Pentecost +23, Year C

Musical Reflection
You’re So Vain by Carly Simon



Infinite God,
impatient with your otherness
we make you into an idol
to serve our own needs:
humble our arrogance
by the strangeness of your coming
and the wonder of your mercy;
through Jesus Christ, the friend of Pharisees and tax collectors.


First Reading

Narcissist Advice Column
 by Hinemoana Baker

Pepper blacks the pan so never shake it near me.
Wait for the flagrant animation in my bedroom, in my bed base.
In mountaineering situations sleep swaddled, wake ecstatic

my frantic menus in your mind.

I taste of them all. Refuse to refuse me.
Waste your time on my errands.
Squeeze your lime on my lemons.
Turn up wearing the whole bird not just the feathers.


Second Reading
by Michael Ryan

A man who’s trying to be a good man
but isn’t, because he can’t not take
whatever’s said to him as judgement.
It causes him, as he puts it, to react.
His face and neck redden and bloat,
a thick blue vein bulges up his forehead
and bisects his bald pate, scaring his children
but provoking hilarity at work
where one guy likes to get his goat
by pasting pro-choice bumper stickers
on his computer screen while he’s in the john,
then gathers a group into the next cubicle
to watch when he comes back.
He has talked to his minister and to his wife
about learning how not to react,
to make a joke, and he has tried to make jokes,
but his voice gets tense, they come out flat,
so even his joke becomes a joke at his expense,
another thing to laugh at him about.
He has thought to turn to them and ask,
Why don’t you like me? What have I done to you?
But he has been told already all his life:
self-righteous goody two-shoes, a stick up your ass.
They are right. He has never never never gotten along.
He says nothing this time, just peels off the bumper sticker,
crumples it gently, places it gently
by his mousepad to dispose of later properly,
comparing his suffering to Christ’s in Gethsemane
spat upon and mocked (his minister’s advice),
and tries a smile that twists into a grimace,
which starts the hot blood rising into his face.
This is what they came for, to see Dickhead,
the bulging vein, the skull stoplight red,
and indeed it is remarkable how gorged it gets
as if his torso had become a helium pump,
so, except for him whose eyes are shut tight,
they burst into laughter together exactly at the moment
cruelty turns into astonishment.


Gospel Reading
Luke 18:9-14

Jesus told this parable to certain people who had convinced themselves that they were righteous and who looked on everyone else with disgust: “Two people went up to the temple to pray. One was a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed about themself with these words, ‘God, I thank you that I’m not like everyone else—crooks, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week. I give a tenth of everything I receive.’ But the tax collector stood at a distance. They wouldn’t even lift their eyes to look toward heaven. Rather, they struck their chest and said, ‘God, show mercy to me, a sinner.’ I tell you, this person went down to their home justified rather than the Pharisee. All who lift themselves up will be brought low, and those who make themselves low will be lifted up.”


Musical Reflection
Applause by Lady Gaga

by unknown, adapted

Enlighten what’s bleak in us,
Strengthen what’s weak in us,
Mend what’s broken in us,
Bind what’s bruised in us,
Heal what’s sick in us,
and lastly,
Revive whatever peace and love
has died in us.

The Lord’s Prayer

Indwelling God,
infused throughout all existence,
we honour you with many names.

Your realm is within the human heart.
We accept life for all that it can be,
on earth as throughout all creation.

May we continue to draw sustenance from this earth,
and may we receive forgiveness equal to our own.

May we ever move from separation toward union,
to live in grace, with love in our hearts, forever and ever.



May God’s joy be in our hearts
and God’s love surround our living.
Each day and night and
wherever we roam,
may we know God’s presence.
In growing and learning,
in joy and sorrow,
in friendship,
in solitude,
in beginnings and endings,
may God keep us and bless us
all the days of our lives.

May the blessing of God – the Beginning, the End, and the Everlasting,
be with us and remain with us always. Amen.




Artwork by Bryan Lewis Saunders

Invocation from Prayers for an Inclusive Church by Steven Shakespeare

Musical Reflection You’re So Vain by Carly Simon

Poem Narcissist Advice Column by Hinemoana Baker

Poem Dickhead by Michael Ryan

Musical Reflection Applause by Lady Gaga

Prayer by Unknown

Lord’s Prayer by Fred F Keip

Musical Reflection I Love Myself by The Wannadies

Blessing from The Pattern of our Days

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