Daily Worship

Govan Gospel

James Cathcart August 23, 2017 0 0
Image credit: James Cathcart

Isaiah 56: 6-8

6 And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord,
    to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord,
    and to be his servants,
all who keep the sabbath, and do not profane it,
    and hold fast my covenant—
7 these I will bring to my holy mountain,
    and make them joyful in my house of prayer;
their burnt-offerings and their sacrifices
    will be accepted on my altar;
for my house shall be called a house of prayer
    for all peoples.
8 Thus says the Lord God,
    who gathers the outcasts of Israel,
I will gather others to them
    besides those already gathered.

The reading from Isaiah explores an emerging way of thinking about cultural identity that is less rigid, becoming more porous, inclusive and expansive. We learn that God is in the business of including outcasts and not just one particular group of outcasts either, there is space for more to make a home, the boundaries are blurred.

In Che Guevara’s Motorcycle Diaries we see the young Che’s cultural identity being opened up as the middle class Argentine is exposed to the range of different experiences across a continent. His experiences will encourage him to travel more and start in him a process of political transformation.

‘Che’ is not Guevara’s real first name, he is actually Ernesto. ‘Che’ is a slang term that was used to refer to people from Argentina and is thrown around but casually, but he went on to embrace the nickname. If Che had grown up in Govan he’d might have come to be known as Jimmy. You can picture it, ‘Jimmy Guevara, oh aye, I kent his faither.’

And there of course have been many Glaswegians concerned about the marginalised and the oppressed. Jimmy Reid, himself from Govan and a Clydeside activist was deeply concerned about alienation. He described it like this, in his famous address to students at Glasgow University, “It is the cry of men who feel themselves the victims of blind economic forces beyond their control. It's the frustration of ordinary people excluded from the processes of decision-making. The feeling of despair and hopelessness that pervades people who feel with justification that they have no real say in shaping or determining their own destinies.”

He goes on, in the speech to condemn the rat race that ends up oppressing everybody, that pressures us to turn a blind eye to injustice in case it risks our own advancement. At this point he references Jesus, ‘The price is too high. It entails the loss of your dignity and human spirit. Or as Christ put it, "What doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his soul?"

Dear God,

Gie us peace,

gie us peace baith tae coorie in wi you,

an syne tae blether wi oor neebour.

Let us blether anent love

and include a fowk.


Scots Gloss: Gie - give, baith - both, tae - to, coorie - get comfy and cosy/cuddle, wi - with, syne - then, oor - our, an - and, blether - talk, neebour - neighbour, anent - about, a - all, fowk - folk.