Gifts with strings

From Grace service 'The Gift' February 2009

Gifts sometimes have 'strings attached' - because gifts create relationship, they can be used to trap or coerce people into obligations or unwelcome situations. Some gifts have to be refused, because the relationship they create is dangerous or inappropriate.

We created a cats' cradle of strings across the church columns - tangled in these were small gifts [Rubik cubes, Kinder eggs, sweets] on one end of a string with a brown envelope on the other end. In the envelope was the hidden message of the gift which is less pleasant:

Now collect the rest of the series or your kids will be unhappy

Now promise you love me

I expect you to turn a blind eye

Just sign right here

Thankyou for accepting our offer. Unless you cancel in writing within 14 days, the annual fee of £72.30 will be charged to your card

We're sure you will tell everyone how generous we are

We're too busy to spend much time with you

Terms and conditions apply

Now stop bothering me

REPENT! For the hour of judgment is at hand!

Now give me that contract

Now sleep with me

I expect you to put me first

Now phone our premium-rate number to find out if you've won a prize

If you leave me I'll never forgive you

Welcome to our friendly church community! We always need volunteers for the coffee rota and church cleaning!

Welcome to our church! We expect members to give regularly through the stewardship scheme.

Now give me something expensive in return

Leave your partner and marry me

You scratch my back I'll scratch yours

Give me the job

Buy everything from us

Don't expect me to do the washing up

Terms and conditions apply

We have the right to use your name and photo in our advertising

I will expect you to return the favour when I ask

Please don't sue

The congregation climbed into the cats' cradle web to get the gifts - they followed the strings from the gifts to the envelopes, and opened the envelopes to read the message. When the gifts had been untied from the strings, they gave them to one another.