Pentecost +25, Year C

Musical Reflection
Band of Gold by Freda Payne

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Invocation

Living God,
burning wild and unconfined,
you call us into a new being,
free from the fear of death:
take away the limits
that bind our imagination
and choke our compassion
that we may feel your pleasure
in all that brings us life;
through Jesus Christ, risen and ascended.

Amen.

First Reading

Questions about the Wife
 by Rebecca Hazelton

I’m having trouble understanding the wife.
The wife seems like she is only there as a foil to your actions.
I want to know how the wife feels when you drag her
and your son down into the basement to start a new religion.
The religion has something to do with cowering
before a force greater than yourself and then being buried alive.
I want to know how the wife behaves in small, enclosed spaces:
if she is trying to comfort your son by telling him Daddy likes
to play funny games, or if she is already visualizing
herself walking into a women’s shelter, your son
on her back and maybe, because this is a fantasy,
she carries a burning torch, like an angry villager, or a goddess.
Does the wife merit any revenge after you weed whack
the coffee table? Does she agree with you that the coffee table
is yours to destroy because you built it? What has she built
in the house that is hers to destroy? What kind of childhood
has the wife endured that allows her to understand you?
In her past life or lives, was the wife ever a shepherdess?
Does she see you as a sort of Pan, goatish, and pricked
by ticks, but also very well-endowed? When the wife transforms
into a tree can she still think or is she just a green haze
inside, an idea of growing? I would like to see the wife
peel off that bark, leaving only enough for modesty’s sake,
although as this is your poem, we can take a bit more off.
I want to see her uproot herself, pick up the house and shake it.
How many people fall out?
The wife has something about her the Germans
would call unheimlich. I sometimes catch a glimpse of the wife
out of the corner of my eye but then I look away.
I cannot look directly at the wife. The wife is a conflagration
of everything dear. I wonder sometimes if she is faking;
There is a certain note she holds too long
so the orgasm is more operatic, less genuine.
When she cries, Oh my God, really, she should stutter.
Let’s say the wife wakes up in the morning.
You have already made breakfast. Does your kindness feel oppressive?
Does she want to take your weed whacker through the house?
Has she ever, in a fit of anger, destroyed your pornography?
When you found a picture of the wife online with a foreign handprint
smacked red on her ass, how quickly did your shock turn to arousal?
Are you aware the wife is breaking down in public places,
and sometimes cannot move for thirty minutes? Sometimes
her arm goes entirely numb from the shoulder down. I think the wife
might need some fine-tuning, some elbow grease,
some wrenching apart, and then reassembling.


Second Reading
Noah’s Wife
by Linda Gregerson

is doing her usual for comic relief.
                        She doesn’t

               see why she should get on the boat, etc.,

etc., while life as we know it hangs by a thread.
Even God
has had one or two great deadpan lines:

Who told you (this was back at the start—
the teeth
of the tautology had just snapped shut) Who

told you you were naked? The world
was so new
that death hadn’t been till this minute

required. What makes you think (the
ground
withers under their feet) we were told?

The woman’s disobedience is good for
plot,
as also for restoring plot to human

scale: three hundred cubits by fifty
by what?
What’s that in inches exactly? Whereas

all obstinate wife is common coin.
In
the beginning was nothing and then a flaw

in the nothing, a sort of mistake that amplified, the
nothing
mistranscribed (it takes such discipline

to keep the prospect clean) and now the lion
whelps,
the beetle rolls its ball of dung, and Noah

with no more than a primitive double-
entry audit
is supposed to make it right.

We find the Creator in an awkward bind.
Washed back
to oblivion? Think again. The housewife

at her laundry tub has got a better grip.
Which may
be why we’ve tried to find her laughable,

she’s such an unhappy reminder of what
understanding
costs. Ask the boy who cannot, though

God know’s he’s tried, he swears
each bar
of melting soap will be his last, who cannot

turn the water off when once he’s turned it on.
His hands
are raw. His body seems like filth to him.

Who told you (the pharmacopoeia has
changed,
the malady’s still the same) Who told you

you were food for worms?
                        What
               makes you think (the furrow, the fruit)

I had to be told?


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Gospel Reading
Luke 20:27-38

Some Sadducees, who deny that there’s a resurrection, came to Jesus and asked,“Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies leaving a widow but no children, the brother must marry the widow and raise up children for his brother. Now there were seven brothers. The first man married a woman and then died childless. The second and then the third brother married her. Eventually all seven married her, and they all died without leaving any children. Finally, the woman died too. In the resurrection, whose wife will she be? All seven were married to her.”

Jesus said to them, “The children of this age marry each other. But those who are considered worthy to participate in that age, that is, in the age of the resurrection from the dead, won’t marry nor will they be given in marriage. They can no longer die, because they are like angels and are God’s children since they share in the resurrection. Even Moses demonstrated that the dead are raised—in the passage about the burning bush, when he speaks of the Lord as the God of Sarah and Abraham, the God of Rebecca and Isaac, and the God of Leah and Rachel and Jacob. God isn’t the God of the dead but of the living. All are alive to God.”

 

Musical Reflection
Don’t Blame Yourself by Sixpence None the Richer

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Prayer
from the ruins of St Stephen’s Walbrook London, adapted

O God,
make the door of our homes wide enough
to receive all who need human love and fellowship;
narrow enough to shut out
all envy, pride and strife.

Make our thresholds smooth enough
to be no stumbling block to children,
nor to straying feet,
but rugged and strong enough
to turn back the tempter’s power.

God, make the doors to our homes the gateway
to your eternal kindom.
Amen.

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.
Amen.

 

Musical Reflection
The Last Day of Our Acquaintance by Sinead O’Connor


Blessing

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.

 

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Sources:

Artwork by Mary Kelly

Invocation from Prayers for an Inclusive Church by Steven Shakespeare

Musical Reflection Band of Gold by Freda Payne

Poem Questions about the Wife by Rebecca Hazelton

Poem Noah’s Wife by Linda Gregerson

Musical Reflection Don’t Blame Yourself by Sixpence None the Richer

Prayer by Anonymous

Lord’s Prayer by Fred F Keip

Musical Reflection The Last Day of Our Acquaintance by Sinead O’Connor

Blessing from The Pattern of our Days

One thought on “Pentecost +25, Year C

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