Saturday, 23 February 2013

As a Hen Gathers her Chicks

You know, no matter how much we fight it, Christianity is at its heart an apocalyptic faith.

It's tempting, as the years roll by, to think that the world is much as it always has been, and will carry on much as it is, forever. That we can tweak things up and down a bit, improve our lot maybe, keep everything under control.

It's the gentle, reasonable faith that says, we keep the cycle of festivals as they come round. We light the Christmas candles, eat our hot-cross buns, get up early on Easter morning (the day the clocks go forward, this year, as well), throw eggs over the Moot House roof (or is that just us?), spiritualise away Pentecost in such a way as to say it's very important but don't expect anything too spectacular, then bring in the Harvest Home.


And in the hands of a clever State, in years gone by, it was a powerful tool. The Orwellian state had a boot stamping on a human face forever. The Erastian, or maybe Constantinian equivalent, had a quietly happy placidity  - accepting life's humps and hollows, bimbling towards a peaceful death, and having no unquiet slumbers in that quiet earth.

But, even in the scientific view of things, it's not going to happen like that. As resources run out, the stable state of things will decay - even if that stable state were not just an illusion even today.

The environmental campaigner and the apocalyptist alike say "this isn't going to last." And of course they're right, however flawed their root-cause analysis.

Jerusalem, stoning its prophets and nailing up its Messiahs to try and keep stability - try and keep the Pax Romana.  Clinging to its unjust peace because the alternative was so much worse. 40 years after Jesus. That was all it managed before not one stone was left on another.

The Roman Empire - ever-expanding to keep the barbarians at bay, spreading night to keep the darkness out. Just 400 years it had left, in the West. A long time by human standards, of course - but a blink of the cosmic eyelid.

And when Jesus, with just days left, looked across at Jerusalem and cried out - when did he think he would gather it in? Did he think it was just round the corner - past the flogging post, the cross and the grave?

Or was he thinking across great sweeps of time - when all is done, the last great plan has failed, the last economy has collapsed and the last star has gone out?

But if that's the case, while we wait for all manner of things to be well, then we need little apocalypses. Days when things are turned upside down. Times when we have new visions. The expectation that the oppressors will be toppled and the weak be lifted up.

We've gotta expect a new world to arrive at any time - while we look for the small new things to happen all the time.

We've gotta get our heads round the idea - comforting and cosy as it might be for some, terrifying for others - that this moment of stability is normal, that this state of affairs will always be how it is today.

One day, the hen will gather together her chicks, things will be right and we will sing  ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.’

One day. It might take till the end of time. Or it might be today.

No comments :

Post a Comment

Drop a thoughtful pebble in the comments bowl