Pentecost +4, Year B

Musical Reflection
Stormy Weather by Sarah Harmer

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Invocation

Saving God,
entering the flood and the storm
of chaos and confusion:
speak peace to our fearful hearts
that we might find our faith
in the one whose word
brings rest to all creation;
through Jesus Christ, lord of wind and wave.
Amen.
First Reading
The Storm-struck Tree
by Jessica Greenbaum
As the storm-struck oak leaned closer to the house —
The remaining six-story half of the tree listing toward the glass box
Of  the kitchen like someone in the first tilt of stumbling —
The other half crashed into the neighbors’ yards, a massive
Diagonal for which we had no visual cue save for
An antler dropped by a constellation —
As the ragged half   leaned nearer, the second storm of cloying snow
Began pulling on the shocked, still-looming splitting, and its branches dragged
Lower like ripped hems it was tripping over
Until they rustled on the roof under which I
Quickly made dinner, each noise a threat from a body under which we so recently
Said, Thank goodness for our tree, how it has accompanied us all these years,
Thank goodness for its recitation of the seasons out our windows and over
The little lot of our yard, thank goodness for the birdsong and 
squirrel games
Which keep us from living alone, and for its proffered shade, the crack of the bat
Resounding through September when its dime-sized acorns
Land on the tin awning next door. Have
Mercy on us, you, the massively beautiful, now ravaged and charged
With destruction.
We did speak like that. As if from a book of psalms
Because it took up the sky
Second Reading
First Storm and Thereafter
by Scott Cairns
What I notice first within
          this rough scene fixed
in memory is the rare
          quality of its lightning, as if
those bolts were clipped
          from a comic book, pasted
on low cloud, or fashioned
          with cardboard, daubed
with gilt then hung overhead
          on wire and fine hooks.
What I hear most clearly
          within that thunder now
is its grief—a moan, a long
          lament echoing, an ache.
And the rain? Raucous enough,
          pounding, but oddly
musical, and, well,
          eager to entertain, solicitous.
No storm since has been framed
          with such matter-of-fact
artifice, nor to such comic
          effect. No, the thousand-plus
storms since then have turned
          increasingly artless,
arbitrary, bearing—every
          one of them—a numbing burst.
And today, from the west a gust
          and a filling pressure
pulsing in the throat—offering
          little or nothing to make light of.
 

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Gospel Reading
Mark 4:35-41

Later that day, when evening came, Jesus said to them, “Let’s cross over to the other side of the lake.” They left the crowd and took him in the boat just as he was. Other boats followed along.

Gale-force winds arose, and waves crashed against the boat so that the boat was swamped. But Jesus was in the rear of the boat, sleeping on a pillow. They woke him up and said, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re drowning?”

He got up and gave orders to the wind, and he said to the lake, “Silence! Be still!” The wind settled down and there was a great calm. Jesus asked them, “Why are you frightened? Don’t you have faith yet?”

Overcome with awe, they said to each other, “Who then is this? Even the wind and the sea obey him!”

Musical Reflection
Stormy by The Meters

 

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Prayer of Oscar Romero

It helps, now and then, to step back and take the long view. The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision.

We accomplish in our lifetimes only a tine fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.

Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us.

No statement says all that could be said. No prayer fully expresses our faith. No confession brings perfection. No pastoral visit brings wholeness. No program accomplishes the church’s mission. No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

This is what we are about: We plant seeds that one day will grow. We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise. We lay foundations that will need further development. We provide yeast that produces effects far beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and do it well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.

We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.

We are prophets of a future not our own.

Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

O Thou, The Breathing Life of all,
In the roar and whisper, in the breeze and the whirlwind, we hear your name.

Help us let go, clear the space inside,
Creating a holy place within for your light to shine.

Unite our “I can” to yours,
So that we walk as kings and queens with every creature.

Your heart’s fervent desire then acts with ours.
As in all sound and light, so in all creatures on the earth.

Give us the food we need to grow through each new day.
Produce in us the wisdom and understanding we need at each new stage of our lives.

Help us to let go of our past, the hidden guilt of our failures,
Just as we consistently release others of the knots of their guilt.

Let us not become lost in busyness, in the surface appearance of things. But free us from what holds us back.

May abundance, fertile power, and glorious harmony return again and again, in each new age. May this be the ground from which all our actions grow. Amen.

Musical Reflection
Me by the Sea by Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians


Blessing

May the Spirit be the storm
that shakes the foundations,
the leap of new fire,
which turns oppression to ash;
may her wildness seduce us
with holy desire;

and the blessing of God,
the Lover, the Beloved and the Love,
be with us and remain with us always. Amen.

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Sources:

Artwork by Robert Buelteman

Invocation and Blessing from Prayers for an Inclusive Church by Steven Shakespeare

Musical Reflection Stormy Weather by Sarah Harmer

Poem The Storm-struck Tree by Jessica Greenbaum

Poem First Storm and Thereafter by Scott Cairns

Musical Reflection Stormy by The Meters

Prayer from Archbishop Oscar Romero

Aramaic Lord’s Prayer, transliteration by Neil Douglas-Klotz, personalized by Virginia Melroy

Musical Reflection Me and the Sea by Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians

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