This sunday gone, my friends and I were asked to take on sunday morning at the City of Edinburgh Methodist Church. This being August in Edinburgh, the church has been taken over as a festival venue and though the shows are yet to begin, we took to the freshly constructed stage for morning worship. Being in a black box theatre, with a lowered stage and tiered seating, lighting rig and sound all provided, we thought we’d do something quite dramatic.
We began by telling the story of being the nation of Israel being escaped slaves in the desert, refugees from a brutal regime. We wove the story of manna being provided in the wilderness with Jesus refusal to put on a show and work miracles and provide bread just to entertain. In the thinking and planning, I had thought it would be good to use simple songs, spirituals and blues tunes, and one kept coming into my head. In the style of those old freedom songs but from a different era.
This is Janis Joplin singing ‘Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz’ from 1970. I’ve put a link to the story of the song below.
We played this to a seated congregation and when she sang ‘Everybody’, to my surprise and delight, people did indeed join in the last verse.
Then I talked about freedom from slavery, good news for the poor and oppressed.
This song is so simple and so complex. That’s why I love it. It’s got the anti-materialist hippy sentiment and pro-materialist appreciation of the finer things in life. It’s bluesy but joyful and hopeful but desperate and has mixed motives and sympathies. Just like me.
Lord, if you’re listening, I’m not so into the Mercedes Benz but rather partial to a Jaguar 🙂