Advent Two, Year A

Musical Reflection
Man on Fire by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros



God of the keen blade,
which cuts the roots
of arrogant power:
you raise
voices of promise
in the dry lands of our desire,
children of faith
from the stones of the earth;
make us ready to receive
the Spirit and the fire of love,
wild and fierce and free;
through Jesus Christ, the one who is to come.


First Reading

Refusing to Baptize a Son
 by Rodney Jones

Twilight came and my mother-in-law
Insisting again it would mean nothing,
The ceremony and the holy water,
And happiness of friends and family,
Which was everything to an old woman.
High tide at el estero, the Pacific roared

As beer turned to wine and wine to bourbon.
Midnight, fireworks, Feliz Año Nuevo,
And us, deep in our cups, and drinking on:
Me with my immutable gringo silence,
And her parrying, “What if he should die?”
And “You don’t understand. You’re not Roman.”

What’s changed now that she’s buried?
Not nature, not my no, as dumb as yes,
Not the luck of the Spanish armada,
Or high muck I dreamed of defending:
Post-ethnic, post-religious, eclectic –
It’s like her heaven. It doesn’t exist.

Her spirit does. Stubborn. Procrustean. Loving
The palm tree’s lovely freedom from knowledge.
May my son remember his grandmother
Alive in the tropics, standing for him,
Even in these words, even if they are
The superstitions of an agnostic.

Second Reading
by Kirby Knowlton


                 under the gervais st. bridge,
our voices domed   like a cathedral.
shoulders dipped in sunlight,
                                    a baptism of sorts.
we came to take pictures. searched
        for subjects like graffiti on piers,
what my mother calls angel     rays
in the sky,      that yellowed, humid
glint in your eyes.
                   maybe i ran out of film     or
my batteries died      because when
we finally found our shot,
                          you used your iphone.
neither of us have a right to decide
what is holy.                       i told you
i was almost a catholic baby,
               a half-lie i wanted to be true
if only because i knew     you would
                                    be disappointed.
there is no glory in either of our
             doubts: your face when
i talked of  prayer, how
walking across that bridge  back to
your car,             i remembered that
what gives a photo life
                                       is artificial light.



Gospel Reading
Matthew 3:1-12

In those days John the Baptist appeared in the desert of Judea announcing,“Change your hearts and lives! Here comes the reign of heaven!” He was the one of whom Isaiah the prophet spoke when he said:

The voice of one shouting in the wilderness,
        Prepare the way for the Lord;
        make his paths straight.

John wore clothes made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. He ate locusts and wild honey.

People from Jerusalem, throughout Judea, and all around the Jordan River came to him. As they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River. Many Pharisees and Sadducees came to be baptized by John. He said to them, “You pack of snakes! Who warned you to escape from the angry judgment that is coming soon? Produce fruit that shows you have changed your hearts and lives. And don’t even think about saying to yourselves, Sarah and Abraham are our parents. I tell you that God is able to raise up Sarah and Abraham’s children from these stones. The axe is already at the root of the trees. Therefore, every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit will be chopped down and tossed into the fire. I baptize with water those of you who have changed your hearts and lives. The One who is coming after me is stronger than I am. I’m not worthy to carry the sandals of the Coming One! That One will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire, whose winnowing-fan will clear the threshing floor. The grain will be gathered into the barn, but the chaff will be burned in unquenchable fire.

Musical Reflection
Take me to the Water by Nina Simone

Islander’s Prayer
from the Melanesian Mission, adapted

O Jesus,
Be the canoe that holds us up in the sea of life;
Be the rudder that keeps us in the unswerving road;
Be the outrigger that supports us in times of temptation.
Let your Spirit be our sail that carries us through each day.
Keep our bodies strong, so we can paddle steadfastly in the voyage of life. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

Most compassionate Life-giver,
may we honour and praise you:
may we work with you to establish
your new order of justice, peace and love.
Give us what we need for growth,
and help us, through forgiving others,
to accept forgiveness.
Strengthen us in the time of testing,
that we may resist all evil.
For all the tenderness,
strength and love are yours,
now and forever. Amen.



Bless to us, O Lord,
the earth beneath our feet;
bless to us, O Lord,
the path we tread:
our walk this day with the Creator,
our walk this day with the Redeemer,
our walk this day with the Spirit.

May the blessing of God – the Existing, the Living, and the Speaking,
be with us and remain with us always. Amen.


Artwork from Cai Guo-Qiang

Invocation from Prayers for an Inclusive Church by Steven Shakespeare

Musical Reflection Man on Fire by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

Poem Refusing to Baptize a Son by Rodney Jones

Poem catchlight by Kirby Knowlton

Musical Reflection Take me to the Water by Nina Simone

Prayer from the Melanesian Mission

Lord’s Prayer by W Wallace

Musical Reflection Grapevine Fires by Death Cab for Cutie

Blessing from Celtic Daily Prayer

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