Our friend Julie (Girl Growing) writes the most amazingly real and poetic blessings (there is one included in our Liturgy book)... She's part of the Wellspring Community in Tomball Texas, whom I had the honour of visiting almost Two years ago, and where her blessings emerge from and are used... the one for The 6th of April seems written specifically for where Safespace is at this moment...
bless you as you travel down the road of 'meaning',
stopping along the way,
trying things on as you seek to find
who you are and who you want to be.
bless you as you engage in community,
finding both the safe place to be just as you are
and challenged to be a part of a body-
the hands, the feet,
all with their own prints and never duplicated.
bless you as you connect with something bigger than yourself.
bless you as you delve into God's agenda for the world.
bless you as you lose your life so that you may find it.
bless you as you search,
and above all,
bless you as you continue to hope.
... do people I've never met, from the other side of the world, feel able to preach at me via e-mail as if they actually knew me and my faith journey??? Heaven knows how they speak to people they actually do know! Is there anything worse than Christian Spam!?
I went to a healing meeting/service on Saturday at Bath City Church, with some guys from Telford - not my scene, but we do try to walk with each other... there was much good stuff, there was healing going on, it was very unspectacular, low key and rather than one guy setting himself up as a healer, he co-ordinated the prayer, getting people who said they had been healed to pray for others with similar issues... a "method" I've never seen from this type of Church/Christianity before, and it spoke of a level of humility that encouraged me... along with the guy saying "If revival is to come it is not going to be in here, it will be out there in the people in the city"... not talk of Angels fetching body parts etc. no shouting and drama, no reference to money, mind you there was very little scripture either. But, there was a genuine heart there and no-doubt in my mind that God spoke to people... indeed several of us received prophecy which as I mentioned in the previous post was uncannily similar to things we have bee told before on several occasion... and there are obviously people desperate and in need of healing and peace and I respect those who feel and desire to heal their pain.
The first half of the meeting was very strange, and difficult, for me... It felt incredibly 'Old Testament'... the language (and indeed the only bits of Scripture read all evening) where from Exodus and Psalms... much talk of the Glory of God descending on a place, reference to the Tabernacle (a reading from Exodus 32 - and an exhortation to stay in that place, under the cloud waiting for it to move on before going out) and of coming into Gods Holy place... much talk of being a people that will march through the land, take the nation etc. etc.... much talk (and hope) of a coming Messiah and the sending of the Spirit... talk of overcoming weakness and becoming a nation of power... much dualism - yearning for the day when "Heaven and Earth collide" ... all very "Mosaic Covenant"... I kept being drawn back to John 20 when Jesus says "Receive the Holy Spirit and I will send you as the Father sent me"... which to me speaks of becoming a servant people, a people who put off power to serve (1Thess 2) and a people of sacrifice... incarnate disciples of an incarnate God. In Exodus the Tabernacle came into use because the presence of God was too powerful for the people... even Moses had to cover his face after being in God's presence to protect the people from the reflected glory... They had to keep God "boxed" as they went on their journey... but those days are over, the curtain of the Holy of Holies was torn apart, not that all can go in, but rather that God's presence now goes with all... indeed Peter on the day of Pentecost quotes Joel to show that the days of the Temple and the Priestly system is over, God is out there.
Having watched some of the Florida stuff and praying through what I have seen and felt... I don't think this is "Revival" but I do pray that it will be a renewal and that "Revival" if it does happen does what the "Revivals" of previous centuries did... transform society, change the world... and not just in a internal/spiritual way but real lives of real people... challenging poverty, slavery, oppression etc. just as the "Revivals" of old did.
It was Trinity Sunday yesterday... I'm convinced that as we explore a deep sense of community, we are encountering a yearning to delve into the great mystery of the archetypal community - the Trinity - the mutual indwelling of the original and eternal communion... the community of creation and re-creation... as we dwell together we find ourselves in-dwelling, as we live in our gifts, they become manifest in others, each of us in giving ourselves to the community and to the God community discovers a part of ourselves in each of the other parts of the community. I wonder if we can ever be more than a collective if individuals if we do not embrace the mystery of the Trinity... there can be no words without an imagination to form them and without a breath to carry them... and if we don't allow each other in, if we don't give a part of ourselves to the others... for us it is beginning to feel like we are truly ourselves unless we are with each other in spirit... probably part of the reason we don't want to leave each others company... hence our get-togethers go on and on into the early hours of the next day more often than not... we know we're all different but at the same time we are becoming so deeply knitted together... for a bigger purpose and with a big vision for this Town.
On the same theme Ian Mobsby has his second book out... through Lulu... The Becoming of G-d... described thus...
Trinitarian ecclesiology is often neglected in the West. An understanding of it is crucial if the Church is to engage with its new context of spiritual tourism. This book explores a phenomenological understanding of the Trinity and its implications for building community.
Incidentally, we keep hearing the same words spoken about the community... and about people in it... different people from different "traditions" seem to be speaking the same words about me/us/the community... I won't go into it in detail yet, but it all adds up at the moment... simply put for me people are speaking a deep discernment of people and community, the ability to see and read the inner spirit of people, to lead, to change lives and communities (I was even told that when I speak Demons will flee!!! gulp!) and for the community as a whole that we are here for the town and we will be agents of God's kingdom in a very significant and powerful way... some who have know next to nothing about what is going on at the core of safe space have so accurately described it and gone on to prophecy incredible things... locally and globally... it does feel somewhat "weird" and we don't understand it completely... so those of you who pray for us (and those who haven't yet please do!) please continue and particularly pray for a fulfilling of the words and for the peace of our Town... Thanks.
These are genuine questions, I'm not having a go... I have been doing some research into the Florida thing and watching videos... I haven't yet been able to turn on "God TV" ! but I have been watching the streams from Florida... so here's a few questions, like I said they're genuine and I would like serious replies/thoughts...
Bentley kept saying things like "In Holland it's breaking out... Pastors in Holland, you need to get on a plane and get over here"... Why if "it" is already breaking out in Holland do they need to get on a plane to Florida? TBH I never got the Toronto thing about going over there to get something from an omnipotent,omnipresent God anyway... but it seems doubly odd if it is already happening in ones home country to have to go to Florida... it suggests that what is "breaking out" is not the same thing or not as "powerful"???
Bentley tells stories of several "raisings from the dead", including two in Northern Ireland... but try as I can I get nothing when I google or search the press... and in these days of 24hr media coverage, when international news companies can know about me coming to Telford, I just cannot believe that the media would not have coverage of people coming back to life, especially in the western world??? Surely, the doctors, morticians, scientists, police etc. etc. would talk about it... surely if it was a real "healing" from God, then the Churches would want to shout about it from the roof-tops... yet I can find nothing??? If you have, let me know.
Why is there so much talk of "seeding' of revival through financial giving? - eg. “It may be that $1000 seed that you need to sow this morning. It may be that $500 seed that you need to sow this morning.” and "The treasure room is open and you’re just sowing" even to the point of encouraging people to use their credit cards to give beyond what they have in cash? If people feel called to support Bentleys ministry all well and good, but that is a different thing to me... do people believe that there is some sort of exchange going on 'cash for charisma'?
I will be honest, I don't see much fruit from the Toronto thing... the Church is in no stronger place, in fact it seems in a worse state to me - numbers continue to decline, we have had the rise of things like "Word-Faith" the "make me rich" prosperity rubbish and extreme fundamentalism... neither is the World in any better place by any measure... there is no more peace or justice on the whole??? On Fresh Fires, Bentley web site there is much stuff about laying on of hands and personal healing... but nothing I can find about Creation, Justice, poverty etc. nothing that relates to transforming the world as far as I can see. Why is that, and what is the "point" of the revival? If it is the renewing of the Church... to what end?
When the Toronto thing started to happen, a few years back, I was genuinely excited about the possibility that it could bring huge change to the world... especially after the "Decade of Evangelism" which seemed somewhat damp... but I'm really not convinced that anything lasting or radical came from it, so one ends up asking questions about it's story... which then leads to a certain cynicism about further similar "revivals" and whether people are just looking for the next "buzz".
Reading John 20 and Acts 2 for a sermon this weekend I find it notable that the two instances of the giving of the Spirit are linked to a being out in the world... in John Jesus says "As the Father has sent me, I am sending you"... if he does not mean the incarnation, to live ones life with people and to give ones life for people (1Thess 2 for example) as Jesus did for us, what can he mean? The Pentecost experience did not lead to the Disciples going back to that room night after night... extending the run of the revival... rather in immediate contact with the "outside world", and eventually to the Disciples going out two by two into the wider world ministering to people where they are, beyond their culture and country... they where being prepared and equipped to change the world, a change we still feel the resonance of today... as have revivals of the past... my experience of revival in the modern age is that it falls into the trap of being consumerist and experiential, ie. people get stuck in the room... I really hope this isn't another one of "those", and will really send people out in the way of Jesus... As I said, I'm not having a go at Bentley, or Charismatics... some of my closest friends are Charismatics ;-) I genuinely want to know what people (especially those who might not be as cynical as me) think.
From a TV programme on Channel 4 Education this morning...
"Why do I have to buy my self-esteem back from these companies?"
...asks a guy who is about to burn tens of thousands of pounds worth of labelled clothing, sneakers, sunglasses, stereo etc... and is paying for an industrial designer to re-box his Mac so that people will not know what it is... why because he says every since he was a teenager he has created an image and and acceptance for himself through the wearing of labels... why for example, he asks do people come up to him when he gets his computer out as if they knew him and where friends just because they use the same computer?... Why does owning something make you acceptable or approachable for others?
"it allows the wannabes to see what they can't be!"
...says the owner of an exclusive "rich boys and beautiful girls" club... he describes the club as a "celebration of money"... The people at the club say with one voice that the club is "cool", it seems in the marketing, consumer obsessed world "cool" has become something you can own and apply to yourself if, and only if you have the financial means to do so. A group of "sneaker freaks" is followed queuing to buy a limited edition trainer and the way they obsess about having to have a pair (no different to stamp collectors having to get a limited edition "first day cover" IMHO!)... Coolness is a way of excluding others, setting yourself "above" others for some.
...not only is this very, very sad... but for me, it completely misses the point... coolness has always been about creativity and confidence, the willingness to stand out from the sheep, the crowd and do/wear/be things that challenge the "norm". Coolness is about a willingness to be who you really are and to do what you feel is you regardless... Martin, the maker of the film in the end agrees, he finds a surfer who for him embodies what "cool" is really about...
"He has a punky nonchalance - aggressively pursuing his own passion and dream - ... and he couldn't give a hoot if anyone is following him or not - girls want to shag him, boys want to be him, magazines want to take photographs of him, he'll probably make a lot of money etc. but I suspect if all of that disappeared he'd be out there following his dream regardless!"
"the funny thing is that real cool people don't care about being cool"
The Search For Cool
It's something people strive to be and if you could bottle it, you would. But what really is 'cool'? In The Search For Cool, advertising man Martin Cole is on a mission – he's going on a journey across Britain in search of the meaning of 'cool'.
In his line of work, Martin travels the world observing and predicting trends. And more and more, the companies he's working for are all after the same thing. They want to know what's cool and they want to use that knowledge to make their products cool.
On his quest in search of 'cool', Martin visits skateboarders in Edinburgh, 'grime kids' in London and a man who is about to burn every single branded item he owns. He meets up-and-coming indie band Larakin Love, who have just signed to a major record label, and Leeds band The Ivories, who have decided to stay independent and underground.
Martin looks at the role fashion plays in dictating 'cool'. He visits a group of sneaker obsessives on the hunt for ever more exclusive trainers and explores the enduring coolness of the retail phenomenon, Top Shop. Martin also examines the financial gains to be made from understanding what's cool. He meets the advertising men who spend their lives trying to make brands appear cool and looks at the re-invention of Honda as a 'cool' brand.
But is this obsession with consumerism all it takes to be cool? Or is it something more simplistic like being a surfer who lives his life simply in search of the perfect wave?