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Carbon Footprints – War Footprints: A Liturgy inspired by Leunig, Amos and Toes

June 30, 2012

See This: ‘Carbon Footprints – War Footprints’ Leunig

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Michael Leunig
‘Carbon Footprints, War Footprints’
in The Age Newspaper, Friday 11th December 2009

Hear This – Amos 8:4-6

Hear this, you that trample on the needy, and bring to ruin the poor of the land,

saying, “When will the new moon be over

so that we may sell grain;

and the sabbath,

so that we may offer wheat for sale?

We will make the ephah small and the shekel great,

and practice deceit with false balances, buying the poor for silver

and the needy for a pair of sandals, and selling the sweepings of the wheat.”

Do This
Remove your shoes.
Spread out a large expanse of white paper on a drop sheet.
Place a tub of red paint at one end of the paper, and another tub of black paint at the other end.
Give time for each person present to step through the black paint tub, walk slowly over the paper and step off on to an old towel, wiping the paint from their feet, when they are ready.
Each person repeats this, stepping through the red paint tub, walking across the paper to the other side. On this side, again they step on to an old towel and wipe their feet.
Provide another tub with soapy water for washing feet more throughly once most of the paint is wiped off.
Say this
It’s hard to get the paint off our feet completely. It sticks in the cracks, finds its way under our toenails. We are stained by the way we walk the wide roads made by economic progress, industry and war.
We need to repent and to pray.
Pray This
God who has no need for the rich, but great compassion for the poor
You have shown us what is good-
to do justice, to love mercy and to walk humbly with you.
Yet we are chastised by the prophet Amos
As tramplers of the poor
We have trampeled with large footprints, leaving death and degradation as a path behind us.
We have trampled in violence and bloodshed.
Even as we have sat on the couch of comfort with out feet up on the footstool of convenience, we have been tramplers.
We pray for those whose land has been trampled by our greed for consumption, for conformity,
for progress for some, meaning death for many.
We pray for them in confession and repentance of our own lives.
Show us how we may retrace our steps and choose another path.
We pray for those who tramp as soldiers over the face of the earth.
For those, many of them children, compelled at gunpoint themselves to take up arms.
For those who are motivated by nationalistic ideologies of moral supremacy to ‘right’ the world through military presence.
We pray for those who are no longer free to tread their ancient and traditional paths of life and meaning. For those on strange paths seeking refuge, those caught in refugee camps, spending days, weeks, years, it seems, tramping up and down on the one spot of weariness. For those on dangerous paths of escape, for the indigenous communities no longer allowed to walk the land they know, the land they understand. Who are ‘settled’ and expected to sit and watch as the land is butchered open for national wealth and global industry.
We pray an end to the trampling of the poor.
We can barely imagine how it might happen.
Rich and Powerful would have to give up monopolies.
We would have to give up much.
We would have to think it credible that a follower who tramps after Jesus might truly find life by losing it.
We stand before you God in confession of our scepticism and cynicism that this might be worth praying for, and ask for faith to pray it anyway.
Do this

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Revisit the paper with footprints. Take up markers and add your own prayers. Reflect on the writings of the prophets and add their voice to the paper. Observe the popular tract ‘Footprints’ and compare its theology and imagery with the theology of the prophets and the image of Leunig.
Go in this way
Put your shoes back on.
And send each other on your path with these words:
“Make our feet beautiful with the gospel of peace and reconciliation.
May we go in peace to love and serve the world. Amen”

2 comments

  1. This is impressive, but what age group does it apply – late teenage to adult? Perhaps, a simpler liturgy applying the principles above, replacing paint with coloured playdough, could be used for younger children.


    • Hi Jennifer – this is designed as a Multi-age resource. With children as part of your community, you would apply the principles of healthy intergenerational gatherings, in which we all facilitate one another in participating.In that context I wouldn’t hesitate to use paint myself, but the playdough idea is just as appealing. I would break the prayers into sections with further pictures for visualisation on screen, and ask different small groups within the gathering to read those prayers so that the voice changed frequently. I might also gather some preschool and early primary aged children with some supporting adults to physically ‘trample’ each time that word occurred in the prayers. A ground sheet spread with a bag of gravel would give the scrunching sound underfoot. I might also set up a break out space to the side, with a farm set on felt cloth paddocks of various shades, allocating a supportive adult to accompany children exploring the process of food production on the land.



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