Epiphany 2 01/17/21

Link to PDF

The Still Point: A Time of Meditation and Reflection

The Second 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.  

 

Opening Prayer

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                                                                                                       John 1:43-51

Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”

Poem: Last Night as I Was Sleeping                                                            by Antonio Machado

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that a spring was breaking
out in my heart.
I said: Along which secret aqueduct,
Oh water, are you coming to me,
water of a new life
that I have never drunk?

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that I had a beehive
here inside my heart.
And the golden bees
were making white combs
and sweet honey
from my old failures.

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that a fiery sun was giving
light inside my heart.
It was fiery because I felt
warmth as from a hearth,
and sun because it gave light
and brought tears to my eyes.

Last night as I slept,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that it was God I had
here inside my heart.

Translated by Robert Bly

Meditation:

The poem leads us into dreams remembered and shared, of extraordinary experiences of feeling water, a beehive (!), light, and ultimately God in the poet’s heart. The words “marvelous error” may throw us off, but perhaps the poet is suggesting indirectly that it would be a mistake to reject these experiences as unreal. (Another translation of this poem uses the words “blessed illusion”). In this week’s gospel story, one might wonder if Philip and Nathanael felt something deep and palpable when they met Jesus, something extraordinary they had never felt before. Maybe they also wondered if this was real – could this be the Messiah they were hoping for?

Questions for reflection:

  • Have you had experiences similar to the ones related in the poem… in dreams or while awake?
  • What especially strikes or moves you about the stories of Jesus calling his disciples?
  • What do you feel you are being called to this Epiphany season?

 

The Prayers

 

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.

Baptism of Our Lord Jesus Christ 01/10/21

Link to PDF

The Still Point: A Time of Meditation and Reflection

The First Sunday after the Epiphany: The Baptism of Our Lord

… 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.  

 

Opening Prayer

Father in heaven, who at the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan proclaimed him your beloved Son and anointed him with the Holy Spirit: Grant that all who are baptized into his Name may keep the covenant they have made, and boldly confess him as Lord and Savior; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

The Gospel                                                                                                             Mark 1:4-11

John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

Poem: Like The Water                                                                               by Wendell Berry

Like the water
of a deep stream,
love is always too much.
We did not make it.
Though we drink till we burst,
we cannot have it all,
or want it all.
In its abundance
it survives our thirst.

In the evening we come down to the shore
to drink our fill,
and sleep,
while it flows
through the regions of the dark.
It does not hold us,
except we keep returning to its rich waters
thirsty.

We enter,
willing to die,
into the commonwealth of its joy.

 

Meditation

The poem invites us to consider water is an apt simile for love. Like the water of a deep stream, love is always abundant – there is always more than we can ever receive. And, it is offered as a gift (“we did not make it”). This first Sunday of Epiphany is traditionally focused on baptism, prompted by the day’s gospel reading. The story is dramatic and sweeping, with the announcement of Jesus as the Son and Beloved. But it can also invite us to reflect personally on our own baptism: in what ways does baptism connect us with the infinite Love made incarnate at Christmas?

 

Questions for Reflection

When (either recently or in the distant past) have you experienced love as being abundant… or even as “too much?”

The poet uses the simile of a deep stream. Are there other physical images you would use to express this experience?

Or, you may wish to reflect on baptism (both the “outward and visible sign” and the “inward and spiritual grace”). What meanings and images are foremost for you at this time?

          

The Prayers

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.

Christmas 2 01/03/21

Link to PDF

The Still Point: A Time of Meditation and Reflection

The Second Sunday after Christmas

… 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.  

 

Opening Prayer

O God, who wonderfully created, and yet more wonderfully restored, the dignity of human nature: Grant that we may share the divine life of him who humbled himself to share our humanity, your Son Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Gospel                                             Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23

After the wise men had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, “Out of Egypt I have called my son.” When Herod died, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who were seeking the child’s life are dead.” Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And after being warned in a dream, he went away to the district of Galilee. There he made his home in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, “He will be called a Nazorean.”

Poem: On the Edge                                                                     by Malcolm Guite

Christmas sets the centre on the edge;
The edge of town, out-buildings of an inn,
The fringe of empire, far from privilege
And power, on the edge and outer spin
Of  turning worlds, a margin of small stars
That edge a galaxy itself light years
From some unguessed-at cosmic origin.
Christmas sets the centre at the edge.
And from this day our world is re-aligned
A tiny seed unfolding in the womb
Becomes the source from which we all unfold
And flower into being. We are healed,
The End begins, the tomb becomes a womb,
For now in him all things are re-aligned.

Meditation:

After the gospel readings for Christmas Eve/ Christmas Day, with gentle and peaceful images of mother and child, and the reading for last Sunday, focusing on the mystery of Word made flesh, today’s gospel reading seems jarring and even alarming. We see Joseph and Mary with their newborn in a dangerous world, fleeing as refugees without a home. The story of escape from Herod and exile in Egypt is told rapidly; there is room to wonder and imagine what these experiences were like for Mary and Joseph. It concludes with the family finding their home in the small town of Nazareth.

In the poem, the events of Christmas are seen as re-aligning the world such that “the center”  is far from what we would usually consider the center (if determined by political power and empire). The poem also frames this re-alignment in cosmic terms: the mystery of Incarnation happening on the edge of a galaxy, which itself is on the edge. And it reverses what is expected: end becomes beginning, and tomb becomes womb.

What do the gospel reading and poem say to us about Incarnation and Love, in a world often defined by political power and privilege?

Reflection:

  • Are there new insights or feelings you experience when reading this gospel story this year?
  • What words and images from the poem do you find most meaningful?
  • If Christmas indeed means a re-aligned world, how do we respond to that news?

 

The Prayers

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.

 

 

 

Advent 4 12/20/20

Link to PDF

The Still Point: A Time of Meditation and Reflection

The Fourth Sunday of Advent

… 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.  

 

Opening Prayer

God of all hope and joy,
open our hearts in welcome,
that your Son Jesus Christ at his coming may
find in us a dwelling prepared for himself;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God now and forever.  Amen.

The Gospel                                                                                                 Luke 1:26-38

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

Poem: “Advent”                                                                   by Charles R. Murphy

Out of a silence greater than all words;

Over the unspeakable, dumb,

Everlasting hills

With their muter herds;

Swifter than a blade that kills;

Mightier than a prayer;

Fairer than the dawn

When some dew yet remains unbroken;

Stronger than despair;

From the unspoken to the spoken,

While the heart rests momently;

Lovely as the half-uttered words of a child,

More delicate, more mild;

Terrible as the torn breasts of anguish

When strong wills languish:

Suddenly, dreadfully, exquisitely,

Love, death, and God shall come.

Meditation:

Few passages of scripture, if any, have inspired more music, painting, and poetry than this account of the angel’s message to Mary. And few have caused more puzzlement and even anguish on the part of those who feel the need to wrestle with the doctrinal issues that gather around this passage. For those who are untroubled by the doctrine of the virgin birth, however, or who can set the issue aside, perhaps this response from a contemporary teenager will give rise to fresh wondering: “It’s too beautiful not to be true.”

The poem, without making explicit reference to this passage from Luke’s gospel, evokes a multitude of scriptural and traditional images connected to the expectation and arrival of God with us. Just a few of them: the herds on the everlasting hills, the sword that pierces the heart, the spoken that emerges from silence, and finally, in just three words, an encapsulation of the mystery of the incarnation: “Love, death, and God shall come.”

Reflection:

After reading the gospel passage, and the poem, paying attention to the words and images that resonate for you in this very different year, which of the following paintings seems most compelling to you?

The Prayers

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paintings:

Fra Angelico, c. 1440

Dante Gabriel Rosetti, 1882

Gloria SSali, 2001

Advent 3 12/13/20

Link to PDF

The Still Point: A Time of Meditation and Reflection

The Third Sunday of Advent

… 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.  

 

Opening Prayer

Praise and honor to you, living God for John the Baptist, and for all those voices crying in the wilderness
who prepare your way. May we listen when a prophet speaks your word, and obey. Amen.

The Gospel                                                                                                 John 1:6-8,19-28

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.

This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, “I am not the Messiah.” And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the prophet?” He answered, “No.” Then they said to him, “Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’” as the prophet Isaiah said. Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. They asked him, “Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?” John answered them, “I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.” This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing.

 

Poem: “Well in Ruined Courtyard”                                                                    by Adrienne Rich

Down this old well

what leaves have fallen

what cores of eaten apples,

what scraps of paper!

An old trash barrel.

November, no one comes.

But I come, trying

to breathe that word

into the well’s ear

which should make the leaves fly up

like a green jet

to clothe the naked tree,

the whole fruit leap to the bough,

the scraps like fleets of letters

sail up into my hands.

Meditation

This week’s gospel passage tells the same story as last week’s, but with an entirely different tone. Whereas in Mark’s gospel the appearance of John the Baptist is abrupt, and his appearance outlandish, here in John’s gospel the pace is stately; the prophet is introduced as an exalted figure, and yet his nature and mission have an aspect of humility. He is not the light; he points beyond himself to the light. His message is the truth breaking into the world – in the person of the one who is already standing among us.

The poem, while it bears no outer resemblance to the gospel story, holds a piece of the same truth. The discarded scraps at the bottom of the dry well have no value, it seems, and yet the poet’s task is to breathe a word that reveals, revives, and restores. The poet bears witness to the hidden light.

Questions for Reflection

Which image of John the Baptist do you prefer, the wild man clothed in camel’s hair, who eats locusts and wild honey? Or the man sent from God to bear witness to the light?

Do you see any resemblance between the prophet’s task and the poet’s?

What image is most evocative for you, in the gospel or the poem? If you spend some time with that image, what insights does it offer?

The Prayers

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.

 

Advent 2 12/6/20

Link to PDF

The Still Point: A Time of Meditation and Reflection

The Second Sunday of Advent

… 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.  

 Opening Prayer

Keep your Church alert, Holy Spirit, ready to hear when you are calling, and when you challenge us.
Keep us hopeful, Holy Spirit, Knowing Christ will come again. Amen.

The Gospel                                                                                                 Mark 1:1-8

The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, “See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’” John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

Poem: “John”                                                                                              by Lucille Clifton

somebody coming in blackness

like a star

and the world be a great bush

on his head

and his eyes be fire

in the city

and his mouth be true as time

he be calling the people brother

even in the prison

even in the jail

I’m just only a baptist preacher

somebody bigger than me coming

in blackness like a star

Meditation:

The Gospel according to Mark is striking in its sense of urgency. Whereas the other gospels, each in their own way, set the stage with a prologue that orients us to the themes and style in which they will tell the good news of Jesus, this gospel bursts on the scene with the appearance of the wild and wooly John the Baptist. Often it’s tempting to focus on the outlandish nature of John, but it’s his message that is truly extraordinary. The coming of the powerful, long-awaited one is an invitation to turn around, accept forgiveness, and enter into the baptism of the Holy Spirit – after which anything could happen.

The poem, after shaking us awake with a startling image – blackness like a star – and recalling to us other moments of revelation, like the burning bush, helps us to see the liberating project of Jesus in concrete terms: his solidarity, even kinship, with those held in any kind of captivity. And the self-understanding of John as “only a Baptist preacher” might be a way for us, as Anglicans, to see his humility and his edginess in a new way.

 Questions for reflection:

Have you ever encountered someone who reminded you of John the Baptist? What was your reaction to that person at the time? When you recall that moment now, what do you notice?

What insights might the poem offer you into the witness of John? Into the mission of Jesus?

This Advent season, for many, is darker than usual, even as some hopes are beginning to dawn. What might the image “coming in blackness like a star” offer in this time?

Prayers

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.

Advent 1 11/29/20

Link to PDF

The Still Point: A Time of Meditation and Reflection
Advent Sunday
… 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.

Opening Prayer
Keep your Church alert, Holy Spirit, ready to hear when you are calling, and when you challenge us.
Keep us hopeful, Holy Spirit, Knowing Christ will come again. Amen.

The Gospel                                                                                                 Mark 13:24-37
Jesus said, “In those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light,
and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory. Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven. “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. “But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.”

Poem: “Keeping quiet”                                                                              by Pablo Neruda
Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.
For once on the face of the earth
let’s not speak in any language,
let’s stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.
It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines,
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.
Fisherman in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would look at his hurt hands.
Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victory with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.
What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about;
I want no truck with death.
If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.
Now I’ll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.

Meditation:
There’s an undeniable advent tone to Neruda’s poem, and its message of “keep quiet” pairs
nicely with the Gospel plea to “keep awake.” Taken together, these two texts invite us to take a
rest from so much chaos, from so much noise, from so much distraction, and instead seek “a
huge silence.” In our culture, which so often values activity, productivity, and work ethic above
inactivity, rest, and “doing nothing,” following the messages of these two texts can feel
indulgent and even irresponsible. Yet the season of Advent is, paradoxically, productive in its
pausing, and (again paradoxically), it can actually take a great deal of self-control and
discipline to seek “doing nothing.”

Questions for reflection:
• How will you seek “a huge silence” during this Advent season?
• How do the messages of keeping awake and keeping quiet speak to each other?
• What hope does the season of Advent bring to you? How does that hope feel in this
particular year?

Prayers
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.

Christ the King 11/22/20

Link to PDF

The Still Point: A Time of Meditation and Reflection

The Twenty Fifth Sunday after Pentecost: Proper 29 (Christ the King)

… 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.  

 

Opening Prayer

Keep your Church alert, Holy Spirit, ready to hear when you are calling, and when you challenge us.
Keep us hopeful, Holy Spirit, Knowing Christ will come again. Amen.

The Gospel                                                                                    Matthew 25:31-46

Jesus said, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’ Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Poem: “For a Five-Year-Old”                                                                    by Fleur Adcock

A snail is climbing up the window-sill

into your room, after a night of rain.

You call me in to see, and I explain

that it would be unkind to leave it there:

it might crawl to the floor; we must take care

that no one squashes it.  You understand,

and carry it outside, with careful hand,

to eat a daffodil.

I see, then, that a kind of faith prevails:

your gentleness is moulded still by words

from me, who have trapped mice and shot wild birds,

from me, who drowned your kittens, who betrayed

your closest relatives, and who purveyed

the harshest kind of truth to many another.

But that is how things are: I am your mother,

and we are kind to snails.

Meditation:

In today’s reading from Matthew, Jesus contrasts the majesty and authority of a king with the least among us: the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, the imprisoned.  This reminder that to love “the least of these” and treat them well is to love Christ is in our DNA as a people of God.  The poem invites us to go deeper, and challenges us to examine our often hypocritical actions: it’s easy to tell a small child to set a snail free in the garden, but much more difficult to examine our harsh treatment of those closest to us.  The snail is king here, asking us to remember that all are worthy of having a meal of daffodils.

 

Questions for reflection:

  • What lessons in kindness and mercy were you taught as a young child?
  • How do those lessons manifest themselves in your adult life?
  • In our life today, who are “the least of these”? How can you put Jesus’s words in action today?

Prayers:

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.

Conversation Prompt 8

Connecting Now + Imagining our Future

Please Pledge Now To Support Our Mission and Ministries in 2021

This year has brought unusual, unexpected challenges to all of us, individually and in community. Through all the ups and downs of 2020, our parish family has come together in new ways: virtual worship, drive-by ingatherings to support our neighbors in need, online opportunities for conversation, prayer, and formation for all ages. We have connected in vital ways with each other and the world.

This Stewardship Season we have been exploring those Human Connections at St. Andrew’s and how those connections help us when Imagining Our Future. Some of the Conversation Starters have come from long-time parishioners, some from newer parishioners and some from our youngest parishioners. Each offers a unique look at our community and an invitation to imagine our future.

Imagining Our Future allows us to envision how we will participate in our thriving community. Participation includes the sharing of our time, talent and treasure – and during our Stewardship Season, we focus especially on the sharing of treasure.

We invite you to join with us in Imagining Our Future by pledging for 2021. Please prayerfully consider your financial commitment for the coming year. To pledge electronically, simply email office@standrewdenver.org or click here.

You can use the traditional pledge card which was mailed out this week to all parishioners who have not already pledged. If you have not received a pledge card and would like to use this means, please contact office@standrewdenver.org.

Without you, there is no community and no connection. Together, we imagine and work towards a new future, guided by our vision, living into our mission, gathered by the power of the Holy Spirit, who overcomes all distances to make us one.

Thank you in advance for your generosity.

 

How do you imagine our future in 2021? What can make this imagining a reality? 

Proper Twenty~Eight 11/15/20

Link to PDF

The Still Point: A Time of Meditation and Reflection

The Twenty Fourth Sunday after Pentecost: Proper 28

 … 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.  

 Opening Prayer

 Mighty God, strong, loving and wise, help us to depend upon your goodness
and to place our trust in your Son; who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever. Amen.

The Gospel                                                                                                 Matthew 25:14-30

Jesus said, “It is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ But his master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’”

Poem: “Sonnet 19: When I consider how my light is spent”                                        John Milton

When I consider how my light is spent,

Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,

And that one Talent which is death to hide

Lodged with me useless, though my Soul more bent

To serve therewith my Maker, and present

My true account, lest he returning chide;

“Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?”

I fondly ask. But patience, to prevent

That murmur, soon replies, “God doth not need

Either man’s work or his own gifts; who best

Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state

Is Kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed

And post o’er Land and Ocean without rest:

They also serve who only stand and wait.”

 

Reflection:

The parable of the talents is a challenging read, and though the traditional interpretation is that we receive greater reward if we use our time, talent, and treasure to further God’s work, some of the details may give pause.  A life with God, for one, shouldn’t feel like a life with the capricious and punitive master from the parable.  Whatever Jesus’s purpose in telling this parable in this way, Milton’s poem offers us a different perspective.  Where the parable rewards the active Martha-like servant, Milton sees value in those who, like Mary, “stand and wait.”

 

Questions for meditation:

  • When have you caught yourself deliberately using your talent/time/treasure for God’s work?
  • When has “standing and waiting” felt like holy work?
  • Milton writes that “who best bear his mild yoke, they serve him best.” The word “his” here is ambiguous.  What does it mean to serve God by bearing God’s yoke? What does it mean to serve God by bearing one’s own yoke?

Prayers

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.