Seventh after Epiphany, Year A

Musical Reflection
Black Wings by Tom Waits



Lord of rising sun and gentle rain,
whose gifts are uncounted
whose care is uncaged:
free us from measured love
which keeps a record of wrong
and fails before our violence;
take us outside the limits
where we speak only with those
who reflect ourselves;
recall us to your image
shining and alive
in many-coloured eyes;
through Jesus Christ, the peacemaker.
First Reading

[Sonnet] name address date
by Bernadette Mayer

name address date
I cannot remember
an eye for an eye
then and there mythis    is
your    se
cond    ch
ance    toh i s t o r y
r e p e a t s
i t s s e l fand a tooth
for a tooth
is a tooth:

Second Reading
by Paisley Rekdal

I have been taught never to brag but now
I cannot help it: I keep
a beautiful garden, all abundance,
indiscriminate, pulling itself
from the stubborn earth: does it offend you
to watch me working in it,
touching my hands to the greening tips or
tearing the yellow stalks back, so wild
the living and the dead both
snap off in my hands?
The neighbor with his stuttering
fingers, the neighbor with his broken
love: each comes up my drive
to receive his pitying,
accustomed consolations, watches me
work in silence awhile, rises in anger,
walks back. Does it offend them to watch me
not mourning with them but working
fitfully, fruitlessly, working
the way the bees work, which is to say
by instinct alone, which looks like pleasure?
I can stand for hours among the sweet
narcissus, silent as a point of bone.
I can wait longer than sadness. I can wait longer
than your grief. It is such a small thing
to be proud of, a garden. Today
there were scrub jays, quail,
a woodpecker knocking at the white-
and-black shapes of trees, and someone’s lost rabbit
scratching under the barberry: is it
indiscriminate? Should it shrink back, wither,
and expurgate? Should I, too, not be loved?
It is only a little time, a little space.
Why not watch the grasses take up their colors in a rush
like a stream of kerosene being lit?
If I could not have made this garden beautiful
I wouldn’t understand your suffering,
nor care for each the same, inflamed way.
I would have to stay only like the bees,
beyond consciousness, beyond
self-reproach, fingers dug down hard
into stone, and growing nothing.
There is no end to ego,
with its museum of disappointments.
I want to take my neighbors into the garden
and show them: Here is consolation.
Here is your pity. Look how much seed it drops
around the sparrows as they fight.
It lives alongside their misery.
It glows each evening with a violent light.



Gospel Reading
Matthew 5:38-48

“You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you that you must not oppose those who want to hurt you. If people slap you on your right cheek, you must turn the left cheek to them as well. When they wish to haul you to court and take your shirt, let them have your coat too. When they force you to go one mile, go with them two. Give to those who ask, and don’t refuse those who wish to borrow from you.

“You have heard that it was said, You must love your neighbour and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who harass you so that you will be acting as children of Abba God in heaven. Abba God makes the sun rise on both the evil and the good and sends rain on both the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love only those who love you, what reward do you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your siblings, what more are you doing? Don’t even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore, just as Abba God in heaven is complete in showing love to everyone, so also you must be complete.


Musical Reflection

Hard on Me by Tom Petty



by Joan Stott, adapted

Holy God, we seek your presence to learn more about you.
We pray together in spirit to worship God.

Guiding God, you call us to follow in your paths of holiness.
In our sacred spaces, we come with reverent awe and joy.

Reassuring God, your ancient promises remain the same.
Teach us your holy ways and remind us of your promises. Amen.


The Lord’s Prayer

Blessed One, our Father and our Mother, our Parent,
Holy is your name.
May your love be enacted in the world.
May your will be done
On earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread
And forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us in the time of trial
and deliver us from evil.
For all that we do in your love,
and all that your love brings to birth,
and the fullness of love that will be
are yours, now and forever. Amen.


Musical Reflection
Our Deliverance by Indigo Girls


May we drink deeply
from God’s cup of joy.
May the night bring us quiet.
And when we come
to God’s palace
may the door be open
and the welcome warm.

And may the blessing of God – the Creator, the Spirit, and the Word,
be with us and remain with us always. Amen.



Artwork by Nagato Iwasaki

Invocation from Prayers for an Inclusive Church by Steven Shakespeare

Musical Reflection Black Wings by Tom Waits

Poem [Sonnet] name address date by Bernadette Mayer

Poem Happiness by Paisley Rekdal

Musical Reflection Hard on Me by Tom Petty

Prayer by Joan Stott

Lord’s Prayer by Richard McCall

Musical Reflection Our Deliverance by Indigo Girls

Blessing from Celtic Daily Prayer, adapted

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