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’.