Please Bring a Body

The Festival Communion service at Greenbelt 2017 put access and inclusion at its heart. Here you’ll find all the words from the service to download and share and use – along with the story and idea behind it and the audio recording.

The Idea

We struggled so much with how to introduce the 2017 service. We were mulling over what would have happened if Jesus had chosen disciples with disabilities. What if John was blind, or Peter was on the autistic spectrum? What if Judas was bipolar or James had cerebral palsy. Of course these are only “What if”s, because in Jesus’ time disability as a set of ‘conditions’ and ‘categories’ quite literally hadn’t been invented. And yet, those with visible disabilities were most often shunned and ostracised. Today, disability is a category that majority society creates and imposes on some of its members. We didn’t want to reinforce that. So we decided to talk about difference instead. And we involved Greenbelters with disabilities and/or additional needs to design and lead the service.

Read the blog here

The Order of Service

You can download the order of service here. Thanks to Andrew Graystone for his permission. (Andrew suggests that if you would like to give a donation to Greenbelt for the use of the material, that would be great! But we’re not checking.)

Download the Order of Service

The Supporting Notes

Download the extended notes that support the service – the decisions we made about what to put in it and how to do it. They’re really important. You won’t really understand the Order of Service and liturgy without them.

Download the notes here

Listen / Watch Again

You can listen again online to the whole service in all its glory on our Soundcloud page. Or watch Becky’s homily here.

Listen on Soundcloud

Tanya Marlow

Tanya Marlow joined us via Skype from her bed at home in Cornwall to read the New Testament lesson. Tanya is part of the Greenbelt community but because of her ‘condition’ she can’t be at the festival. Tanya suffers from a form of ME/CFS that restricts her from leaving the house except very occasionally.

Find Tanya here online

God In Our Skin

Here’s the wonderful new hymn that Andrew Graystone wrote for the communion service. It focuses on the sacrament of the human body. Perhaps the most astounding and scandalous of all Christian beliefs is that God has a human body. That’s what this hymn celebrates. Warts and all.

Click here for the music and words

The sound sculpture

For the confession, we used a “sound sculpture” created by the audio artist Mike Thornton. A base of slow beats and ambient sounds was layered with the words below, broken into phrases and fragments, mostly whispered by a variety of voices. We wanted to engage the sense of touch as well as hearing– connecting us with the earth, with our own bodies and with each other.

The words used included the prayer of confession and absolution from the Book of Common Prayer, which originated in 1662. After 350 years it’s not surprising that some words have fallen out of common use. We probably wouldn’t talk now about “following the devices and desires of our own hearts.” And yet there is power in the poetry, and also in acknowledging that our worship echoes that of believers going back over centuries. It reminds us that neither our faith nor our sins are new to God.

Download the soundscape here