Pentecost +18, Year B

Musical Reflection
Violence by Bif Naked

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Invocation

God of welcome,
your people are called
to be distinct
not by width of separation
but depth of hospitality
and peace within our lives:
root out our resentment
and free us to welcome
all who work for life and liberation,
whatever path they tread;
through Jesus Christ, the companion of many ways.
Amen.
First Reading
Parable in Praise of Violence

by Tony Barnstone

“Violence is as American as cherry pie.”
—H. Rap Brown, former Black Panther justice minister

Thanks for the violence. Thanks for Walt’s rude muscle
pushing through the grass, for tiny Gulliver crushed
between the giant’s breasts. Thanks for Moby’s triangular hump
and Ahab’s castrated leg. Thanks for the harpoons.
Thanks for this PBS history of the automatic pistol.
The good machine is simple, few moving parts,
an efficiency of what’s preserved and what is wasted,
so with each shot the recoil cocks the gun to shoot again,
then recoil, cock and shoot again, recoil, cock,
and so on till the target buys it, or your ammo’s spent.
Thanks for the poem, which is really a little pistol:
load and cock, point and aim, then the trigger,
the hammer, the powder, the discharge, the bullet,
the target, the recoil, the crime. No smoking gun,
just ballistics, caliber, powder marks, the question why.
My life is like a loaded gun, and when I aim it at you
I hope to take off the top of your head,
no safety on, no playing nice, just the spark,
the flash, the damage, just red American
cherry pie violence. So, thank you
for the harpoon gun we aim at God and death
and all the unknown world, and for the spear-stuck beast,
rope ripping through torn hands, for what
refuses to be caught and what we fathom only by
riding the whale down into the deep, refusing to let go.
Second Reading
Making Peace
by Denise Levertov
A voice from the dark called out,
             ‘The poets must give us
imagination of peace, to oust the intense, familiar
imagination of disaster. Peace, not only
the absence of war.’
                                   But peace, like a poem,
is not there ahead of itself,
can’t be imagined before it is made,
can’t be known except
in the words of its making,
grammar of justice,
syntax of mutual aid.
                                       A feeling towards it,
dimly sensing a rhythm, is all we have
until we begin to utter its metaphors,
learning them as we speak.
                                              A line of peace might appear
if we restructured the sentence our lives are making,
revoked its reaffirmation of profit and power,
questioned our needs, allowed
long pauses . . .
                        A cadence of peace might balance its weight
on that different fulcrum; peace, a presence,
an energy field more intense than war,
might pulse then,
stanza by stanza into the world,
each act of living
one of its words, each word
a vibration of light—facets
of the forming crystal.
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Gospel Reading
Mark 9:38-50

John said to Jesus, “Teacher, we saw someone throwing demons out in your name, and we tried to stop him because he wasn’t following us.”

Jesus replied, “Don’t stop him. No one who does powerful acts in my name can quickly turn around and curse me. Whoever isn’t against us is for us. I assure you that whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will certainly be rewarded.

“As for whoever causes these little ones who believe in me to trip and fall into sin, it would be better for them to have a huge stone hung around their necks and to be thrown into the lake. If your hand causes you to fall into sin, chop it off. It’s better for you to enter into life crippled than to go away with two hands into the fire of hell, which can’t be put out. If your foot causes you to fall into sin, chop it off. It’s better for you to enter life lame than to be thrown into hell with two feet. If your eye causes you to fall into sin, tear it out. It’s better for you to enter God’s kingdom with one eye than to be thrown into hell with two. That’s a place where worms don’t die and the fire never goes out. Everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good; but if salt loses its saltiness, how will it become salty again? Maintain salt among yourselves and keep peace with each other.”

Musical Reflection
Knock Yourself Out by Jon Brion

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Prayer
Dalai Lama XIV, adapted

We pray for all of us, oppressors and friends,
that together we may succeed in building a better world
through human understanding and love,
and that in doing so we may reduce
the pain and suffering of all sentient beings.

The Lord’s Prayer

O creative Breath,
ebbing and flowing through all forms,
Free us from all constrictions,
so that the current of thy life
may move in us without hinderance.
Empower us with thy creativity,
and clothe us with royal dignity,
So that, fully at one with the vortex of thy desire,
sacred actions pour forth from us
with each breath we release.
Renew in us this day
our lifebreath, vigour, and passion,
And untie the tangled threads of destiny which bind us,
as we release others from the entanglement of past mistakes.
Do not let us lose ourselves in distraction,
but by the way of the breath,
lead us into mindfulness.
For from thy depths pour forth
the Way, the Life, and the Splendour,
from age to age, it is so. Ameyn.

Musical Reflection
Violence and Variations by Bear McCreary


Blessing

Lord of the open spaces,
we entrust our lives
to the time of adventure;
to the life that pulses
through rain-drenched streets
and mountain heights;
to the love that sustains us
through feast and famine;

and the blessing of God, the Rainbow of Promise, the Ark of Salvation, and the Dove of Peace,
be with us and remain with us always. Amen.

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Sources:

Artwork by Vasily Kafanov

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

Musical Reflection Violence by Bif Naked

Poem Parable in Praise of Violence by Tony Barnstone

Poem Making Peace by Denise Levertov

Musical Reflection Knock Yourself Out by Jon Brion

Prayer from the Dalai Lama

Aramaic Lord’s Prayer by Mark Hathaway

Musical Reflection Violence and Variations by Bear McCreary

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