The battle of the narratives …. (Part One)

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The battle of narratives has begun; and the UK Government, in it’s version, seems hell bent on planting in our minds the seeds of blame on others.

In their narrative, the  spread of the virus, the reason for the ever growing death toll, is the “fault” of somebody else – all the Government is doing is “following the scientific advice”, meanwhile;

…… Too many people are sitting in parks, going for exercise at the same time as other people

…..Maybe the NHS (even our brave doctors and nurses) aren’t being careful enough …. even wasteful of “precious” PPE.

…… International competition is making it hard for UK to source the testing and other equipment it needs.

Of course, in the narratives pushed by the Government, none of it is the fault of the Government – well I’m sorry but it is. It’s the fault of austerity policies and ten years of cuts to public spending, it’s the fault of years wasted through chasing an ideologically dogmatic vision of a particular Brexit, it’s the fault of a PM and Cabinet that had word as far back as January (at least, but in fact years in more general terms) that this pandemic was coming and do too little too late.

The press and media too seems content to play their part so far in continuing the Governments narrative. Yesterday they we full of the “good news” that the Prime Miniter was on the mend from his time in hospital with Covid19. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m he’s recovering, this illness is nasty and I would not wish it upon anyone. He is a father, and is expecting another child soon, and no one wants to see a child deprived of its parents in such a cruel way. But when the press and media talk of how the Prime Minister is recovering well and is in “good spirits”, I ask; “really”? Is he really in “good spirits” on the day that UK deaths passed the European record for those  in a single, a day when close to 1000 UK citizens died because of this virus, day by day the UK edges towards the highest death toll in Europe ….. “good spirits” really?

A day on from Good Friday and it all reminds me of Pilate “washing his hands”  as he tried to pass responsibility on for the crucifixion of Jesus.

“When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!” (Matthew 27.24)

It seems like those in power have always tried to find ways of passing responsibility for their own culpability on to “others”, whoever they may be.

 

 

Holy Week (2) – Good Friday Lament – What’s wrong with the world?

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This Good Friday the two local Methodist Pioneer Ministries (Share & Open House) took the opportunity to worship together. A drum beat led us before we nailed to the cross, where we held a prayerful lament based around words suggested and collected from people attending food bank sessions over the last couple of weeks. People then named and added additional “wrongs”.

In the evening the cross was taken to Judiths Open House where it remained until Easter Sunday.

It’s Friday ….

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These final days of Holy Week are always a special time for me as we contemplate the powers and forces overcome by Jesus on the cross …. there will be time on Sunday to celebrate, but today on Good Friday it’s important to hold onto the pain, the sadness, the cruelty, the betrayal that put Jesus on the cross. Important because, without experiencing the depths of the pain, the victory that has been won is at risk of being cheapened.

We took the decision last week to still run the food bank today despite (or in some ways because) it’s Good Friday, the need for food and especially for the love and grace we try to offer is highlighted not diminished by the crucifixion and passion narrative, we attempt to act as servants who figuratively “wash the feet” of those who come to us for support, without judgement. Some of the folk who came joined in our Good Friday service, others took Palm crosses and prayers, and there was the usual mixture of emotions, including sadness, anger, anxiety and despair. The President and Vice-President of the Methodist Conference, Roger Walton and Rachel Lampard, have both spoken about confidence, suffering and hope in this year’s Easter Message. They ask:

“…Do we sometimes race over the reflection of holy week and the pain of Good Friday, in order to reach the joy of Easter?…”

and go on to say:

“…The Christian vocation means feeling and facing the suffering and injustice of the world, alongside God, until new creation is complete. Staying with suffering and tackling injustice is no easy option but is where Christian confidence takes us…”

 

So on this Good Friday, we hold onto the pain and the suffering, the hurt and injustice, because it matters – the powers and forces that put Jesus on the cross are still part of our world today, and reflected (arguably more than on any other day in the church calendar) today. So we hold on to those feelings – we watch and we wait – and we hold onto hope, even when it seems lost. One of my favourite reflections on Good Friday is this one from SM Lockridge, placing us right in the midst of the pain and the sadness:

It’s Friday
Jesus is praying
Peter’s a sleeping
Judas is betraying
But Sunday’s comin’

It’s Friday
Pilate’s struggling
The council is conspiring
The crowd is vilifying
They don’t even know
That Sunday’s comin’

It’s Friday
The disciples are running
Like sheep without a shepherd
Mary’s crying
Peter is denying
But they don’t know
That Sunday’s a comin’

It’s Friday
The Romans beat my Jesus
They robe him in scarlet
They crown him with thorns
But they don’t know
That Sunday’s comin’

It’s Friday
See Jesus walking to Calvary
His blood dripping
His body stumbling
And his spirit’s burdened
But you see, it’s only Friday
Sunday’s comin’

It’s Friday
The world’s winning
People are sinning
And evil’s grinning

It’s Friday
The soldiers nail my Savior’s hands
To the cross
They nail my Savior’s feet
To the cross
And then they raise him up
Next to criminals

It’s Friday
But let me tell you something
Sunday’s comin’

It’s Friday
The disciples are questioning
What has happened to their King
And the Pharisees are celebrating
That their scheming
Has been achieved
But they don’t know
It’s only Friday
Sunday’s comin’

It’s Friday
He’s hanging on the cross
Feeling forsaken by his Father
Left alone and dying
Can nobody save him?
Ooooh
It’s Friday
But Sunday’s comin’

It’s Friday
The earth trembles
The sky grows dark
My King yields his spirit

It’s Friday
Hope is lost
Death has won
Sin has conquered
and Satan’s just a laughin’

It’s Friday
Jesus is buried
A soldier stands guard
And a rock is rolled into place

But it’s Friday
It is only Friday
Sunday is a comin’!

SM Lockridge – Sunday is coming!

As we served people today at the food bank, and some of us shared in the Good Friday worship in the chapel, these words from Desmond Tutu rang out as a herald for Sunday:

Victory is Ours, so we can say;
Goodness is stronger than evil;
Love is stronger than hate;
Light is stronger than darkness;
Life is stronger than death;
Victory is ours through Him who loves us.
(Desmond Tutu)

It’s Friday …… but Sunday is coming!