28 May 2020

Last night was fun. It ended when the bed frame collapsed as I was putting the dogs into the crate, which broke some glass frames we had stored under the bed for a project. During this time our dogs were antsy. They were barking, they were upset. They did not know why we were worried, and they were guarding us.

Nothing at all to do with them. Work and family, work and family. But they knew that something was wrong. This morning, first thing (we had woken early) we were sitting in front of a heater looking at the sun rise, and the dogs were calmly with us.

This, in my view, is not prophecy as Agabus prophesied. There are people who have direct words from God. I’m more like the dogs. I know things are wrong and get patterns.

I am aware that much preaching is akin to the prophetic word, because it applies the word of God to the current situation. In a time of crisis and hubris, this is more important than ever.

We are excited to be reopening local gatherings near you. Below is a list of ARISE Locals for you to choose from. Find the one you want to attend, then send in your RSVP.

We are committed to playing our part in our nation’s recovery to Covid-19. These gatherings will move forward in alignment with government guidelines. Following all physical distancing, hygiene and contact tracing practises. All gatherings will be a maximum of 100 attendees. All contact tracing records will only be given to venue operators for the purposes of contact tracing only.

Archived Link

These are the regulations we live under, and the leadership has chosen to open, so that there will be 400 places available in church this week. I would still like to bring in 401, 402… 500 people. This is not ideal. We obey the secular authorities as the Church obeyed Caesar: up to a limit, knowing civil disobedience in the name of God is itself a witness.

And the elders collectively think we have not got to that limit.

Most of the time that I see patterns I hope I am wrong. I hope, far more, as we get together in one room, that the Spirit of God will flow into us, and the world will again be amazed.

Acts 2:1-11

2 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. 7 And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.”

ESV

Pentecost was and is a Jewish harvest festival. It was one of the feasts where all of Israel were to attend the temple and worship God. It would have been usual, given that the Jews were scattered through the Roman empire, which was approaching its greatest extent.

Many of these people did not speak Hebrew, Aramaic, or Hebraic (koine) Greek. The languages of Europe have always been many, and the new tongues were comprehended by others.

Leviticus 23:15-17

15 “You shall count seven full weeks from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering. 16 You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath. Then you shall present a grain offering of new grain to the Lord. 17 You shall bring from your dwelling places two loaves of bread to be waved, made of two tenths of an ephah. They shall be of fine flour, and they shall be baked with leaven, as firstfruits to the Lord.

This is often called the Birthday of the Church, and there are those who are happy that we are finally, after lockdown, allowed to meet: for a while were were not even allowed to meet in groups of ten. Many churches have been dragged out of a Victorian Paradigm of ministry into something more digital, and challenging..

What we need to think about is how this happens. The Church burst forth in the middle of a great festival, and continued to use what they had — the temple — until driven out. I expect that those of Christ will be driven off the social platforms of this age, particularly if we continue to speak truth.

But the Spirit of God will continue to bring places of witness, even if we have to build digitally as we have had to build physically after Titus demolished the Temple.

At this time, and in this crisis, may revival come, beginning with me.