Explorations in Theology

The series explores a theology that is human friendly! Jesus as the true human shows us who God is, and because of his consideration for us ('who are we, that God should make note of us?') defines who humanity was created to be. The nature of sin is to fall short of the glory of God. The glory of God as revealed in the truly human one - 'we beheld his glory full of grace and truth'. This volume is a foundation for the other volumes. And there are ZOOM groups available...
Volume 2 Significant Other and Volume 3 A Subversive Movement now also available!
El libro electrónico (en Español) también ya está disponible
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A coming together

Thanks for the comments on some of the previous posts. Knowing some of the people who read those posts I find it interesting that there seems to be those who are on the wilder end of the charismatic scene, those who wonderfully question the sanity of all that goes on in that scene… In other words quite a mix. So I was just wondering, also provoked by the call for the ‘rise of the Annas’ whether this is a sign of what is to come, a way ahead in the big scheme of things.

My background is sectarian (OK I own up). Sectarian is a bad word but if looked at sociologically virtually all protestant (and even more so evangelical) groups are sects (distinguisable from ‘cults’). They share the same big world view that other Christians do, simply they claim to represent it better, more faithfully. It was there in Jesus day, and Paul did well in that world – a Pharisee of the Pharisees! (Head people, anxiety-prone people as well as ‘king of the hill’ people probably find a good home within sects – just thought I would throw that encouragement in there.) Those of us who swapped the sacraments for the proper understanding of the ‘word’ excelled at it. That might be one reason that we love Paul better than we love Mary(!), and probably understand Paul better than he understood himself.

I hope I am less sectarian today than in yesteryear. I realise that the resurrected Jesus spent many a day teaching on the kingdom of God, and did not seem to cover it very systematically, no instruction seemed to be left as to how to handle an influx of unclean Gentiles, for example. The kingdom of God will come when we get our notes all stacked up just right… or maybe, when we stumble along, with a good dose of humility, defences down, and discover that outside our sectarian boxes are people on the same journey… and maybe we become a little surprised when we recognise that they too seem to have that same travelling companion, the one called Jesus of Nazareth.

Simeon. Thank God for the Simeons. Waiting, holding space. And amazingly he could see in a baby what he had been waiting for. That takes faith and maturity. Then passes in peace. A season over.

Anna. A season opening. It is hard to know (the English translations make a go of what is not too clear) what her timeline was, but we know that (culturally) she has been separated from her support, her protection. She has been sidelined, but had found a place in God in it all. She does not look to depart, in spite of her age. She looks for the outlet. Simeon spoke to God and within the family. Anna pushes it all out, out to whoever was looking for God’s intervention.

The rise of the Anna’s (never know if that should be Annas or Anna’s??). She speaks of the child. In our day what a disaster is on our hands, once we look beyond the four walls – whether they be the four walls of our week-by-week, or the four walls of our personal security. We look and need not some ‘redemption of Jerusalem’ but of the planet. Every day I take hope in the Incarnation and the resurrection. Easter took place in Jerusalem for the world. The Jews celebrate Passover with ‘we were in Egypt… next year Jerusalem’; we celebrate with ‘we were in Jerusalem… next year the world’. Yes we were there – when he died we died. Past tense. Visit Jerusalem should you wish… I prefer to follow Paul into Abraham’s inheritance, the promised world.

Worst scenario seems to me that God plunges into this great mess and the parousia takes place. After all it was at the ‘fullness of times’ the Incarnation took place; not the best of times, but when there was no hope for the world. That worst of scenarios is pretty good, but to be honest I would be disappointed. Can we not do better, after all the first ‘fullness of times’ was pre-cross. We are post-cross, and I don’t think we understand Paul (and the NT) better than he did when I suggest that because ‘he stripped all powers and made an open show of them’ and rose with ‘all authority in heaven and earth’ something globally, universally and forever actually changed in every sphere, heavenly and earthly on that day when he rose. So I would love for there to be something more. That there is hope in this ‘fullness’. Hope for the climate, the planet, justice in economies, maybe something that we might liken to ‘God is in their midst’, at least at some tangible level.

And the more I think is happening. No need to lose faith as a charismatic. More words of knowledge, healings, crazy miracles, angelic visitations, demonic confrontations, trips off to heaven (but keep them pretty quiet). I am so convinced of that. No need to make everyone else in our image, of insisting that we have the one and only inside track on what it is to be faithful to the revelation of God in Jesus. Just a question to myself. Do I think the God revealed in Jesus loved this planet? Could s/he be revealed in a tree-hugger. (Just questions to myself. No I am not replacing the Incarnation with a tree-hugger; but I think I also should not replace the Incarnation with a ‘bury my head in the sands and shout louder in tongues’ either. And I am much more in one camp than the other, though quite like trees!)

God is big. BIG. BIG. Present in all kinds of places and with all kinds of people

No need to change my beliefs. Wow… no reason to!! That would be crazy. Not simply because the world view I find in that book makes SENSE, but my experiences line up also. The convictions have been worked in me for good reason. But maybe I need to also walk with many new companions. I have a lot to learn from… and I have a witness to bring, a witness of the resurrection; as someone said to me recently to evangelise all I need is the right knowledge, to witness I need to both reflect on what I have seen and be a reflection of what I have seen. Anna saw something in that child and spoke… Simeon a sign of what was ending, Anna a sign of what was coming, and has been coming ever since. That trajectory continues.

I have my convictions of the parousia but could well be wrong (I won’t be the first person who combed the Scriptures and got that part wrong!! They managed that quite well also in Jesus’s own day!). The trajectory though seems to be OK and sure. God coming… and certainly resurrection in there, Simeon, Anna, Judas (pretty sure on that), my parents, Sue. Yes all those who have gone before. Are they all coming when we need the biggest bail out ever, or could it be different? Annas – we call. Whatever happens that day will herald a party beyond a party. A ‘fullness of times’.

2 thoughts on “A coming together

  1. I see two important points in this Martin:
    1. That we recognize Jesus/God when we see him. I have to say, looking at the state of the church as a whole, globally, that many church goers would not recognize and do not recognize Jesus. Since they claim to, that is important. Look at the Patriarch in Moscow endorsing Ukrainian genocide or the evangelicals in the USA who still, still support Trump and Putin. We need to know who we are looking for as both Simeon and Anna did. And we need to know when we meet him.

    2. That we put away nostalgia, a longing for the past (mythologized or real) and accept that it is time to move forward. The advent of Jesus in Anna’s life is a sign of transformation, of a change in times. We are in such a transformation now. You can ascribe it to God or climate change or politics or economics or whatever, but we are in a huge, transformative change. The tendency, especially for those who have been privileged in the past times (looking at you Euro ethnic white males and in a slightly lesser way – white females) is to look backward for a restoration of that time of assumed privilege as being the best, good, pure, to be aspired to (yup, that is what white supremacists hope for). If we could only restore something lost all would be right. Frequently then a context is created through a church organization or community or even a cult that reinforces that view. It provides a cocoon to shelter from the change. And the narrative becomes that this cocoon is right and good and must be embraced by all. The transformation becomes the forced or unforced compliance and recognition by the rest of this world that the cocoon is the only transformation needed.

    But the transformation is for all of us. Even those of us sheltering in historic regimes of privilege or nests of nostalgia. Anna saw that. She was already marginalized so the nests of nostalgia were not attractive to her. Why return to that which offers so little? To follow the the Annas is to look ahead, see the new coming and to declare that. It may be the tree-hugger who proclaims that planting trees and reforesting degraded landscapes offers many benefits for biodiversity and against climate change. It may be the scientist working on better, more environmental batteries so we can finally get off of fossil fuels and seek life rather than death. It may be the urban planner (my students!) who looks ahead, sees the risks to the lives of those living in the city and plans to mitigate the risks and adapt to climate weather extremes. All of those people are looking ahead, searching for a good transformation, one that brings peace and life to all of us and the earth. Yes, we can learn much from those people.

    Perhaps they have recognized Jesus when so many of us have not.

    1. Thanks Ann. Recognising Jesus. Not ‘dressed’ like us (me); are we at all being conformed to the image of Jesus… or are we creating a Jesus after our own image / likeness?

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