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The Still Point: The Third Sunday after Pentecost: Proper 7
A Time of Meditation and Reflection
… 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.
Praise to you, God, for all your work among us. Yours is the vigor in creation, yours is the impulse in our new discoveries.
Make us adventurous, yet reverent and hopeful in all we do. Amen.
The Gospel Matthew 10:24-39
Jesus said to the twelve disciples, “A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the
master; it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master. If
they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those
of his household! So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be
uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. What I say to you in the dark,
tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops. Do not fear
those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul
and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the
ground apart from your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not
be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows. Everyone therefore who
acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; but
whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven. Do not
think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a
sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household.
Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son
or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up the cross
and follow me is not worthy of me. Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose
their life for my sake will find it.”
Poem: Westwind #2 by Mary Oliver
You are young. So you know everything. You leap into the boat and begin rowing. But listen
to me. Without fanfare, without embarrassment, without any doubt, I talk directly to your
soul. Listen to me. Lift the oars from the water, let your arms rest, and your heart, and heart’s
little intelligence, and listen to me. There is life without love. It is not worth a bent penny, or a
scuffed shoe. It is not worth the body of a dead dog nine days unburied. When you hear, a
mile away and still out of sight, the churn of the water as it begins to swirl and roil, fretting
around the sharp rocks — when you hear that unmistakable pounding — when you feel the mist
on your mouth and sense ahead the embattlement, the long falls plunging and steaming — then
row, row for your life toward it.
Mary Oliver’s prose poem, like the Gospel reading, challenges us to consider moments when
the soul’s longing and the heart’s preexisting connections are at odds. For Jesus, this takes the
shape of family bonds that we often don’t choose, but that nonetheless are, paradoxically, part
of our soul’s makeup. For Mary Oliver, the metaphor of navigating the rapids – at once
thrilling, dangerous, and utterly irresistible – can perhaps represent the decision to follow the
Holy Spirit’s guidance, even when it means an uncertain future.
• When have you felt a “mist on your mouth” that has prompted you to act?
• When has following your soul put you at odds with the bonds of family or community?
• In our current turmoil, what does it mean to “row for your life” toward uncertainty?
We bring before God someone whom we have met or remembered today
We bring to God someone who is hurting tonight and needs our prayer
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.