The lockdown preceding…

‘Saturday’ is a little imposed on the biblical narrative, as is Sunday (resurrection) morning with the day beginning and ending differently than in our Western setups, yet I hope the language is understood. There is considerable debate as to what happened between death and resurrection – did he visit ‘hell’ to preach and to whom? What we do know is that burial was an important part of the Gospel proclamation.

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures (1 Cor. 15:3,4).

The inbetween time waiting for God to act marks this time. On the third day raised:

who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord (Rom. 1:4).

The resurrection inaugurated a whole new beginning, both setting the whole of creation back on track, and on a new track to the future. Nothing can be compared to that. The birth of a whole new world… and yet that new world still awaits the future, but along the way there are birth pangs that point to her arrival, and there is always a call for the people who have received the firstfruits of that era to both be signposts to that future and guides along the way.

It would be shallow to compare the lockdown that many are experiencing globally to the ‘inbetween day’ of Easter, so I will not go there. I simply want to suggest that the ultimate pattern of Easter is the source of our hope.

  • There is a before and an after. The after is not a return to what was before. Continuity is there – the same Jesus who went into the grave, is the Jesus who came out. But by the resurrection he becomes a ‘life-giving Spirit’.
  • Resurrection is an act of God, not an act of human will. To restore back something back to where it was might be possible through human will, but to lift it to a new level of life is beyond our ability. In Hong Kong there is some graffiti that reads: “There can be no return to normal because normal was the problem in the first place.” (‘Normal’ and whether it is a problem depends so much on where one stands in the pecking order of benefits!)
  • Henry Kissinger (former US secretary of state under Richard Nixon) has said that rulers must prepare now to transition to a post-coronavirus world order. We might not be rulers (as if!!) but as believers we are to herald a new day, indeed Paul suggests that our sight has to be of a ‘whole new creation’ and therefore our whole sight is different.

We will ride the storm of the coronavirus. There will be inevitable flare ups in the autumn / Fall season, but generally the globe will survive and the virus can be spoken of as a past event, but… this shutdown is not limited to a Saturday nor to the early/mid months of 2020. And let me change the language of ‘shutdown’ for a mo – this time of preparation, of ‘re-set’. We have just over 2 years of ‘re-set’. For I consider a far greater crisis will be here in 2022, not a virus but a combination of events / circumstances that together will present our world with a crisis of significant proportions.

There are three words interlocked in Scripture:

  • Glory
  • Suffering and the middle word
  • Time

The path (time) to glory is pain! How we respond en route is the challenge. The resurrection is the demonstration that Jesus was indeed faithful to the path and vision.

We are embarking on a pathway, one we have not walked on before, or not at this level of intensity and focus. The next two years for some will be ‘returned to normal’ and with a big ‘thank God’… for others it will be ‘cannot settle back to what has been called normal’, waiting and listening.

The reset is both a ‘reboot’ for the systems that have become totally locked up, a reset that at times our computers and devices need when the operating system cannot handle what has been loaded on to them… and a reset, being set again in the position where the Lord has for us, set with values from heaven.

I hear the sound of the silence contained in that phrase ‘and was buried’.

Easter comes

I love Easter time as it is such a good time to reflect. What a wonderfully ‘crazy’ message we have. The glory of God revealed in death… the end of an era, the answering to the confusions (that are present) within Scripture about violence, war and the like; the beginning of a new era and a whole new paradigm. No longer can life be defined by ‘being alive’ but by becoming a ‘life-giver’.

The current shut-downs offer such an opportunity. The sin of Israel of losing sight of the reason for her existence can so easily creep up on us. Easter puts down a marker that the way of life is to lay down one’s life for the sake of others. It is the denial of ‘me / church / *** first’.

I understand the shift of services to online, but Easter means we cannot make personal survival as the personal goal. It is very hard to make a ‘*** first’ and genuinely let let flow out to others. Once we declare ‘first’, words such as ‘second’, ‘third’ become all-but meaningless. Thanks be to heaven that Jesus did not enter Jerusalem with a ‘Jesus first’ approach, other than a ‘Jesus first to the cross on behalf of others’.

In the forced shifts I suggest so many aspects can be re-assessed. A reconnection with body of Christ (and in the light of Easter what an incredible analogy) as royal priesthood. If we are going to see the dehumanising (and therefore the work of demons) nationalistic ethno-centric voice of ‘*** first’, this reset gives us all a major opportunity to partner with the end of an era and the beginning of a new one.

Footnote: I use ‘*** first’ simply because we can miss it if we narrow down and name it with replacing the name of a country. Always easy to narrow things down so as we are excluded – life is never (thankfully) that easy.

Optimistic disruption

At the beginning of the year we either intensely or with some measure of focus pray regarding the coming year. This year we had paper on the floor, separate and together. Certain aspects gave us a personal context, particularly the beginning of our 12th year in Spain and a shift to Madrid as our main base. One aspect became very clear very quickly. This would be a very different year and one that would not be easy to plan. It would be a year of disruption.

Little did we know! A year of disruption – somewhat of an understatement! We have just finished 3 weeks of total isolation, other than 5 visits to the supermarket (and only 1 person per trip allowed, and to the nearest supermarket or a possible fine; and the glorious freedom of taking the rubbish to the communal bin – an all-of 40 metre round trip). And the lockdown is not going to end in the next few weeks, so straight away we will have been away from our Madrid apartment for at least a quarter of the year, and it could well prove to be much more than that. When we finally look back on 2020 I am sure it will be seen as the year of disruption.

What comes out of this year is so unknown, and for those who have to take huge decisions daily in response to the immediate knowing that such responses can set things in motion for years to come, grace and wisdom to them. [An aside here in Spain the press either covers favourably or with hostile reaction the response and how it differs from 2008. Then the bail outs were for the banks, the big institutions. This time round it is people-first. It has even been described (hostilely) as a damaging ideology of protecting the most vulnerable! Needless to say we are delighted.] Economy or people first… as I have often commented Jesus nailed that one very early on and it was part of the cross narrative. If it is not part of the narrative there is no resurrection, and at this time we need a resurrection not a resuscitation, nor a restoration.

Years ago I read an excellent book on Pentecost and it described it as an ‘irruption’ of God. This disruption – and in no way do I want to minimise it – can become a holy irruption. I think the path to the irruption is the important part. ‘Stay in Jerusalem until…’ was an essential part of the instructions to the 120. They were holed up, locked in, but found a purpose in the lockdown. Pentecost was a once off, but there are times in history that mark a season where there is a very significant echo from the sound of a previous era. And Pentecost – like creation for the language of Acts 2 echoes that of Genesis 1 – was a sound, a sound from heaven, that was responded to that then caused a subsequent attraction to that sound.

Personal and also corporate journeys are important… until. Personal – for many of us the ‘other side’ cannot be business as usual. It will be different. Corporate – hope those who tune in to the streaming of their favourite church service are enjoying it… but if we are parking things on the internet until ‘normal service is restored’ I don’t think we will find this disruption becoming an irruption of heaven. What can change surely needs to be one of the questions now being explored. How much can it change… There are opportunities for those who think outside the box during and post this disruption. At the economic realm if one believes in the invisible hand of the market one of the big shifts (and I should probably spell that without an ‘f’ in the word) is already the world of internet pornography. Difficult to oppose that development if one bows at the feet of the market… so surely we can do much better than that.

There is a corporate journey(s) at the global level. The way things are going in some places (and have been going for some time) is the increasing shutting down of the voice of the opposition, or the voice from perspectives that hold to account. The language of ‘fake media’ has paved the way for dictatorships that mark the end of an era; and in the case of Hungary already the possibility of imprisonment is aimed at the press. The shutting of borders and the ‘xxx first’ calls far from shutting down globalism is playing right into it. Where is the aid coming from for Europe? Where are the masks being flown in from for the USA? So maybe I should talk of three paths, a continual globalisation, a nationalistic ‘me-first’, and maybe one that is a fresh expression of serving humanity. Time will tell but if for now I write of two paths that are going to open up I am reminded of a certain Jewish figure who spoke of two paths in the context of political, economic and global turmoil. Two paths globally. I suspect two paths for the body of Christ, and again the same issues. Shaped institutionally, economically and survival-first. Or shaped by the release of those who have encountered the Spirit whose womb is where the new world springs from. [An aside, another aspect of the feminine of God is the Incarnation. It is no crude picture of the divine having intercourse with the young girl, Mary, but that both the womb of the young woman and the womb of the divine is where the new life begins – much seed thought there. This is also why I do not look to Mary to be the figure of the feminine of God but to the Spirit. Also with the three paths above on the global scene, two of them are driven from a patriarchial base – for sure we have seen misogyny as one of the core principalities being confronted in this extended season. Males cannot provide the ‘benign’ context… humanity is required for that to take place.]

For this disruption to become an irruption for the church, we have to shift from the concept that ‘the church is the body of Christ’ to ‘the body of Christ is the church’. That paradigm shift is almost as big as shifting from creating Jesus in the image of the God we want, to seeing God in the image of Jesus and discovering the God who can truly set us free. What if we applied the (paraphrased) words of Jesus – you will only know who this God is you talk about if you know me… what if we applied that also along these lines – you will only know what the church is when the body of Christ is manifest. A holy irruption is possible, but we have to move beyond parking things until!

So the beginning of the year indicated the difficulty in predicting and planning what would come, but here we are in the ‘waiting until’ phase. The forced disruption can be the doorway to the holy irruption.

The tallest mountain?

In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. (Isaiah 2).

Back in the day this was one of the proof texts that God would raise up the church in all her perfection and the peoples would stream in, hence restore the church to the biblical pattern and hey ho off we all go. And look – there it is ‘in the last days’. A nice one to tuck in to the armoury to show that restoration was the pattern – and how important we are!

Now with teaching on ‘x mountains of influence’ it becomes a Scripture to show the exaltation of the church mountain. (Mountains of influence being a ‘restorationism on steroids’, with a vision for the reconstructionism of the whole of society, sadly with an inevitable nationalism embedded within it.)

To push the Scripture to the millennium could at least make sense, but that whole system likewise is embedded in a nationalism (Jewish) that the opening pages, and all the ensuing pages, of the New Testament seem to put a very strong road block to journeying in that direction.

A few verses – and only a few – later we read that

He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples.They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.

It is interesting that for those who take the ‘in the last days the church…’ approach these verses don’t really feature… and when the reconstruction-type teaching is strongly propagated from the nation that has the most weapons of mass destruction, it kinda leaves a gap for me that I think would need one of the most creative bridges to cross!

No I don’t think there is going to be a ‘tallest mountain’, particularly when Jesus came to bring the mountains down.

Small and diverse

Let me start with a quote (as far as I am aware it is one of the few original ones I came up, but I am sure I have been inlfuenced from somewhere else / borrowed it or simply knicked it…)

The future is the multiplicity of the small and the richness of diversity.

The next big thing that God is doing… this year is the year of the breakthrough… or such pronouncements might just take place, but I suggest if it does we will either be disappointed or we will be very much settling for second-(or third-…) best. I do not think we should be looking for the next big thing, and indeed I do not think God wants to give us anything that might be labelled the new big thing.

The early church grew at a rate of 10% per decade. Not exactly too dramatic. Numbers never were the focus. Paul writing to the church in Corinth some 8 or so years after it had started never prayed that their numbers would increase, simply that their faith would, and if that happened they would no longer need his input. It seemed he thought that a church that could meet in one home in the city (want to estimate the numbers?) was enough to change city of some 250,000 people that was anything but a well-behaved city. (To act as a Corinthian was an insult that could be used to chastise someone for their behaviour.)

We want numbers for after all numbers have a voice all of their own. True but what kind of voice?

I have had the privilege these past few days of connecting cyber space wise with people who have a vision to see a billion people impacted in the next 10 years, to change culture through the presence of Jesus… from the bottom up. So encouraging cos like everyone else I am in touch with so few people. Maybe there is something going on that is at a deep bottom up, hidden level that could change the world we live in. So in spite of my annoyance at certain things that seem to shift in the wrong direction I need to make sure I invest more into what can rise than what needs to be restricted – and both are essential consequences of salt being salt.

Maybe though the biggest hindrance to what now needs to arise is that incessant desire for the big and powerful that can bring everything in its path to submission.

The multiplicity of the small – and so much of it will be ever so small. And the richness of diversity for surely there should be some kind of Scripture that suggests that the body is anything but uniform, that the eye cannot say…

I have been privileged to make some of the connections I have, but more importantly I need to have a peek at what little I have to contribute and get on with that. Maybe that is what God is asking of me. Could just be that old question of ‘what do you have in your hand’, ‘what do you have in your house’.

The tax collectors?

By this time a lot of men and women of doubtful reputation were hanging around Jesus, listening intently (Lk. 15: 1 The Messaage).
Now the tax collectorss and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus (NIV).

A little verse that we all know but Gayle showed this one to me yesterday and we saw it in a different light.

I think this lockdown is proving to be so inconvenient. We are going through a ‘reset’, as is always the case whenever one hears a ‘word’ we normally apply it to everyone else and every other situation, but as per every word it has to come back home. The reset has to be personal. To be reset is to be set again – back to some original purposes and get focused in there – that aspect is biting deep right now; and it can be a re-boot of the hard drive. OR BOTH. I am currently very agitated indeed so reading this verse did nothing to ‘unagitate’ me.

Those of doubtful reputation – thank God (in theory) for that includes me. But wait, the offence of the Gospel is not who the Gospel excludes but who it includes. The sinners, and for this we must not think evangelically for that is not the category that Luke was working with. ‘Sinners’ were the marginalised of society, those deemed not to be making a contribution (although defined religiously and outworked socially). OK I am still OK with that, but…

The tax collectors‘. Quick I must get the white paint (tippex) back out as I can’t be having that. Those who worked for the Imperial oppressors (and htat is not some hyped up assessment), so are wrongly aligned, and in the process line their own pockets through charging what they can.

That group really got under my skin. I mentioned in a previous post about (one of?) the riches people in the world who can squeeze everyone else out of business and has amassed another $5.5bn in wealth already this year, and done so through selling off shares just as the virus began to hit. In a reset this has really got under my skin (Gayle successfully pointed out that his name has come out of my mouth so many times over the past two days that I had to finally admit it had got right under my skin…). But surely rightly so? We are in a reset and there is no reboot there in sight. That really annoyed me. And what annoys me more, because I feel somewhat powerless, is that this happens when we are to be holding space for something new – so on our watch.

That last part leaves me very conflicted, and annoyed. But the verse. The marginalised and the ‘who?’… those who are aligned to the oppressing Imperial structures and if they continue in that vein their pockets will be further lined at many peoples’ expense.

But here in this verse they also are coming to listen to Jesus. Maybe my antagonism has silenced the voice of Jesus for these people. Ah well the reset seems to need to go deeper.

I have a little bit of work to do as a result of that verse. (Maybe a lot of work to do in the light of that little verse (!) as it also ties to some of the original purpose (re-set) of arriving in Spain relating to something God spoke so loudly to me. I remember to this day where I was, what direction I was facing and even what was in my pocket at that moment.) Seems we all have a say as to how much of a re-set will come through this current time. At times like this I would rather just complain, but hopefully there is too much at stake for me to fall back to that.

A re-set coming?

I made the mistake this morning of reading an aspect of what is taking place in the midst of this crisis. Tough when you have to look facts in the eye.

I read how the world’s richest person is some $5.5bn richer today than he was at the beginning of the year. We all know his company as being the supplier of books and all good things, while many of his employees will tell stories of their appalling work conditions. He also made a nice ‘generous’ donation into the current crisis. Money is only money but the Scriptures are so strong on their critique of the accumulation of the ‘m’ word.

The Sabbath re-set was in-built to the way of life. Weekly, 7-yearly and 50th year Sabbaths, although not always implemented were set in place to help facilitate a healthy society. Translating that from an ancient agrarian economy to our Western society would indeed be very challenging and shocking. A 50 year jubilee would probably come out as a 2 year cycle. Scripture is ‘stupidly’ radical.

I was glad to read the article though as it leaves me with the ongoing challenge of how do we contribute to change. We are at such a turning point in history (co-inciding with the ‘fourth turning’ in the cycles of four) and being a follower of Jesus holding to a view that our little lives have to point to a new world (and therefore a new world economy) and that how we live is the leverage point for the big picture. Yes, the ‘in’ but not ‘of’ the world scenario.

There are other articles that can be read that are using the ‘re-set’ word, that the next few weeks will hold the key to what kind of world comes through the other side of the crisis (and maybe we should be using the word ‘crises’ as this is not a health crisis alone, and not simply a financial one but something that is bringing to a sharp focus the crises of the past years – immigration, borders, globalisation vs. nationalism, ecological… and something hidden deep within it all a machoistic / misogynist culture that fights against the humanisation of one and all – hence something deeply demonic).

So many things in the balance – maybe the balanced see-saw is here now? My strong suspicion is post-this-crisis (there is a ‘post-‘?) there will be two worlds emerging. A few who make a 5.5bn increase in profits, and a majority who question where true justice is to be found. I maybe cannot make a difference to the 5.5bn group – though one of the strongest words I heard from the Lord a few weeks after moving to Spain was the challenge of learning how to ensure that world changed (a long story…) – I can though make a decision as to my direction. I just hope I am not too compromised.

In the valley

I have always veered on the side of ‘rebuke everything, don’t accept it, give it no room and be positive’. Jude (daughter) mocks me saying that as kids they were simply never allowed to be sick! I am glad for being that stubborn and equally glad that over the years literally many hundreds have found healing. One of the most unusual healings was a woman who kept looking at her hands. I was not sure what was causing her the amazement, then I found out that she was staring in amazement as she had for the first time finger prints. A remarkable sign, going beyond something physical – a restoration of identity.

As a convinced charismatic I am glad to push for healing and the intervention of heaven. There are many reasons for that – the Scriptures give an expectation for this; Paul – if his thorn in the flesh was some kind of physical impairment – pushed for intervention and a reversal UNTIL he heard God speak into the situation. That voice was so real he does not use a simple past tense but one that indicates what he heard is still audible when he wrote years later. He did not need to push forward to hear God say ‘pray for a reversal’. He went for the positive and only a word from heaven could cause him to let go of that. When there was a non-answer (twice) he pushed again. It was not ‘non-healing’ that stopped him praying, but a word from God. All the above helps me be ready to press for the intervention and not be put off when something does not shift as I wish.

However… and the however is not to cancel out the previous perspective but to add to it. In so pushing for the breakthrough we can miss out on the journey. God will be to us something during the process when there is no answer (as we wish) that he will not be when the answer (as we wish) comes. Here is the tension, if we so focus on the outcome we can miss out.

When we are through the situation God is our deliverer and thankfully there is a testimony. But when we are in it, we find a God who shows up in the midst of our inadequacy, who does not show up with the victorious ones, but alongside the conflicted, and sometimes despairing ones. We all handle those times of frustration differently. I know of those who will resort to sounding off with a good (or bad?) handful of expletives thrown in. For those people, they can discover a God who comes alongside – and this is not a theological perspective – and is happy not simply to listen to us but to swear alongside us too! The God we find in Jesus is REAL, and ‘moved into our neighbourhood’.

There is a testimony that we love to hear – the ‘God healed me, set me free’ kind of testimony. There is also the testimony that goes along the lines of ‘I am not through this, I am despairing, I am so frustrated, I don’t always feel good about myself… but I can tell you about an intimacy with the God who gets as frustrated as I do.’ A kind of paraphrase of Heb. 11, or a reflection of Psalm 23:

Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

God present in the valley not simply showing up when we are out of it. To be out is wonderful, but to find God in is permanent and humbling. One might just leave us knowing the acts of God, the other goes so much deeper.

Luke 21 – the pestilence

Perhaps I should not have been surprised but I saw a number of articles on the web tying together Jesus’ words in Luke 21: 11 concerning pestilence and the coronavirus. But NO!!!

It would be such a stretch to get to the idea that Jesus was prophesying the virus and thus indicating that we are in the ‘end times’. I even saw one post that said these they had expected these events to be in the first 31/2 years of the 7 year period of tribulation, but were happening now. WOW… (Where do these people get the time from to think all of that… read a little, and only a little history to see where these ideas come from.)

Before having a quick look at Luke 21 here is what I consider is the framework we have to be looking at. The Jewish ‘one-horizon’ view shifts to multiple horizons in the New Testament. The Jewish one horizon view was simply that God will through the Messiah intervene, subduing all his (and therefore Israel’s enemies) causing the great reversal to take place. (Some views had two Messiahs, others saw the intervention without a Messiah – the ‘Jewish’ view is really the Jewish views.)

There were inevitable unforeseen events by those who shared that view. We see that reflected in the road to Emmaus discourse. ‘Did you not understand that first the Son of Man must suffer…?’ being Jesus rhetorical question to the married couple. Fresh horizons had appeared and others were yet to appear. The one horizon was proving inaccurate, multiple horizons needed to be seen.

We might separate out the immediate horizons of the Cross, Burial, Resurrection and Pentecost or we can put them together. Together they effectively make the first horizon. Jesus inaugurated a new day post-his forty days in the wilderness, opening up his earthly ministry, and post-cross another 40 day period of transition to the post-Pentecost ministry of the body of Christ. So the first unseen horizon was that of Easter / Pentecost. Not surprising as a common Jewish view was that when the great reversal took place it would be marked by the resurrection of the dead and an outpouring of the Spirit.

(A sidenote the 40 day periods and the 40 year period from Jesus predictions in Luke 21 to the fall of Jerusalem are tied to the Exodus period to the entry to the land. Jesus beginning his 40 days with his baptism, his death being an ‘exodus’ and all paving the way for the entry to the land / lands.)

The second horizon was that of the fall of Jerusalem within a generation, and Jesus clearly prophesied that. (I also consider that Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2 is referring to this event.) Such a dramatic and traumatic end of an era. The religious centre, the hope for the nations destroyed, and it marks a major cutting off between Jewish believers in Jesus and Jewish non-believers in Jesus. The followers of Christ abandoned Jerusalem understanding that was exactly what Jesus instructed them to do, leaving behind many residents to the brutal reprisals of Rome, which included many punished with crucifixion.

The third horizon I consider lies future. The parousia of Jesus, the time of the resurrection, final judgement and such events. For me only the book of Revelation is written post-the Fall of Jerusalem (AD70), and it is not obsessed with prophesying events to come but with unveiling the reality of our warfare, of what we are asking to change every time we pray ‘let your kingdom (basileia) come’. The book and that ongoing disciples’ prayer is set in the context of the Empire (basileia) of Rome.

So to Jesus and his words in Luke 21. The immediate context is of the Temple that Jesus said would be utterly destroyed resulting in the question of ‘when will these things take place?’ (21:7). The time frame was future for them, but past for us. Into that time frame – the next 40 years from the time of speaking – Jesus spoke of great traumas and of famines and pestilences. The decades that followed culminating in the brutal assault of Jerusalem (66-70AD) with mass crucifixions, cannibalism inside the city, the appearance of false Messiahs etc., were horrendous. Horrendous within Israel and with a sharp focus on Jerusalem but also deeply traumatic in the wider Imperial world. 68AD saw the year of the four emperors, as civil war broke out, and there seems to be some allusion to that in Revelation with the mortal wound to the head of the beast, but the wonder from the people that the beast survived. (Babylon’s cry, and the tell-tell sign that any institution is embracing Babylon’s values, are that ‘we will survive’ and at any cost, that ‘we will always have children’ but in the process eats the life of the children.)

In Luke 21 Jesus speaks to ‘you‘, speaks of being brought before synagogues, and decisively about Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, and that they will need to flee from the city and from Judea, and that the wrath will come on ‘these people’. Everything is geo-, ethnic- and temporal related. Josephus and other contemporary writers bear out the horrendous nature of those years.

In that context the sign will be visible that the Son of Man will come in the clouds – words spoken by Jesus already to the High Priest that he would personally see that event. This is not some far off future reference, but takes up the Daniel 7 imagery of one like a son of Man coming to the ancient of Days. The kingdom of God is in his hands. The hope for the future is not in a holy place, nor a holy land but in the hands of Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified one, is the resurrected vindicated One. To believe that is the continual challenge for us at all times as we now live in the period of time between the second and third horizon, and for us, as for every post-AD70 generation the Revelation 4, 5 challenge remain central, where Jesus came to the One seated on the throne as only the Lamb of God was able to open the seals (human destiny).

So I guess it is no surprise given the above approach that I do not see any reference to the coronavirus in Scripture. Scripture is ever so helpful in not giving us the future, but in giving us a future hope that cannot be shaken.

Is the coronavirus a sign of the end times? For sure. It is a sign that we have been in the end times ever since Jesus poured out from on high the Spirit, that this whole world is groaning waiting for liberation from its bondage to decay. So it is a sign in a very general sense, but not in a specific way. God might well speak through the current events, and I am sure he is. What is he saying? Our God is always speaking, we might hear different things but they must all focus on his love for us and for the world, that he has not abandoned us… and therefore the call is there to love and not to abandon others. Let your kingdom come.

Clarifying: resetting the atmosphere

We had a short note today that said ‘now I get the concept of the façades’ word. In the light of that and the time we find ourselves in I thought I would put a few points down here that will make everything ever so clear (as if!!).

It was from a dream that indicated there were many influences that shaped public life as we now have it, and a time came when the inside of institutions were made visible, however in response to the situation believers sang (I do not use the word ‘worship’ in this context) a well known ‘worship’ song with the result that the façades all closed back up.

Here then are my comments.

How we respond at any given time is key. There is a time for all things said the writer of Ecclesiastes. What is right in one context is wrong in another. We see that very clearly when God says he hated the festivals and sacrifices – yet the people could have defended themselves with ‘and who told us to do this?’

In the dream it was singing, and as mentioned above singing can be worship but in the wrong context it is anything but worship. Worship is to live and act in a way that declares our faith that God is ‘worthy’. When the façades come up God is looking for our engagement not our resorting to singing. (Jo Storie put this so well with the need to ‘see’ what God is up to.)

I believe that God ‘rules’ but a) not by power but by love and b) there is a distribution of that rule with the body of Christ as absolutely the key. In the all-but one world government (past) of the Imperial world of Rome John presents his vision of the throne room of heaven (Rev. 4 and 5) in such a way that the readers / hearers had a huge choice to make: is rulership coming from Rome, or from heaven via a Lamb that has been slain who has given authority to those who follow the Lamb? We are in deception if we think the key to the future is a White House, a #10, a Moncloa, a Brussels or wherever. Important as those places are we will one day find that we have been in deception if that has been our belief and passion. Rather how the body of Christ responds is what shapes the future. I hold to that with a) the choice of ekklesia as the governmental word used to describe those people; b) the call to be a royal priesthood (exercising authority for change through laying down our rights); and c) the principle of seeds among the followers of Jesus relating to fruit in society.

Hence what are we to do now at this key time? To resort to the familiar (for example, sing ‘Jesus is Lord’) and not to see that we are in a major ‘leverage’ moment for change through our self-abandonning involvement will mean we miss this opportunity, maybe for a life-time.

The coronavirus crisis is exposing all kinds of issues (side note: corona = crown; there is currently a huge exposée of the royal family in Spain taking place at this time; one opposition party leader saying ‘to question the royalty is more lethal for Spain than than the corona virus’!!!). Personal issues such as ones of fear, self preservation, our values concerning the weak and vulnerable, health care for all or for the privileged; economic issues – goes without saying, but putting it in the biblical context there are ALWAYS major economic shifts when there is a spiritual shift; nationalistic issue with borders becoming racist legitimisers (the ‘Chinese’ virus!!!!). We should be thankful that Scripture has a relevant perspective into all the above and many other issues.

We are at a moment of RESET. Creation has had enough, give it all a REST so that we can get a reset. Creation always cries out and looks to those who are being fashioned into the image of Jesus to give a response. (Creation’s voice also being heard through the feminine – inevitable theologically as we are all from ‘mother’ earth… not gaia, but Genesis the book of origins makes this clear. The last voice on the streets of Madrid before the silence that speaks loudly right now was the voice of the International Day of Women. Wisdom clearly cries out.)

A reset means there is good news… if we are not one of the elite. That is how it was in Jesus’ day. There being neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, nor male and female. Good news if one was a Gentile, a slave, or female. Bad news (?) if one were Jew, free and male. Not really bad news, but solidly bad news if one wanted to hold on to privilege. But great news if willing to travel the path of repentance and lay down privilege. It cannot be any different today.

Most readers of this blog are from the privileged 5% of the world. There is a reset that can take place. Choices we – the privileged and those who are to be through whom the life (rulership) of Jesus the slain Lamb is to come – can and must make. Not ‘me first’, nor ‘my nation first’… but a prayer, a desire and action that allows the huge reset to take place. If the personal resets cannot take place, and we resort to the familiar…

The elements of privilege: that encompass gender, economics and faith / chosenness are being challenged at this time. It might not be easy to journey through the issues being presented but the path has to be trodden by those who refuse to live as elite. Once that is done there are corresponding choices we will make, but for sure we cannot simply join our voices to the former songs. There are songs at this time but they are the songs of creation.

OK maybe the above is clear?