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Grace | Contamination | 10-2008

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'Contamination' was the first of two services exploring how humanity has attempted to keep itself separated from 'spiritual impurity', and how Jesus turned such concepts on their head. Photo © Jonny Baker.

The arriving congregation could not enter the church but were directed to the church hall doors. Greeters in gas masks assessed the purity of visitors, and 'decontaminated' them by confiscating items from their person and bags. Photo © Jonny Baker.

This looked so disturbing that we had to keep a lookout for people who had not been before and would be frightened off! There was indeed one person who had to be taken aside for a quiet explanation - but it was OK because he came back several times!

Greeting and 'decontaminating' the visitors.

When the congregation were seated in the hall, Ben spoke about ideas of spiritual and ritual purity: Levitical/Christian old and newer cultural shibboleths, illustrated by movie clips and punctuated by 'Protect and Survive' nuclear war civil defence films from the 80s. Then we head into the church, donning surgical masks.

After the Doctor Who clip [from 'The Empty Child'] we played 'Purity Pairs' led by the Grim Reaper, to illustrate that biblical ideas on clean and unclean were not static.

We then looked at how the cross and life of Jesus turn ideas of holiness and contamination on their heads - how he undid the (abused) holiness laws where they excluded people from the Kingdom. The idea is that this is also a journey to the Cross, where all our impurity is taken. The barrier into the 'holy of holies' was torn in two, we removed surgical masks, boiler suits and gas masks and stepped through into the light.

<< *Lunch not included Greenbelt 2008 | The Long Monday Greenbelt 2009 >> | The table 09-2009 >>

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