October 2008: Contamination
Throughout history, when humanity is faced with the dazzling light of a holy God, there's this nagging feeling that we don't quite measure up. Some people just hide. Others try and purify themselves in thought and word and deed to make themselves a little more acceptable.
'Contamination' is the first of two services exploring how humanity has attempted to keep itself separated from 'spiritual impurity' and how Jesus turned such concepts on their head.
'Contamination' was a reflection on religious/personal ideas about how we try (and have tried) to keep ourselves from being spiritually/literally impure in the sight of God (and therefor separated from his presence and/or his people).
The arriving congregation could not enter the church but were directed to the church hall doors. There they were frisked by people in decontamination boiler suits and gas masks, who asked questions and removed items deemed to be 'contaminating'.
When the congregation were seated in the hall, Ben spoke about ideas of spiritual and ritual purity: Levitical/Christian old and newer cultural shibboleths, illustrated by movie clips and punctuated by 'Protect and Survive' nuclear war civil defence films from the 80s.
The congregation put on surgical masks and entered the church. Following a scary clip from Doctor Who 'The Empty Child', we played 'Purity Pairs' led by the Grim Reaper, to illustrate that biblical ideas on clean and unclean were not static.
We then looked at how the cross and life of Jesus turn ideas of holiness and contamination on their heads - how he undid the (abused) holiness laws where they excluded people from the Kingdom. The idea is that this is also a journey to the Cross, where all our impurity is taken. The barrier into the 'holy of holies' was torn in two, we removed surgical masks, boiler suits and gas masks and stepped through into the light.