Proper 29 11/20/22

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The Still Point

A Time of Meditation and Reflection

Last Sunday after Pentecost: Christ the King  

Proper Twenty-nine

… 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 to you, God, for all your work among us. Yours is the vigor in creation, yours is the impulse in our new discoveries. Make us adventurous, yet reverent and hopeful in all we do. Amen. 

The Gospel                                                                                                             Luke 23:33-43

When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots to divide his clothing. The people stood by, watching Jesus on the cross; but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!” The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.” One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

 

 

Poem: “The Task”                          by Ruth Pitter (1897-1992)

Reverse the flight of Lucifer,

Hurl back to heaven the fallen star;

Recall Eve’s fate, establish her

Again where the first glories are:

Again where Eden’s rivers are.

Thrust back contention, merge in one

Warring dualities, make free

Night of the moon, day of the sun;

End the old war of land and sea,

Saying, There shall be no more sea.

With love of love now make an end;

Let male and female strive no more;

Let good and bad their quarrel mend

And with an equal voice adore;

The lion with the lamb adore.

Bow lofty saint, rise humble sin,

Fall from your throne, creep from your den:

The king, the kingdom is within,

That is for evermore, amen:

Was dead and is alive. Amen.

Meditation

Today, the last Sunday of the liturgical year, the Church celebrates Christ the King. (The Feast of Christ the King was instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1925, and moved to the last Sunday of the liturgical year in 1970.)  Today’s gospel reading shows us two contrasting views of Jesus the King.  First we get the mocking, sarcastic inscription “King of the Jews” with its accompanying challenge to Jesus to prove his divinity by saving himself, followed by the thief’s sincere plea to Jesus to remember him in his kingdom.  This plea stands out for its eternal, hopeful perspective in the middle of an utterly depressing, scornful scene.  And today’s poem portrays what kind of kingdom the thief might be envisioning: one where the humble sinner rises and warring dualities (male/female, lion/lamb, good/bad) become obsolete.  Of course, we share kingship and queenship with Jesus, and the kingdom the thief imagines is within us here and now.

Questions for Reflection

What attributes do you imagine a divine king having?

In our bitterly divided world today, how do you imagine “warring dualities” merging into one?

How can the thief’s perspective and hope carry you through the darkness of our world?

As you think about the approaching Advent season and the humble birth of a king, what reasons for hope, faint though they be, can you intentionally keep alive?

 

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  

Posted in The Still Point.