i wrote a communion prayer for grace on saturday...
Eucharist: Jesus and the powers
Thank you for your incredible life.
You announced a new kingdom at the margins of the world,
an offensive against the strongholds of oppression,
and the dawn of liberation.
You made a way in the wilderness.
You proclaimed good news of the kingdom,
brought healing and deliverance,
lived a life of nonviolent confrontation with the powers.
You restored social wholeness to the sick and “impure”.
You tore down the boundaries of tribe, gender, skin tone, religion, disability and ill health.
You overturned the dynamics of status and honour
to make way for the outcast Jew and alien gentile.
With you there is no longer male or female, slave or free, Jew or gentile.
Patriarchy, slavery and racism have no place in your kingdom.
All are made in God’s image,
all are welcome,
all are included in your “last as first” revolution.
Almost every ruling faction in society opposed you.
Your resistance was through loving enemies,
meals with the wrong people,
refusing to live under the domination of the powers and their way of ordering life.
You chose love and not fear
pursuing kingdom practice even at the cost of death.
Ultimately they did put you to death.
You were lynched and hung on a tree.
In a great mystery and a great reversal
you overcame the powers on the cross.
Three days later you were raised from death,
a sign that the powers have been defeated,
a sign of hope,
a sign of a future kingdom when all will be well.
You shattered the powers’ reign of death in history.
When we forget, help us to remember.
When we are blind help us to see.
When we are deaf help us to hear.
When we despair and are overwhelmed send your Spirit to comfort us.
You call us to a conversion of heart,
to turn away from empire, its seductions and iniquity.
This is not a call out of the world, but into an alternative social practice,
a community of resistance and healing,
gathering in homes and around the table with you.
You have given us a meal to remember you by
a meal to remember the ending of slavery
and deliverance from the power of Pharaoh’s dream;
a meal in which you broke bread and drank wine -
your body broken for us,
your blood of a new relationship with God.
May our homes and our tables be open,
May they not have rigid boundaries.
May this table and this home today be such a place.
May we live from love and not fear.
We break bread and drink wine now to celebrate your life, death and resurrection.
And we look for the day when all slavery, all oppression and all domination is ended.
When we will be free at last
Your kingdom come
we'll post the whole service on the grace site at some point and i'll come back and post a link here. if you are interested in what is behind this take, things in the background are probably multiple but some that spring to mind:
- mark's gospel and his telling of jesus' life - i have been very inspired by ched myers binding the strong man which i have blogged about elsewhere. there are some lines of the above prayer that are phrases directly lifted from his wonderful commentary. i really hope he would like this prayer.
- the current wider context and the challenge of making sense of the powers and their domination as exemplified in the murder of george floyd and in the continual ordering of political and economic life to favour the wealthy and powerful at the expense of the earth and those at the edges. for me the wider context is also about religious power which too easily slides towards control and/or domesticating jesus. i am not against institutions or power as such - it is where there is domination that is the issue.
- subversive meals by alan streett who reads the lord's supper as an anti-imperial practice (which is picked up on by kreider and kreider in worship after christendom).
- walter wink's trilogy on the powers and alastair mcintosh's take on that in soil and soul.
- james cone's the cross and the lynching tree which i have just read (thank you emma for the suggestion) - the prayer uses the word lynched challenged by this book. we reflected on this image of the black christ at grace which is from a book of poems the black christ by countee cullen published in 1929 which james cone refers to in the amazing chapter on the arts. if you want a short summary of the idea of jesus being lynched then chance the rapper's twitter thread does a nice job.
i am adding this to the worship trick series 4 - that will be no 79 - i must try and get to 100 before it's been a decade that that series has been running!