Back in 2010 I had a dream of the façades opening up with all the institutions that have shaped the public square being represented as buildings and in a moment the fronts of the buildings opened up, swinging forward and then up. The insides could be seen. In that dream the shocking element was that in the public square there were enough believers to join in a (Christian) song that was started by someone with the result that the façades closed again – as quickly as they had opened. An audible voice spoke to me;
It is the familiar that brings things back to where they were, that restores the status quo.
The familiar… and the desire to resort (as Christians) to the encouraging songs / statements that ‘God is in control’ is probably more dangerous than the familiar in another context.
I believe that we – who claim to be ‘followers of the Lamb wherever he goes’ – have both a responsibility and an authority to bring about change, hence if we simply go with ‘leave things as they are’ we are exercising that authority – and now looking back on the dream I understand why what was taking place (opening of façades) resulted in the return to normal (normal!!!) button being pushed.
Further we have to ask what on earth do we mean by ‘God is in control’. Very clearly Jesus taught us to pray in a certain way because God was not in control – OK a bit of a paraphrase of ‘let your will be done on earth’. The will of God is not being done on the earth in many settings, and as God is working toward an end, that of the renewal of all creation (new heaven and new earth), it seems clear that s/he is not working toward that through some exercise of power (the age old objection of a moral, loving God has the power to do xyz and does not do it). If we talk of the rule of God we must not think of ‘rule’ as if there is a powerful force that God exerts. LOVE does not control, and how frustrating that must be!! Perhaps equally frustrating is that we don’t easily co-operate with God’s seasons. An extended version of Ecclesiastes could be ‘there is a time to sing, and a time to refrain from singing; there is a time for the facades to open… and a time for all the Christians to say, stay open and let all be revealed’. OK the canon is closed and I didn’t get my contribution accepted.
Now we are headed into unknown territory but I think the precursors of 2010 and that decade are not simply being repeated. Now for some even deeper paths.
I consider that we are witnessing not simply façades opening up but some very fixed points collapsing. Collapse brings us to chaos. Chaos is a tough place to be but it also marked the beginning of all of creation. Chaos was responded to with ‘shape’ to answer the issue of ‘without form’ and then shape was responded to with ‘filling’ to answer the issue of ’emptiness’.
Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
If using the term ‘collapse’ is close to being accurate there are numerous responses that can be made:
- the old uncertainty is shored up by a restating and re-establishing of what was (and I consider that at the forefront of such a response will be the underlining of patriarchy).
- the old shape is not changed but filled with something we think is new – Jesus warned against this with the wine / wineskin illustration (and here we can watch the ‘currency’ issues that are everywhere this year – and beyond).
- we live uncomfortably with hope that if enough of us can live in that insecure place that we will be aligning with the Spirit who hovers over the deep (the chaos).
If there were enough believers in the public square to join together to see the façades close back up again, maybe there are enough present to see a great shift toward a ‘new heaven and new earth’; enough to corporately to say ‘we have a dream; a dream that one day…’