Façades… no singing please!!

I had an email today asking me if the dream I had in 2010 has a relevance to the current time and asking if I would post it publicly. I was sure I had… but if so it must have been some time ago as doing a quick search I could not find it. Given that I think it is highly relevant I thought I would just go ahead and post (maybe again!). I have certainly repeated it often enough that many of you will have heard / read of it. If not here it is and I consider again it to be very timely.

The dream occurred as one of two in 2010. The other was of the balanced see-saw that would come about as the year 2020 arrived. The balanced see-saw does not indicate a reversal but something akin to a level playing field. When integrity and honesty will have the impact it should as the ‘field’ will not be stacked against us. It means getting a right result for the godly input… not the end of conflict but where things can be changed. Game on!!

So to the second of the two dreams.

I was in a town square and stood on one side of it. The opposite side consisted of a series of buildings, side by side. I understood that each building represented the institutions that had shaped the ‘public square’. They represented institutions such as politics, judiciary, business and trade, the church, etc. While I was looking at them – and my gaze never switched elsewhere – something occurred to all of them at the same time. The fronts (the façades) of each building opened up as if on hinges that swung them forward and then up. At this stage anyone who wished could look right inside them. The inner working (what Walter Wink might call the interiority of the powers?) were visible.

My immediate concern was that the buildings would be very unstable and they or at least the façades would fall forward and the people on that side of the square would be in real danger. I decided my responsibility was to shout the warning, to get away from the buildings and come to safety.

Within a few seconds, while I am preparing to shout the warning, I realise that – although defying physical laws – the buildings were not about to topple. They remained open but many people did not even seem to notice what was being exposed. As I then pondered what is happening and what kind of warning is needed, I heard someone to my left begin a Christian song. I do not recall what the song was but it was well-known and there were enough people in the public square that knew it and they one by one began to join in. In a short while the song was audible in the public square and when it reached a certain volume in the same way that the façades had opened so they now closed back down again. As I ponder what I have seen I heard an audible voice from behind me say:

It is the familiar that restores the status quo,
that brings things back to where they were.

Now I knew what the warning was. At a time when there was exposure and the possibility of a whole new level of integrity and honesty it would be the return to the familiar that would short-circuit the exposure, the cleansing (and in my language of now) the reset.

I cleared my throat, took a deep breath. Then opened my mouth and got the following words out: ‘It is the familiar’. As soon as I go those four words out a person from my right came and stood immediately in front of me, about 5 centimetres from my face, eye-balling me to intimidate me. I knew I had to get the warning out, moved to my left and the scene repeated. This happened three times in total, the fourth time I again moved left, filled my lungs ready, I got the words out ‘It is the familiar…’ and as I got to the end of that fourth word the person (spirit) did not confront me but stepped in front to finish the words with ‘that brings things back to normal.’

Close, but a total conversion of what the original was. The warning was gone, the exposure of reverting to the familiar as the enemy in this time was nullified, the problem was no longer the exposure (re-set) but the interruption to normal life.

I have told that dream in many places, and have often had the reaction that ‘but worship is good’, effectively rebuking me! I can defend it as ‘it was a dream’, but I also want to defend it more strongly than that.

One of the most comforting places for Christians to head to (particularly those in the charismatic tradition) is to go to the worship area. I do not deny that it can re-focus us on Jesus and away from ourselves, but it can also re-engage memory in the sense of recapturing a ‘feel-good’ sense. (Memory is one of the biggest hindrances to faith!) It was in that context (OT-wise) that God said he hates the activity the people were up to, activity that was prescribed for them in God’s law. In the same way the fast that God hated (Is. 58) was the fast from food and devotion to prayer to God (!) when at that time God was requiring a fast that was expressed in social justice. [An aside… contextually, the ‘all our righteousness is as filthy rags’ is not a comment that devalues genuine doing of good, but it is referring to ‘all our religious [and we can expand this to be, ‘activity that has been prescribed’] righteousness is as filthy rags’.]

I am glad in the dream it was the singing of a Christian song that was the issue. It hits hard at the issue of familiarity, the resorting to ‘not sure what to do let’s sing’. There is a time for all things, and therefore a time not for some things. The dream spoke strongly that this is a time to engage and not short circuit the process. [And maybe if there are songs to be sung they are the protest songs…, such as the resisteré song that we all join in with at 8.00pm each evening here. And there are plenty of those resistance Scriptures to pull on!]

I am also glad it was a Christian presence that cocked it all up. I strongly believe that the biggest influence on society is supposed to be those who follow Jesus, not through legislation (top-down) but through so shifting the spiritual atmosphere that there is an inhibiting of certain expressions and a fostering of all that is good. [That deserves a whole blog or ten!]

Of course there will be a strong pull to ‘let’s get back to normal’ form those who benefit from normal. So we will see a rise of unemployment and those on the margins will suffer in this Covid-19 season, but at the same time the big monsters that live off the lives of people will prosper beyond belief. They do not want any changes, let all things continue as ‘normal’.

I am glad to read at least of those talking of a ‘new normal’ provided it is not a refreshed view of what we have currently. A new normal has to align more with the kingdom of God (a New Jerusalem that comes down from heaven) than with a Babylon (that rises up from the earth, seeking to make a name for ourselves).

The next two years are critical. Anything that just brings comfort through familiarity has to be put aside. We do not want things closed back down again.

Much more can be said… but at least I now have the dream up, though maybe not for the first time!

7 thoughts on “Façades… no singing please!!

  1. This dream is really powerful and challenging. Apart from other incredibly important aspects it confronts our ways of feeling God’s presence amongst other things and requires more from us than leaning into a nice bit of worship to lift us. I have been really feeling the Isaiah 58 passage too over past couple of months and also seeing a correlation between countries which have had better social justice and care for the poor and dispossessed (especially Germany who took in a lot of refugees and Greece actually who despite not wanting to did take in a lot of refugees too by virtue of geography if not anything else) and lower death rates from Covid19 although Greece did a very early lockdown nobody has adequately explained Germany’s result scientifically although they have tried. The spiritual connection to my mind/interpretation being that Covid is an invader which we cannot keep out at our borders despite our best efforts. I don’t know if this is real as I doubt my prophetic interpretations on things a great deal and am hardly an expert. Whenever I have brought this up with ministries I’m a bit connected with or even my church as a way to pray etc. and maybe repent for being protectionist (Brexit etc. etc.) I have met with resistance over this point or been completely ignored (which I am pretty used to but still annoying). People seem to want to repent of certain sins but not others to end this crisis or ignore it’s horrific nature all together and be all positive about what comes next which I find repellent and lacking in compassion actually. (I don’t mean one shouldn’t try to see a way forward that could end at a better destination but the tone from some people has been too upbeat and inappropriate!.) There is sometimes a need to lament which has many a biblical precedent. Conspiracy theories are rife amongst certain Charismatic Christian groups too which I also find disturbing in the extreme. Right now I’m not sure how to pray and have come to an impasse but I agree unless we change our ways as the body of Christ and do not return to the familiar and really allow those things behind the facades to be exposed we cannot move into the kingdom properly I don’t think. What that will look like in the future – I don’t know.

  2. Brilliant Martin. I feel like I totally understand what you are getting at here (which means I probably don’t)

    It s fascinating to see ‘the church’ responding to these new circumstances.

    Watching online services at the moment where the children are asked to go out after the first couple of songs, but now to their own web page rather than out of the room itself.

    Don’t mean to be critical here. Some lovely folk serving the Lord as they see best with a lovely spirit, but boy oh boy is it familiar!

    It makes me think that while new wine will burst an old wineskin, old wine will sit perfectly happily in a new one.

    know what I mean?

    blessings

    Nigel

  3. Well, they are singing. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUtll3mNj5U

    Perhaps I still had your post in my thoughts, but I had mixed feelings, which worried me on the one hand, but wanted to understand on the other. Unity is good and worship is great to foster that.
    Maybe it is the tag at the end which says we are not in the buildings but that the church is alive……
    Not sure who that message is for?

    1. Ah Simon!!! Wondered when someone might note that. I have seen this go viral, and on so many links seen people highlighting it. In the light of the dream very hard for me to know how to respond to it. Before making a few inept comments let me preface it with – we are all a mix… and such issues as compromise is here for all of us… even God compromises – I find he is with me over and over again which has to be a big compromise for him!

      I was not sure what to make of it, and I think probably there are more than one ‘make’ to be done. As you note – who is it for? Is it we are here and waiting to get back to normal once this is over? Is it part of the transition, if so where does it go… is it being done to the nation… for the nation… with the nation?

      What is for sure God is in there, he will breathe through it. And as per usual there are ongoing bigger issues of where are we all headed.

      As for the dream the kind of singing in this video was not the singing in the dream.

    2. yes, different takes indeed.

      Here is a positive one.

      Removal of the body from the building may inhibit a command and control leadership style from the senior pastor. What if this was a worship leader initiative rather than senior pastor led? What if the removal of physical structure also weakens a permission culture allowing the body to start initiatives without seeking the usual pre-authorisation?

      This is not to judge positively or negatively this particular initiative. The key question for me is “Whose idea was it?”

  4. Well put both of you. My take certainly influenced by not having been in the building for a good while.
    To the nation or with the nation counts a lot. Perhaps these are tentative steps to finding a voice outside the building, one that is with.
    Glad the song didn’t match the dream.

  5. Our “usual” worship songs tend to be quite inward looking – Jesus and me, or perhaps God’s presence here in our church gathering. This one feels outward looking. Our little gathering within our 4 walls is already a diaspora, and the song is aimed further out. It’s not technically a ‘worship’ song even. That’s a shift in position. (Writing from France, the variety of the participants is achingly wonderful! Everything here is so shut in hermetically sealed boxes – the church reflecting the culture. Seismic shifts needed, but yes, church on the internet closely ressembles church in the building. Batten down the hatches and carry on with what we know.)

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