Monday, 11 April 2011

I Quite Liked Church This Morning…

Last week some friends joined us for worship on Sunday morning. As it happened, it was the day before Clare's Dad's funeral, so the McBeaths were in Abingdon. Joan was away and David was unwell. So "Church" turned out to be Deborah, Beth, me and our two friends!
In a thank-you note, one of our friends commented: 
"I quite liked church this morning…I felt like I had something to contribute, I liked the fact that the contributions came from all including me, and a child, and  theologians and scholars and academics.... the interactive.... and the quiet, the thinking..... the nobody telling me what I was supposed to think... and not much singing"

I was touched beyond measure at these comments, as that is exactly what we are seeking to achieve here.

The reading was the anointing of David from 1 Samuel. I decided to take this as one of our season looking at issues of peace - particularly since it was only a week since Britain launched yet another war, this time in Libya. The Bible portrays David as the great warrior-king who united Israel and built a great, united Empire. Yet even in the Biblical account there are hints that David may not have been the hero he is portrayed to be. 
So we discussed why the Biblical narrative might have been written in the way it was. We watched a clip from the BBC's "Bible's Buried Secrets" and we discussed the concept of a Just War.

Then we sculpted our prayers out of clay, and weighed them - 'what makes for war' and 'what makes for peace' in the scales of justice.

Some might argue that for such a difficult subject, humour is inappropriate. I disagree. I wrote a playful eucharist, which plays with the concepts of just war and justice. To me, the joy of playing with language highlights the horror of failed linguistic attempts to solve our differences.

See what you think.

Eucharist – Just War Just Life

In just a few moments,
I shall have convinced you that my cause is just.
Just pay attention.
Let me just speak
The words just pour from my lips.
I will speak for just long enough
to just suggest
that there is just no alternative.

It’s a just war
It’s just a war

Just as you thought humankind
had had just about enough of violence
another tyrant just has to be stopped.
He is just evil.
Our cause is just.
A regime will change just like that.
Those who get in the way will just have to accept
that there is just no alternative.

It’s a just war
It’s just a war

Those who die are just little people.
Soldiers are just doing a job.
Oil is just irrelevant.
The mission is just to prevent attacks on civilians.
Invasion just won’t happen.
We just won’t allow our troops to get carried away.
Their training is just sufficient.

It’s a just war
It’s just a war

So just 233 planes take off
and just bomb the baddies,
just targeting precisely those they want to take out.
Forgetting that our bombs are just the same
as the ones which fell just now;
just ignoring the lives
which young soldiers have just left behind,
our planes just take off and just drop anonymous bombs.

It’s a just war
It’s just a war

Just as, just two thousand years ago,
a man – just one man
was just so threatening to powers and principalities
that they just couldn’t cope with his challenge
and just nailed him to a tree
just to silence him.
Just one man.
Just not important.

This is just bread
broken bread remembering the un-just

[Break and share bread]

But they just didn’t understand
that he wasn’t just a man.
He was just love
And love just cannot die
So just as dead trees
just spring back to life,
just three days later
he just sprang back to life

This is just a cup of wine
poured to celebrate just-ice

[Pour and drink wine]

He is just life.
His life is just.
And so we just want to live
the life of justice.
Just like that.

© Clare McBeath and Tim Presswood, 2011