An intense season

Yesterday I put out one of our ‘irregular newsletters’ to bring those interested more up to date with where we are at and what we are up to. Inevitably there were some perspectives in there that are personal viewpoints on the wider context, the wider context of both the ‘church’ and the world. Any such viewpoints are ‘in part’, never the whole picture.

It is always possible to say ‘it is a new day’ as the Lord makes all things new on a VERY regular basis, but it is also easy to assume that a new day will give us what we were longing for yesterday. Perhaps it is a new day, but I consider it might be better to look at the season that is here. Seasons can be broken down into smaller units, but it appears to me that there is a prolonged season here currently, one that probably spans 20 years, from 2020 to 2040. 2020, helpfully suggested that it would be a year of sight, and sight is not seen by all for Jesus said ‘let those who have eyes see’. We can proclaim sight and be accurate about that, but then fail to see it. We can have a mouth but not have eyes. (Now I am in danger of assuming I have sight,as Jesus advised the Pharisees that it might be better not to claim to have sight – otherwise ‘our guilt remains’…)

2020 was indeed a year of great sight… the pandemic changed so much and was globally visible.

Now the intensity is ramping up, with hierarchical leadership being chopped down. Many years ago I heard Tom Marshall say that when truth flows in one direction and is responded to with honour and respect flowing in the opposite direction we have a problem. The labelling of any challenging perspective as ‘fake news’ is the response we have seen… what is sown by the body is reaped beyond. There is a huge move toward authoritarian leadership in many so-called democratic scenarios… and after all Rome moved from a sort-of democratically republic to an Imperial context. Many antiChrists have come said one much wiser than I numerous centuries ago, those who set themselves as an authority to be a substitute for Christ (anti: in the sense of replacing) pave the way for what is set in opposition to (anti: in the sense of opposing). 1 John 2 neither affirms nor denies an antiChrist (‘you have heard that antiChrist is coming’) in the sense that popular eschatology wants to teach it, and I take the same position, that of agnostic… but I want to be alert to the trajectory. Unchecked we are on a trajectory of an antiChrist, whether global or personal to my situation.

The trajectory has to be arrested, hence I see 18 months of trauma with self-appointed headship and self-affirming tellers of truth experiencing great pressure and under pressure there are leaks and exposures.

The last two nights have not been great nights of sleep as I have wrestled with the sense of whole movements being shaken top to bottom. Not everything to be exposed will be accurate, nor will the attempt to cover everything be successful.

The far east will become an ever more present reality in the world, and the geography from where many re-alignments will take place. I have long held the view that Jesus dies in Jerusalem for no prophet could die outside of Jerusalem (Lk. 13:33) for religion in whatever form is opposed to the prophetic; Jesus’ death puts an end to that necessity, and launched Paul as one who had to go to the centre that flows from Jerusalem – to Rome. Religion to the powers that shape the oikoumene / the empire. I am grateful to those who focused on ‘rolling up the Roman road’ in the early 2000s and deeply incarnated in the (literal) walk to Rome arriving there on 21st December 2005 (thanks Steve Lowton and companions). However, in these past months I have been contemplating that Scripture covers those two geographies and proclaims that the gospel had been proclaimed throughout the whole oikoumene / world. But… the far east? Maybe we have both become accustomed to the powers that rule over the west, perhaps we have both accommodated them and resisted them… but the powers manifesting in the far east?

These next years will force us to consider the powers that have to be ‘exorcised’ there, and of course they are already beginning to confuse us as they have been busily eating the west, thus strengthening themselves through hiding behind what we consider we already know. As cyclical time (east) meets linear time (west) we can be in danger of being losing sight of the times and seasons but can also be provoked to gain sight of a longer horizon… the day gets longer post December 21.

If we allow the Lord of the harvest to do the sowing, and we resist the temptation to pull up what we think are weeds… we might just have a wonderful set of years, a ‘new’ season that goes beyond Scripture on the trajectory to harvest… beyond Scripture in the sense of catapulted forward from the last word in the book that records Paul’s presence and gospel was in Rome… akolutos – unhindered.

6 thoughts on “An intense season

  1. I sometimes wonder what to do with such insights.
    Firstly, this is worth reading several times.
    Secondly, let it all sink into your spirit. Words are often like leaven in dough. And work at different rates.
    Thirdly, wait. What is perceived can often only be seen when we get some perspective. Afterwards. Perspective can help us know God was in it. Which is encouraging.
    And finally.
    ‘All shall be well. All manner of things shall be well.’ (Dame Julian)

  2. Very interesting Martin a lot to digest and understand. Particularly struck with what you said about the Far East. I was watching a video about how resistant Japan has been and still is to the gospel? It has sort of gone ‘under the radar’ and been forgotten somehow. There was some severe persecution of Christians in the past but that doesn’t usually mean the gospel is quashed? I wonder what’s going on there spiritually to inhibit the message. I really resonate with what you see in the shaking and the really malevolent powers working in the west at the moment. I keep hearing ‘united we stand, divided we fall’ and this division is on the macro level and in families too (it’s just everywhere) – I am observing some really uncomfortable and dissonant stuff going on.

  3. ‘The trajectory has to be arrested, hence I see 18 months of trauma…’ For the past week I have had the Sudetenlands on my mind. They don’t exist anymore, so I was more interested in what they symbolise rather than what they are or were.

    Hitler declared his ambitions to annexe the Sudetenlands in spring 1938 and by Autumn 1939 the world was at war. Just under 18 months later. I’m no historian, but there were moments missed, in that 18 month period, when global warfare and the ensuing fallout might have been mitigated or avoided altogether.

    I just get a sense that this next 18 months is critical in averting or mitigating a catastrophe of mega proportions – think tsunami level earthquake but not just in one place – in many places. Global and cosmic with the fallout lasting for years if not decades. Yes, things have to be shaken. Yes, we need disruption to the status quo so that entanglements can be broken and renewal can come. Yes, entropic forces are needed to release the energy that is required for things to change at both a quantum and cosmic level.

    But is all life meant to be devastated? There’s a limit to the trauma that we and the earth and can bear. Yes, there are tough times ahead. But they have a limit, they are boundaried. Boundaried in time, space and scope. Is that not where some of our responsibility lies? To say: this far and no further. To say: for this time and no more – not a second more. And to counsel, encourage and empower those who, in this seminal moment, might make a difference.

    We can but try.

    1. * When I use the word ‘Tsunami’ I’m using it as a metaphor. I’m not suggesting a geological event just highlighting the seismic nature of things.

    2. Thanks Rosie… sobering the 18 months of Hitler’s activity. And ‘we can but try’… I write this on Easter Sunday morning, when a cycle of history ended. So we have strong precedence.

    3. It does concern me that the West is getting complacent. I now live in a country whose name gets thrown around from time to time. I work in another neighbouring country where people suggest that Putin can just walk in when Trump is elected. It’s easy to be so dismissive from a distance. If the West holds, then it is unlikely, if it does not? Should I stay or should I go are not abstract concepts to be ideally thought about, but real possible scenarios. My colleagues who have moved away from worse scenarios in the Arabic world have even more to fear – some of the kindest and gentlest people you will ever meet. My hope rests in these times being boundaried. I’m working towards a restoration and healing of landscapes in my research, I only keep going because of the Lord’s prayer, “Let your will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven”. I will take encouragement from what you say Rosie Bee. Thank you.

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