Pentecost +13, Year A

Musical Reflection
Instinct Blues by The White Stripes


Invocation

Passionate Lord,
walking to Golgotha
in the midst of confusion:
free us from our images of you
which keep you enthroned in idle power,
apart from the pain and sin of the world;
lead us to let our violence die
that greater life might rise;
through Jesus Christ,
who took up the cross.
Amen.
First Reading

The World
by Karen Solie

When I learned I could own a piece of The World
I got my chequebook out. Eternal life belongs to those
who live in the present. My wife’s bright eye affirmed it.
As do the soothing neutral tones and classic-contemporary
decor of our professionally designed apartments,
private verandahs before which the globe, endlessly
and effortlessly circumnavigated, slips by, allowing residents
no end of exotic ports, a new destination every few days
to explore with a depth we hadn’t thought possible.
It’s not how things are on The World that is mystical,
not the market and deli, proximity of masseuse
and sommelier, not the gym, our favourite restaurant,
our other favourite restaurant, the yacht club, the library,
the golf pro, the pool, but that it exists at all, a limited
whole, a logic and a feeling. What looks like freedom
is, in fact, the perfection of a plan, and property
a stocktaking laid against us in a measure. The difference
between a thing thought, and done. One can ignore neither
the practical applications nor the philosophical significance
of our onboard jewelry emporium, its $12 million inventory,
natural yellow diamonds from South Africa no one needs,
thus satisfying the criteria for beauty. Without which
there is no life of the mind. What we share, though, transcends
ownership, our self-improvement guaranteed
by the itineraries, licensed experts who prepare us
for each new harbour and beyond, deliver us into the hands
of native companions on The World’s perpetual course.
The visual field has no limits. And the eye—
the eye devours. Polar bears, musk oxen, rare thick-billed
murre. We golfed on the tundra and from The World
were airlifted to pristine snowfields, clifftops where we dined
alfresco above frozen seas. The World is the entirety.
The largest ship ever to traverse the Northwest Passage.
How the silent energy coursed between us. Fundamental rules
had changed. Except, with time, it seems a sort of accident—
natural objects combined in states of affairs, their internal properties. Accusatory randomness and proliferation
of types, brutal quantity literally brought to our doors.
Or past them, as if on the OLED high-def screen
of our circumstances, which hides more than it reveals.
For what we see could be other than it is.
Whatever we’re able to describe at all could be other
than it is. Such assaults on our finer feelings require an appeal
to order, to the exercise of discipline a private Jacuzzi represents,
from which one might peacefully enjoy the singular euphoria
of the Panama Canal or long-awaited departure
from fetid Venice. There is some truth in solipsism, but I fear
I’m doing it wrong, standing at the rail for ceremonial cast-offs
thunderously accessorized with Vangelis or “Non, je ne regrette rien,”
made irritable by appreciative comments about the light.
In Reykjavík or Cape Town, it’s the same. Familiarity
without intimacy is the cost of privacy, security
of a thread count so extravagant its extent can no longer
be detected. Even at capacity, The World is eerily empty:
its crew of highly trained specialists in housekeeping,
maintenance, beauty, and cuisine—the heart and soul
of the endeavour—are largely unseen and likely where the fun is.
We sit at the captain’s table but don’t know him. He’s Italian.
I think on my Clarksville boyhood long before EPS, ROE—
retractable clothesline sunk in concrete, modest backyard
a staging ground for potential we felt infinite to the degree
our parents knew it wasn’t. The unknown is where we played.
And while fulfilment of a premeditated outcome
confers a nearly spiritual comfort of indifference
to the time of year, a paradise of fruits always in season,
the span of choice defines its limit, which cannot be exceeded.
The sea rolls over, props on an elbow, and now is heard
the small sound of a daydream running softly aground.
Dissatisfaction, in a Danish sense. On prevailing winds a scent
of compromise; for one tires of the spacewalk outside
what is the case. Beyond immediate luxuries
lives speculation and the tragic impression one is yet
to be born. It could be when all pursuits have been satisfied,
life’s problems will remain untouched. But doubt exists only
where questions exist. The World satisfies its own conditions.
It argues for itself. Herein lies an answer.

Second Reading
The Tenacious Devil Who Doesn’t Exist

by Adélia Prado
translated by Ellen Doré Watson

God’s glory is greater
        than this plane in the sky.
And his love
    which is where my fear comes from,
that sea of delights
    where planes crash
    and ships founder,
I know oh so well,
and I also know what a disastrous thing it is
    to be the body of time,
        to exist,
the intermittent terror.
Jonathan, if death is love
        then why
– if I’m so certain – am I still afraid?
How can a fish be happy when I’m not?
Strange, this business of being human.
I opened the door one evening,
and there was a toad
        with this throbbing gullet,
    a gentle toad.
And I thought: it’s Jonathan in disguise
        come to visit me.
Even so, I shooed him away with a broom
        and went to watch television.
Under a starry sky,
    I was sleepless, astonished.
God’s love is Beauty,
        they’re one and the same.
I want to be holy like Agnes
who flies on the wings of beetles
    singing to soothe me
        with her little girl’s voice:
    “Cast off the chains
        around your neck,
    O captive daughter of Zion.”
    Airplanes are scary
    because God is in them.
Embrace me, God, with Your
        flesh and blood arm.
    Sing with Your mouth
        to keep me innocent.
 
Gospel Reading
Matthew 16:21-28
 

From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he had to go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders, chief priests, and legal experts, and that he had to be killed and raised on the third day. Then Peter took hold of Jesus and, scolding him, began to correct him: “God forbid, Lord! This won’t happen to you.” But he turned to Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan. You are a stone that could make me stumble, for you are not thinking God’s thoughts but human thoughts.”

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross, and follow me. All who want to save their lives will lose them. But all who lose their lives because of me will find them. Why would people gain the whole world but lose their lives? What will people give in exchange for their lives? For the Human One is about to come with the majesty of Abba God and angels. And then God will repay each one for what that person has done. I assure you that some standing here won’t die before they see the Human One coming in God’s kindom.”

Musical Reflection
Can’t Live with the World by Laura Mvula

Prayer
by Rev Ann B Day, adapted

Wondrous God,
lover of lion and lizard, cedar and cactus, raindrop and river,
we praise You for the splendour of the world!
We thank You, that woven throughout the tapestry of earth
are the varied threads of human diversity.
Created in Your image, we are of many colours and cultures,
ages and classes, gender and sexual identities.
Different and alike, we are Your beloved people.
Free us, we pray, from fears of difference that divide and wound us.
Move us to dismantle our attitudes and systems of prejudice.
Renew our commitment to make this a safe world for all people,
that all may feel the grace and love of God.
Grant us minds and hearts eager to learn, reluctant to judge,
and responsive to the leading of Your loving Spirit. We ask in Christ’s name,
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.

 


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 Paolo Čerić

Invocation from Prayers for an Inclusive Church by Steven Shakespeare

Musical Reflection Instinct Blues by The White Stripes

Poem The World by Karen Solie

Poem The Tenacious Devil Who Doesn’t Exist by Adélia Prado

Musical Reflection Can’t Live with the World by Laura Mvula

Prayer by Rev Ann B Day

Lord’s Prayer by Margaret Rolfe

Musical Reflection Follow by Whitney

Blessing from Celtic Daily Prayer

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