theunfamiliarname

Archive for May, 2013|Monthly archive page

Easter 6C / Harvest Festival / Fair Trade Fortnight

In Uncategorized on May 4, 2013 at 3:07 pm

You may be aware of the phenomenon of “Ear-worms”.

Those tunes that stick in our heads,

and simply won’t go away.  It’s not just you.

They do exist, they have a name.

Smart people have studied them.  So it’s not just me.

But I’ve had a particularly bad one this week.

A very quirky song

with an intriguing invitation and metaphor.

So, possibly as much by way of therapy as anything else,

I’d like to share with you the title and line

so annoyingly stuck in my head.  It’s in your pewsheet.

“Make a little birdhouse in your soul”.

It’s a song 20 years old,

and it’s from the perspective of a nightlight,

a bird-shaped nightlight, a “little glowing friend”.

Now, using a little something called the interweb,

I’ve put those words beside the Fair Trade logo

in our pewsheet.

Because I rather thought

they sat well together, and provocatively.

“Make a little birdhouse in your soul”.

Which is a little random. Quirky. Far, perhaps, fetched.

But let me put that image

“make a little birdhouse in your soul”,

beside the voice of a man from Macedonia saying

“come over and help us”;

and a woman from Thyatira, Lydia, a trader in purple cloth,

an extraordinarily valuable & expressly international commodity,

who welcomes Paul, his companion Timothy,

and given it’s narrated in the first person, we assume, Luke.

Paul, Timothy, Luke, all good names.

A cry for help;

a global businesswoman;

and people who happen to be rather representative of us.

Plus that odd invitation, that I’ll throw into the mix:

“make a little birdhouse in your soul”.

Now the latter’s certainly not biblical

and has none of the power or permanence of such metaphors,

but I rather like it.

As we approach Pentecost and the Holy Spirit’s

heavenly dove, the invitation to make a little room,

“a little birdhouse in your soul”,

strikes a chord for me.

Let’s talk food: I can almost guarantee

that, however wonderfully self-sufficient,

you have eaten in the last couple of days

food from around this country, and overseas.

You’re almost certainly wearing garments

made in places you and I have never visited.

By workers we won’t ever meet,

and we probably don’t think of for more than a second.

Like it or not,  we’re intimately connected

with the people who make our underwear!

In the news over the last ten days

has been a tragedy, a bit of a parable, far off, but real.

A huge building, first cracked and then collapsed,

and then on fire,  where at least

377 garment workers lost their lives.  In Bangladesh.

Ten times as many worked in this one building.

That is part of global trade.

Part of our world.

As we celebrate our giftedness

and God’s goodness on this Harvest Festival,

there are those aspects,

like maddening songs, that will not go away,

the voices that urge us

to “make a little birdhouse in your soul”.

To not forget the world’s poor

who share a planet and a commercial system with us.

Because these are brothers & sisters, daughters & sons.

We simply cannot claim a distance

from people who touch the garments we touch.

As we give thanks for the bounty of God’s good earth,

we must recognise those who share it with us.

That’s what Fair Trade is about.

About making sure that those who harvest and produce,

enjoy the fruits of their labour.

That is a profoundly biblical image: fruit each month,

and Isaiah’s imagery:

people sitting in satisfaction under their own trees and vines.

Our bounty cannot be built on the backs of others.

At this harvest festival, we must allow

our celebration of God’s goodness

to be part of theirs too.

We are connected in trade with people we will never meet.

But they ask us to treat them fairly.

Like the man from Macedonia,

they plead with us to help. In our own little way.

The gospel asks, commands us, to love one another.

As we heard last week, Jesus says,

“by this people will know you are my disciples,

if you have love for one another”.

We might call “love”, respect.  Fairness.

We couldn’t call it the opposite.

Love, respect, fairness.

Qualities we’d express not only to Christians,

or to the good people of Kakanui, but of Kazakhstan,

and countless other places I can’t pronounce,

where people, workers God loves, are.

And we’re part of their lives, as they’re part of ours.

With our Harvest Festival

we’re beginning Fair Trade Fortnight.

Two weeks when we might be intentional

about listening to those distant voices

asking us for help,

asking us for what is right, for what is fair.

Mindful of trade, and all that comes with it.

Wondering whether we might make

“a little birdhouse in our soul”.

A birdhouse we can take shopping.

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