I started and ended by playing Nick Cave’s “People aint no good” with a voiceover the middle verses which incorporated themes and images from the events surrounding Hurricane Katrina. We also had newspapers with images and slogans from the week around the space for people to interact with as part of prayers for others later on. Confession below….
Prayer of Confession
We come to worship as equals before God because our foundational story, Genesis, says we are created good. But it also says that this goodness is spoiled. We know in many ways that the world and our own lives are far from good and equality is not a lived reality amongst us.
In shaping our prayer of confession we will listen to the the music and lyrics of Nick Cave that remind us of our fallen goodness. Natural disasters reveal a lot about our true character as individuals and a society. We experienced this in the recent Tsunami, where in response, Austrailan’s celebrated their generosity…..the so called “wave of compassion”. Tonight I invite you to bring to our confession the images, thoughts and feelings that we have witnessed and shared during the week regarding the disturbing events of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.
People just ain’t no good
I think that’s well understood
You can see it everywhere you look
People just ain’t no good…
THE water flows in and the water flows out, washing away all that once lay on the surface — and revealing what lies beneath. So it is with all floods in all places, but now it is America that stands exposed. And neither America nor the world likes what it sees.
Jonathan Freedland in The Age
The rich fleeing to safety whilst the poor and weak remain to struggle, fight and die.
Another stark reminder of the great curse of racial injustice as the poor left behind are largely African American.
The delay of any adequate co-ordinated response and the depleted presence of National Guard rescuers due to war in foreign countries.
Images of leaders flying over the suffering, days after the event.
Revelations of years of warnings and inaction in repairing and upgrading levee bank storm protection.
Government cut backs to disaster relief organisations in favour of security measures to counter the threat of terrorism.
Rape and murder in places of refuge.
Looting by desperate individuals and violent gangs.
Shoot to Kill’ policys being issued whilst aid remains delayed.
‘Entrepreneurs’ raising petrol prices as people seek to flee and raising hotel rates whilst people seek shelter. Predators upon human misery.
Mark Pierson mentioned at Urban Seed staff prayers how such an event and such consequences in the most wealthy and powerful nation on earth forces us to consider the thin thread by which peace within any society is maintained. It is sobering to remember the anarchy that runs so close to the surface in our world. If we are honest it is a reminder of the anarchy that often runs close to the surface in each of our lives.
As we listen to the rest of the song consider the fallen goodness this event reveals within our society and and its people.
Simply callin oneself ‘Christian’ in no way makes us ‘good’ or morally superior. It is instead an invitation to consider our complicity in similar dynamics of human failure and how you may respond or what you may be capable of in the same or similiar circumstances. To consider and confess our own fallen goodness.
It ain’t that in their hearts they’re bad
They can comfort you, some even try
They nurse you when you’re ill of health
They bury you when you go and die
It ain’t that in their hearts they’re bad
They’d stick by you if they could
But that’s just bullshit
People just ain’t no good… Nick Cave
Declaration of Grace
Having confessed our sin hear the Declaration of God’s goodness to us…
Romans 3:21-23 NRSV (adapted by me!)
But now apart from law, the ‘goodness’ of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets, the ‘goodness’ of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now ‘made good’ by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith. He did this to show his ‘goodness’, because in his divine ‘patience’ he had passed over the sins previously committed; it was to prove at the present time that he himself is ‘good’ and that he ‘makes good’ the one who has faith in Jesus.