grace this saturday online again - details on the grace web site
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:
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!
next grace is july 11 8pm - join us on zoom or whatsapp. here's the info
Communion* by numbers @home Grace July 2020 “Wherever we are we will remember God who always goes with us”
This month Grace will be a communion by numbers. Join us on zoom or you can also follow along on whatsapp. If you’d like to take part and are not in our mailing list or whatsapp group email [email protected] and we can send you the zoom link and add you to the whatsapp group. There will be no obligation to remain - you can leave the group afterwards.
Communion by numbers is a simple idea. We have a simple structure with numbered sections led by different people and you simply follow along on zoom or whatsapp to take part.
The title comes from a prayer we have used at Grace many times over the years. It’s sort of our community prayer. We’ll conclude with that prayer together.
*This is not a Church of England communion service. It’s just communion.
a reflection/piece of liturgy i wrote for grace last night. i have been struck looking at the stories of the resurrection appearances how grief and hope are often close together, and how often god’s absence and presence are experienced in the same stories. perhaps this has something to say to us in our own experience at the moment - many of us have felt god is far away and many of us have been reassured by god’s presence.
The women arrive at the empty tomb
God is nowhere
Suddenly Jesus meets them
God is now here
Mary weeping with loss in the garden
God is nowhere
The gardener speaks her name
God is now here
The disciples afraid in a locked room
God is nowhere
Then Jesus appears
God is now here
Thomas refusing to believe
God is nowhere
He touches Jesus wounds
God is now here
The disciples fish all night without a catch
God is nowhere
“Throw your net over the right side”
God is now here
Peter shattered when the cock crows
God is nowhere
A healing conversation on the beach
God is now here
Two disciples downcast on the Emmaus Rd
God is nowhere
They recognised him in the breaking of bread
God is now here
grace is next saturday and will be available anywhere in the world rather than just ealing of course. here's the blurb...
We had planned for May Grace to be outdoors in a woodland but that isn’t going to happen for obvious reasons! So what we are suggesting is that we have a zoom gathering online at 8pm on May 9 - GODISNOWHERE Grace Open Mic.Here’s how it will work:
We’d like to invite all of you to create or make something to do with faith in the midst of lockdown. That could be an expression of the difficulty of it, of where you have found moments of grace in it, it could be to do with God’s presence or absence in it (NOWhere or NOwhere). If you need a start point the stories of the resurrection appearances contain many of these emotions and themes.
And it can be any art form - poem, prayer, photo, sound recording or whatever. We encourage you to make or pen something rather than share someone else’s art. If you don’t create anything please still come along. There’s no pressure through we hope some people will or it will be very short! Thanks to Richard Passmore for the title which he says he first saw via Pete Rollins.
If you would like to join us please email [email protected] and we will email you an invitation. We were going to post the link on the website but have been informed that is not a good way to do it and Zoom have changed their security.
It would be really helpful to know ahead of time who is participating so email to let us know and we can then compile an order and work out any technical challenges. Contributions are welcome from all ages.
After the Easter vigil people hung out for a while chatting and drinking which seemed to work well so the Grace cafe will be open at the end though you will need to provide your own drinks and snacks! If anyone wants to DJ via Facebook or instagram let us know and we can add the link.
smallfire has been completely overhauled by steve collins making photos larger and adding plenty of unseen photos too. it's beautifully done and is such a labour of love. thank you steve!
it has photos with short narrative underneath for various alternative worship communities. because of the nature of alternative worship it's so much easier to look at pictures to get a feel for it than simply read words.
i also liked that it is dedicated to nic hughes with a lovely section about him.
grace's easter vigil went well - like so many others we were feeling our way with the technology running it online and quickly worked out that our usual music background didn't work! i hope it went well for people who followed along on the hashtag #graceeastervigil2020 in either twitter or instagram. a big plus was having people join in who were in other countries! the communion prayer is here
it was really good fun having steve leach dj at the end live on facebook and it's still there if you want to have a listen. he played an amazing tune of his with the queen's speech mixed in which i loved.
as ever we invited people to create bits of content. i thought one was really worth sharing here as a worship trick. gill created a hand washing ritual in response to one of the readings. it is on the grace web site and has a prayer that goes along with the various kinds of washing. it's really lovely. i have put it on my phone so i can dig it out each time i wash my hands. anyway you might like it.
steve taylor was celebrating the launch of first expressions last night. sadly i couldn’t join him as it was in new zealand (though i am hoping to see him next week as i am off on some travels!). first expressions is a reflection on some of the first wave of new expressions of church that back then were either called alternative worship or emerging church. the language of fresh expressions had not yet landed. steve researched these back when he was doing his phd in 2001. he then revisited the communities in 2013 and met with those involved. i have a personal interest as grace is one of the communities in the research, one of the first expressions, and steve came and had a meal and conversation with a group of us as part of that.
it’s so interesting and such a gift to have someone external take the time to research and write and reflect back to you on what they observe and notice in the sense making they do of what was really you and a bunch of others making some stuff up as you went along. steve posits that the birthing and becoming back then has contributed so richly to the wider life and mission of the church, to the becoming of the church in the west. steve is a creative thinker, writer, and theologian who is close to the ground as someone involved in mission practice and someone who also can navigate the theory. this is what makes it have such a ring of authenticity.
he frames the whole book through a lens of innovation and the mission of god. i really like innovation as a frame. i have blogged about others writing on innovation and mission - it seems to be a growing conversation. steve takes four approaches to innovation - growth, ecology, indigenous and craft. this immediately begins to open up a broader ecclesiology than the usual narrow ‘gathered and grow’ one that seems to dominate (not that there is anything wrong with gathering or growing per se), what he calls a woven ecclesiology. in conversation with tim nash of nomad i recently explored the wider ecosystem of church life and think this broadening of the landscape helps see that trying new things, innovating, making fresh connections, building communities, sharing ideas and so on seeds all sorts of things in the wider environment. in the natural world it is entirely normal that things grow and age and die and seed other things. i can’t help wondering if a big part of our church challenge is there is not enough permission for dying as well as birthing because we have so many buildings we just seem to have to keep going for ever!!!
steve researches 10 first expressions. half of them no longer exist. steve explores this in detail as he too founded a fresh expression that no longer exists as a gathered community. and it’s lovely to read research that is able to show the immense value in birthing, trying and becoming and how it contributes richly to the wider church producing lots of good in and of itself. it’s hard to know what impacts what but these first expressions have been followed by an amazing amount of innovation and life through fresh expressions and so on. steve takes an organisational look with an interview with rowan williams, a reflection on fresh expressions and how that has helped institutional change, and also how mission is organised. i found the last part very interesting as i work for a mission organisation. it is interesting how challenging the way that first expressions structure and organise is for institutions to marry with their institutional ways ways of being and organising. steve comes back to this in a further chapter where he uses the eucharist as an example of the relationship between innovation and order and how existing governance structures might need to be broken and remade.
there are so many layers and ideas and reflections in the book. this is really just a hasty blog post to say the book’s out and it’s really worth a read and conversation with others. i think it’s valuable for those of us who were involved at whatever stage, there’s loads to learn for those who have pioneered and are pioneering since, and there is plenty for the wider church in mission to ponder. steve concludes by suggesting that ecclesial innovation is the ants in the pants of the body of christ!
Ecclesial innovation is the ants in the pants of the body of Christ. Ecclesial innovation enables a becoming as one, apostolic, holy and catholic church. It makes visible the reality that is the conversion of the Spirit in individuals, communities and organisational structures. Hence innovation has value as it makes the church be the church, awakening the essentiality of becoming as one, apostolic, holy and catholic church. Such is the mission of God through first expressions.
big thanks to steve for taking the time to do the research and offer this into the wider conversation. and it was a reminder to me of how much fun it has been to be part of a first expression grace, and my life since has been committed to enabling that innovation in mission to be encouraged and catalysed and multiplied elsewhere. i guess i have never thought of myself as the ants in the pants but it's probably fairly accurate :) . there’s lots of hope but also a long way to go, and a lot more becoming to be done.
lent means spring so it was nice to see some crocuses and daffodils out and magnolia starting to appear as i walked this morning. it's a season of year i love both for spring and for lent...
lent in the season of the church's year is a preparation for easter. people interpret it in different ways and do different things. but broadly speaking my assessment of it is that for many it has become a time of year for a focused reflection on faith and what that means. grace, the community i am part of, always have some kind of focus which includes regular meals, conversation and prayer for example and that usually includes exploring a theme or a book together. this year following january's grace which explored themes of soil, soul and scociety we are all being encouraged to take up a practice or practices in one or more of those three areas. and there are a series of gatherings and meals related to those themes. here's the blurb that got sent round
Most things are helped by practise - music, sport, craft, skills. When it comes to faith it's the same - prayer say takes practise. Lent is a chance to try out a new practice (or more).You could pick a practice in each of the areas of soul, society, soil. Or just one (or indeed none - there is no pressure to - it’s not a guilt trip so it's fine to just be). But if you want to then we look forward to seeing what people might come up with and indeed finding what people do anyway. Here are a few suggestions if you are stuck for ideas:Pray - try a regular time of silence, or use the examen, or try active prayer (when you walk, run, swim…)Read - we suggest the story of Jesus in Mark's gospel - see below for a couple of chapters each week that if several people followed would mean it was a shared practice. You could try lectio divina or the Ignation way of reading (google them).Sign up for an email - we could share suggestions in whatsapp but by way of example Richard Rohr sends one out weekly or Enneagram Institute do a daily email for your personality type.Get outside in whatever way works - walking, cycling, running, gardening.Think of a small action you can do to help the planet and add that into your lifestyle.Grow something - spring is a great time for thatMark’s gospel suggestion for reading plan -W/c 25 Feb Mark 1+2W/c 2 March Mark 3 + 4W/c 9 March Mark 5 + 6W/c 16 March Mark 7 + 8W/c 23 March Mark 9 + 10W/c 30 March Mark 11 + 12 + 13W/c 6 April Mark 14 + 15 + 16
lent kicks off today with ash wednesday where you can attend a service of ashing where ashes are marked on your forehead and the words 'you are dust and to dust you shall return. turn away from sin and be faithful to christ' are spoken to you. i need to hear that call away from my shadow, my dark side, my own selfishness and to follow in the way of christ whose way is so inspiring and heed the call towards being the best version of me that can shine in the world. i will be attending a service this evening to hear and respond to that call.
the internet has really made lent boom i think because it means so many people are sharing their ideas or resources which you can jump into. the challenge is that there is a lot around so you need to choose. it could easily end up being exhausting or unfocused or both - less is probably more.
it's probably a bit late now and you may already be sorted but a couple of things i noticed...
a poem a day podcast from martin wroe. i loved the lifelines book and we used it in our weekly tuesday group to explore themes chosen by different people. and it so happens that the first poet on there is none other than harry baker who is currently on tour round the uk!
cms have produced a resource on lament. it feels like the state of the world calls for plenty of lament, not least the state of the church which continues to feel so flawed. the news of jean vanier's abuse left me reeling this week.
proost as ever are producing creative things and they too are in the physical object mode sending lent letters to your door which i am sure will be delightful. sign up quick though.
i am sure you know of other things but if you choose to use lent as a season of reflection on life and faith go well. turn and be faithful!
st mary's in ealing is a beautiful space and it was perfect for lasers, smoke and incense bathing the building in light as we celebrated a eucharist of light. it included a wander round to gaze on the amazing installations of light.
in the same way you 'break bread' we also broke light with some glow sticks!
it all looked very beautiful so i took some photos of course though it was a bit challenging in the low light! i have added an album on flickr - grace eucharist of light
we return the favour and will be visiting beyond on may 3 to lead an evening for them in brighton.
i am really looking forward to the next grace. we have invited martin poole and beyond to come and lead it (beyond of advent beach hut fame in brighton). they will be leading a eucharist of light. here's the blurb
Light is a metaphor for life. Going from dark to light reminds us of the journey from death to life, from ignorance to knowledge, from sin to grace, from bad to good.
Advent and Epiphany remind us of these themes and as we journey from Winter towards the light and warmth of Spring and Summer, Beyond combines these themes with the symbolic action of breaking bread and sharing wine and adds an opportunity to experience the wonder of light as we ask God to lighten our darkness and enlighten our lives.
Guest curation by Beyond who are a creative worship community based in Brighton. Cafe afterwards as usual.
alastair mcintosh says that the triune basis for community is soil, soul and society - community with the earth or place, community with one another and community with spirit/self/god. i really like this as a simple framework. johnny sertin first introduced me to it and they have made it the basis of what they are up to in earlsfield.
anyway all that to say that at grace last night we started the year exploring those themes with a space for each. soul was the labyrinth, and then two other spaces with interactive installations. i loved it and think we're bound to pick those themes up further. in classic foolhardy new year fashion i have decided to try and blog with a bit more intent this year. life is so busy that it is a genuine challenge but i'll start as i mean to go on... so i'll add this as a worship trick and have uploaded the descriptions and a photo of each below in case any of you want to chew over the themes or nick them for you own use.
there were four activities in this space and a poem to reflect on. the four activities are below and the poem was the very thought by gerard kelly
The earth, our home, one tiny planet spinning in space in the vastness of the universe is extraordinary with its wonderful creatures, plants, landscapes, and habitats. To gaze at the ocean’s horizon, to walk in a forest and listen to birdsong, to climb a mountain, to sleep under a starry sky, to hold a newborn baby’s tiny fingers in a hand, to enjoy a freshly cooked meal with friends, all evoke wonder and thankfulness. What a gift life is, what a gift it is to be alive! The Christian story is fundamentally a story about the world, the heavens and the earth that have been made good and entrusted to us as gift to look after with love, tenderness and care.
1. Put your hands in the soil
The Soil by David Benjamin Blower played on loop (I love that tune)
Put your hands in the soil
And feel the groan
and can you feel the joy?
And be still
Take a moment to be still.
You are human made in God’s image
Adam was the first human - the word adam means ‘of the soil’
You are made from dirt, from soil, from the stuff of the earth
We are earthy
Place your hands in the soil and be still
Feel the groan of the earth in our times and pray
Feel the joy of the earth in all its beauty and give thanks
And be still
2. Lament for the heat
Have word soil spelled in candles in soil
Te world is too hot. Global temperature is rising due to emissions. The last IPCC report suggested there are 12 years left in which to change and limit warming to 1.5 degrees which, as we are experiencing, is already having dramatic impact. David Wallace Wells in his remarkable book which has over 6 pages of footnotes citing the evidence to back up his writing, outlines the cascades taking place that will only accelerate as we reach that temperature and beyond. He opens the book with the ominous words “It is worse, much worse, than you think”. We all have seen the images of fires in Australia, a sign of our times if there ever was one.
Blow out a candle as a prayer for the world’s fires and warming
We have sinned against you and against the earth
It is too hot
Lord have mercy on us and on the soil.
Cool the earth.
3. What a waste
Compost is like magic. Our waste is thrown in the dark with other waste. Over time it rots and becomes beautiful rich soil that feeds new plants in the next season.
Take some food waste
What feels like waste in your life
What are you throwing away
Offer it to God with whom nothing is wasted.
4. Drop in the Ocean
The challenges of the world seem so big that it can paralyse us. But as Greta Thunberg says - no one is too small to make a difference. Or as Harry and Chris say
They say it’s just a drop in the ocean
As if that’s a reason to stop
But maybe they’ve forgotten the ocean
Is literally made up of drops
Take a drop and add it to the water
Soil is about connection and community with the land, the earth itself. Our first challenge is to become lovers of the earth, the land, the home in which we live. We are all too easily disconnected from the land. How can you nurture being a lover of the earth, of the land, of the soil?
Write on a drop something you could do that helps you to be a lover of the earth, to be closer to the soil.
Write on a drop something you could do that lightens your footprint on the earth and its resources
To be human is to be related. Even God is community!
Add yourself to the web of relationships
Write your name on a card and then connect it to others with a piece of string. Then think about your connections to others. perhaps friends, perhaps groups you belong to whether local or far away. Write them on other pieces of card and build up the web.
Grace is our faith community.
What is it about the community that helps you, that nourishes you? Give thanks to God!
Are there ways you would like to participate?
Are there gifts you have to offer in the year ahead?
Do you ever feel alone?
Do you know others who are alone?
Is there someone you could show friendship to?
Hold them in prayer.
One of Grace’s ethos words is engage
How will you engage in society locally this year?
How will you build community?
this was the labyrinth - i just took a photo on a phone before we started which isn't great. no doubt someone else will have a better one. but you get the idea. we pretty much reused the words from the first labyrinth we ever did in 1999 by the then live on planet earth! here they are...
Take off your shoes...
The labyrinth is a walking meditation. Take off your shoes, pause at the start and then slowly follow the path. There is one path to the centre and then you follow the same path back out. There are others on the journey. Take your time. If you have to wait that is a good thing probably. There is no rush! Taking care and paying attention to your soul, your true self, the you of you is important soul work. Use this journey to give your soul some time. Soul is also about your relationship to God - take time to be with God in this space. Below are some prompts for the journey in, the centre and the journey out. But if you prefer to simply walk in silence and ignore those prompts then that is also good.
The inward journey:
As you move towards the centre of the labyrinth begin by confessing and letting go of things that hinder your relationship with God. This stage is also about shedding images or projections of yourself so that you can be real with God. Let go of what other people think you should be, their expectations of you, their projections. As you journey, empty yourself, peel away the layers - grow by subtraction. Prepare your inner self - the you of you - to meet with God.
Think of hurtful things people have done or said to you. Imagine a symbol or a word to describe this....
Jesus said, if you let go of the hurtful things people do to you - so God will also let go of the hurtful things you do. Think carefully. Are you willing to 'let go' of the things people have done or said to you?
Think of things you do - patterns of behaving that you know are harmful to your relationship with God, others, yourself or planet Earth. Imagine a symbol or word that symbolises those things.
If you are honest with yourself and God, if you really want to let go of these things... "If we confess our sins God is faithful and just and will purify us from all unrighteousness." (1 Jn 1v9) God will help you to move on. Do you want to take it with you? Or do you want to let it go? If you want to let it go open your hands as a sign of letting it go and move on.
The centre of the labyrinth:
At the centre of the labyrinth is that point where we symbolically meet with God. Please spend some time here. Relax. Enjoy God's presence. Meditate on God. Commune with God.
The outward journey:
As you journey back out of the labyrinth take your encounter with God with you. Reflect on how this encounter might affect or change you. John said that God became flesh and blood and moved into the neighbourhood - think about how you might allow God to be made flesh in your life and in your neighbourhood.
What boundaries do you need to pass through?
Which of your abilities are you neglecting?
Look around and notice. Even though they may be at different stages, others are on this journey too.
As you approach the end of the labyrinth think about God who has been the host for this part of your journey. If God asked you to fill in a guest book - what would your comments be?
i have added the photos to a flickr album grace labyrinth - soul + soil + society
i loved the soil section the most - we need much more engagement with the earth, the planet, soil, place, our home and lots of soulful liturgies, prayers, songs, spirituality.
join us at grace on saturday january 11th and walk a labyrinth. if you have not walked a labyrinth before it is a lovely prayerful space surrounded by candlelight and ambient tunes. you meditate by walking. it’s a perfect way to start the new year reflecting on what has gone before giving thanks and letting go. it’s a space to be still, to be with god, to place yourself into god's care. and then it’s a journey into the decade that lies ahead with all of its possibility, challenge and adventure. there will be a cafe afterwards as ever with space to chill and catch up.
this saturday is midvent (ok that’s something we made up)! but it’s our advent grace which will be reflective and with photos related to various traditional advent readings. here’s the blurb. do come along…
Join us for a mid-Advent meditation, featuring photos by members of Grace that have been inspired by the season’s traditional Bible texts. We will make our own Advent calendars, that we can continue to fill with images up to Christmas.
Everyone is welcome to stay for mulled wine in the cafe afterwards.
there is a fabulous installation at the moment at vinyl factory by uva called other spaces. i have loved all the things of theirs i have seen (chorus, onedotzero, speed of light, momentum). this exhibition has three installations. one is a reworking of momentum, the second a lazer depth of field experience that reminded me of perspective drawings at school (though somewhat cooler), and the third the great animal orchestra. you can read about it here. and i have a few photos here though after taking a couple was asked not to so there are not many.
the great animal orchestra in some ways is a fitting follow on to my previous post. it is a sort of celebration at the wonder of the world but also a lament. bernie krause has recorded animal sounds in various landscapes. these are played in a dark room with led screens making up three walls. in front of the screens is a pool of dark water which reflects the projections in mesmerising fashion. the projections are digital graphs or spectograms of the sounds. as the sound goes up and down so the lines respond. when a creature's noise first appears the name appears on the screen and slowly moves round the wall. the whole thing lasts about an hour. it's a gorgeous experience (apart from when you either step in the pool or put your hand in it because you don't realise it's there!). the lament side of it is one track before and after where the sound is first played at two points recorded in time. the second is after the landscape has been wiped out or eroded in some way so the absence of animal voices is an immense loss that is brought into the room in its absence.
the space itself is an like an alternative worship dream! we have got lazy at grace but we used to create three walls to project onto to be surrounded by projected images and have beanbags in the centre as a space for reflection, with ambient music playing. we still do create that kind of space to some degree but this was so well done. i'd love to have use of a space like that. it was a very fitting space to visit during extinction rebellion. and just as poignant as the planetary mass. go and see it if you can - it's free and runs until december 8th.
i would put it down as a worship trick but i'm just not sure anyone else could pull it off in the same way!
there is a second exhibition at the other side of the vinyl factory which is not quite as amazing but does include an installation by doug aitken - one of my all time favourite artists - so it's worth it for that piece called new era. i love his video installations.
i am in two minds as to whether to put this out there but last saturday with extinction rebeliion in full flow and a focus on the planet for grace we gathered round the table. some members had been in to join in the action - sadly i couldn't make it due to work. so we gathered to pray for our world, to remember it is god's world and lament the ways it is being pushed to its limits. i have a recording of the planetary mass from the nine o clock service. i can't remember where i got it from but i have always loved it and play it to students as an example of creative liturgy. it must be from the early nineties. anyway i transcribed it which i have never done and we read through it together and shared bread and wine round the table. it was without the visuals and drama but poignant and powerful. if anyone is reading who was involved in its creation thank you - and i hope it's ok to put this on my blog. but here is the liturgy and i have added tracks we listened to. the soil by david benjamin blower was perfect for passing round bread and wine and we brought soil and water to the table along with bread and wine.
i'd love to hear of what other laments and liturgies anyone else is creating or using.
Welcome and Opening Prayer
Listen to planetary mass 0-3:09
The planetary mass is our celebration of life and our ritual of celebration and repentance on behalf of our culture. Here we seek to mourn the destruction of so much life on our planet and to cultivate a compassion that feels in our own flesh the wounds inflicted on others and on our planet and to awaken to the incredible awe and beauty of our existence with God. Whether humanity has a future or whether it is going to become extinct in the next few centuries depends on our will to live and that means our absolute will for our one indivisible life. We have got used to death, at least to the death of other creatures and other people and to get used to death is the beginning of freezing into lifelessness itself. So the essential thing is to affirm life, the life of other creatures, the life of other people, our own lives.
The Lord is here
His Spirit is with us
Breathe in the Holy Spirit…
Breathe in life
And out fear
And out numbness
And out death
Wisdom let us attend. From the book of Deuteronomy:
This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death,
blessing and curses. Now choose life so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to His voice and hold fast to Him.
This is the word of the Lord
Thanks be to God
Read Declaration of Rebellion from This is Not A Drill
Creator God the Source of all life we confess our sin to you.
We confess where we have turned away from you and where in ignorance we have turned our back on the earth and on each other.
We confess that as we have wanted more and more we have dominated and exploited your creation.
And we admit that we are responsible for abusing the riches of our home, that we are complicit in crucifying you by polluting the air and the sea, by destroying the forests, by starving the people of the two-thirds world, and by robbing the future generations of life not yet here, our children and grandchildren.
God of all creation we turn away from our addiction
We turn back to you
Our Source and our Hope
We repent and we turn back to you
This ritual is a symbol of the worship already happening in creation. The whole universe is invited to this intimate event, the feasting on Christ. The church here has no walls - we worship with plants, planets, animals, and angels.
The day before Christ suffered he took bread in sacred hands and looking up to heaven he broke it and gave it to his disciples saying ‘take eat this is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me’. In the same way after supper he took the cup and gave thanks. He gave it to them saying ‘drink this all of you. This is my blood of the new covenant which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Do this to recall me, to remember me.’
Creator and soul of the cosmos
The universe shines with your life Lord
You’re everything we desire.
We give our lives to you
You created everything that lives
Through Christ you are the Source
We believe and trust in you
Our desire is to let go of death and give ourselves to the vision of life your son Jesus believed in to the point of his own death
We commit ourselves to him
Spirit of life, integrity and truth who raised our brother from death and gives us hope beyond death here now
You are our strength and compassion
We believe and trust in you
God of life we bring wine to the table
Touch this now to become a life blood transfusion.
Christ our life we bring bread to the table to become your precious flesh
In our global village we offer it in the presence of those who starve.
Eternal source we offer water:
The overwhelming swell of the oceans unique to this planet.
Creator God we thank you for the gift of soil:
The foundation of the forest, the sign of our mortality
Creator God we offer ourselves along with these elements of bread and wine and join with the voice of the whole universe crying out for life and healing.
Father hear our prayer through Jesus Christ.
We can no longer see ourselves as separate from nature.
We are all given a chance to participate in the story of the universe.
We’re all in it together - people, particles and God.
Through Christ hope is built into the very fabric of space time and matter.
So now there’s hope.
Now contains the possibility of resurrection.
So let’s come to the table now and let’s reconnect with Christ,
hope of the cosmos,
the power to renew us and change our lives now.
[share bread and wine
play The Soil by David Benjamin Blower during distribution]
Let us pray together now for the universal church and the world.
Christ our hope at this critical time lead us into facing our denial.
As the church, as a culture wake us up to an awareness of the responsibility and opportunities we now have.
We honour the wisdom gained by centuries of spiritual and artistic endeavour through the experience of our mystics and the lives and deaths of all our saints.
We pray for an open church that celebrates the coming together of all faith and wisdom traditions, the sciences and the arts.
We pray for a new time of hope, mystery and promise as we bring all these riches to bear on our global crisis.
God the Mother and Father of all creation we pray that a new way of living emerges out of the present reductionist system that’s robbed the world of its spirit and turned human beings into objects and nature into a machine.
We pray for a culture that allows us to live in harmony with all creation and stops crippling the earth’s diversity.
We pray that your Spirit of passionate life that raised Christ from the dead bursts now into all people in our earth community.
Creator God we pray that we will wake up to a new consciousness.
Watch Greta Thurbnberg and George Monbiot video
Listen to Numbers by Radiohead
May Holy Wisdom whose voice calls all to the feast
Whose hand draws the whole cosmic community of life to her table,
preserve you in eternal life.
And the blessing of God Creator, Liberator and Holy Spirit be amongst you and stay with you always
The mass has ended
Go in peace
[All liturgy is from The Planetary Mass by the Nine O Clock Service]
this is a photograph I have in the ealing lip group exhibition home which is part of BEAT 2019. it's a group show on the theme of home. this is the key to the front door of a home in jaffa for a palestinian family who had to flee their home in 1947 and have been unable to return. many palestinians who had to flee carried the key expecting to return of course. but now for them and for those whose homes have been destroyed the key has become perhaps both a memory of home and as a symbol of their longing for home. i imagine this is also the case for many who flee home from whatever country. i also took portraits of the friend whose grandparents house it is. but somehow the minimlaist nature of the key photograph was the one i chose. do visit the exhibition which is open every day until 15 sept.
on sat 14 sept i am giving a talk about the photograph and the theme of home at 4pm. i have been thinking about this and am likely if i have the courage to perform a couple of songs from the album backbone which i recorded after visiting palestine in 1998 - they will be acoustic rather than breakbeat versions.
this month grace have been made homeless because work is being done at st mary's so grace will be coming to that talk, a visit to the exhibition and a meal afterwards nearby. message me if you are interested in coming to the meal and i can send you info.
the fiesta festival in earlsfield was great - it was so good to meet amd learn from the wisdom of alastair macintosh. grace curated a space to reflect on hope and grief - flip sides of a prophet's imagination - or flip sides of the road to newness perhaps. i have added some photos in an album here. it was good to suspend a block of ice for an installation on grief - last time we did that was 2001 apparently!
Join us as we grieve like prophets and dreamers for our broken world, and hope like prophets and dreamers for a different kind of future.
Note different venue and time - Grace will be 6:30pm at 'Riverside', Haldane Place, Wandsworth SW18 4UQ, as part of 'Fiesta' - see below for details of the festival as a whole.
People at the festival are coming as part of their festival ticket, but if you are just coming for Grace it is free. Just say you are a member of Grace when you arrive.
The legendary block of ice will be making its third appearance - last seen at Greenbelt 2001! Well obviously not the same block of ice.
hope to see you there
note venue change:the venue has changed to paradise cooperative, 19 heathfield road sw18 3je - opposite the entrance to wandsworth prison.