Pentecost +12, Year A

Musical Reflection
Something to Tell You by Haim

 


Invocation

Living God,
you accept our stumbling faith,
our misplaced answers,
our false horizons,
and through them build a way of peace:
empower us
to bind the wounds of the world
and loose the debts of oppression;
through Jesus Christ,
anointed for the world.
Amen.
First Reading

Please Don’t
by Tony Hoagland

tell the flowers—they think
the sun loves them.
The grass is under the same
simple-minded impression
about the rain, the fog, the dew.
And when the wind blows,
it feels so good
they lose control of themselves

 

and swobtoggle wildly
around, bumping accidentally into their
slender neighbors.
Forgetful little lotus-eaters,

solar-powered
hydroholics, drawing nourishment up
through stems into their
thin green skin,

high on the expensive
chemistry of mitochondrial explosion,
believing that the dirt
loves them, the night, the stars—

reaching down a little deeper
with their pale albino roots,
all Dizzy
Gillespie with the utter
sufficiency of everything.

They don’t imagine lawn
mowers, the four stomachs
of the cow, or human beings with boots
who stop to marvel

at their exquisite
flexibility and color.
They persist in their soft-headed

hallucination of happiness.
But please don’t mention it.
Not yet. Tell me
what would you possibly gain

from being right?

Second Reading
The Preacher Addresses the Seminarians

by Christian Wiman

I tell you it’s a bitch existence some Sundays
and it’s no good pretending you don’t have to pretend,

 

don’t have to hitch up those gluefutured nags Hope and Help
and whip the sorry chariot of yourself

toward whatever hell your heaven is on days like these.
I tell you it takes some hunger heaven itself won’t slake

to be so twitchingly intent on the pretty organist’s pedaling,
so lizardly alert to the curvelessness of her choir robe.

Here it comes, brothers and sisters, the confession of sins,
hominy hominy, dipstick doxology, one more churchcurdled hymn

we don’t so much sing as haunt: grounded altos, gear-grinding tenors,
two score and ten gently bewildered men lip-synching along.

You’re up, Pastor. Bring on the unthunder. Some trickle-piss tangent
to reality. Some bit of the Gospel grueling out of you.

I tell you sometimes mercy means nothing
but release from this homiletic hologram, a little fleshstep

sideways, as it were, setting passion on autopilot (as if it weren’t!)
to gaze out in peace at your peaceless parishioners:

boozeglazes and facelifts, bad mortgages, bored marriages,
a masonry of faces at once specific and generic,

and here and there that rapt famished look that leaps
from person to person, year to year, like a holy flu.

All these little crevices into which you’ve crawled
like a chubby plumber with useless tools:

Here, have a verse for your wife’s death.
Here, have a death for your life’s curse.

I tell you some Sundays even the children’s sermon
— maybe especially this — sharks your gut

like a bite of tin some beer-guzzling goat
either drunkenly or mistakenly decides to sample.

I know what you’re thinking. Christ’s in this.
He’ll get to it, the old cunner, somewhere somehow

there’s the miracle meat, the aurora borealis blood,
every last atom compacted to a grave

and the one thing that every man must lose to save.
Well, friends, I’m here to tell you two things today.

First, though this is not, for me, one of those bilious abrading days,
though in fact I stand before you in a rage of faith

and have all good hope that you will all go help
untold souls back into their bodies,

ease the annihilating No above which they float,
the truth is our only savior is failure.

Which brings me to the second thing: that goat.
It was real. It is, as is usually the case, the displacement of agency

that is the lie. It was long ago, Mexico, my demon days:
It was a wager whose stakes I failed to appreciate.

He tottered. He flowered. He writhed time to a fraught quiet,
and kicked occasionally, and lay there twitching, watching me die.

IMG_3596.width-1000
 
Gospel Reading
Matthew 16:13-20
 

Now when Jesus came to the area of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Human One is?”

They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.”

He said, “And what about you? Who do you say that I am?”

Simon Peter said, “You are the Christ, the Only Begotten of the living God.”

Then Jesus replied, “Happy are you, Simon son of Jonah, because no human has shown this to you. Rather Abba God who is in heaven has shown you. I tell you that you are Peter. And I’ll build my church on this rock. The gates of the underworld won’t be able to stand against it. I’ll give you the keys of the kindom of heaven. Anything you fasten on earth will be fastened in heaven. Anything you loosen on earth will be loosened in heaven.” Then he ordered the disciples not to tell anybody that he was the Christ.

Musical Reflection
Please Don’t Tell Me How the Story Ends by Willie Nelson and Rosanne Cash

Prayer for Helpers
by Marcia Plumb

May the One who blessed our ancestors
be present to those who provide help
for the ill and the troubled among us.
May they be filled with fortitude and courage,
endowed with sympathy and compassion,
as they give strength to those at their side.
May they fight against despair, and continue
to find within themselves the will to reach out
to those in need.
And in their love of others,
may they know the blessing of community,
and the blessing of renewed faith.
Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

Loving God, within and around us, we revere you.
We seek to live life as you would want us to do;
with love and respect for all people
and all things in the universe.
May we find each day sufficient for our needs,
and find forgiveness when we do wrong,
just as we forgive those who do wrong to us.
In times of trouble, may we centre our lives in you.
For your being is love,
which comes with strength and with beauty,
throughout eternity. Amen.

 

Musical Reflection
Live to Tell the Tale by Passion Pit


Saranam (Refuge) Blessing

Great Creator,
Receive our thanks for night and day,
for food and shelter, rest and play.
Be here our guest and with us stay,
saranam, saranam, saranam.

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

 

Sources:

Artwork by Caroline Mackenzie

Invocation from Prayers for an Inclusive Church by Steven Shakespeare

Musical Reflection Something to Tell You by Haim

Poem Please Don’t by Tony Hoagland

Poem The Preacher Addresses the Seminarians by Christian Wiman

Musical Reflection Please Don’t Tell Me How the Story Ends by Willie Nelson and Rosanne Cash

Prayer by Marcia Plumb

Lord’s Prayer by Margaret Rolfe

Musical Reflection Live to Tell the Tale by Passion Pit

Blessing from Celtic Daily Prayer

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