May 2016 - economic justice

You cannot serve both God and money

This month our 'Sundays' will be on Saturdays! We'll be looking at economic justice issues, with some resources from People & Planet and Symon Hill's recent book, the upside down bible.

Saturday 14th 11am

We met in Florence Park near the bandstand for a short outdoor worship liturgy to celebrate Pentecost. The Holy Spirit came like toungues of flame and the disciples spoke in many languages... We had blessings in many languages on strips of orange and red paper that we read out and used to bless each-other! We sung We are marching in the Light of God in Zulu, as was used at the end of Apartheid in South Africa - with harmonies too. After this we had a drink from the cafe while the kids had a play.

Community Meal & discussion

Thursday 19th 7:30pm: we met for a simple community meal at Tracey & Rich's.

We read chapter 5 of Symon's book: he had taken the story of Jesus outside the temple commenting on the widow's giving two small coins which was "all she had", except that instead of that tiny section that is commonly dismissed as yes, the widow was more generous than the rich scribes, Symon had encouraged reading a bit before and after that, including Jesus' words about those in power "devouring the property of widows" and his prophecy about the future of the institution (the Temple) that seemed so enormous and powerful at the time - that not one stone would be left standing. Symon had presented this Bible reading to a group of people who had never heard it before and recorded their thoughts. Their reactions and insights were really interesting. We had a good discussion with many people seeing something new and challenging about the passage. If Jesus had been critical of a system that was oppressing the poor - expecting or accepting donations amounting to all someone has to live on - while giving a platform for the rich to show off their self-importance, that's a powerful message about how we should see politics today. We finished with a short liturgy from the Iona community.

Big Sunday - on a Saturday!

Saturday 28 May, 12 - 3, we met at St. Francis church hall and later moved to Dene Road park. We shared a lunch and had a community catch-up, sharing anything important going on, ideas for future meet-ups etc. and learnt a new Taize song. After lunch we explored the same texts in a different way, with the children enacting the scribes and the poor widow giving to the temple (well, the top of the slide in the park!) treasuries. In the dramatisation (a very grand word for what we did) the poor's giving was taken but without much fanfare, in fact it was scoffed at and seen as duty - not gratefully received with respect for how much it meant. The rich's gifts, though less as a %age were highly praised and the givers were publicly celebrated as "wealth generators" and those who make the world go round and given access to the instruments of power in society. We asked the kids how it felt. We asked adults were there any parallels today? And if so, what could we do to counter them and heed Jesus' words.

The sketch was designed to question the world around us today: do we value the right things? Why do the poor give more than the rich, still? Why are poor people looked down upon, distrusted and briskly criminalised for what amounts to minor infringements, while the super rich are continually looked up to, publicly avoid and privately evade paying their fair share of tax, and when caught still hold their positions of power and respect? The papers are quick to sneer as disability benefits are snatched away meanwhile our own Prime Minister, David Cameron says once that he does "not benefit from any offshore funds", later found to have profited without paying capital gains tax from a Panama-based tax dodging firm, is still PM, has kept his money.

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