Not Fooling About

Not Fooling About

3 May 2016

I am not sitting in this prayer house because I'm a "washed up"
preacher who can't find anything else to do.  Nor am I here for
spiritually "romantic" or esoteric reasons.

I am here because I'm here, and have to be.

"I desire to do your will, O my God." (Ps 40.8)

But I am also "shut up" in this room to participate (in a minuscule
way) in a reformation of the Church which must occur and should
eclipse the 16th C Protestant Reformation.

This most necessary and overdue re-construction and revival of us all
was "discovered" and implemented by Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Germany in
the 1930s.  Facing the catastrophic collapse of the (Catholic and
Protestant) Church in the face of rampant antichristian Nazism,
theologian Dietrich was charged with the formation of pastors for the
"resisting" (underground) church.  He offended many within the
scholarly caste by emphasising in a major way both prayer and life in
common.  (See "The Tribulation Church",

For the Body of Christ to be "safely" and completely attached to our
Head and Saviour, Christ Jesus, the reality of our composition must be
acknowledged, owned and organically lived out...moment-by-moment.  We
do consist of three co-equal and complementary "streams" - local
church, missions and contemplative.

All Christians pray.  However local church and missions Believers'
prayers have a great deal to do with preparing to "go to work".  The
contemplative may well pray to prepare to serve God, but their work is
prayer.  They "live to pray" and "pray to live"...and not just for
themselves, but for the whole world too.

I do not doubt that the Church in Europe in the 1500s was in need of a
dramatic "wake-up" call.  And clearly (and sadly) too much of its
decadence was to be found in some monasteries and convents which had
become fiefdoms for greedy and lazy "lords and ladies".  Tragically,
impatient reformers carelessly tossed "the baby" out with the dirty
"bath water".  Rather than purifying the polluted contemplative stream
(as did Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross in Spain), they attacked
it with such ferocity that it was forced underground.

At all costs its most beautiful, pellucid and mysterious waters have
to be searched out, drawn back up to the surface and into the
mainstream of 21st C Christianity.

Many young and devoted Christians today are languishing in a
bewildered (guilty?) torpor because they are unable to recognise their
God-given context for an obedient life.  Censored history has either
hidden it from their view, or local church and missions boosters are
trying to shout it down...perhaps overly fearful of losing their own

The restoration of the contemplative stream to the whole Church
world-wide will produce a quantum leap forward so far as our overall
health, vitality and fruitfulness is concerned.  We don't really need
more prayer meetings, so such as we need houses of prayer occupied by
men and women (young and old, married and single) who have been
brought by God's grace to understand, believe and live out that their
work is to pray and their prayer is real work.

I live for and long for that day.  That is why I sit here (for the
most part alone), stumbling and growling my way through the Psalms
three times a day.  (See "The Abbot's Shoes - Seeking a Contemplative
Life" at  It is my own minute
contribution to a massive revolution which is really a participation
in Heaven's 24/7 prayerfulness spilling over our desperate and needy

"Swing the sickle, for the harvest is ripe...Multitudes, multitudes in
the valley of decision.  For the day of the Lord is near in the valley
of decision."  (Joel 3.14)

POSTSCRIPT   I will risk the complaint that I'm just another grumpy
old man by making the following observations.  I see (sadly) very
little interest in considering (let alone applying) the thesis of "The
Tribulation Church".  I think that there may be two main reasons for

1)   The observable status quo, to many, appears set in concrete;
change is relegated to the "too hard" or "inconvenient" baskets.  It
always interests me that some Christian leaders who are overly keen to
be known as visionary, progressive and "cutting edge" can be defensive
and conservative...because they lack imagination.  But when the whole
world around us changes completely overnight, it's too late.  (Look
for example today at the considerable and sudden changes to the
landscapes of Syria-Iraq, Europe and the USA?)

2)   Contemporary local church, missions, and even contemplative
organisations can be surprisingly territorial, proprietorial and even
occasionally "violent" when it comes to recognising, receiving and
embracing change and its agents.  We may no longer burn each other at
the stake.  But we do quite casually scorch "rivals" with criticism
and innuendo.  And for the sophisticated religious critic nothing
works half so well (so they seem to think!) as the rack and thumbscrew
of the dismissive snort or contemptuous sneer.

I do not doubt that many German Christians thought Dietrich Bonhoeffer
had gone too far or mad in opposing Hitler; not to mention his
"retreat" to an obscure village to sing the Psalms at set times of the
day, and to live cheek-by-jowl in community with his students?  But
you may be sure that would have been a whole lot more "comfortable"
than chanting the liturgy in churches adorned with red and black
swastika banners, led by pastors giving the Nazi salute?

They didn't see it coming?  Not so!  They just refused to believe
their prophets and couldn't be convinced sufficiently or bothered to
get out of their warm beds before an antichrist tsunami engulfed them,
lock, stock and barrel.

"They have eyes to see but do not see and ears to hear but do not
hear, for they are a rebellious people." (Eze 12.2)