Reign of Christ, Year C

Musical Reflection
The Mercy Seat by Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds

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Invocation

God of unbroken weakness,
you laugh at our love of power:
may we find kinship
in the love that is killed
for speaking its name
without even the shadow of force;
through Jesus Christ, Ruler of Fools.

Amen.

First Reading

To the voice of the retired warden of Huntsville Prison (Texas death chamber)
 by Averill Curdy

Until wolf-light I will count my sheep,
Adumbrated, uncomedic, as they are.
One is perdu, two, qualm, three
Is sprawl, four, too late,Night is already a thirsty county in Texas,
Salt flat and unremitting
Blacktop dry as my mouth,
And your elastic vowels, my genial,My electric ghost, my
Radio’s lonely station. Because the spectacle
Of suffering corrupts us, all punishments
Are now executive, offstage.

Most presume you a fable:
Echoes of approaching bootheels
That harry labyrinths of concrete corridors,
Or hooded in burlap.

We are convictedAs we are also pardoned: He cherished
His lawn, or afterwards he covered
The victim’s face. You make no judgments

Yourself. Only in bursal tones,
Tactful as the file box
That shows, if opened, the neon, pleading heart
Of Jesus wrapped in barbed wire,

You perform penalties others have scripted, so
Untroubled by so many.
How long I have listened to you
For news of the opal distances,
Or rain to freshen the morning’s arrival.
What keeps me awake? Nothing
More than a fly’s dysenteric violin.
What puts me to sleep

Is your clement voice, saying
The dark has no teeth. While men like you live
In this world do I dream
I am either safe or spared?

Second Reading
Ghost Prisoner
by Heid E Erdrich


This prisoner and other “ghost detainees” were hidden largely to prevent the International Committee of the Red Cross from monitoring their treatment and conditions, officials said.

                              —“Rumsfeld Ordered Iraqi Suspect Held as ‘Ghost’ Prisoner,”
                                                                      San Francisco Chronicle, June 17, 2004

The ghost prisoner, a murderer,
wishes he was invisible, sheer air,
already dead. His narrow bed
washes him away to dream escape
through holy gaps that open
in the grin of his small son.
Lost teeth offer him a freedom
so absurd he wakes and laughs.No one hears the ghost prisoner.
Whether he groans or bears stoically
what instruments we’ve paid to play
this march toward a freedom so absurd
we wake and silently shake our heads.
We do not speak ill of the dead.The ghost prisoner, still murderer,
wishes he was visible, fiery air,
rallying the dead. His narrow cell
just the place for prayer. Holy, holy,
a ghost’s revenge pushed through gaps
in his own gashed mouth, a curse
so absurd, he wakes to its howl.No one says his name, his crimes,
how many jolts it took to resurrect
him as a betrayer of insurrection,
paying for freedom’s ring.

We do not want to know what it took.
We’d rather not speak the dead ill.
We do not want to know what it took
to make him wish he were dead still.

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Gospel Reading
Luke 23:33-43

When they arrived at the place called The Skull, they crucified him, along with the criminals, one on his right and the other on his left. Jesus said, “Abba, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.” They drew lots as a way of dividing up his clothing.

The people were standing around watching, but the leaders sneered at him, saying, “He saved others. Let him save himself if he really is the Messiah sent from God, the chosen one.”

The soldiers also mocked him. They came up to him, offering him sour wine and saying, “If you really are the ruler of the Jewish people, save yourself.” Above his head was a notice of the formal charge against him. It read “This is the ruler of the Jewish people.”

One of the criminals hanging next to Jesus insulted him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”

Responding, the other criminal spoke harshly to him, “Don’t you fear God, seeing that you’ve also been sentenced to die? We are rightly condemned, for we are receiving the appropriate sentence for what we did. But this one has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your glory.”

Jesus replied, “I assure you that today you will be with me in paradise.”

 

Musical Reflection
Prison Grove by Warren Zevon

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Prayer for Criminal Justice Reform
by Cathy Heying and Marilaurice Hemlock, adapted
Liberating God,
         as you once freed Israel from captivity, we call upon
         your liberating love to ransom us from our many
         layers of imprisonment. Systemic racism holds us
         captive while fear, addiction, complacency and
         despair constrain us.
We remember especially siblings bound by
         prison walls; we remember the anguish of their victims.
We do not understand so many things;
         structures of sentencing, a disproportionate number
         of inmates of colour, the suffering of their children,
         our collective fear of released
         prisoners as illustrated by their inability to find housing,
         jobs, respect, or a second chance.
We ask, O God, for the wisdom of compassion and the humility of forgiveness.
         In the healing liberation of your love we pray,
         free us from fear; free us to action,
         free us from revenge; free us to reconciliation.
We make this our prayer in the name of Brother Jesus, that,
like him, we may become instruments of peace, healing,
and true freedom for each sibling created
in your image.  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
Chains by Usher ft. Nas, Bibi Bourelly

 

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 Maria Gaspar

Invocation from Prayers for an Inclusive Church by Steven Shakespeare

Musical Reflection The Mercy Seat by Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds

Poem To the voice of the retired warden of Huntsville Prison (Texas death chamber) by Averill Curdy)

Poem Ghost Prisoner by Heid E Erdrich

Musical Reflection Prison Grove by Warren Zevon

Prayer by Cathy Heying and Marilaurice Hemlock

Lord’s Prayer by Fred F Keip

Musical Reflection Chains by Usher ft. Nas, Bibi Bourelly

Blessing from The Pattern of our Days

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