will live compassionate lives, for it is through living as Jesus lived, that we awaken to your Spirit within, moving us to glorify you, O Holy One, at this time and all ways.
Reader: Let us pray the prayer 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 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)
Debbie: Let us pray together our blessing:
May we bring to our lives the knowledge that “God loves things by becoming them. God loves things by uniting with them, not excluding them. Through the act of creation, God manifested the eternally flowing Divine Presence into the physical and material world. (The Universal Christ, Richard Rohr). May we shine our light with courage and spread Jesus’s Good News of the Way by our lives. Amen.
(Note -- if you have a problem with the above link, open your ZOOM app and insert the Meeting ID number and Passcode)
Welcome (Mary Kay) Welcome to our community gathering on this Saturday afternoon. We rejoice that we can celebrate together during these difficult times. We extend to one another words of welcome, peace, and thanksgiving assuring one another that all are welcome to this holy place.
We invite you to pray with us. You will be muted during the liturgy. When speaking a part please unmute and remute yourself. During the shared homily we ask you to unmute yourself to contribute your thoughts and when you are finished, remember to remute yourself. Have bread and wine/juice in front of you for communion.
Theme (Michael) Our theme today is “We commit to nonviolence.”
Last January we took a vow of nonviolence at the beginning and end of the month. And we celebrated the life and teachings of Martin Luther King in mid-January. We will mark on January 6th our democracy’s survival against a violent insurrection. Time for us to recommit to nonviolence on this World Day of Peace!
Sign of Peace (Michael) Let us offer each other a sign of peace.
All: (Namaste pose 🙏🏿 toward camera) Namaste. The peace of Christ be with you! Namaste.
(Jim) A reading from the Good News attributed to Matthew. Contemporary translation of the beatitudes by Eugene H Peterson.
When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions. This is what he said:
You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope.
With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
You're blessed when you feel you've lost what is most dear to you.
Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
You're blessed when you're content with just who you are—no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought.
You're blessed when you've worked up a good appetite for God.
He's food and drink in the best meal you'll ever eat.
You're blessed when you care.
At the moment of being 'care-full,' you find yourselves cared for.
You're blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
You're blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight.
That's when you discover who you really are, and your place in God's family
You're blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God's kingdom.
Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don't like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.This is our Good News for today, and the community responds: All: Alleluia!
Shared Homily (Michael & Community) Let us begin with moment of silence.I highlighted John Dear’s reflection on three dimensions of nonviolence. Joining together to renew our vow of nonviolence, just as we proclaimed last January—This takes us into the third dimension, past nonviolence toward self, and nonviolence toward others and creation. We publicly join together with the grassroots movement of nonviolence worldwide. I think Dear believes this dimension is so critical because we start to receive support in our commitment to peace and provide that support and education to others.
Vow of Nonviolence (All recite together)
(Russ) Recognizing the violence in my own heart,
yet trusting in the goodness and mercy of God,
I vow for one year to practice the nonviolence of Jesus
who taught us in the Sermon on the Mount:
“Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they shall be called the daughters and sons of God...
You have learned how it was said, ‘You must love your neighbor and hate your enemy,’ but I say to you, Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you. In this way, you will be daughters and sons of your Creator in heaven.”
(Andrea) Before God the Creator and the Sanctifying Spirit,
I vow to carry out in my life the love and example of Jesus,
by striving for peace within myself
and seeking to be a peacemaker in my daily life;
by accepting suffering rather than inflicting it;
by refusing to retaliate in the face of provocation and violence;
by persevering in nonviolence of tongue and heart;
by living conscientiously and simply
so that I do not deprive others of the means to live;
by actively resisting evil
and working nonviolently to abolish war and the causes of war
from my own heart and from the face of the earth.
(Mary Kay) God, I trust in your sustaining love
and believe that just as you gave me the grace and desire to offer this,
so you will also bestow abundant grace to fulfill it.
Prayers of the Community
(Mary Kay) As we prepare for this sacred meal, we are aware that the needs of our country and our world are many. As a community and as individuals we do our part to be the healing power of Christ for the world as we bring our prayers to the Eucharistic Table.
We bring to the table those who exercise leadership roles in all faith traditions.
We bring to the table those who are injecting the vaccines to protect everyone from covid and its new strains.
We bring to the table all those who are unemployed and underemployed, all migrants and refugees.
We bring to the table all those who work to promote justice by eradicating sexism, racism, and discrimination of every kind.
We bring to the table our desire to bring an end to the arms race and peaceful ways to resolve conflicts among nations.
We bring to the table our desire to be faithful to our pledge of nonviolence in every aspect of our lives.
We bring to the table our community members and friends who have current health concerns.
And for what else shall we pray? (Unmute to be heard, then mute again)
O Holy One, you know our needs even before we speak. Yet we must speak, if only to remind ourselves of our responsibility to care for the least among us. With your grace may we act justly and love tenderly in addressing the needs of our world. And may we walk peacefully on the earth all the days of our lives.
All:Hear the voices of your people, Spirit of Compassion, that our commitment to nonviolent action will steer us forward to live that for which we pray.
(Andrea & All) We committed again today to be a community of nonviolence and peace! To support us, we count on each other and on the Spirit of Christ present among us, especially as we gather now for Eucharist.
We commit ourselves to live the ministry of the Gospel as we speak clearly with respect and love, as we challenge the contradictions within our society, especially during these times of division and fear. We remind ourselves daily to remain faithful in our words and actions to our commitment to nonviolence. We
are called to the inner life, our spiritual life, to be open to the new beginnings in our lives. We walk with Jesus seeking wisdom and peace.
(Hold your hand over bread and wine)
(Russ & All) Jesus, we celebrate the last meal you had with your followers. We call upon Sacred Spirit, ever and always with us, to bring blessing on this bread and wine as they are made sacred through our faith in the presence of Christ with us.
During Jesus’s life on earth, he lived and died loving the poor, healing the sick and challenging the injustices within society. Because of his ministry, Jesus was feared by the authorities of his day, and they sought out ways to bring him to his death.
(Mary Kay & All) On the night before he faced his own death, Jesus sat at the Seder 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 🥖 and pray the following:
When he returned to his place at the table, he lifted the bread, spoke the blessing, broke the bread and offered it to them saying:
Take and eat, this is my very self.
Pause, then lift the 🍷 and pray the following:
(Jim & All) He took the cup, spoke the grace, and offered it to them saying:
Take and drink. This is the new covenant. Whenever you remember me like this,
I am among you.(pause)
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.
(Michael & All) Let us share this bread and cup to proclaim and live the gospel of justice, nonviolence and peace, remembering that we are bearers of light and hope. We are the Christ alive today.
(Russ) Sacred Spirit, we rejoice that the Universal Christ remains always and ever present within and around us. We remember all those who have transitioned from life on earth to complete union with your Sacred Presence— Mary of Nazareth and all great saints, prophets and martyrs. We also remember family members, friends, and MMOJ members. We remember all those whose lives have been lost to covid, to war, to racism and other forms of exclusion and violence that exist in our world. And we remember those you wish to be remembered (we pause to remember our loved ones) All are beloved souls who have blessed our lives and who continue to inspire us. And we respond together: All: So be it!
(Cheryl & All) Let us pray together 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
(Michael) Please share the gratitude you hold in your hearts.
Final Blessing (Mary Kay)
Black Elk, Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux 1863-1950
You have noticed that everything an Indian does is in a circle,
and that is because the Power of the World always works in circles,
and everything and everything tries to be round.
In the old days all our power came to us from the sacred hoop of the nation and so long as the hoop was unbroken the people flourished.
The flowering tree was the living center of the hoop,
and the circle of the four quarters nourished it.
The east gave peace and light,
the south gave warmth,
the west gave rain and
the north with its cold and mighty wind gave strength and endurance.
This knowledge came to us from the outer world with our religion.
Everything the power of the world does is done in a circle.
The sky is round and I have heard that the earth is round like a ball and so are all the stars.
The wind, in its greatest power, whirls.
Birds make their nests in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours.
The sun comes forth and goes down again in a circle.
The moon does the same and both are round.
Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing and
always come back again to where they were.
The life of a man is a circle from childhood to childhood,
and so it is in everything where power moves.
Our teepees were round like the nests of birds, and
these were always set in a circle, the nation's hoop,
a nest of many nests, where the Great Spirit meant for us to hatch our children.