Pentecost +20, Year B

Musical Reflection
The Heart Asks Pleasure First by Michael Nyman



God of the narrow way,
you call us to shed
all that burdens
the lightness of life:
help us to surrender false wealth,
embrace our need of you
and live for your kindom
above all things;
through Jesus Christ, the richness of God.
First Reading
First Time

by Reina Maria Rodriguez
translated by Joel Brouwer and Jessica Stephenson

we went into a market—they call it a grocery—and you can’t imagine. fruit brilliant as magazine photos. all kinds of different oranges, grapefruits, mandarins, some tiny clementines with a blue sticker—Morocco—they’ve come so far…the eggs are painted with colors corresponding to the days of the week you’re supposed to eat them: a different color for each opportunity. i felt dizzy, the gulf between myself and this place seemed insuperable. tears welled up in my eyes, i wanted desperately to flee, to get outside so i could breathe. i wanted to explain to Phillis, the North American who had invited me, what was happening to me. i tried, but she couldn’t understand: you have to have felt it yourself: the first time. for the first time my mind had crossed over five hundred years of development at jet speed and arrived in the future, a cold future, its display cases filled with artificial snow and artificial heat. there were a thousand things i never knew existed, a panoply of brand names and gadgets for every purpose. i felt like someone from the stone age, and realized most people on the planet never know the era they’re living in, any more than they could know the quantity of living matter in this galaxy that surrounds us, or the milky complexity of the molecules in their own brains, and what’s more they don’t know that they’ll die without ever knowing. i felt terror of that gloss, of the waxed fruit, of propaganda so refined it could dilute the existence of the strange things before my eyes, other sensations: everything wanting to be used up, immediately, licked, tasted, eaten, packaged, mastered. i knew i couldn’t stand this avalanche, this brilliant swarm, for long, these rows on rows of distant faces staring out at me from cardboard boxes. i’d seen nothing singular in the place, no unique thing i could separate out from the amorphous mass of texture and sensation. i began to move closer, imagining i walked with those who have never eaten meat or tasted cow’s milk, who have never nursed except from the teat of a goat. those who have had only wildflowers to chew when the winter hunger comes. i approached closer still, imagining i walked with the salty ones, who collect their water from the public pipe. my nose began to bleed and Phillis said it was the cold; i knew that wasn’t the problem. we were near the seafood display, i moved closer. fish have always aroused in me both horror and desire. i moved closer, like a lost child feeling her way through space toward something of hers that’s hidden. i brushed the shells with my fingertips, they were smooth and delicate, but obviously artificial, made to be used once and thrown away. at first touch they might seem real, pearly, perfect, but they’re actually plastic, and they’ve never even seen any sea.

Second Reading
First Rites
by Micah Ballard 

Besides Sundays there were Wednesday evenings and the occasional Tuesday. They called Tuesdays “visitation” and we would meet in the parking lot and load into a van. There were little cards with peoples’ names and addresses on them and we’d drive around until contact was made. I always managed to hide a few cards and claimed carsickness but it was too humid to stay in the van. Oftentimes I’d recognize someone from school and felt like apologizing but couldn’t. On Wednesdays, it was a bit easier because we arrived early so my mom could volunteer. I skated the parking curbs on the side of the building and could hear the choir practice. Other times I’d wait on the stairs at the cosmetology school next door. There was this kid who dropped out of eighth grade, and I was his lookout while he smoked. He preferred to be called Fluid and got kicked out of youth group more than once. The youth minister was large and pale and wore tight shirts that made sweat stains around his belly. One day we went on a retreat that turned out to be a rented trailer in the country. In the afternoon we watched films inside and at night played games in the dark. I wound up sleeping under a table listening to Sanitarium from Master of Puppets on repeat. The following morning my headphones were taken away so I could be open to the message. Other retreats included all night bowling and Friday night lock-up. Arrival was at ten and they would keep us awake with caffeine, sweets, and more games. I frequently got nervous being separated into groups and remember once winning a race in the foyer wearing high-heels. Later I escaped to the pews of the sanctuary. It was pitch black and I found myself standing in a drained baptismal with white robes hanging over the windows. It was strange to see where all those people went after the altar calls. Those were on Sunday mornings and the services were very long and formal. It was important to sit behind the older ladies so you could sleep behind their hair. After the closing song I’d wait in the car seemingly for hours, listening to mix tapes, mostly Suicidal Tendencies or Maiden. Then we’d drive to a Chinese restaurant or go to this pizza place that had a buffet. I’d watch the others play video games but most of the time I’d just go outside. The clouds were always cumulus and some afternoons you could hear the wind and think about what it’d be like to be somewhere else. It really didn’t matter though, maybe I could get dropped off at a friend’s, watch Kung-Fu Theater, or skate the mini-ramp in the backyard. He had twin sisters and we could do whatever we wanted.
Gospel Reading
Mark 10:17-31

As Jesus continued down the road, someone ran up, knelt before him, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to obtain eternal life?”

Jesus replied, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except the one God. You know the commandments: Don’t commit murder. Don’t commit adultery. Don’t steal. Don’t give false testimony. Don’t cheat. Honor your parents.”

“Teacher,” they responded, “I’ve kept all of these things since my childhood.”

Jesus looked at the person with love and said, “You are lacking one thing. Go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor. Then you will have treasure in heaven. And come, follow me.” But the inquirer was dismayed at this statement and went away saddened, because they had many possessions.

Looking around, Jesus said to his disciples, “It will be very hard for the wealthy to enter God’s kingdom!” His words startled the disciples, so Jesus told them again, “My children, it’s difficult to enter God’s kindom! It’s easier for a camel to squeeze through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter God’s kindom.”

They were shocked even more and said to each other, “Then who can be saved?”

Jesus looked at them carefully and said, “It’s impossible with human beings, but not with God. All things are possible for God.”

Peter said to him, “Look, we’ve left everything and followed you.”

Jesus said, “I assure you that anyone who has left house, brothers, sisters, mother, father, children, or farms because of me and because of the good news will receive one hundred times as much now in this life—houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and farms (with harassment)—and in the coming age, eternal life. But many who are first will be last. And many who are last will be first.”

Musical Reflection
Last Place by Broken Social Scene

Sarum Primer Prayer

God be in our heads,
And in our understanding:

God be in our eyes,
And in our looking:

God be in our mouths,
And in our speaking:

God be in our hearts,
And in our thinking:

God be at our ends,
And at our departing.


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
Last Living Souls by Gorillaz


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.



Artwork by Jessica Park

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

Musical Reflection The Heart Asks Pleasure First by Michael Nyman

Poem First Time by Reina Maria Rodriguez

Poem First Rites by Micah Ballard

Musical Reflection Last Place by Broken Social Scene

Sarum Primer Prayer

Aramaic Lord’s Prayer by Mark Hathaway

Musical Reflection Last Living Souls by Gorillaz

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