Grace - fresh vital worship since 1993

July 2019: Grief and Hope

grief and hope flyer

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.

In July Grace took part in a festival in Earlsfield called 'Fiesta' - see poster below.

Earlsfield Fiesta poster

Grace was 6:30pm at Paradise Cooperative, 19 Heathfield Road SW18 3JE, which is a community garden. When people arrived they would find a signpost directing them towards 'Grief' or 'Hope'.

There were two spaces - one about grief (in a clearing) and one about hope (in a yurt). They ran at the same time, with similar but different liturgies and stations. People could choose one and stay with it for the whole time, or explore both, but if the latter they wouldn't experience all of either. To begin, people had to choose whether to explore grief or hope, and go to that space.

The central station of 'Grief' was a block of ice suspended in chains, under which candles would be lit, as last seen at Greenbelt 2001.

The two orders of service were similar, but different in certain places.

Wake up call 6:40pm

(Both spaces)

Welcome to Grace, welcome to our worship.
Make yourself at home,
be yourself,
you are very welcome.

Unplug your ears
Unbind, open your eyes
That you may hear
That you may see
Wake up!
God is here
God is doing something new.
God is inviting you into a journey to discover a new world,
a new upside down kingdom.

There is a restlessness in our society, in our culture and in many of us at the moment. The old ways of doing things seem to be broken, or at breaking point.

A few years ago, the camp of the Occupy movement near St Pauls Cathedral was surrounded by barrier tape printed with the words “another world is possible”.

In Grace this really caught our attention like an alarm, like a wakeup call. It made us think about what it might mean to move from an old world in which we are satiated and numb and co-opted by the gods of consumption, where we are used to the poor begging and bankers earning million pound bonuses, to a new world which might be imagined and run on very different lines.

The prophets of Israel and Jesus the prophet seem to be interested in that kind of journey, that kind of adventure, that kind of new world.

The prophet’s journey

(Both spaces)

the king doesn't know what time it is
the king doesn't want to know
because kings, rulers and elites want to stop time

they want us to believe that the way things are now is the only way they can be
that the current order of politics and economics is the only possible and realistic order
they promise that it will be better managed in future
but they say that no fundamental change is possible

then along comes the prophet

(Grief space)

the job of the prophet is not to announce fixes for the current system
it's not to make realistic proposals
because what's realistic is defined by the current system
realistic leaves the existing powers in power
we can leave those kind of proposals to the prophets of the regime
the ones who say that there's peace when there is no peace

the job of the true prophet is to announce the death of the current order
the job of the true prophet is to announce that god cannot be bought by the regime
and has the freedom to bring about endings

the true prophet calls us to grief
grief for the system that must end
grief for the parts of our lives that must end because they belong to the system

grief is the most radical criticism
because it announces the thing that rulers cannot bear to hear
that their rule must end

(Hope space)

the job of the prophet is not to announce fixes for the current system
it's not to make optimistic proposals
because optimism says that the world we already know can get better
optimism leaves the existing powers in power
we can leave those kind of proposals to the prophets of the regime
the ones who say that there's peace when there is no peace

the job of the true prophet is to announce the end of the current order
the job of the true prophet is to announce that god cannot be bought by the regime
and has the freedom to make something totally new

the true prophet calls us to hope
hope is absurd and embarrassing,
because it flies in the face of all those claims we have been told are facts.

hope refuses to accept the version of reality that is the majority opinion.
hope is subversive, for it dares to announce that the system to which we have all made commitments is called into question.

(Both spaces)


Let's pray

God of justice, peace and righteousness be with us this evening
Breathe your breath,
your Spirit of prophecy,
your energy,
your enlivening,
your imagination on us.

Wake us up
Open our eyes
Unplug our ears
That we might hear
That we might see
That we might grieve
That we might dream
That we might follow the ways of your extraordinary kingdom


Set alarms:

If you have a phone, or a watch, with an alarm clock app or function - please can you set it to go off at 7:20pm this evening?

Stations 6:50-7:20pm

(Grief space)

Central station:
Ice block hanging in chains, nightlights under to melt it.

We seemed to have moved as a society from a place where we don't just have contempt for other people's views and ideas, but also for other people. Can't we just disagree better?

In the words of Schopehauer, contempt is "the unsullied conviction of the worthlessness of another." It is easy to feel helpless in the current political and social environment, but we can be the people to uplift and unite rather than denigrate and divide.

Light a candle and think. Place it under the ice to represent what you might do to help melt a cold heart. May this ice be a place to let go of your grief and where new hopes are forged.

Station 2:
Bitter herbs and salt water in a bowl. Take a piece of the herbs. Dip it in the salt water and eat it. As you do this remember before God your own tears and suffering and the tears and suffering of others.

Station 3:
Stones to drop into a bucket of water. The 'letting go' words from the St Pauls labyrinth.

(Hope space)

Central station:
The word 'hope' in nightlights on board. People to light.

Station 2:
Luggage labels - write your hopes on the labels and put them in the suitcase.

Station 3:
People write ‘you’ve got we’ve got’ couplets

Station 4:
A timeline of saints/prophets/dreamers, hung along string outside the yurt. Think about the people who inspire you and give you hope, now and throughout history. Take a label and write about one of these people and what they mean to you. Tie it onto the timeline at the time when they lived.

Alarm and gathering 7:20pm

(Grief space)

A Poem about tears

An Absolutely Ordinary Rainbow by Les Murray


Tears are precious. In the Psalms King David says “You have kept a record of my wanderings. You have put my tears in your bottle” What will God do with all these tears she is collecting in a bottle?

Even God cries - the shortest verse in the scriptures in the Christian tradition say ‘Jesus wept’.

We shed tears for empires including our own that are bent on their own continued existence, for those who are silenced, for those who are blind to the possibility that the world could be different, for the pain of those we know who suffer at the edges, for our own pain, for our own faith traditions where they have got stuck and colluded with the powers.

We also long for change, for a better world. We long that the voiceless would be given a voice, that the powerful would be freed from their addiction, for imagination to escape the numbing quality of empires that tell us this world is all there is. We long to be healed. To be free.

Tears and grief lead to newness - we must cry, we must grieve.

(Hope space)

Read out the 'We’ve got/you’ve got' things that people have written. Some examples:

You've got a vision. We've got endless possibilities.
You've got all the sanctions. We've got all the invitations.
You've got strategy. We've got tactics.
You've got machinery. We've got mustard seeds.
You've got tunnel vision. We've got a wide horizon.
You've got the status quo. We've got rhythm and flow.
You've got supermarkets. We've got allotments.
You've got spreadsheets. We've got intuition.
You've got the flour. We've got the yeast.


Another world is not only possible, she is on her way.

On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing

You have been shown what is good, to act justly, to love mercy and to live humbly

We share this day with those whose freedom is denied
We share this day with those who have fled war, torture and despair
We live in penance for broken promises and political fixes
We walk the long road with all those who strive for peace, justice and reconciliation
We live in hope with those who long to return to home
We live in hope that one day all people in our broken world will live in peace, as neighbours with full equal rights

Live hopefully upon the earth.
May its beauty surround you
May its wisdom delight you,
Its music invite you
May you love and be loved, May you know peace and practice compassion

Rejoice in the earth and in all of creation. Rejoice in life

(Both spaces)

Francis blessing

May God bless us with discomfort
At easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships
So that we may live from deep within our hearts.

May God bless us with anger
At injustice, oppression, and exploitation of God's creations
So that we may work for justice, freedom, and peace.

May God bless us with tears
To shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger, and war,
So that we may reach out our hands to comfort them and
To turn their pain into joy.

And may God bless us with just enough foolishness
To believe that we can make a difference in the world,
So that we can do what others claim cannot be done:
To bring justice and kindness to all our children and all our neighbours who are poor.


Alarm Setting

God calls us to WAKE UP! to be WOKE

Invite people before they leave to set an alarm for a random time each day to remind them to wake up, to remember that another word is possible.

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