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The Still Point: A Time of Meditation and Reflection
The Third Sunday after the Epiphany
… At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance…
T.S. Eliot, Burnt Norton
Peace on each one who comes in need;
Peace on each one who comes in joy.
Peace on each one who offers prayers;
Peace on each one who offers song.
Peace of the Maker, Peace of the Son,
Peace of the Spirit, the Triune One.
Almighty God, give us such a vision of your purpose and such an assurance of your love and power, that we may ever hold fast the hope
which is in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Gospel Mark 1:14-20
After John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”
As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.
Poem: From “Six Recognitions of the Lord” by Mary Oliver
Of course I have always known you
are present in the clouds, and the
black oak I especially adore, and the
wings of birds. But you are present
too in the body, listening to the body,
teaching it to live, instead of all
that touching, with disembodied joy.
We do not do this easily. We have
lived so long in the in the heaven of touch,
and we maintain our mutability, our
physicality, even as we begin to
apprehend the other world. Slowly we
make our appreciative response.
Slowly appreciation swells to
astonishment. And we enter the dialogue
of our lives that is beyond all under-
standing or conclusion. It is mystery.
It is love of God. It is obedience.
Oh, feed me this day, Holy Spirit, with
the fragrance of the fields and the
freshness of the oceans which you have
made, and help me to hear and to hold
in all dearness those exacting and wonderful
words of our Lord Christ Jesus, saying:
The gospel story for today is striking, in terms of Jesus’ direct calls to Simon, Andrew, James and John, and their quick and immediate response. How did they recognize the Lord, and how were they able to make that commitment in the moment? The excerpts from the poem “Six Recognitions of the Lord” constitute the fourth and fifth sections, or recognitions. The poet reflects on recognizing the Lord in the natural world, but also in the body. She relates her own process of recognition and response – a slower, more gradual one.
Questions for Reflection
What do you hear and notice as you re-read this story of the call to follow and the disciples’ response?
What “recognitions of the Lord” have you experienced – in yourself, in the world, in your communities?
How do you react to the poem’s discussion of recognizing the Lord’s presence in the body, but not through physical touch?
How do these words intersect with your own experience: “we enter the dialogue of our lives that is beyond all understanding or conclusion. It is mystery. It is love of God, It is obedience.”
We bring to God a troubled situation in our world
We bring to God, silently, someone whom we find hard to forgive or trust
We bring ourselves to God that we might grow in generosity of spirit, clarity of mind, and warmth of affection
We offer our thanks to God for the blessings in our lives
We name before God those who have died.
Gracious God, you hear all our prayers: those we speak aloud, those we hold in our hearts, and those prayers for which we have no words. Hear the prayers of your people, and grant them as may be best for us, for the sake of your holy name. Amen.
Accept our thanks for all you have done, O God. Our hands were empty, and you filled them.
May Christ’s holy, healing, enabling Spirit be with us every step of the way, and be our guide as our road changes and turns, and the blessing of God our Creator, Redeemer and Giver of life be among us now and remain with us forever. Amen.
Poem selection, meditation, and reflection by Frank Nowell