Easter 5 05/15/22

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The Still Point

A Time of Meditation and Reflection

Fifth Sunday of Easter

… 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. 

 

Alleluia! Christ is risen. Christ is risen indeed. Alleluia!

Opening Prayer

O God, whose Son Jesus is the good shepherd of your people: Grant that when we hear his voice we may know him who calls us each by name, and follow where he leads; who, with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

The Gospel                                                                                     John 13:31-35

At the last supper, when Judas had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

 

Poem: “love is more thicker than forget”                                               by e.e cummings (b.1894)  

love is more thicker than forget

more thinner than recall

more seldom than a wave is wet

more frequent than to fail

it is most mad and moonly

and less it shall unbe

than all the sea which only

is deeper than the sea

love is less always than to win

less never than alive

less bigger than the least begin

less littler than forgive

it is most sane and sunly

and more it cannot die

than all the sky which only

is higher than the sky

 

Meditation

In today’s Gospel, Jesus gives his disciples his New Commandment, a radical reconsideration or recontextualization of all other commandments.  This, of course, is surrounded by other acts of love: the washing of the feet, Jesus’s establishment of the Eucharistic bread and wine, and the Paschal sacrifice that awaits him.  Today’s poem – as is typical for e.e. cummings – plays with English syntax and standards of pronunciation, as well as with the concept of love.  Paired with the Gospel reading, the poem may help us consider how, if we act in love, we hold in tension the enduring qualities of love with the very human limits (forgetting, death, competition) that make love difficult to maintain.

Musical setting: If you’re interested, watch this local performance of a setting of the poem, featuring two friends of your poem selector for the month.

Questions for Reflection

What phrases of the poem resonate most with you?

When has love given you a glimpse of the divine?

When has loving another helped you love God?

 

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.

Poem and Reflection offered by: Matt Bentley  

Easter 3 05/01/22

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The Still Point

A Time of Meditation and Reflection

Third Sunday of Easter

… 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. 

 

Alleluia! Christ is risen. Christ is risen indeed. Alleluia!

Opening Prayer

O God, whose Son Jesus is the good shepherd of your people: Grant that when we hear his voice we may know him who calls us each by name, and follow where he leads; who, with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Gospel                                                                                     Luke 23:13-49  

Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea. But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards off. When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead. When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.” (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, “Follow me.”

 

Poem: “A Poem for Indigo”                                                          by Voice Porter (b. 1979)

For nothing more than the Love of my people

I fight

staying my path

honoring the ancestors

dragging the children to freedom with the passion of the Christ

because even as a child You freed my mind

and I Love Your imperfections

the way You colored outside the lines

though Your artwork didn’t win any prizes

as an adult Your heart’s work saves lives

and touches souls unknown even to You

and it pleases God to see You do what You do

because the truth isn’t always what’s said

but in the hand’s work

and no matter what comes and goes

He will be edified through man’s work

and You

You’ve done a lion’s share

tending the fields and feeding His sheep until Your hands hurt

what more can we ask for?

from the time they leave it in the morning

’til after the Sun cries

and Your knees hit the floor

and I beseech thee

take a few moments of time to teach these others

who only pretend and fall short

because their work wasn’t from the heart

they were monetarily motivated from the start

but from the moment that I opened my eyes

there You were right where You’ve always been

with me looking for the truth so hard

making it hard to find it

but here You stand

and I’ll believe in You from now until judgment call

I pray that I’ll have from now until then to figure out a title to give You

because You are more than a friend

I’m prepared to be the same to You from now until the end

perpetually moving through life cycles until my life cycle ends

these might be my last days

this poem might be my last peace

so I’ve got to speak my peace

because this piece could very well be my eulogy

in the back of my mind thoughts of You cascade down like waterfalls

as water falls against glass

and drops from my lash

becomes streams on my cheeks

and puddles in my palms

for the celestial being You are

I give alms to Him

and pray that I receive ilm forthright

and on that night become Your generations’ protector

and hear the voice of God saying

“Protect Her as I protect you”

“Sanctify Her so that men may see My Love through you”

“And Wali, believe”

“My voice Kanika has already told you to just breathe”

so as long as I have breath

Love I will never leave

I understand that many men may have said things like this before

but from now until the last beat of my heart

every night I’ll walk through Your door saying

Baby

I’m home

Meditation

In some ways, the story told in today’s gospel reflects what we do in church on a Sunday.  First, a story about Jesus (in this case, Jesus helping his clumsy and human disciples find an abundant catch), then a Eucharistic meal together, and finally a commission to go forth and love the world.  Of course, it’s not just that.  There are wonderful details here that perhaps stand out as examples of the blessedly mundane ways that the human world bumps up against the divine. Peter, embarrassed by his nakedness, quickly throws on some clothes and jumps into the water.  The fishing nets strain and break at the weight of the miraculous catch.  All of these details build to the concluding scene in which Jesus restores Peter to fellowship, to discipleship, to forgiveness, asking him three times for a profession of his love, once for each time Peter denied Jesus.

The concluding charge to feed the sheep, also repeated three times, acquires freshness and immediacy in today’s poem by Voice Porter.  The ambiguity of the poem (to whom is the poet speaking?) not only asks us to consider our own holiness, but also invites us to see others – family member, friends, strangers – as the capital ‘Y’ You in the poem.  This is the baptismal covenant at work in the world: seeking Christ in all persons. (Listen to a reading of this poem here.)

Questions for Reflection

What details from the poem strike you as profoundly human? Profoundly divine?

When has your own vulnerability and embarrassment prevented you from hearing God’s call?  When has your vulnerability brought you closer to God?

Read Voice Porter’s poem again, substituting a loved one in the place of the ‘You’.

How does this change your perception of this loved one? 

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.

Poem and Reflection offered by: Matt Bentley  

Easter Day (Evening Prayer) 04/17/22

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The Still Point

A Time of Meditation and Reflection

Easter Day (Evening Prayer)

… 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. 

Alleluia! Christ is risen. Christ is risen indeed. Alleluia!

Opening Prayer

O God, whose Son Jesus is the good shepherd of your people: Grant that when we hear his voice we may know him who calls us each by name, and follow where he leads; who, with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Gospel                                                                                     Luke 23:13-49  

Now on that same day, the first day of the week, two of the disciples were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose NAME was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.” Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures. As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence. Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you– that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

 

Poem: “The Servant Girl at Emmaus”                                                    by Denise Levertov

She listens, listens, holding
her breath. Surely that voice
is his—the one
who had looked at her, once, across the crowd,
as no one ever had looked?
Had seen her? Had spoken as if to her?

Surely those hands were his,
taking the platter of bread from hers just now?
Hands he’d laid on the dying and made them well?

Surely that face—?

The man they’d crucified for sedition and blasphemy.
The man whose body disappeared from its tomb.
The man it was rumored now some women had seen this morning, alive?

Those who had brought this stranger home to their table
don’t recognize yet with whom they sit.
But she in the kitchen, absently touching
the wine jug she’s to take in,
a young Black servant intently listening,

swings round and sees
the light around him
and is sure.

Meditation

The gospel reading for the evening of Easter Sunday is one of the most rich and wondrous stories of the risen Lord appearing to his disciples. Two disciples on the way to Emmaus, overcome by sadness and distracted by their anxieties, failed to recognize the stranger they encountered on the road. Only later, when he blessed and broke bread with them in the inn, do the two recognize the stranger as Jesus.

On this Easter Day 2022, what anxieties are we experiencing that weigh us down to the point that we might miss the wondrous, gravity-defying message of Resurrection? That we do not recognize the risen Christ who comes to walk with us?

The extraordinary poem by Denise Levertov introduces a new perspective through a new person in the story. A kitchen servant at the inn recognizes the stranger through his voice, his hands, his face. She recognizes him as the one she had earlier seen… who had seen her, had spoken to her.

Questions for Reflection

The poem is inspired by a 17-century painting by Diego Velazquez (above).

Does the painting or the poem provide you with any new angles or insights into this familiar gospel story?

In what ways have you encountered the risen Jesus – through a stranger, a friend, a recent occurrence in your life, in the natural world or the city we live in?

In the season of Eastertide to come, are there ways you would like to become more open to Christ’s presence around us?

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.

Poem and Reflection offered by: Frank Nowell

Lent 5 04/03/22

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The Still Point

A Time of Meditation and Reflection

The Fifth Sunday in Lent

… 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

 

 Like a tent in the wilderness, God’s table stands ready;

A place of sanctuary and safety, of hospitality and healing.

 Come, all you who are tired and travel-stained, footsore and famished;         

Come with your fellow travelers to find companionship and comfort. 

Jesus waits to meet us here and welcome us in,

Offering rest and renewal, solace and strength, for the journey still to come.

Opening Prayer

Lord, help us to see: to see what is eternally good and true, and having seen, to go on searching until we come to the joys of heaven. This we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Gospel                                                                                                 John 12:1-8

Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”

 

Poem: “Lord, dost Thou Look on Me”                            By Christina Rosetti (b. 1830)

Lord, dost thou look on me, and will not I

Launch out my heart to Heaven to look on Thee?

Here if one loved me I should turn to see,

And often think on him and often sigh,

And by a tender friendship make reply

To love gratuitous poured forth on me,

And nurse a hope of happy days to be,

And mean “until we meet” in each good-bye.

Lord, thou dost look and love is in Thine Eyes,

Thy Heart is set upon me day and night,

Thou stoopest low to set me far above;

O Lord, that I may love Thee make me wise;

That I may see and love Thee grant me sight;

And give me love that I may give Thee love.

Meditation

The gospel reading for this, the fifth Sunday in Lent, has so many layers, and a number of possible meanings or perspectives. For many of us reading or re-reading this story, the questions that come up may outnumber the answers! As just one of those questions, what does Jesus mean when he says: “You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”

One way to approach this story is through the lens of relationship. Jesus continually calls us into loving relationship that expands beyond what we can ever imagine (in the words of a favorite hymn, a love that is “beyond all thought and fantasy.”) Though it seems needlessly extravagant, Mary’s gift of anointing with generous amounts of expensive perfume can be seen as a heartfelt response to that call, which takes on special significance as a prelude to the events leading to Calvary.

A lavish gift of any kind has the power to surprise or even shock us. Depending on its nature, it may also remind us of the divine love that knows no boundaries — in the words of a favorite hymn, a love that is deep, broad, and high, “beyond all thought and fantasy.”

In the poem by Christina Rosetti, the poet is distressed about her failure to respond to this very call to relationship. “Lord, dost Thou look on me, and will I not launch out my heart to Heaven to look on Thee?” With human love we often respond to the giver, gaze on them, and think about them. Yet we may forget, or simply fail to see, God’s “gratuitous” love for us. The poet concludes by asking the Lord for that sight, and to grant her the love that she can return (possibly feeling inadequate without that assistance).

Questions for Reflection

What aspects of the gospel story are most striking and meaningful to you during this Lenten season? Which ones would you like to carry into Holy Week with you?

Does the poem intersect with your own experience in particular ways? Are there ways that you identify with the speaker in the poem?

Do aspects of our human relationships provide us clues to, or insights into, our relationship with Jesus?

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.

  Poem and Reflections this month offered by: Frank Nowell           

Lent 3 03/20/22

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The Still Point

A Time of Meditation and Reflection

The Third Sunday in Lent  

… 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

 Like a tent in the wilderness, God’s table stands ready;

A place of sanctuary and safety, of hospitality and healing.

 Come, all you who are tired and travel-stained, footsore and famished;         

Come with your fellow travelers to find companionship and comfort. 

Jesus waits to meet us here and welcome us in,

Offering rest and renewal, solace and strength, for the journey still to come.

Opening Prayer

Lord, help us to see: to see what is eternally good and true, and having seen, to go on searching until we come to the joys of heaven. This we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Gospel                                                                                                 Luke 13: 1-9

At that very time there were some present who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. He asked them, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them–do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.” Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. So he said to the gardener, ‘See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?’ He replied, ‘Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.'”

Poem: “The Fig Tree”                                By Juana de Ibarbourou

Because is it harsh and ugly,

because all of its branches are grey,

I feel sorry for the fig tree.

On my farm there are hundred of beautiful trees:

round plum trees,

straight lemon trees,

orange trees with shiny blossoms.

In spring time

they all get covered with flowers

around the fig tree.

And the poor thing seems very sad

with its twisted branches that are never

dressed in buds.

Therefore

every time I pass it

I say, trying

to give a sweet and happy tone to my voice:

“The fig tree is the most beautiful

among all the trees in the garden”.

If it listens,

If it understands the language that I am speaking,

what a sweet grace will nestle

in its sensitive soul!

And, maybe at night,

when the wind is fanning its crown,

drunk with joy it may tell:

Today I was told I am beautiful!

Meditation

Jesus, on his final journey to Jerusalem, speaks to his disciples in parables and urges on them the need for repentance. Here, he invites them to consider repentance through three vignettes. The first two are contemporary incidents: Pilates’ murder of worshippers in the temple at Jerusalem, and the death of those killed by a falling tower. One of these is deliberate, and the other accidental, but the point is the same: these people were no more sinful than anyone else; they are not being punished for particular sinfulness. But the omnipresence of death is an invitation to everyone to repentance — the turning around, or change of mind, that God is always offering. The parable of the fig tree is the clearest example of the ever-present chance of repentance:  the gardener pleads with the landowner to let him try again to invite the fig tree to be change its ways and be fruitful.

The poem, by the Uruguayan poet Juana de Ibarbourou, looks at the unfruitful fig tree with eyes of love, inviting it to flower internally by telling it how beautiful it is. Turning back from the poem to the gospel, we can perhaps see the gracious invitation from the gardener as well. The gardener might be saying, “I know you can do it. I will give you everything you need, and then you will be able to become what you were born to be.” There is no threat here, only an invitation and a welcome.

Questions for Reflection

Have you ever made a dramatic change in your life that led to greater freedom, or connection, or inner peace, or renewed energy? What made that possible? Would you consider using the word repentance to describe that process?

What do you need in order to flourish? The gardener digs around the fig tree and gives it manure; the poet tells the fig tree it is beautiful. What do you need?

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.

 Poem this week offered by: Matt Bentley

Reflections this month offered by: Rev’d Elizabeth Randall  

Lent 1 03/06/22

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The Still Point A Time of Meditation and Reflection
The First Sunday of Lent

… 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
Lord, help us to see: to see what is eternally good and true, and having seen, to go on searching until we come to the joys of heaven.
This we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Gospel                                                                                         Luke 4:1-13
After his baptism, Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone.'” Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And the devil said to him, “To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.'” Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written,’He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.'” Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'” When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time.

Poem: “The Devils”                          by Raphael Rudnik
The devils felt goodness when they were angels,
But did not understand what to do
As the terrible annunciations rang
Proclaiming that everything was love.
So gave back to the vault of heaven, desire –
And becoming, then trying to be, power –
They fell, embracing fire with wings of fire.

Meditation:
The temptations in the wilderness are a hinge between Jesus’ baptism and his public
ministry. Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus has received the message of love and acceptance
from the One he calls Father. As he sets out on the road, will he place his trust in this loving
acceptance, or rely on his own strength and gifts? Sometimes his overcoming of temptation is
presented as a sign of personal power and fortitude. But a close reading shows that he relies on
a strength that comes from beyond him, from the source of love itself, made known in
scripture, in the giving of the law from which he quotes and his experience of the divine in
prayer.

The poem focuses on Jesus’ adversaries, the devils who tempt him. These devils are not
blatant expressions of pure evil; they are angels who don’t know how to cope with the message
that everything is love, and so turn to desire and power. They are what they offer to Jesus – a
rejection of all-encompassing love in favor of the embrace of fire.

Questions for Reflection:
What kind of temptations have you encountered? When you look back on those times,
what do you observe in yourself? How have you changed? Or not?
When you read “everything is love” how do you respond?
Spend some time with the last phrase of the poem, “embracing fire with wings of fire.”

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.

Poem choice and reflections by Elizabeth Randall

Epiphany 7 02/20/22

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The Still Point: A Time of Meditation and Reflection

The Seventh 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

Spirit of energy, Spirit of change, in whose power Jesus is anointed to be the hope of the nations: pour yourself also upon us, without reserve or distinction, that we may have confidence and strength to plant your justice on the earth, through Jesus Christ.  Amen.

The Gospel                                                                                                 Luke 6:27-38

Jesus said, “I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you.” If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”

Poem: “This Morning I Pray for My Enemies”                         By Joy Harjo (b 1951)

And whom do I call my enemy?

An enemy must be worthy of engagement.

I turn in the direction of the sun and keep walking.

It’s the heart that asks the question, not my furious mind.

The heart is the smaller cousin of the sun.

It sees and knows everything.

It hears the gnashing even as it hears the blessing.

The door to the mind should only open from the heart.

An enemy who gets in, risks the danger of becoming a friend.

 

Meditation

Jesus challenges us over and over in his parables, sermons, and actions.  But “love your enemies” must be one of the most difficult teachings to hear, let alone to obey.  After all, he’s not just asking us to ignore or tolerate our enemies, but to actively love them, do good for them, and bless them.  In other words, we are to bless the very people whose actions provoked Jesus’s “woe” statements last week.  Today, more than ever, our many divisions draw multiple lines in the sand between “us” and “them.”  Harjo’s poem reminds us that we all are under the same sun’s light, and by extension created by the same God.  She also suggests that we create enemies in our mind, often without consulting the heart first.

Questions for Reflection

What do you find most challenging about Jesus’s teachings in today’s reading?

Has your heart ever conflicted with your mind?  What practices do you follow to re-orient toward the heart?

Picture someone you often see as an enemy. Imagine this person sharing the same sunlight as you and created by the same God.  What does this image do to the way you perceive this person?  Reading Jesus’s words again, how do you feel called to act?

 

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.

 Poem and Reflections this month offered by: Matt Bentley

Epiphany 5 02/06/22

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The Still Point

A Time of Meditation and Reflection

The Fifth 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

Spirit of energy, Spirit of change, in whose power Jesus is anointed to be the hope of the nations: pour yourself also upon us, without reserve or distinction, that we may have confidence and strength to plant your justice on the earth, through Jesus Christ.  Amen.

 

The Gospel                                                                                                 Luke 5: 1-11

Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.” When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. So, they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken; and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.

Poem: “Ordinary Plenty”                                                 By James Scruton (b. 1943)

What did you call it? Heather? Wheat?

Of just an ordinary field

Of uncut hay the late sun lit

To fool your eye with sudden gold?

The whole day seemed to settle on

The rough pond of that ripened straw,

That sunlit lake of heavy grain.

You still can’t say quite what you saw.

Since then, how many roads have passed

Through other places unremarked

As those few acres of long grass?

The dust and gravel where you parked

Led into hills already lost

To that deep light, and you would turn

To more exotic plains of whin

And thistle, furze and gorse. But that last

Look in your rear-view mirror filled

The car like folktale straw made gold,

Like loaves and fishes giving more

And going further than they were.

 

Meditation

Revisiting today’s gospel, you may be struck by certain images: the daily chore of washing out nets by the shore, the makeshift use of a small boat as a dais to address the crowd, and of course the abundant catch of the day, which converts Peter, James, and John to Jesus’s ministry.  Of course, that abundance also has a flip side – the straining of the nets and the sinking of the boats.  Implicitly, today’s story seems to teach that abundance left to sit still can backfire, leading to rotten fruit, broken nets, or to sunken ships.  Jesus’s followers see this abundance as a catalyst for action: following the call.

Today’s poem situates abundance in the late summer fields that, in the rear-view mirror, hint at future acts of “ordinary plenty”.

Questions for Reflection

In the rear-view mirror of your mind, what abundance has blessed your life?

What role does that abundance play in your spiritual life?

What images stand out for you this time as you revisit the gospel?

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

 Poem and Reflections this month offered by: Matt Bentley

Epiphany 4 01/30/22

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The Still Point: A Time of Meditation and Reflection

 

The Fourth 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

Spirit of energy, Spirit of change, in whose power Jesus is anointed to be the hope of the nations: pour yourself also upon us, without reserve or distinction, that we may have confidence and strength to plant your justice on the earth, through Jesus Christ.  Amen.

  

The Gospel                                                                                                 Luke 4:21-30  

Jesus began to speak in the synagogue at Nazareth: “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” He said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Doctor, cure yourself!’ And you will say, ‘Do here also in your hometown the things that we have heard you did at Capernaum.'” And he said, “Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown. But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land; yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.” When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage. They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.

 

Poem: “The Earthquake Poem”                                                  By Thomas Merton b. 1915  

Go tell the earth to shake

And tell the thunder

To wake the sky

And tear the clouds apart.

Tell my people to come out

And wonder

Where the old world is gone,

For a new world is born,

And all my people

Shall be one.

So tell the earth to shake.

With marching feet

Of messengers of peace,

Proclaim my law of love

To every nation,

Every race.

For the old wrongs are over,

The old days are done;

A new world is rising

Where my people shall be one.

For the old world is ended,

The old sky is torn

Apart. A new day is born:

They hate no more,

They do not go to war anymore.

My people shall be one.

 

And say:

The old wrongs are over,

The old ways are done;

There shall be no more hate

And no oppression.

The old wrongs are gone,

My people shall be one.                                                                                           Based on Isaiah 52

 

Meditation

In today’s gospel, Jesus says “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” He is referring to a passage from Isaiah: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Prophets commonly encounter resistance, and even threats to their lives. The people who heard Jesus on this occasion were enraged and drove him out of town, apparently with an aim to hurl him off a cliff! Prophets may tell us difficult truths and challenge our beliefs and actions. Thomas Merton (1915-1968), a Trappist monk and poet whose life integrated contemplation with social activism, asserted that “a prophet is one who cuts through great tangled webs of lies.”

Merton himself is often referred to as a prophet for the 21st century. One recent essay (by Victor Kramer) refers to Merton as a global prophet whose vision “invites all persons to embrace creation by employing a magnifying glass of compassion to ignite the ever-present rays of God’s mercy.” In his Earthquake Poem, Merton reimagines a passage from Isiah in a way that makes it seem startlingly contemporary. This bold poem challenges us… even as it offers us great hope.

 

Questions for Reflection

What in the gospel story challenges or surprises you. What gives you hope?

What in the poem challenges or surprises you, and gives you hope?

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.

 Poem and Reflections this month offered by: Frank Nowell

Epiphany 2 01/16/2022

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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

Spirit of energy, Spirit of change, in whose power Jesus is anointed to be the hope of the nations: pour yourself also upon us, without reserve or distinction, that we may have confidence and strength to plant your justice on the earth, through Jesus Christ.  Amen.

The Gospel                                                                                                 John 2: 1-11

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it. When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.” Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

Poem: “A Wedding Toast”                                                                       By Richard Wilbur b. 1921  

St. John tells how, at Cana’s wedding feast,
The water-pots poured wine in such amount
That by his sober count
There were a hundred gallons at the least.

It made no earthly sense, unless to show
How whatsoever love elects to bless
Brims to a sweet excess
That can without depletion overflow.

Which is to say that what love sees is true;
That this world’s fullness is not made but found.
Life hungers to abound
And pour its plenty out for such as you.

Now, if your loves will lend an ear to mine,
I toast you both, good son and dear new daughter.
May you not lack for water,
And may that water smack of Cana’s wine.

Meditation

The setting of a wedding feast for Jesus’s first miracle may seem unusual. After all, a wedding is a private event, usually focused on family members and close friends. But it’s also a festive celebration of love, and the experience of a wedding can often take us out of ordinary time and day-to-day concerns. Jesus would later use the imagery of a wedding banquet to teach about the Kingdom of God.

In the poem by Richard Wilbur, the poet wonders about the enormous volume of wine resulting from this miracle. (The gospel writer was very specific about this, as well as about the quality of the wine!) It makes no sense, the poet says, except to show that when love blesses something or someone, it does so in abundance. A personal toast for the speaker’s son and new daughter, the poem reaches a wider audience by reminding us of both the joy we experience at a wedding and the overflowing fullness we may encounter in life through love.

Questions for Reflection

What do you find in the story of the wedding at Cana that is new, inspiring, or insightful? What is revealed about Jesus in this story?

When in your life have you encountered love in overflowing abundance, brimming “to sweet excess?” How did you (or do you) respond to this experience?

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.

   Poem and Reflections this month offered by: Frank Nowell