Saturday, July 4, 2020

Upper Room Liturgy - Interdependence - July 5, 2020 - Presiders: Denise Hackert-Stoner, ARCWP, and Ann Bayly


Welcome:  Denise
Opening Prayer:  Ann

Please take a moment to meditate on this quote from Nikole Hanna-Jones: “We have a terribly flawed and miraculous country.”
Can we hold both ideas in mind as we contemplate the interdependence of  communities, nations, the world and all creation?

Opening Song:  “Eye on The Prize, “Sweet Honey in the Rock
https://youtu.be/D_tcZAqQUAg

Paul and Silas bound in jail
Had no money for to go their bail
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on, hold on

Hold on, hold on
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on, hold on

Paul and Silas began to shout
Jail door opened and they walked out
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on, hold on

Hold on, hold on
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on, hold on

I got my hand on the gospel plow
Wouldn't take nothing for my journey now
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on, hold on

Hold on, hold on
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on, hold on

Well the only thing we did was wrong
Stayed in the wilderness too long
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on, hold on

Hold on, hold on
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on, hold on

The only thing that we did was right
Was the day we started to fight
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on, hold on

Hold on, hold on
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on, hold on

We met jail and violence too
But god's love will see us through
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on, hold on

Hold on, hold on
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on, hold on

Only chain that we can stand
Is the chain o' hand on hand
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on, hold on

Hold on, hold on
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on, hold on

LITURGY OF THE WORD

First Reading: The Gospel of Mary 4:25-27

Peter said to him, “Since you have explained everything to us, tell us one other thing.  What is the sin of the world?
Jesus said, “There is no sin, but it is you who make sin when you do the things that are like the nature of adultery, which is called ‘sin.’  That is why the Good came into your midst, coming to the good which belongs to every nature, in order to restore it to its root.”

These are the inspired words of one of our ancient spiritual ancestors.  And we affirm them by saying:  AMEN

Second Reading:  A selection from “I Am Waiting”

I am waiting for every 9th grader in America
to board a school bus to Washington,
camp out for a week on the floors of Congress
and talk some sense into elected leaders.

I am waiting for the thunder
to shake us from our sleep,
for the tropical winds
to melt the frozen parts inside us
and warm us up to the lovely sight
of the one walking toward us.

I’m waiting for the end of the red,
white and blues,
the end of commercialism,
consumerism, capitalism.

I’m waiting for fundamentalism to die
so freedom can live
for churches and temples and mosques
to be places of laughter
where the hungry are fed,
the sick are healed,
the elders are cared for.

I’m waiting for the children to teach us,
the trees to save us, the oceans to sail us
into truer horizons
where we can see-
in spite of this darkness-
a love fire rages deep
in the human heart.

These are the inspired words of Jan Phillips and we affirm them by saying: AMEN.

Gospel:  Matthew 11:28-30
“Come to me,
all you who labor and carry heavy burdens,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon your shoulders
and learn from me,
for I am gentle and humble of heart.
Here you will find rest for your souls,
for my yoke is easy
and my burden is light.”

These inspired words, attributed to Jesus, were recorded by another of our spiritual ancestors.  Let us affirm them by saying:  AMEN

Homily starter: Denise

The people of our world are burdened.  The citizens of our own country, whose birth we celebrate this weekend, are burdened.  Inequity, poverty, the uneven distribution of resources, injustice, racial and religious intolerance, abandonment of those most in need; these burden all of us directly or indirectly.  Our souls cry out for rest.  As we march in the streets demanding justice we cry out for rest.  As we petition our government for needed reform we cry out for rest.  As we look within ourselves with eyes wide-open and examine our own biases, we cry out for rest. 

Jesus invites us to rest.  In the gospel of Mary he reminds us that at our root we are good.  We are rooted in goodness.  Goodness is our natural state. 

The light burden, the easy yoke, is waiting for us to pick up.  It is ours to claim, to bear as individuals, and as a body politic.

But how?  The burden Jesus offers may be light, but the burden we have loaded upon ourselves as individuals, as community, as a nation, as a world, is heavy indeed.  It seems to me that just as Jesus invites us to pick up his light burden he invites us to lay down the heavy one.  He invites us to learn from him.  To live like him.  To follow him.  To love like him.  To become  the goodness that we are at our root.  To shine.  To bring to birth the world Jan Phillips is waiting for when we recognize in “the lovely sight of the one walking toward us” our own true selves.

This is the burden Jesus invites us to carry.  This is the prize.  Let’s keep our eyes on it.

What did you hear in today’s readings?  Please unmute yourself to share your reflection, and re-mute yourself when you are finished speaking.  

Shared Homily

Statement of Faith

Anne: Please join in praying our 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

Ann: As we prepare for the sacred meal, remember that just as Jesus is anointed so is each of us.  And, we bring to this table our blessings, cares, and concerns.  (Dennis reads the intentions)

Ann: We invite you to silently add your own intentions (Pause……..)
For these and all unspoken intentions, we pray.  Amen.

Ann: O Holy One, you have been called by many names by many people in the centuries of our planet’s life. Yet, no name truly defines you or describes you.  We celebrate you as the marvelous, loving energy of life who caused us and our world to be. We celebrate you as the Source of light and life and love, and we celebrate your presence and all-ways care.

Denise: Please join in praying the Eucharistic prayer together:  (Eucharistic prayer taken from the work of Diarmuid O’Murchu and Jay Murnane)

Denise and All: O Holy One, we stand at a critical moment in Earth’s history – a time when humanity must choose its future.

As the world becomes increasingly interdependent and fragile, the future holds both peril and great promise.

May we recognize that, in the midst of a magnificent diversity of cultures and life forms, we are one human family and one Earth community with a common destiny.


United with our vast universe, with our Mother-Planet and her people everywhere, with one another and You, Holy One, our spirits dance and sing this song of praise:

Holy, Holy, Holy 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…..

We give grateful thanks for those who came before us, for all those who gave from their hearts, who gave from their lives, that there might be a better world, a safer world, a kinder world, we pray for peace in their name.

And for the children, that they may live, that they may have children of their own and that it will go on - this great blossoming that is meant to go on and on – we pray for peace, in their name.

And for all peoples of this earth who have no voice in this,
For the animals that have no voice in this,
For the plants, the trees, the flowers that have no voice in this,
For all who share this earth with us, we pray for peace in their name.

We thank you for our brother, Jesus. He showed us so simply, so tenderly, how the world is in our hands. He had nothing in this world but your love, companions on the journey, and his very self. Together, that was more than enough, and that remains our clarity in the midst of confusion: the miracle of healing, new hope, nurturance, nourishment, liberation and life.

Denise:  Please extend your hands in blessing.

Denise and All: Your Spirit is upon the gifts of this Eucharistic table, bread of the grain and wine of the grape. They are gifts of wisdom, light and truth which remind us of our call to be the body of Christ to the world.


Denise and All:  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:

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.
(pause, consume bread)

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.
(pause and drink)

Ann and All: Loving Source of All, we have looked for others to save us and to save our world. Yet, we are called, and consecrated and sent into the world to establish justice and show the blessed fulfillment that comes with simplicity and the giving of ourselves in love.  We will make new our commitment to the harmony of the original vision of creation.

We will open up wide all that has been closed about us, and our small circles. Like Jesus, in all openness, we will be filled with your own Spirit and renew the face of the earth.

For it is through learning to live as he lived,
And why he lived,
And for whom he lived,
That we awaken to your Spirit within,
Moving us to worship you truly,
O Holy One,
At this time and all time and in all ways.
And we say yes to You!

Ann: Let us pray together the prayer of Jesus:

Ann and All:  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)  

Communion Song :  This Is My Song (Finlandia), Jean Sibelius


This is my song O God of all the nations
A song of peace for lands afar and mine
This is my home the country where my heart is
Here are my hopes my dreams my holy shrine
But other hearts in other lands are beating
With hopes and dreams as true and high as mine

My country's skies are bluer than the ocean
And sunlight beams on cloverleaf and pine
But other lands have sunlight too and clover
And skies are everywhere as blue as mine
O hear my song Thou God of all nations
A song of peace for their land and for mine

BLESSING

Denise: Let us pray together our blessing:

May wonder and thanksgiving fill us, may compassion penetrate us, that we may penetrate the numbness that continues our society’s injustices. May we know that we are loved.
May we continue to be the face of the Holy One to each other and may our name be a blessing in our time!  Amen.

Closing Song:  What a Wonderful World, Playing for Change, Louis Armstrong

I see trees of green
Red roses too
I see them bloom
For me and you
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world

I see skies of blue
And clouds of white
The bright blessed day
The dark sacred night
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world

The colors of the rainbow
So pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces
Of people going by
I see friends shaking hands
Saying, "How do you do?"
They're really saying
"I love you"

I hear babies cry
I watch them grow
They'll learn much more
Than I'll never know
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world

Yes, I think to myself
What a wonderful world

Oh yeah

Upper Room Songs for Liturgy - 07-05-20

Opening Song:  “Eye on The Prize, “Sweet Honey in the Rock


Paul and Silas bound in jail
Had no money for to go their bail
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on, hold on

Hold on, hold on
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on, hold on

Paul and Silas began to shout
Jail door opened and they walked out
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on, hold on

Hold on, hold on
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on, hold on

I got my hand on the gospel plow
Wouldn't take nothing for my journey now
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on, hold on

Hold on, hold on
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on, hold on

Well the only thing we did was wrong
Stayed in the wilderness too long
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on, hold on

Hold on, hold on
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on, hold on

The only thing that we did was right
Was the day we started to fight
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on, hold on

Hold on, hold on
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on, hold on

We met jail and violence too
But god's love will see us through
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on, hold on

Hold on, hold on
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on, hold on

Only chain that we can stand
Is the chain o' hand on hand
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on, hold on

Hold on, hold on
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on, hold on

Holy, Holy, Holy 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…..



Communion Song :  This Is My Song (Finlandia), Jean Sibelius

This is my song O God of all the nations
A song of peace for lands afar and mine
This is my home the country where my heart is
Here are my hopes my dreams my holy shrine
But other hearts in other lands are beating
With hopes and dreams as true and high as mine

My country's skies are bluer than the ocean
And sunlight beams on cloverleaf and pine
But other lands have sunlight too and clover
And skies are everywhere as blue as mine
O hear my song Thou God of all nations
A song of peace for their land and for mine


Closing Song:  What a Wonderful World, Playing for Change, Louis Armstrong


I see trees of green
Red roses too
I see them bloom
For me and you
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world

I see skies of blue
And clouds of white
The bright blessed day
The dark sacred night
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world

The colors of the rainbow
So pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces
Of people going by
I see friends shaking hands
Saying, "How do you do?"
They're really saying
"I love you"

I hear babies cry
I watch them grow
They'll learn much more
Than I'll never know
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world

Yes, I think to myself
What a wonderful world

Oh yeah

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Moment of Oneness - July 1 and 2 - lead by Kim Panaro, ARCWP

As we approach the 4th of July we honor our faith tradition of Interdependence. We are not meant to live solitary,  independent lives. We are called to community, connection, relationship. We live the kindom. 

INTERDEPENDENCE  MOMENT OF ONENESS JULY 1,2020
From Living Buddha, Living Christ

Our capacity to make peace with another person and with the world depends very much on our capacity to make peace within ourselves. If we are at war with our parents, our family, our society, or our church, there is probably a war going on inside us also, so the most basic work for peace is to return to ourselves and create harmony among the elements within us----our feelings, our perceptions, and our mental states.- Thich Nhat Hanh
Prayer of Saint Francis
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy
O Divine Master, grant that I may
Not so much seek to be consoled as to console
To be understood, as to understand
To be loved, as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
And it's in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it's in dying that we are born to Eternal Life
Amen

SILENT REFLECTION ON READINGS

Prayers For Our World
For peace in our families, in our  community, and in the world, we pray… Let it Be So

For the courage to truly embrace the suffering of others, and to promote reconciliation and healing, we pray… Let it Be So

╬ For the ability to advance peace in the world, one kindness at a time, we pray…  Let it Be So

╬ For an end to racial tension and violence against the LGBTQ people in our communities, with the help and hope that the Holy Wisdom provides, we pray…  Let it Be So

╬ For an increase of civil dialogue among city and community leaders, so that the doors of community reconciliation will break open, we pray…  Let it Be So

╬ That we may understand and promote restorative justice, beginning with communication and active listening to nurture peace, we pray… Let it Be So

Closing: I am not alone, there is a love holding me.

May I move gently through this cloudy, murky, gray day.
May I remember that this is just one day,
and that showing up is at least half of what is asked of me.
May I set aside my underlying anxiety that I will not get to everything
and put my trust and faith onto the riverbank of human community — we are working together.
I am not alone. There is a Love holding me that is unconcerned with my day's to-do list and more concerned with my spirit's survival, even its thriving, in this beautiful, challenging world. May we all remember that 'Rome wasn't built in a day,' that our efforts are part of an ongoing stream of efforts, of lives being lived beside one another, shoring up this world.
May what little I do today be for the greater good.
May I be gentle with others today as I long for others to be gentle with me.
May it be so.



Saturday, June 27, 2020

Liturgy for Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Presiders: Jim Marsh, ARCWP, and Lindy Sanford-Martinez, ARCWP

Stonewall Inn - June 2020
Welcome and Theme: Good morning and welcome to the Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community in Albany, NY.

Today is particularly poignant for me. In the early hours of this day some fifty-one years ago, an event was taking place at a bar in NYC that would challenge and transform our world for significant numbers of people. It was a bar frequented by “drags” and “queens” as well as by many young people who were homeless because of “unwelcoming” families. Many of us probably did not know of this event; certainly main stream media, if it covered it at all, was written from the perspective of the police. And remember that the Civil Rights movement and the Viet Nam war were in full swing with demonstrations as well.

Three months ago, a stealth virus was beginning to wreak its havoc. When we gathered in person on March 8th to celebrate the Second Sunday in Lent, there were 564 confirmed cases in the U.S. and 21 deaths. As we gather today, our country has seen more than 2.5 million cases and have experienced nearly 125,000 deaths in just 16 weeks. Let that sink in.

Just a little over a month ago, we witnessed through our technology the murder of George Floyd which has unleashed and empowered the “Black Lives Matter” movement across the world. George was not the first for sure. There was Breonna Taylor, an EMT gunned down in her own home for a drug raid gone bad. There was Ahmaud Arbrey who was murdered for simply “jogging while black.” There were Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner and so many more black lives that ended senselessly. And let us not forget the Matthew Shepherds of the world and the 16 transgendered people who have been murdered just this year. Do you suppose Judy Shepherd, the black mothers, the Arab, Palestinian or Israeli mother cries any less than the other, when it’s her child?

And so my friends, let us pray for and seek a renewed abundance of wisdom, knowledge, understanding, right judgment, fortitude (courage), piety (reverence) and a joyful awe of God as we share word and fellowship this day.

Let us begin our prayer in song:  Lift Every Voice and Sing by James W Johnson 
https://youtu.be/w4EdnxNjrhc                      

Lift every voice and sing ‘til earth and heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise, high as the listening skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.

Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us,
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun
Let us march on till victory is won."
Lift every voice and sing ‘til earth and heaven ring.
Ring with the harmonies of liberty.
Let our rejoicing rise, high as the listening skies.
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.

Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us.
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us.
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on 'til victory is won.

Now God of our weary years,
And God of our silent tears.
Thou who has brought us thus far on our way.
Thou who has by thy might
Led us into the light.
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.

Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us.
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us.
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on 'til victory is won.

LITURGY OF WORD

Reading 1:   2 Kings 4:8-11, 14-16A
One day Elisha went to Shunem. There was a wealthy woman who urged him to stay for a meal. In the course of time, whenever Elisha traveled that way he would stop for a meal. So she said to her husband, “I have come to believe that the person who stops for a meal is a prophet of God. Let us set up a small room on the roof with a bed, a table, a chair and a lamp. Then he can stay here whenever he comes to see us.”
One day when Elisha arrived, he went up to his room to rest. Rested, he asked Gehazi, his disciple, “Can something be done for her?” His disciple answered, “Well yes! She has no son, and her husband is getting on in years.”
Elisha said, “Call her.” She was called and stood in the doorway. “About this time next year you will be holding a son in your arms” promised Elisha.

These are inspired words from our Jewish ancestors; let us respond: AMEN!

Alleluia      Dennis on behalf of community
Stonewall Inn - 1969
Gospel Reading:             Matthew 10:1, 7, 16-20, 37-42
Jesus called twelve of his followers, and gave them authority to expel unclean spirits and heal sickness and dis-ease of all kinds.
As you go, make this proclamation: “the Reign of heaven has drawn near.”
“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. So be on your guard. People will haul you into court; they will flog you in the synagogues. Don’t worry about how to speak or what to say. You will be given what you should say when the time comes, because it will be the Spirit of your Abba/Amma God speaking through you.”
“Those who love mother or father, daughter or son more than me are not worthy of me. Those who will not carry the cross, following in my footsteps, are not worthy of me. You who have found your life will lose it, and you who lose your life for my sake will find it.
Those who welcome you also welcome me, and those who welcome me, welcome the One who sent me. Those who welcome prophets will receive the reward reserved for the prophets themselves. Those who welcome holy people just because they are holy will receive the reward of the holy ones. And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones just for being a disciple will not lack a reward.”

These are inspired words from Matthew, the evangelist; let us respond:
AMEN!

Homily Starter:   Jim 
As is our custom, the community is invited to share a brief reflection on the Word proclaimed today. Please unmute your device (laptop, iPad or phone) before beginning to share and mute again when you are done.

I know my intro today ties many happenings together. There are two things I will emphasize, namely hospitality and being prophet.

In ancient times, hospitality was considered a sacred duty. We know this from the many Torah stories we hear throughout our liturgical year. Our Muslim and Hindu sisters and brothers also considered it very important. In the Qur’an, one serves God by “doing good to orphans, those in need, neighbors who are near, neighbors who are strangers, the companion by your side, the wayfarer you meet, and those who have nothing.” (4:36) Hindu scripture says “The guest is a representative of God.”

Hospitality is big business today—it generates billions of dollars and employs many. For the most part, who are the many that work in this industry?

Bars were certainly hospitable places for gay people to congregate. It provided a “safe space/place” to be ourselves for many, many years. But oftentimes, liquor licenses were denied to establishments that catered to a homosexual clientele, and such establishments were often run by the mob, who would “pay off” (bribe) the police. “Raids” were not uncommon; sometimes advance notice was even given. Such was the situation 51 years ago at the Stonewall Inn. The clientele consisted of drags, queens, and homeless young people. Yes, there was a caste system within the “closeted” world, and these folks were considered a minority. It all began to change on June 28th when they said “Enough!” and fought off the police and “rioted” for the next six days. The following year on Sunday, June 28, 1970, the first Pride demonstration was held; not sure it was even called a parade until several years later. And soon boundaries were being shaken and broken all across the world. Were these folks prophets?

In our first reading today, proclaimed so well by Suzanne, we hear a snippet of a story about a prophet and a woman who offers hospitality. What we didn’t hear was that Elisha sought to repay her generous act, but this unnamed woman says she has all she needs, a home among family. Elisha says your reward then will be a son born next year.

As I indicated when I first sent out this Gospel reading, I included a few lines ahead of the lectionary selection. Without this, I thought the words “Those who love mother, father, son or daughter more than me are not worthy of me” seem very harsh and what was Jesus thinking, if he said such. As I read all of chapter 10, I realized he was trying to prepare them for their work after he was gone. He was being forthright in telling them it would be difficult, even dangerous (taking up the cross), but don’t worry or be overwhelmed. The Spirit of Abba God will give you all you need, so go “expel unclean spirits, heal sickness and dis-ease of all kinds.” The very last paragraph may be the most important. It reminds me of his “parable of great surprise” in chapter 25. You know it so well: “I was hungry and you fed me, thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me.”  This gospel speaks of hospitality and openness; even offering only a cup of cold water will be rewarded.

In her book, The Time is Now, A Call to Uncommon Courage, Sister Joan Chittister says we all are called to be courageous prophets. Just as the prophets of old were never silent, we too must find our voice. In another of her writings, she says Hospitality is the way we come out of ourselves. It is the first step toward dismantling the barriers of the world. Hospitality is the way we turn a prejudiced world around, one heart at a time.”

Marsha P Johnson, a drag queen who was at the Stonewall Inn on that now famous evening, said this in an interview in 1992, “How many years does it take for people to see that we’re all brothers and sisters, and human beings in the human race?”

“If you want peace, work for justice.” (Paul VI)


And so my friends, what did you hear?
Nurse with Covid Patient
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

Lindy:        As we prepare for the sacred meal, we bring our personal cares, concerns and blessings as well as the needs of our world. Dennis will give voice to those shared by the community this week …… Dennis will give a silent opportunity for us to acknowledge other concerns before ending with “We pray for these and all unspoken intentions. AMEN!

Jim:            Mindful of our Jewish ancestors’ blessing prayers at Shabbat meals, we pray ……
                  Blessed are You, Eternal God, Creator of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth. It is our spiritual food!

Lindy:        Blessed are You, Eternal God of the universe, creator of the fruit of the vine. It is our spiritual drink!

Men:          O great Lover of the Universe, we thank you for creating us in your image and giving us a share in co-creation. May we be responsible stewards of all your good gifts.

Women:      O nurturing Mother of the Universe, we are grateful for your presence with us. Mindful of our limitations, you know our essential goodness and love us as we are. You inspire us to see the good in others and forgive their limitations with compassionate hearts. Acknowledging your incarnation is us and all creation, together we sing:


Holy, Holy, Holy  (Words and music by Karen Drucker)
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…

Men:          Guiding Spirit, when opposing forces tug and pull at us, grace us with gifts of wisdom, knowledge, understanding and right judgment to make wise decisions and gift us with courage and fortitude to act always for the common good.

Women:      We thank you for our brother, Jesus, and for all sisters and brothers who have modeled for us a way to live and love in challenging times. Inspired by their example, may we be peacemakers and reconcilers, choosing life over death, becoming beacons of light and hope in dark times.

Please extend your hands (epiclesis)
All:             We are ever aware of your Spirit in us and among us. We invoke your Spirit anew upon these simple gifts of bread and wine, that they and us might truly be Christ present to the world.

                  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, and to fix that memory clearly, he bent down and washed their feet.

                                             Lindy lifts bread
                  When he returned to his place at 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.

                                             after a pause, Jim lifts cup      
                  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.

Lindy:        Together, let us proclaim the mystery of faith:

All:             Christ has died in all those who have passed away from COVID, from police
brutality, and all those who have suffered violent crimes arising from hatred.

Christ rises in all those working for the well-being of humanity—whether it be researching a vaccine, providing medical care and treatment, or dismantling institutional racism, sexism, ageism, homophobia and transphobia.

Christ comes again and is made present each day in our lives by our actions, if only by offering a cup of water to the least and the last among us.

Men:          Holy One, we join our hearts with all who are working for a just world.  We pray for wise leaders in all religious communities. We pray for courageous and compassionate leaders in our country and across the globe.

Women:      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.

Lindy:        Let us pray as Jesus taught:

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)

Jim:            My friends, gifts of God for God’s people. May we become what we eat and drink!
All:             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.

                  As we Eat and Drink, let us listen to the words of our meditation song

Peace Prayer of St. Francis
                  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AEoyqMG1bDA

Jim:            Let us offer a Prayer of Thanksgiving  (Didache, Instruction, 100CE)

Men:          For the thanksgiving, give thanks this way: First, for the cup: We thank you, Abba God, for the sacred vine of David your son, whose meaning you made clear to us through our brother Jesus, yours ever be the splendor.

Women:      And for the bread fragment: We thank you, Amma God, for the life and wisdom whose meaning you made clear to us through Jesus, Myriam and Mary of Magdala, yours ever be the splendor.

All:             As this fragment was scattered high on hills, but by gathering was united into one, so let your people from earth’s ends be united into your single reign, for yours are splendor and glory through Jesus, the Christ, down the ages.

Lindy:        Let us extend our hands in blessing each other with these words:

All:             May the Fire of Love ignite our hearts and radiate through us.
May the Spirit of 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:       Believe Out Loud   (Words and Music by David Lohman © 2010)

It's time to proclaim aloud the faith that we hold dear.
It's time to reach out to the rejected.
It's time to stand up and say, "No more!"
It's time to declare a Word of Welcome,
bring everyone through the opened doors.
It's time to believe out loud,
It's time to be strong and proud,
It's time to believe, believe out loud!

1.       Our God remains unchanging,
yet in so many ways the Holy One's still speaking,
for this we offer praise.
Yet God's all-loving guidance too often goes unheard.
But there is yet more wisdom to break forth from God's Word!  Refrain

2.       If thoughts like love and justice are more than hollow words,
we'll listen for the Spirit and let our hearts be stirred.
We'll learn to think in new ways, the doors we'll open wide.
The table's set and ready, bring everyone inside!  Refrain

3.       The love of God is boundless, we're never turned away.
And out of this abundance, this gift we must repay.
We've got to stand with millions who've heard the Spirit's call,
and shout it from the mountains: “God’s love is meant for ALL!”  Refrain
___________________________________________________________
In my prior work for the National LGBTQ Task Force’s Institute for Welcoming Resources (IWR), we were part of the advisory board that formed what was to ultimately become Believe Out Loud. The inspiration came from polling done by the Public Religion Research Institute. (Don’t freak out. This is going to get a bit wonky for a few moments!) In short, the polling revealed that in matters concerning LGBTQ issues, a majority of people in the pews felt they were more progressive than their clergy, and therefore remained silent, waiting for the clergy to begin the conversation. Remarkable, the same polling showed that a majority of clergy felt that they, in fact, were more progressive than their congregants, and therefore remained similarly silent. So that means that a majority of people of faith – clergy and laity – are supportive of LGBTQ inclusion, yet so few were talking about it. Too many of us were keeping the light of God’s Inclusion very well-hidden (Matthew 5:15). Therein lies the need to believe out loud. The common misperception is that people of faith are, by and large, anti-LGBTQ, and LGBTQ people are anti-faith. This polling, and so much like it, shatters that false dichotomy.

I found this all tremendously exciting, and Believe Out Loud has gone on to do great things to lift up the voices of pro-LGBTQ people of faith. When Believe Out Loud and its website had its big launch in early 2010, in addition to working for IWR, I was also serving as Minister of Music at Living Table United Church of Christ. We were among a handful of ecumenical congregations across the country who took part in that launch. And I thought that the occasion screamed for a theme song!