Pentecost +16, Year A

Musical Reflection
Consumerism by Lauryn Hill


Generous God,
whose gift defies the balance sheet
of ownership and just reward:
free our hearts and minds
from the envy which traps us;
shape our lives to show
your self-forgetting love;
through Jesus Christ, the free gift of grace.
First Reading

by Rev Billy Talen & the Stop Shopping Choir

We can tell that something far-reaching is happening in the most ordinary transaction. That sensation of shallowness in us. That almost unnoticeable high. The loss of difference in the things around us. The monoculture within and without.

Oh we know. We know that the Earth cannot live with this. And we know that we are the closest living thing to the point of purchase. We know that we are the first little piece of Earth to know. So how do we say this?

We know. Somehow, we know. That the Earth cannot live with this shopping. We cannot live with this shopping. We know we can’t.

We know that the thing that was here before the products were placed between us and the Earth – that thing is still here, just behind the display case. Just beyond the dumpsters in back of the store. Folded in a secret place under the horizon. We hear a song …a song that seems to sing itself…

Second Reading

by Dolores Hayden

Exuberance sips bootleg gin from a garter flask
with a ruby monogram “E.”She wears a red dress one size too small,
eyes wide, she flirts with everyone, daresLincoln Beachey to fly until he runs out of gas,
rides a dead engine all the way down.

She watches Ormer Locklear climb
out of the cockpit two hundred feet up,

tap dance on his upper wing
as the houses of  honest families

with their square-fenced yards
slide below his shuffle. An oval pond

winks in the sun, like a zero.
Exuberance challenges pilots

to master the Falling Leaf, perfect the Tailspin,
ignore the Graveyard Spiral, the Doom Loop.

These aviators predict every American will fly.
Exuberance believes Everybody Ought

to Be Rich,  John J. Raskob explains why
in the Ladies Home Journal. She gets stock tips

from her manicurist, call loans from her broker,
buys Radio, Seaboard Utilities, Sears,

orders shares in investment trusts — why not? —
chain stores keep multiplying, cars, trucks,

planes, houses. This nation is all about growth,
growth and leverage, look at the skyscrapers shooting up,

men rivet steel, floor after floor, high-speed elevators
spring through the cores, planes soar over them all.

Sherman Fairchild has made a million
selling aerial photographs of real estate.

Exuberance travels constantly, owns land
in Miami, Miami Beach, Coral Gables, Palm Beach,

she trades “binders” on lots five times over,
befriends Mr. Charles Ponzi from Boston

who is raking in a bundle near Jacksonville.
Prices for sand and palms are sure to rise.

But how do we know when irrational exuberance
has unduly escalated asset values?

Wall Street has been wing walking,
call it barnstormer capitalism,

soon the bankers and the brokers will steal
the aviators’ lexicon, claim their own tail risks,

graveyard spirals, doomsday cycles,
wonder how everything blue-sky stayed up so long.

Exuberance buys more stock on margin,
volume runs high, the ticker tape

can’t keep up, higher, higher, higher,
Black Thursday, not a parachute in sight.

Gospel Reading
Matthew 20:1-16

“The kindom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire vineyard workers. After reaching an agreement to pay them a denarion, the owner sent them into the vineyard.

“Then the owner went out around nine in the morning and saw others standing around the marketplace doing nothing and said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I’ll pay you whatever is right.’ And they went.

“Again around noon and then at three in the afternoon, the owner did the same thing. Around five in the afternoon the owner went and found others standing around, and said to them, ‘Why are you just standing around here doing nothing all day long?’

“‘Because nobody has hired us,’ they replied.

“The owner responded, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’

“When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to the manager, ‘Call the workers and give them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and moving on finally to the first.’ When those who were hired at five in the afternoon came, each one received a denarion. Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more. But each of them also received a denarion. When they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, ‘These who were hired last worked one hour, and they received the same pay as we did even though we had to work the whole day in the hot sun.’

“But the owner replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I did you no wrong. Didn’t I agree to pay you a denarion? Take what belongs to you and go. I want to give to this one who was hired last the same as I give to you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with what belongs to me? Or are you resentful because I’m generous?’ So those who are last will be first. And those who are first will be last.”

Musical Reflection
Big Yellow Taxi by Counting Crows

Prayer of Reflection about Consumerism
by Vanessa Nicholas-Schmidt, adapted

Jesus please open our hearts and minds
so that we may we be open to your spirit in this grey world.

As we learn about and reflect on consumerism and justice Lord,
we come to a growing awareness of its complexity.

We know that consumerism fuels wars.
We know that it causes great economic disparity between nations and peoples.
We know that excessive consumption is destructive
to our earth, to our relationships, to our bodies.
We know that it tempts us to focus on material possession
as opposed to working for lasting and life giving happiness.

And yet Lord we are also aware that we are consumers and we are left asking …
Are we critical consumers?
Do we examine the economies and consumption practices in which we participate?
Do we seek balance and justice?

Help each of us to be present to the complexities
within these juxtapositions of consumerism and justice.
Help us to think outside of the box,
to challenge ourselves, each other, and our wider communities.
Help us to build systems, structures, and visions of consumption
that are just, loving, and full of dignity. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

Holy Presence, your name is truly sacred.
May your vision for the world be realized,
and may your will be done in our lives as it is in heaven.
Provide us with the goodness of food
and remind us to enjoy it mindfully.
Forgive us for the times that we have rushed through life,
not noticing the small miracles around us.
And please forgive those who haven’t had enough time to notice us.
Lead us all into abundant life
in the here-and-now of our lives,
and lead us away from the busyness
that makes us live too far in the past or future.
For the here-and-now Kin-dom,
here-and-now power,
and here-and-now glory are yours this moment and forever. Amen!


Musical Reflection
Bittersweet Symphony by The Verve

Saranam (Refuge) Blessing

Creator God,
All that we love
into your keeping.
All that we care for
into your care.
Be with us by day,
be with us by night;
and as dark closes
the eyelids with sleep,
may we waken
to the peace of a new day.

And may the blessing of God – the Parent, the Child, and the Womb,
be with us and remain with us always. Amen.



Artwork by Jaco Putker

Invocation from Prayers for an Inclusive Church by Steven Shakespeare

Musical Reflection Consumerism by Lauryn Hill

Poem Shopping by Rev Billy Talen & the Stop Shopping Choir

Poem Exuberance by Dolores Hayden

Musical Reflection Big Yellow Taxi by Counting Crows

Prayer by Vanessa Nicholas-Schmidt

Lord’s Prayer by Brian Brandsmeier

Musical Reflection Bittersweet Symphony by The Verve

Blessing from Celtic Daily Prayer

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