SoulSpace is the Sunday service that began in Bradford just over 5 years ago. I just wanted to say how liberating it is to have such a thing in our city. It is only the comments of others who have been to our services and now have left Bradford, that remind me of how special it is. It is needed everywhere.
We actually listen to each other. We discuss things, surprise each other, allow each other our own discoveries.
Today's reading was from Isaiah 9 v 1-4, and I gave a little background to the towns mentioned in the text:
The Back StoryThe back story is the long-standing domination of the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali by foreign states. Because of their locations, both tribes were especially vulnerable to attack. As the northern and southern kingdoms played out their power struggles, both Zebulun and Naphtali had been more or less vassal states to a series of Assyrian kings. Both were eventually taken into captivity during the end of the kingdom of Israel in 722 BCE, leaving them "in anguish" and "contempt." As pawns of powerful states, their histories were ones of vulnerability, subjection, and oppression.
For oppressed parts of the world 'the great light' mentioned in Isaiah, and then in Matthew chapter 4 is a light of liberation. The light of Jesus is often interpreted in an individual way, but it is equally a light that brings freedom from oppression. After this brief bit of 'back story' everyone went into twos or threes and discussed the questions:
What burdens do you carry? What gives you joy? How can you be a light to those travelling in great darkness?
The discussion ranged from the personal to the political, from loneliness to Mugabe. The style of 'dialogical sermon' is so important and values the contribution of every member.
When we played 'Come, bring your burdens to me' and placed stones in an earthen bowl, there was real power in that church. There was release and upset. The real things of this world that worship should be able to deal with.
There is much more of the practice and theory of a 'liberating worship' in my new book - and I hope that people will really take the time to read it, and not just skip over to the 'direct actions' and demonstrations. Real liberation theology is about worship that is participatory and emancipating. That begins when we really listen to God by listening to each other.