Pentecost +8, Year B

Musical Reflection
Gold for Bread by Blitzen Trapper

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Invocation

God of the storm’s still eye:
when we are overwhelmed
by pressures and demands
which cut us off from life,
take us to a place apart
where we might find again
our heart’s true centre,
our far horizon,
the silence that awaits
a world where we can breathe;
through Jesus Christ, who brings us near to you.
Amen.
First Reading
Bread
by W.S. Merwin
for Wendell Berry
Each face in the street is a slice of bread
wandering on
searching
somewhere in the light the true hunger
appears to be passing them by
they clutch
have they forgotten the pale caves
they dreamed of hiding in
their own caves
full of the waiting of their footprints
hung with the hollow marks of their groping
full of their sleep and their hiding
have they forgotten the ragged tunnels
they dreamed of following in out of the light
to hear step after step
the heart of bread
to be sustained by its dark breath
and emerge
the heart of bread
to be sustained by its dark breath
and emerge
Second Reading
A Good Fish
by Derek Sheffield
Jerk that bitch, urges my guide,
and I give my shuddering pole
a jerk, hooking the throat
of the first steelhead of my life.
Reel ’em, he mutters and revs the motor.
I horse my pole and reel and horse.
The boat’s mascot whines, her claws
clicking. Let it take some line.
My father, uncle, and cousin
are reeling. First fish! they shout,
and I shout, What a fighter!
A silver spine touches the air.
There, he points, a hen. And guess what?
She’s gonna join the club,
somehow spotting in that glimpse
the smooth place along her back
where a fin had been snipped.
He leans over the gunwale, dips a net,
and scoops her into the boat.
She is thick with a wide band
of fiery scales, slap-
slapping the aluminum bottom.
Welcome to the club, he says,
and clobbers her once, and again,
and once more before she goes still.
A bleeder, he says, shaking his head
and handing her to me. I curl
a finger through a gill the way
you’re supposed to, determined
not to let her slip and flop
back to the river, a blunder
I’d never live down. A good fist.
Fish, I mean. A good fish.
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Gospel Reading
Mark 6:30-56

The apostles returned to Jesus and told him everything they had done and taught. Many people were coming and going, so there was no time to eat. He said to the apostles, “Come by yourselves to a secluded place and rest for a while.” They departed in a boat by themselves for a deserted place.

Many people saw them leaving and recognized them, so they ran ahead from all the cities and arrived before them. When Jesus arrived and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. Then he began to teach them many things.

Late in the day, his disciples came to him and said, “This is an isolated place, and it’s already late in the day. Send them away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy something to eat for themselves.”

He replied, “You give them something to eat.”

But they said to him, “Should we go off and buy bread worth almost eight months pay and give it to them to eat?”

He said to them, “How much bread do you have? Take a look.”

After checking, they said, “Five loaves of bread and two fish.”

He directed the disciples to seat all the people in groups as though they were having a banquet on the green grass. They sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties. He took the five loaves and the two fish, looked up to heaven, blessed them, broke the loaves into pieces, and gave them to his disciples to set before the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. Everyone ate until they were full. They filled twelve baskets with the leftover pieces of bread and fish. About five thousand had eaten.

Right then, Jesus made his disciples get into a boat and go ahead to the other side of the lake, toward Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. After saying good-bye to them, Jesus went up onto a mountain to pray. Evening came and the boat was in the middle of the lake, but he was alone on the land. He saw his disciples struggling. They were trying to row forward, but the wind was blowing against them. Very early in the morning, he came to them, walking on the lake. He intended to pass by them. When they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost and they screamed. Seeing him was terrifying to all of them. Just then he spoke to them, “Be encouraged! It’s me. Don’t be afraid.” He got into the boat, and the wind settled down. His disciples were so baffled they were beside themselves. That’s because they hadn’t understood about the loaves. Their hearts had been changed so that they resisted God’s ways.

When Jesus and his disciples had crossed the lake, they landed at Gennesaret, anchored the boat, and came ashore. People immediately recognized Jesus and ran around that whole region bringing sick people on their mats to wherever they heard he was. Wherever he went—villages, cities, or farming communities—they would place the sick in the marketplaces and beg him to allow them to touch even the hem of his clothing. Everyone who touched him was healed.

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Prayer for a Time of Hunger
by Bread for the World, adapted
God our sustainer,
we ask you to pour your powerful Spirit into all who are empty this day:
Fill the hearts of persons who are troubled.
Fill the minds of people who are confused.
Fill the stomachs of children who are hungry.
Fill the souls of people who are feeling lost.
Fill the lives of all who need you.
May your Spirit fill us all to overflowing, dear Lord,
and may we be inspired to share our abundance with others,
so that there will be no more empty hearts and minds, stomachs and souls.
We pray all this in the name of Jesus Christ,
who fills lives with endless grace. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

O Divine Womb,
birthing forth the river of blessing which runs through all,
Soften the ground of our being,
and hallow in us a space for the planting of thy presence.
In our depths, sow thy seed with its greening-power
that we might be midwives to thy Reign.
Then, let each of our actions
bear fruit in accordance with thy desire.
Impart to us the wisdom to bring forth the gifts of the earth
and share them daily according to the needs of each being,
And restore that which has been usurped
by injustice to its rightful owners,
as we restore to others that which is not our own.
Do not let us be seduced
by that which would divert us from our purpose,
but make us sensitive to the moment at hand.
For from thy fertile soil is born the creativity,
the life-energy, and the dance,
from birthing to birthing. Ameyn.

Musical Reflection
Wise Old Me by Amy Nelson, with Willie Nelson

Blessing

May we who have been touched
by the Word made flesh
be God’s body for the world;
God’s hands to bring blessings,
God’s senses to bring glory,
in the promise of creation restored;

and the blessing of God,
the Overflowing Font, the Living Water, and the Flowing River,
be with us and remain with us always. Amen.

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Sources:

Artwork by Dorothea Lange

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

Musical Reflection Gold for Bread by Blitzen Trapper

Poem Bread by W.S. Merwin

Poem A Good Fish by Derek Sheffield

Musical Reflection Walk Unafraid by REM

Prayer by Bread for the World

Aramaic Lord’s Prayer by Mark Hathaway

Musical Reflection Wise Old Me by Amy Nelson

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