Epiphany 4 01/29/23

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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                                                                                                             Matthew 5:1-12

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”


Poem: A Brave and Starling Truth”                                           by  Maya Angelou (b. 1928)

We, this people, on this small and drifting planet
Whose hands can strike with such abandon
That in a twinkling, life is sapped from the living
Yet those same hands can touch with such healing, irresistible tenderness
That the haughty neck is happy to bow
And the proud back is glad to bend
Out of such chaos, of such contradiction
We learn that we are neither devils nor divines


When we come to it
We, this people, on this wayward, floating body
Created on this earth, of this earth
Have the power to fashion for this earth
A climate where every man and every woman
Can live freely without sanctimonious piety
Without crippling fear

When we come to it
We must confess that we are the possible
We are the miraculous, the true wonder of this world
That is when, and only when
We come to it.



As you read the familiar and beloved words of the Beatitudes, do you find in them comfort… or a call? We can imagine that many who gathered to hear Jesus – including those who were poor, discouraged, or oppressed – found consolation in these sayings. And this is still true today. But the Beatitudes also seem to issue a call or a challenge – to be peacemakers, to be more merciful and meek, pure in heart. Perhaps a beatitude (blessing) does both simultaneously: provides comfort and calls us to something new or deeper.


The poem is from a larger extended piece composed for the 50th anniversary of the United Nations in 1995. Maya Angelou reflects on the stark contradiction between human cruelty and kindness, stating that we are inherently neither “devils nor divine.” Her lack of closing punctuation throughout the poem underlines the open-ended nature of the choices we have as human beings. But her poem concludes with these beautiful and inspiring words… and at last a closing period:

When we come to it
We must confess that we are the possible
We are the miraculous, the true wonder of this world
That is when, and only when
We come to it.


Questions for Reflection

What connections do you find between the poem and the Beatitudes?

To hear Maya Angelou reading the entire poem,

visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjEfq7wLm7M&t=14s

Do you find comfort or challenge in the Beatitudes, or some combination of both?

You may wish to create a new Beatitude – one that, in the spirit of Jesus’s blessings, speaks to our modern world.

For inspiration, Pope Francis in 2016 suggested six new beatitudes:




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      

Posted in The Still Point.