The Cellists of Sarajevo
We become what we worship, so it says in the Psalms:
The idols of the nations are silver and gold,
the work of human hands.
They have mouths, but they do not speak;
they have eyes, but they do not see;
they have ears, but they do not hear,
and there is no breath in their mouths.
Those who make them and all who trust them
shall become like them. [Psalm 135:15-18]
Therefore, all the more reason for us to be deliberately conscious of who/what we worship. The tricky part is that there can obviously be a difference between who/what we say we worship and who/what we actually worship. As Jesus said: “Not everyone who says to me “Lord, Lord…” Jesus also said that we have a tendency to worship both God and money and that this is practically impossible. It is either one or the other, says Jesus.
In other words, attending “Church” is not necessarily “proof” of the focus of our worship. Perhaps a more accurate measure is what we spend our money and time on. That said, to the extent that our weekly practice of worship is authentic, is to the extent that we will be transformed into the likeness of the One we worship. Last week we were reminded that God is a lover of the poor and a lover of justice and therefore one measure of the authenticity of our weekly worship is whether our love for the poor is deepening and our love for justice is strengthening. May this be so.
The Second Coming
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
– WB Yeats
Bread and Roses
Dedicated to the belief that the world and its abundance belongs to all of us — not only to a privileged few:
Bread and Roses was a poem and song that emerged during the women’s millworker strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts in 1912. Women were fighting for fair wages, child labour laws, overtime pay, fair working conditions. Part of their strike proclamation read:
We, the 20,000 textile workers of Lawrence, are out on strike for the right to live free from slavery and starvation; free from overwork and underpay; free from a state of affairs that had become so unbearable and beyond our control, that we were compelled to march out of the slave pens of Lawrence in united resistance against the wrongs and injustice of years and years of wage slavery.”
This song came to mind recently because of the workers who are fighting for jobs, and for their union bargaining rights — fighting against the rich and powerful who seem to be trying to make workers and labour unions the enemy. My heart goes out to all who struggle for bread and roses.
As we go marching, marching in the beauty of the day,
A million darkened kitchens, a thousand mill lofts gray,
Are touched with all the radiance that a sudden sun discloses,
For the people hear us singing: “Bread and roses! Bread and roses!”
As we go marching, marching, we battle too for men,
For they are women’s children, and we mother them again.
Our lives shall not be sweated from birth until life closes;
Hearts starve as well as bodies; give us bread, but give us roses!
As we go marching, marching, unnumbered women dead,
Go crying through our singing their ancient call for bread,
Small art and love and beauty their drudging spirits knew,
Yes, it is bread we fight for — but we fight for roses, too!
As we go marching, marching, we bring the greater days,
The rising of the women means the rising of the race,
No more the drudge and idler — ten that toil where one reposes,
But a sharing of life’s glories: Bread and roses! Bread and roses!
– John Oppenheim