Monday, 28 October 2013

Assemble!

Yesterday I took part in something called "Sunday Assembly". For the uninitiated, this is best described as a humanist celebration of life, where people enjoy a lot of the good things about religious gathering (starting the day with energy and ritual, meeting like-minded people from across the wider local community, listening to good advice about how to live life in a more enriched way, singing together, listening to readings, messages of hope, drinking tea and eating cake, catching up on people's news, getting together for something the whole family can do together, raising awareness of community issues, a brief moment of meditation, etc.) without the bits they don't want (religious doctrine, guilt, being told you're not good enough, strict dress code... Help me out here: I'm not super-religious).

You can find out more about what TSA do here: http://sundayassembly.com/ and plenty of other people have already been writing about the Cambridge angle, as the 40 Days and 40 Nights tour spreads across (parts of) the (English-speaking bits of the) globe - do the Google!

I very much enjoyed the experience. I first met the founders - Pippa Evans and Sanderson Jones - when they'd put a call out for poets for their Edinburgh Fringe Assemblies. A friend tagged me in, I applied, and - almost before I knew it - I was walking into a bingo hall, watching the band warm up and being enveloped in the whirlwind of relentless energy that is Sanderson (in all his big-voiced, 6'6", long-haired, bearded, cult-leader-cliché glory). I did them a couple of standard poems ("Blissful Chance" - greeted mainly with indifference/ incomprehension, and "Swarm" - more enthusiastically handled - if you're interested), sang and clapped with the congregation, watched Arthur Smith deliver a talk, listened to an enthusiastic but scientifically dubious "sermon" by Sanderson, shook hands with randoms, handed out flyers, then changed and went flyering on the Mile. I thought no more about it until Sanderson got in touch, asking if I was free for a Cambridge Assembly meeting. Sadly, I was working, then doing Hammer & Tongue - did he want to come to that after his meeting?

He did, and rocked up to our Final with a networking fervour that was close to terrifying. Several people found themselves agreeing to get involved, including me (it's hard enough to say no to an invitation to perform at a local community gig without it being delivered at super-close quarters by someone resembling a genial Norse god).

Shortly before the gig, I realised that I didn't want to short-change the good Assemblers by just rocking up with something old I'd shoe-horned into "new beginnings" so, at 1:30am, having got back from a gig in London (watching - and dancing to - Dizraeli and the Small Gods), I decided to write a new piece. Since the clocks went back, I technically went to bed at 1:30am...

"Write drunk, edit sober," apparently. For this teetotaller, it appears that "Write while tired and elated, edit while slightly less tired and somewhat less elated" is the equivalent.

I gave them this (and gave them drums to accompany "Swarm" afterwards):

Arise

It starts with a breath
Deep as oceans,
Echoing everywhere,
The prelude to that first cry.

Dry-mouthed,
You are forgetting to remember:
You are a torrent,
The wellspring of everything

Reach out, touch fingertips
With existence,
embrace it,
Toe to toe with the moment

You are the boldness,
The heat in the heartbeat
The spark in the dark
That heralds the flourish of day

You are birdcall
And dewfall
And all that stirs before
Morning

You are thirst,
And its quenching,
You are strong muscles clenching
Before the first step

You are the elegance of
Potential catastrophe
And the forces summoned
To meet it.

And you are not the one
Who slept on
The one who kept
In darkness

You are the sunrise
You are the brightening skies
You are the one
Who opened your eyes.

Open your eyes.

You are the one who
Took breath and raised your voice
You are the billowing echo
Of making a choice.

Stand up,
Reach out, and
Don't stop.
It is a new day.


The whole thing was a properly joyous experience, with the emphasis on the positive (what's great about people) as opposed to negative (what's not about religion - there was none of that). The talk (sustainable lifestyle) was fun and useful and un-preachy, and the band (check out Tiger Blue) were exactly the right kind of awesome.

It was particularly fab to meet old friends afterwards and have some great conversations with them and lovely new folk.

The next one in Cambridge is on 1st December (somewhere!), and you should totally check it out if you like people, sharing joy, and getting your Sunday off to an energising start. You don't even need to be an atheist...

7 comments:

  1. wow that is wonderful and a wonderful experience for you, hope I can find something like that to join around here xx

    ReplyDelete
  2. CALLING ON THE NAME OF THE LORD?

    On the Day of Pentecost Peter quoted the prophet Joel (Acts 2:21'And it shall be that everyone who call on the name of the Lord will be saved.')

    To call on the name of the Lord is to acknowledge the authority and power of the Lord, and follow in obedience by meeting the terms of pardon.

    The apostle Peter did not tell those on the Day of Pentecost to say the "sinner's prayer." Saying the "sinner's prayer" is not calling on the name of the Lord.

    Peter preached the death, burial, and bodily resurrection of Jesus. Peter declared the Jesus was Lord and Christ. (Acts 2: 22-26) They obviously believed Peter's preaching because they asked the question(Acts 2:37 ....."Brethren what shall we do?")
    Peter did not tell them to say the "sinner's prayer." What was Peter's response to their question? (Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.)


    THE NARRATIVE OF CALLING ON THE NAME OF THE LORD.
    1. FAITH: Believe in the death, burial, and bodily resurrection of Jesus. Accept Jesus as Lord and Savior.
    2. CONFESSION: Acknowledge Jesus as the Christ and the Son of God.
    3. REPENTANCE: Make the commitment to turn from sin and turn toward God.
    4. WATER BAPTISM: Be immersed into Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.


    HOW DID THE ETHIOPIAN EUNUCH CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD? (Acts 8:25-40


    1. Philip preached Jesus to him. (Acts 8:35)
    2. He confessed Jesus as The Christ the Son of God. (Acts 8:37)
    3. He was baptized in water. Immersed by Philip. (Acts 8:38-39)
    The Ethiopian eunuch did not say the sinner's pray nor was he asked to do so by Philip.


    Romans 10:13 for "WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED."


    Romans 10:9-10 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.


    To call on the name of the Lord is to acknowledge His power and authority and confess Him as Lord and Christ . (Acts 2:26,Acts 8:37, Romans 10:9-10) To call on the Name of the Lord is to repent and be baptized. (Acts 2:38)


    WE ARE TOLD TO CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD TO BE SAVED.


    We are never told we are saved by "faith only." We are never told that saying the "sinner's prayer" is calling on the name of the Lord.


    IF SAYING THE "SINNER'S PRAYER" IS NOT A REQUIREMENT FOR SALVATION? THEN WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS FOR SALVATION.


    THE REQUIREMENTS!
    1. Faith: John 3:16
    2. Belief and baptism: Mark 16:16
    3. Confession and belief: Romans 10:9-10
    4. Born of water and Spirit: John 3:5
    5. Grace and faith: Ephesians 2:8
    6. Buried through baptism: Roman 6:4-5
    7. Water baptism: 1 Peter 3:20-21
    8. Baptism: Acts 22:16
    9. Baptized into Christ: Galatians 3:27
    10. Believe: Acts 16:30-31
    11. Repentance and baptism: Acts 2:38
    12. God's mercy, water baptism, and the Holy Spirit: Titus 3:5
    13. Water baptism: Colossians 2:12-13
    14. Repentance: Acts 3:19


    IF YOU HAVE COMPLETED THESE REQUIREMENTS---THEN YOU HAVE CALLED ON THE NAME OF THE LORD!

    YOU ARE INVITED TO FOLLOW MY BLOG. http://steve-finnell.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for engaging with my poetry blog, Steve. Could you, perhaps, give a shorter version which is more directly concerned with what I've written above?

      Delete
  3. That previous comment wasn't really a comment, more a non-sequitur, or unconnected juxtaposition. Possible also known as an advert or spam. Too much use of capitals as well (i.e. SHOUTING).

    I like the poem Fay!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah - shouting and quoting as a lead-in aren't a great way to engage me, as a rule. Repeating yourself *and* not engaging with any of the content of what you've "commented" on? Bye now!

      Thanks for that, Tim. Now I'm going to go looking at your blog...! :D

      Delete
  4. The wordy but irrelevant Steve Finnell doesn't allow anonymous or unapproved comments....Steve spreads the word but blocks alternative views or opinions. Classy.

    ReplyDelete