Into the mess we go

Last post of 2021

Anyone who reads these posts on a regular basis will realise that I pretend that I am a simple imbiber of truth and then write about it… which being translated is I am a biased person who ignores any material that disagrees with my viewpoint! And if anyone reads between the lines of my posts you will also realise that I think most of us live that way.

A while back we had in our home for a few days, a Brexiteer, an advocate that humanity’s ability to create money out of nothing was reflective of us being created in the image of God, who viewed ‘woke culture’ as being negative, that ‘BLM’… Get the picture? Such a biased person, I think to myself!!! Yet, how good it was. Someone who on most of those key points would take a diametrically opposing position to my own. It was so good because when in the same space for a few days there are two options, argue and fall out… or listen.

We all operate with a map that helps us understand the territory, but the map is not the territory. The map simplifies things, and in so doing helps us navigate; but the map is not the real world, the territory is.

I have recently posted on same-sex issues and a response to that. In making a shift over the past years I have sought to listen to stories; I am well aware that there are stories to be told on both sides of the divide; stories in themselves cannot dictate how we should respond, but they help us make adjustments to the map, for they put us in touch with the territory. The danger is that the stories we select we think tell the whole story, that they map out the entire territory. They do not, and there will be days when we walk the territory that the map does not help us.

The Christian world operates by a map, a map that simplifies so much. I have commented in the past that Jesus who taught post-resurrection to the disciples about the kingdom of God clearly either did not do a good job, or what he taught (and maybe more important to for us to understand: what he omitted) exposed that we are not doing a good job when we have all the answers.

Questions. Questions often come when we meet situations we did not expect, or they encroach on our world uninvited. Questions. Where are you Adam? The inability to really answer that question meant he had no idea where God was: and there are two stories told since then as to where God positioned Godself – one told incarnationally by Jesus, and one that fuelled a lot of division. If Adam (male and female) had understood where they were and where God was the original temptation would have held no power at all. Adam, made in the image of God, stoops to eat some fruit to be like God! That was an incredible ‘falling short of the glory of God’, the glory that was present in their humanity. Failing to be human, shuts down questions.

That original temptation and Christendom line up. Move over, I am coming to the centre, being the strap line for both. A view of God, a God of power (true but not the essence of God), a God we can be like, one we can represent. Defending God… or defending the god that we believe is God.

I have been reading Paul Kingsnorth’s material on why he has come down on the side of being a non-vaxxer and an advocate for that position. ( – and two subsequent posts.) He rightly exposes the hostility and division that is present, the setting up of an ugly divide (I think most of his statistics he quotes are highly suspect… comparing like with not like, but this does not nullify what he is saying.) In it he also infers a regrettable loss of the shaping of the world that Christendom gave the West. Those days have gone, and are not coming back… thank God!

I, like many, wrote of the great re-set that was signified by the COVID-19 phenomenon, and have to look painfully at the lack of reset to the economic world. Far from being reset it has accelerated in the woeful direction of the ever-widening gap. Sad that those who are pro ‘God’s law for society’ (theonomists) don’t critique their hopes with a healthy does of true reset – Jubilee. Given that there are aspects where there has not been a reset I am torn. I could be persuaded to say – we need more to truly reset things… But that I do not hold to. The reset has gone as far as it can. An exposure of what is there is visible, and in part Kingsnorth’s articles are saying that.

Jesus came at the ‘fullness of times’, not I believe as some (past) have suggested, the time of global communication, roadways etc., but in the context of Galatians and the hostile powers (which included the law!) the fullness of times was the time when the captivity to powers had reached their peak. It was then that Jesus came.

Maybe, maybe… and again a maybe. Maybe the reset is allowing a re-evaluation of what is present. Powers that divide, that sow seeds of dehumanisation. The book of Revelation remains ever so pertinent, the beast receives a voice. The voice might be human but the beast is non-human and anti-all-things-human.

The powers might be coming to a peak. At such a time there can be a manifestation, a revelation of glory, glory being a description of what it means to be truly human.

We can resist mess by bringing all people to our side of the table. Or we an cohabit the same space and listen. If, I as a three-times vaccinated person, and pro-vaccination it is not because it is the godly way to go. Life is a compromise (look at Paul in Romans, the theological text-book to read about compromise!). There can be good reasons for, and there can be good reasons against a given position. Governments have some hard decisions to make, but we do not need to jump on a conspiracy to shape the map we use to journey on the territory.

We have entered new territory. The vaccine issue might be one sign of that. However, for us as believers we have to see beyond the simple right / wrong judgement (I think there might be something early on in the Bible about that being a real mistaken path?)

Mess is here. Dialogue needs to be companion for us all. Jesus is coming again to teach us about the kingdom of God. We will have so few notes from what he teaches. We will hit situations that we don’t know how to respond to. We will have trances that we think will be simply a test to hold to the proven buy history to be the right response, only to discover that God has moved on. And yes, I mean that last sentence (nothing to do with God ‘growing up’, or ‘changing a set of beliefs’, but everything to do with where we have set up camp.)

We will continue to use maps. Maps simplify. They can find the statistics that are needed to prove the rightness of the map; the stories will underline the grid I use. But the territory is the territory… and it is messy.

Who would want to be like God? S/he is where we are, hence the tarnishing of reputation that takes place. There comes a time though when, for the future of the planet, God moves on and invites us to move position. These are not absolutes, as in now step here as this is where the TRUTH is. The movement is incremental. Hence ‘let’s just go back to normal’ is not acceptable. Let’s stumble forward, get our feet dirty.

And as a footnote: the mark of the beast is something much more sinister than a vaccine chip. More subtle and more damaging. Speaking with a human voice… yet listen to the language for the voice dehumanises.

Hard push

Starting February I am planning on starting two groups on book #1 Humanising the Divine, so here comes the hard sell!

If numbers are sufficient I will have a day-time group and also an evening group (UK times).

I am aiming for Wednesday February 2nd 10.30am and Wednesday February 2nd 8.00pm as the start dates. We will use the book but I will give some background that is not present in the book: reading the Bible as historic narrative; reading with Exile as key OT time, and the Jewish Wars of 66-70 as a major horizon that came into view.

At this stage I should pull out some reviews, so pulling two by random I have a review related to book#1:

Disappointed by the last chapter

and one on book#3:

Did not break any new ground.

However, what those reviews do not reveal is my clever strategy – did you note there were no comments on Books #2 and #4? You see you have got to read book 1 to be able to move on to book 2, and likewise book 3 to grasp book 4. Those – if I were to pull out the reviews, even by random would show that they were amazing.

OK long story short, my point is that there are some who really valued the books others not so much. All a bit irrelevant to me. They are not written at an intellectual level (a quick check on the author’s name will reveal that), are aimed at helping us (read ‘you’) think through your own conclusions, with no need to agree with me. Indeed joining one of the zoom groups only requires complying with two rules: you do not assume I am right on everything I write or suggest, and that you also do not assume all your perspectives are correct.

Irrespective of the reviews – good, bad or indifferent – I would love to have you join me. Send me an email with the group you would like to join.

Happy Christmas

Whether it was the 25th or not seems irrelevant. The incarnation, Emmanuel, God with us: almost too good to be true, but the investment (understatement) of God into creation opens a future that takes away all the limitations. I like that it is a week before our new year… a kind of breathe in and then breathe out as we hit that Jan. 1 date.

Here are a few of my Christmas texts:

Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man; and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim, and a sword flaming and turning to guard the way to the tree of life (Gen. 3:23,24).

The Adam (male and female) leave the original temple travelling Eastward. God also leaves the original temple, the place where they could hear ‘the sound of the presence of God in the evening hour’. His/ her sound now muffled but never silent outside that original temple.

Then he brought me to the gate, the gate facing east. And there, the glory of the God of Israel was coming from the east; the sound was like the sound of mighty waters; and the earth shone with his glory (Ezek. 43:1,2).

Glory returning… manifest in the humanity of Jesus… manifest in a vulnerable baby. But a shining earth.

Then he brought me back to the entrance of the temple; there, water was flowing from below the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east); and the water was flowing down from below the south end of the threshold of the temple, south of the altar (Ezek. 47:1).

Water leaving the temple… the temple is not the goal, the ‘wherever the river goes’ until…

Wherever the river goes, every living creature that swarms will live, and there will be very many fish, once these waters reach there. It will become fresh; and everything will live where the river goes… On the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing (Ezek. 47:9, 12).

Healing leaves… for the nations.

Our neighbourhood

Unbelievably it is 3 years ago that we were able to get an apartment in Madrid. Three whole years. I was looking at the picture that is on my FaceBook page (the page I ‘never’ look at) and here follows a little explanation (Plaza San Martin). Since 2012 we have always stayed (AirBnB) on that side of Madrid, nearly always in the ‘Lavapies’ barrio, at the bottom of the hill it (literally) means the place of washing feet. It has always been a place that has drawn the immigrants (seems appropriate as that is who we are to Madrid and to Spain), a challenging place where drugs are easily available, the drugs scene run in the main by Chinese mafia with foot soldiers often drawn from the African community. Since 2012 until 2018 we have (all-but) prayer walked every street of the barrio. Gentrification is setting in – the good side it can ‘lift’ a community, the down side of course is that people are squeezed out. We have tried to use the apartment as gift when we are not there, and I am always amazed at how within our hands there will always be something we can do that is small but sows into a future. The ultimate small is the ‘container’ for glory in the Bethlehem context that we mark at this time of year.

Land is interesting. It is the container for the corporate memory, hence can resist renewal or can be very open. Lavapies… a great history.

Quite a crowd, with the photograph taken in 1977 and of a funeral cortege in our area. In January, seemingly in order to provoke a reaction so that the military would have to step in and reverse the democratic process post-Franco, three gunmen entered a lawyers’ office and killed five of those present. However, it appears that the desired result did not take place. On the day of the funeral the response called for from those who identified with the victims was one of responding in silence and not to participate in any violence. As can be seen a crowd of some 100,000 gathered, without any physical retaliation. It is said that rather than reverse the democratic process it was a major catalyst in moving it forward.

Right in the centre of the area (Anton Martin) is this memorial to that event. The ‘hug’ says it all, and at the top of the plaque is a quote:

If the echo of their voice weakens, we will perish.

This is our area, and each time we walk past that memorial it is indeed a memory provoker. Beyond our memory that land has a record of it.

(Image by Tulimori – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

How many places are there that we can stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before, those who had faith and those who did not, but they knew somehow that their responses were sowing for a future. Add to that a true apostolic vision, marked by long term patience aligned to consistent direction, and I am sure there are many geographic situations that are waiting for us nobodies to connect with.

Through the door

A reflection on 21-12

I am sure you all recognised the formula above the title… Something to do with the fraction of incident light reflected or transmitted. Glad I got that across. Dec. 21 (21/12 for us Europeans) is always an interesting date, shortest day in the northern hemisphere, date in 2005 when a group of friends ended in St Peter’s Sq. Rome at the end of a momentous walk from the UK, and for me a reminder each year. There was an event that I was sure would take place on Dec. 12 and would be a sign of the rise of a new apostolic wave. The event did not take place!!! OUCH! When that happens it is always disappointing, but somehow I was convinced I wasn’t wrong though all the evidence pointed that way. Long story… short version… I woke a couple of days later with the conviction that what I expected would take place on the mirror image of 12 (on the 21st) and would take place between 10.30 and 12.00 (Central European Time). Great when it took place right in that time gap. It marked in 2005 the beginning for me a realisation that what was to be expected would look almost like the reverse, but in reality if we learned how to see differently (mirror views?) we would be better prepared. [Maybe if I understood the formula in the image above the title that would have helped me? Or more likely if I learned how to be more reflective I might learn a bit quicker?] So here we are, soon to come to 2022, so a few reflections on this day, reflections that look forward.

A challenging end of year. I have been asked recently on a number of occasions to repeat, clarify or expand what I had suggested regarding the coming year. So here goes!

I suggested that a) 2021 would be a year when there would be some wiping of brows and a response of ‘we’re through that and at last we can get things back to where they were’, but that would prove to be a false hope and leave people disappointed just when they thought we were out the other side of the difficulties. And with regard to b) 2022 that we would encounter a number of setbacks that might not in themselves be enormous and manageable but stacked up they would prove to be of a greater challenge than the (COVID related) pressures of 2021.

A few notes first:

  • Although I do not believe God is outside of time, s/he does not turn the calendar over month by month. Nevertheless because we live with a sense of ‘new day’, ‘new month’, ‘new year’ God communicates into our world, hence there is validity in talking of ‘2021’, ‘2022’ etc.
  • Perhaps though we are better to see a group of months or years belonging to a season, and perhaps it is better to grasp these years as part of a season, rather than splitting them up to tightly.
  • Individuals might experience something very different to someone else, in the words of Scripture there can be no rain across the area but rain comes to one field in spite of the drought (or vice versa).
  • Nothing communicated concerning the future is to be a straight-jacket or taken as deterministic. Great trauma was predicted for Israel by Jesus, but he called his disciples to lift their eyes and avoid being embroiled in the trouble themselves.
  • And finally, the somewhat tongue-in-cheek yet serious post I wrote on there being a broad way that leads to life indicates that we should not think of only one narrow option being there before us. Is there a right way? Probably a way that is more right than the others, but God goes where we go, our task is the relationship with God and the trust that God is with us. We can miss opportunities but the other side of our choice we continue with a God who is there to maximise what can come out of that choice.

I find the end of this year interesting. Throughout the COVID there have always been words such as ‘reset’, with the emphasis on a global reset. I hope some things have been reset but there are also many aspects, particularly in the economic realm that have accelerated in the direction they were moving in before. [And economics is the barometer of spiritual shift.] Maybe there is a continuation of what has come through COVID as we have not really responded to the reset? Or maybe enough has been reset that we can continue with the changes?

And who is the ‘we’? Well for me the body of Christ is responsible for the world, so there might be a big bad ‘we’ out there, but there is often an irresponsible ‘we’ in here… and inside that ‘we’ there is an ‘I’… so moving along very quickly!

I see the end of the year like a door that we pass through, and it is not too pleasant, with some of the greatest growth in daily infections being recorded, with the threat of lockdowns and increased restrictions. The door kind of indicates that what is the other side is not without its serious threat… but!

I still see a major battle concerning how we are going to be oriented. If we hold on to a hope that the past will simply return and we can get back to normal this will certainly not contribute to the future coming into place with ease, but will only prolong the delay and the trouble. Within it for those who, even without knowing what to do practically, have been inwardly asking and desiring whatever alignments to come into place, will find amazing heavenly help to take them there.

Some of the signs for the fresh alignments will have been / will be that there will not simply be new alignments but ones from the past will come back round but in a new setting; and that those alignments will in some way be a tool to open the ancient pathways. Ancient trade routes, ancient practices, ancient values, practices and wisdom, seem to be necessary to be uncovered.

And the future will also be signed there… situations that press their uncomfortable presence right inside the boundaries of one’s beliefs, one’s comfort zone… pressing in without our prior invite! The future cannot be seen through projection, it will be seen first distorted / mirror imaged before being seen clearly. It though has to be welcomed, the mess of it before it it understood. I am not talking about naively receiving whatever, but what has been / will be pressing right in on pre-set boundaries seems to be one of the main marking elements that this belongs to the future. (For some time I have been suggesting that the future is breaking in and it is messy. It is not coming with agreement by one and all, so consensus will not help us as an arbitrator in this.)

2022 then I see as coming in announcing itself with disruptions to the normal. The first few months being bumpy then with, at first a number of rumours that seem (phew!) to go away but (false phew earlier!) only for either what was rumoured or something akin to those rumours beginning to align, with the result that corporate bodies do not know quite how to respond. In the economic world incredible swings in very short periods. We are told to pray for governing authorities but we are not told to put our faith in them! That certainly would never have been the case in Paul’s days, with many of the apparent positive things stated being incredibly ironic statements…

The big corporate world of government / finance is not, for most of us, our companion, so what about 2022 and ourselves personally?

I guess I see it swinging in two directions. End of year door is here. I like doorways for how we go through them kinda determines what we step into. If we continue with the hope and prayer that we get a return to normal I consider we are on a wrong trajectory. Although chronologically we enter the future from where we are, I think the future arrives rather than we enter it, it comes to us… if we welcome it, make space for it; otherwise time is simply cyclical, reflective of dear Mr Ecclesiastes and ‘there is nothing new under the sun’ perspective. There are new things… new things to enter my life, and indeed to enter the world.

Yes the end of the year is an annoyance. ‘Here we go again’ with shutdown threats etc., new variant(s)… back to where we were, but not back to where I want it!

However, I am optimistic. For those who are allowing the inconvenient pressures to encroach and even ride rough shod over their nicely drawn boundaries I do believe a year ahead is one of opportunities. Doors, not one but multiple opening. No need to panic as to which to go through. If they present themselves simultaneously choose one. The others are not about to disappear and be lost. Even if they disappear for you they will remain open to someone else. Partnering, laughing together.

Quick answers to new burdens. I see an acceleration in responses. There is an unlocking of blockages to the river of life, and we should expect the waters of life to be flowing into areas where we thought the river does not go. ‘Wherever it goes it brings life’. Mirror imaging gives us sight also backwards… I have been struck by the invisibility of God when trudging forward. But looking back? God left Eden – that is a backward view. Only seen much later by the couple on the road to Emmaus. In one sense God has always been where we will discover his / her Presence to be but we have to go there to discover that.

A year of frustration, and year of ‘no not more of this’ and a year of opportunity, through entering the messy path that is the other side of this door. A walk in the mud is not too bad! There is a lot to see on the path.

No need to understand the formulas. The formulas might predict what could / should happen. Formulas are not enough.

A very smart post

From time to time I read a post that is equally smart as mine are… what an arrogant statement I hear you say, but read on… and I often read posts that are way smarter than mine. (From time to time probably means inside my little head.) Here is one that is way smarter than one I could write by Tim Suttle who pastors a church in Kansas, USA.

A couple of quotes in there, one from Stanley Hauerwas that was a bit of reminder to me:

Anytime you think you need to protect God, you can be sure that you are worshipping an idol.

Then in the article itself he critiques the use of the word ‘deconstruction’, simply suggesting that

Deconstruction, in the popular sense of that word, should be a normal aspect of growth toward maturity. In a less insecure era we would just call it: discipleship.

I delegate to you

Delegated... or Distributed?

Delegation… Not always bad, certainly a lot better than holding it all to myself. But sometimes we have to go beyond delegation and then the dangers arise, for we enter the world of ‘oh no I have lost (quality) control’.

The next day Moses sat as judge for the people, while the people stood around him from morning until evening. When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said, “What is this that you are doing for the people? Why do you sit alone, while all the people stand around you from morning until evening?”… Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “What you are doing is not good. You will surely wear yourself out… You should also look for able men among all the people, men who fear God, are trustworthy, and hate dishonest gain; set such men over them as officers over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens… Let them sit as judges for the people at all times; let them bring every important case to you, but decide every minor case themselves. So it will be easier for you, and they will bear the burden with you. If you do this, and God so commands you, then you will be able to endure, and all these people will go to their home in peace.” (Exod. 18:13-26).

Good practical advice, delegate the work load to competent people, maintain the quality control… maintain the centre also?

Delegated authority, and a component part of many organisations, understandably so.

Jethro’s advice comes from someone who is outside the community that has travelled and is pre-New Testament. Maybe the New Testament takes it a level further, beyond delegated authority to distributed authority?

‘All authority’ was given to Jesus and that authority is at a very serious level distributed to those who ‘go’. Distributed with all the possibilities of it being abused (the post before this one).

At the ‘last supper’ Jesus distributed the bread and wine as a symbol (sign – contains / draws the reality it points to into the situation) and invited all to take. There is an implication in it that the answer to where now is Jesus has to be wherever anyone who took that bread and wine has gone. There was a distribution of authority from Jesus to the community. Surely that is behind the ‘whose sins you forgive will be forgiven’ (Jn. 20:23). Strange that that is a Scripture that is harder to swallow while ‘touch not the Lord’s anointed’ is fairly easy to quote.

On the day of Pentecost (a ‘new’ creation day, complete with day, wind, sound, speech) the Spirit comes to all equally at the same time. There was no order of gift (first Peter, on this rock) and then he could pass the Spirit on to some others who passed the Spirit on… The tongues of fire were distributed to one and all equally. [And a challenging day, for they spoke, presumably to speak into the chaos rather than create a whole lot more chaos?]

If I just take a little aside to at least put out there my wisdom that I could offer at this point to the God of all creation. Delegation would work better. Check out how we behave, take it back if the behaviour is bad, hire and fire, make sure it all matches up to the standard required. And I offer a humble observation we might not have created the mess we have.

However, God seems to work through distribution much more than delegation. S/he goes where we go; the abuse tarnishes his / her character. (Pronouns do I use a plural? Maybe OK if our Trinitarianism is close to Tritheism… not settled on this yet.)

Distributed authority can always be misused; it also leaves an awesome responsibility with us. God will go where I go, standing behind what I do and say. I can evangelise but fail to witness, fail to testify to who God is. I can say – don’t look at me look at Jesus; Paul said follow me as I follow Jesus (and by implication, at least my implication, and kick me up the proverbial where I do not).

Ownership does not stack up. In the New Testament there were no streams, the apostles / apostolic teams did not own churches. There might have been relational priorities, but no ownership. The apostolic distributed what had been granted to them, and in that distribution they declared that all ministries were ‘servants’ of the body; they belonged to the body, not vice-versa.

In this next messy phase (and very aware of this in this season between 12/12 and 21/12 for personal reasons) apostles rising who will be faceless, working in… God knows where! Not owning, many not visible, but a trademark will be much more distribution than delegation. Delegation produces what can be replicated and predicted. Distribution what can be multiplied, and even like a virus mutate (for good and bad) and is certainly less predictable.

2022 beckons. Something is bubbling!

BIG effect

All authority - big responsibility

We are in touch with a number of situations where health is being threatened, ‘accidents’ seem to happen too often.

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

Matt. 28:18.

Those are strong words… not a lot of authority, nor more authority than anyone else / any other power. ALL authority. The context indicates that what follows, at some level at least, that the authority is with those who go. [An aside – probably more we go (and by this a term more than geography is meant… Peter went to Cornelius, not vice versa) the more authority.] Authority – the challenge is what do we do with it?

If, as parents, you were to end up living opposite an active group that targeted your family that would be a challenge. BUT if one were to teach and act that the one in you was greater, and that we bless anyone that curses us, the result would be that your family would actually become more mature. The intended curse would prove to be a blessing!

However, if as parents, you were to talk down your kids achievements, and always be on their backs the effect on them would be ever so negative. They would need to be set free from that – from your actions. You, as nice beautiful Christians… and a anti-Christian group in opposition. One would definitely cause a bondage, the other could even turn round to be a blessing. The difference?

The level of (relational) authority.

We affect one another. Many times we have seen people healed physically once we have broken the spirit of jealousy that has come against them from with the household of God.

Offences will come. Betrayals take place. That is life. I love the phrase in Paul that ‘it was on the night he was betrayed that he took bread…’ What a context. How we respond to offences and betrayals is important. But if we are unawares those ‘curses’ can really stand.

Pray for those who curse us. Take the low path, but be careful about making an apology simply to bring about peace, for such apology might not bring freedom; an apology that is not thought through can simply re-enforce the authority of those that have cursed us. If so, it will not bring freedom but strengthen the hold.

Time for breakthroughs. Contributions from both ‘sides’ of the equation. Slow, ever so slow to criticise. ‘Are you for us or for our enemy?’ kind of makes sense, but ‘Are you for me or for those (brothers / sisters) who take a different view?’ really does not cut it. Clarity of praying blessing, not responding with self-justification.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see the ALL authority releasing an increasing level of blessing, and pushing back the curses that seem to be so prevalent.

Want to join?

A heads up:

In the new year I am inviting anyone who wishes to come join me on a zoom link that will work our way through the first book I have written ‘Humanising the Divine’. No need to be smart (I am hosting!) and I will cover a little bit more than just what is in the book, so some material on how the Bible can (should: my bias!) be read as narrative and in its history; in the light of that a bit of material on the history that Jesus entered into; the unlikelihood that the message from an obscure part of a world-dominated landscape should ever have gained traction.

Honestly, no need to be smart / theological / no need to have read the Bible through forward and backwards… no need to agree with me… but I think it will be pretty good!

My plan would be to start in February. If interested it will help me if you simply drop me a line, saying ‘Interested, Mondays work for me at 12:30(UK time) and also Thursdays at 8.00pm’… or whatever days / times work – after all I would never want to put words in your mouth / email!!!

Email Martin

Big people and small vision

Probably the wrong title

I was involved in hosting a small group on zoom last night where, with our combined wisdom and knowledge of everything important, we took on a look at Luke and his political emphasis, with a ‘so what does this mean?’ kind of tentative conclusions. I enjoyed and benefitted from it, though cannot speak for the others who were involved.

Before my very clever post for today, just a note that when we use the word ‘political’ in the context of above / the Bible we are not thinking of political party, nor of focusing the word into politics as we know it today – national, regional or local. It really is the whole of a contribution to how society is and interrelates. In the context of Luke (and so of Paul) it is seeking to discover the vision they had to see a one-world dominating system be transformed into a society where one and all can prosper in their humanity.

The title of the post? Yes… seems that’s the way round we get it. Only the gifted will prosper, and the vision extends to… but never extends to the whole world being transformed, or at least the whole world being transformed through the honouring of the other, the promotion of ‘love your neighbour’. No I am not talking of the ‘social gospel’ but of the political gospel that proclaims a re-ordering of the whole world, through a core who are living from heaven, those who are ‘like the wind’, unpredictable.

I am convinced the title is wrong. It should be something like crazy, totally unrealistic, are you really out of your mind, level of vision, and who do you think you are. Are you serious? Maybe your much learning has driven you crazy (that was addressed to Paul, not the rest of us!!)…?

I cannot read the NT without thinking, hold on a minute I am not sure I can go there. Certainly I don’t think someone could make it up, or if was made up it would never have legs to travel anywhere. It really blows a hole in the whole pessimism that so often the eschatologies we grew up with / read books on. Seems rather than a message of antiChrist coming in to Christ’s space, we really have Jesus as Messiah came into antiChrist’s space. I think a little better / a lot better approach.

And then it is small people. Now I can breathe. Me / you. And the whole of life is political – I sow where I want the world to go… How I treat the guy I met on the street this morning sleeping in his cardboard box, who does not know where he came from – Russia or Ukraine he told me. What can I do? Small people, like me, feel disempowered as we do not know what to do. But maybe I can start with ‘humanising’ him. Political.

In the hearing of all the people he said to the disciples, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honour at banquets. They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”

He looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasury; he also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. He said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on.”

When some [Matthew indicates this at least includes the disciples] were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, he said, “As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.”

Luke 20… 21, with comments and emphasis added.

What a passage! Take out the chapter division and here we have a few interesting developments:

  • Religious leaders, who (by default / design) devour widows’ houses.
  • He also saw a poor widow.
  • The impressive temple – occupying around 1/4 of the land that made up the city of Jerusalem, and even among the elite of Rome it was marked as being full of splendour and glory.
  • A remarkable prophecy!

I actually consider that the prophetic was released by what Jesus saw, released by the widow’s act. To prophesy the end of Jerusalem as was might have been expected. John the Baptist was certainly on track with that, the High Priest was worried about that, after the time of Jesus, the historian Josephus was well aware that this was a distinct possibility… but not one stone on another? That really pushed it, but here it is ‘adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God‘ and those beautiful stones were going to be totally dislocated.

We love to be in the know! Making a prophetic act of ‘I will put my 2 coins in here as a sign and then make my declaration’ cos I know what I am doing. Or as per the widow, probably not even thinking for a minute that her act was significant, innocuous, small… Small people, clueless people. Unknowingly political.

A little footnote… these scribes were those were ‘loving honour at the banquets‘ (deipnon: same word Lord’s Supper, also the banquet meals to honour the empire in the Imperial world of Rome, etc) . Banquets were a big part of holding the Empire together. Who one invited and where they were seated was really important. By so doing you were showing your allegiance to the way things were. Contrast, Jesus’ instruction to invite those who cannot invite you back, that instruction was hugely political and disruptive to society’s status quo; or James’ instruction not to give the person with the rich clothes the best seat – no he is not thinking the ‘best pew’, or sit near the elders!!! It is a meal setting. The Lord’s Supper, so political! And when it was not expressing something that was anti-Imperial-order Paul said ‘in the following (your behaviour when you eat together) I can give you no praise at all’. When you eat, you proclaim the Lord’s death till he come… death of all imperial power and a proclamation of one’s non-allegiance to it. Till he come, the true Prince of Peace.