April 2011: The Prophet's Story
Episode 2: A New Hope
to start where last month's service ended. stained sheet from previous service hung at front as before. in front of it, table with empty wine glass on. tall candle, unlit.
1. Starting where we left off
congregation stand in front of stained sheet and empty glass on table. we all read lamentations 5 together again [a repeat of the end of the previous service]
then someone reads isaiah 40 as a response
then light candle and refill glass
silence for a while, standing - 5 mins
picture on big screen - the word 'hope' in 40 languages [from howies]
2. recap previous service
- the prophets story up to this to this point
3. where does hope come from?
Revolutions often start with individual acts against the system, they challenge the established view. They dare to believe that the current order is not the only possible view of the world.
Sometimes these acts are spontaneous, a moment of extreme action as a response to years of oppression.
Some are the result of years of patient planning and steady mobilisation towards a cause that gets expressed in a single event that galvanises a organisation and thrusts a message in front of the people and the media.
Others can be the result of quiet but steadfast resistance to the established view that draws in those around, they are witnesses who are moved by the internal strength of a group or an individual.
In 1980 Christian Führer a pastor at Nikolai Church in Leipzig helped to organize "Peace Prayers" as part of a joint protest action of Protestant youth organisations.
Through the 80’s these peace prayers were held every Monday in the Nikolai Church in Leipzig focusing against the Cold War. They also became the focus of a pilgrimage in the context of another Peace March and other demonstrations against the Honecker Regime.
Then on 4 September 1989 after the regular prayers for peace in the Nikolai Church the crowds began to gather and eventually filled the nearby downtown Karl Marx Square. Safe in the knowledge that the Lutheran Church supported their resistance, many dissatisfied East German citizens gathered in the court of the church, and non-violent demonstrations began in order to demand rights such as the freedom to travel to foreign countries and to elect a democratic government.
Mohamed Bouazizi died January 4, 2011 at the age of 27 was a Tunisian street vendor who set himself on fire on December 17, 2010, in protest of the confiscation of his wares and the harassment and humiliation that was allegedly inflicted on him by a municipal official and her aides. His act became the catalyst for the Tunisian Revolution, inciting demonstrations and riots throughout Tunisia in protest of social and political issues in the country. Anger and violence intensified following Bouazizi's death, leading then-President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to step down on January 14, 2011, after 23 years in power.
On December 1, 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, Rosa Parks, age 42, refused to obey bus driver James Blake's order that she give up her seat to make room for a white passenger. While her action was not the first of its kind to impact the civil rights issue Rosa’s individual action of civil disobedience created further impact by sparking the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
Parks' act of defiance became an important symbol of the modern Civil Rights Movement and Parks became an international icon of resistance to racial segregation.
At the time of her action, Rosa had been a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People for 23 years and was the secretary of the local chapter.
When Parks refused to give up her seat, a police officer arrested her. As the officer took her away, she recalled that she asked, "Why do you push us around?" The officer's response as she remembered it was, "I don't know, but the law's the law, and you're under arrest."
Later when asked she said “I didn't give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn't true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day. I was not old, although some people have an image of me as being old then. I was forty-two. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.
4. the small moves that change the systems
brian eno and peter schmidt's 'oblique strategies' on stickers
people take away or wear ones that mean something to them
people encouraged to look at one another's stickers and talk about them
oblique strategies app on ipad to play with
oblique strategies projected on main screen, scrolling through randomly
5. hope from god
last time we discussed a concept that theologian walter brueggemann calls the royal consciousness
which is that kings, rulers, and elites want us all to believe
that the way things are right now is the only way they can be
and that, while improvements can no doubt be made,
no fundamental change is possible
and we have all internalised this to a greater or lesser extent
we all have a stake in the way things are
we all have a stake in things continuing to be as they have been
so the danger of the exercise we've just done
is that it won't cut deep enough
there will still be values that we leave unquestioned
social orderings we take for granted
because they are invisible to us
or we can't imagine an alternative
or we benefit too much from them
we can be guilty of spreading optimism rather than hope
optimism says that the world that we know can get better
hope is about a new world
true hope is grounded in god
who is outside all our human worlds and free to act and change them
this is where a prophet is not like a hero
a hero acts
a prophet points to god who will act
the prophet reminds us that there is an alternative
because god can bring it about
the prophet talks not just about the future but about the past
reminding us of how god acted before
reminding us of god's promises given in the past and waiting to be fulfilled
reminding us of god's freedom as demonstrated in the history of god's people
reminding us of god's covenant with us
which the powers that be would like us to forget about
but hope in god doesn't always come easily or soon
if, to god, a day is an eternity and eternity is like a day,
then our hope and faith may be tested by the silence of god
and the mockery or oppression of the world
in the bible this often happens
the psalms cry out again and again, why doesn't god answer? why are my enemies prospering?
and there was no prophet of god for 400 years
between malachi at the close of the old testament
and john the baptist at the start of the new
imagine that - nothing from god since 1611
what would the atheists say?
would our faith stand it?
how would we keep hope alive?
one way is to remember the promises and tell the stories
so tonight we are going to close with a eucharist
the eucharist is a prophetic act
it proclaims another allegiance and another social order
6. prayer for hope
Giving stuff to God - those areas of our life/the world that need prayer and faith because there is no alternative.
give out pens and paper
write/draw matters of concern
stick on sheet at front [mirrors similar action in preceding service]
What is happening?
Tonight there is a great silence over the earth,
a great silence, and stillness.
There is a deep longing where hope has vanished,
and all that is left is the dull aching throb of loss and longing.
Where is hope?
Where is light?
Where is God?
Where is God? They are saying he is dead.
The heavens and the earth cry out with longing for God.
We wait, like mourners beside a grave, ill at ease,
not knowing what to do with ourselves.
But he lives in light, bathed in beauty, always creating, always living.
And we are gathered, as Christians have gathered from the earliest times,
to remember the story of God’s saving work,
from creation through to the death and resurrection
of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We commit these people and situations to God
who lives and acts in freedom.
We place our hope in God,
who keeps promises and never forgets us.
liturgy adapted from 'not in my name' greenbelt liturgy
8. movie clip - final scene of 'the matrix'
'Lord of the Rings - Return of the King' final scene on silent, with 'Reasons to be cheerful part 3' by ian dury and the blockheads playing over the top
printed notice as last time, but isaiah 55 v.1-2