Wheels within wheels in texts within texts. If you would like to join us for two chapters a day: 07729056452
Ez1-2 Ours is a God of colour and simile, ravishing in all steampunk wheels and science fiction hybrids. The 'splendour of the King etc' looks like this, many layered bedazzlement, exquisitely bizarre, ceaselessly fascinating. This is the gospel according to crazy pills with psychedelic accessories – and we get to live such an enchanted embodiment. And this is the God who calls you in Ez2. The God who desires to speak with you v1, to fill you with his Spirit v2, so to send you v3. This is the good life, indescribable. If the God of these creatures, who is still working in his workshop to this day fashioning new wonders, if that God is for us, what cause have we for mere mild visual displays of God? Be not afraid (of rebellious houses) v7. Be not afraid.
Ez3-4 Heavy not just with Ezekiel's personality as a prophet paragon in all the ways we life to categorise the five-fold ministry, but also, in his intimacy with his God. Oh, 3v12 sweep me up & tie me down, face to face and palm to palm with this God. I & God's Thou: 4v9-16 irreducibly personal, inexplicable from the outside but a romance on the inside. 3v15 overwhelmed & v14 angry. I want nothing less than this fully alive, beholding v22 GLORY. Wrestle with this mysterious God who tells us to speak then v26 renders us silent. Who v1 makes bitter things sweet. Who baffles, but not to no end, the God who we know to be glory and beauty, who changes us by touching us and cannot be denied. So, pray around 4v1-3 monopoly boards & that, & love each other hard: love is 3v16-21 faithful & frightening & fully alive.
Ez5-6 Because YOU have not warned him.. (3v20). This the bloody and urgent work of the prophets, this is no I-have-a-picture-of-a-waterfall, rather a we're-not-scaremongering-this-is-really-happening mode of Christianity. As beard politics here, as Speak's wedding ceremony for Waitrose and Shell, so would we live this outrageously IF we had a sense that the blood of the ignorant/resistant/blind/inoculated/inured public of this 'Christian' nation was on our hands. .. We, as prophets, stand between the promise of judgement 4v11-12 and the promise for a remnant 5v3 6v8. How shall we then live, how shall we then consider ourselves? We are 5v4. From fire to fire. We are fire-refined silver, fire-toughened steel, sent then to carry a fire and ignite – this a word for pentecost week. From fire to fire – this is not so much mixing metaphors as merging and manifesting a metaphoric life. Dear ones, go, burn, it will be 28oC today.
Ez7-8 God is a 8v3 v5 jealous lover, let us be overwhelmed and thankful for his jealousy this morning. We wound the God who loves us whenever we lock ourselves away in v12 our room of idolatrous images, an excellent image for the self-related escapist ways we honour God with our lips but are far from him with our hearts. We do our rebellion in secret, but God sees and knows, and may choose to share our shamefulness with Ezekiel or Paul Acts 13v9 .. This shouldn't be the reason the reality the rebellion hits home, but sometimes this is what it takes. Ch7, the terrifying depth of reality of not-being-with-God. God, fall upon us this weekend, take us by the hair, forgive us, inspire us, dreams & visions, wonder & amazement. Thank you for your jealous love.
Ez9-10 v1 Execution is 'of' the city, it is an urban phenomenon, it is the urbanite who kills and is killed, it is the city-ness of a civic authority which renders murder as 'execution' – these are Ellulian diversions, but we should, perhaps, allow ourselves to dwell on the role the city order plays in God's organised judgement. .. v4 'who sigh and groan'. Of lament, salvation and causality: one could read saving power onto lament as a work that gives one salvation, or rather that those saved already are given to lamentation. We, the saved, should sigh and groan over the urban condition, consider it as a measure of your spiritual health. .. Our God is the God of passover, the God who marked the Israelites is the God who still chooses, who distinguishes, and who saves. .. Of marking, esvsb notes the mark here is a 'taw' (Heb), an 'X', a cross. So mark we, we can be marked by Cain's curse Gen4v15, we can be marked by the beast Rev3v17 or we can be marked by Christ's marks Gal 6v17. .. v5 When you hear the sound of helicopters over the city consider the angel appointed over our church, as over the 7 in Revelation? We are caught up in a military epic in the spiritual realm. By contrast to Attack the Block, who were disappointed that a 'copper chopper' meant that the battle was 'localised', know this, we are fought for by the higest power in the universe. .. v18-19 against with esvsb help, we see God's glory poised, ready to depart, but he is long waiting, long suffering, long patient, there in our midst giving every last opportunity for repentance. What grace is this?
Ez11-12 Prayers that the maker would unmake me this morning answered in 11v19-20. God does this work, sets us in a new currency, and this is what our life with-God must be, soft-hearted, raw-souled, listening alive present. This is for you this moment. Listening for when God desires 11v2 the building of houses, rather than another source. And 12v11 we are signs. Imagining this weekend a world without signs, a dependence on visual symbolism only – this isn't what God asks us for here, we are asked to explicitly tell people our symbolic lives are a sign, which points to something, warns of danger, says something meaningful, that says this and not that. We live in more than our own interpretation.
Ez13-14 Ruins, walls and whitewash. prophets, truthers, and the Ruskinian life. This morning's passage offers us the prophet-as-architect and architect-as-prophet. .. v4 Ruins are the shame of architecture – but we are a breed that glory in our shame? So the reanimated corpses of revivalism and nostalgia which are a part of the melancholy of oxbridge colleges, just as it is of the Roman ruins they imitate, just as it is of glass and steel hitech ruins-in-anticipation? Have we a theology for our ruins? Are we more than jackals scavenging? Do we v5 leave walls unbuilt and unrepaired or can we be Is58v9-12 (Msg) 'known as those who can fix anything..' .. How shall we then build? .. The Lamp of Truth defines itself against whitewash, against little white lies, against saying-of-what-isn't-quite-that-it-is stone or wood or other. Our lives should be so unwhitewashed for several reasons. It is a liability for a wall to look stronger than it is, to claim peace where it isn't v10. But this seems a negative and melodramatic imperative for speaking the truth in loadbearing.. More to the point, if we are buildings, whitewashing our scars hides our healing and it renounces the vulnerability of our not-yet-healing that Christ also makes possible in his unconditional love. Whitewashing our structure is worse, even, by obscuring your foundations you claim by omission to be self-founded, a self-made obviation of a creator. Let it be known, I am not my own, my life was a gift, my circumstance is undeserved, come and see a man who has been told everything he ever did. The unexaminable life is not worth living.. Oh words.. .. Interesting that there are three culpable untruthers characterised in 13-14 v3 the foolish prophets indulging delusions, v18 the calculating deceivers hunting souls, and 14v7 the sponsor of this deceit, the false inquirer, those who solicit false prophecy, the demand-side of architectural depravity.. .. The Lamp of Truth will not save us, nor can it be demanded from those who are not yet saved. .. This has been a sprawl of thoughts. .. A happy coinciding here: Ps51v7 Because God had made us whiter than snow, we don't have to whitewash. Ps51v18 Because we have been delivered by God we can rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Blameless beloved builders.
Ex15-16 Of all the repeated ways that the Bible speaks of our idols and faithlessness as adultery, Ez16 is the most painful to read. This abuse we do, we can't even explain to ourselves why we do it, chasing shadows & empty nothings. We are depleted three times over in our unfaithfulness. (i) our turn from God is a v18-19 costly pursuit in time, money & energy. (ii) they are v28 empty & never satisfy, draining our life. (iii) Once we stop out idol-pursuit for a moment, we find ourselves in view of ourselves v37 shamed by our idols: they leave us with what they have made us, distorted and distasteful. Our betrayal comes of a forgetfulness of grace. We are always v4-6 helpless blood-soaked newborns, this is always our condition. Reading this afternoon about the development of healthy entitlement in an infant, I can't but think we have a different model.. where laying down our rights is more than a song because all the infant's care comes as a gift not a right (possibly bad dichotomising) – but, everything we have v8-13 lavished on us is gift grace love rather than entitlement. And we betray God-as-lover because we forget God-as-parent. And it matters, it matters, it matters. So remember grace again again, that grace might keep you faithful. Where idols take from us thrice God gifts (i) in being our gift supply v9-13 and giving us for free (freely for our freedom) (ii) v8 God gives the gift of himself, abundant and faithful in covenant (iii) God makes us beautiful, unashamed, worthy. And this gifting is here now, v62-63 over & over, overcoming our adulterous faithlessness. Ez15's vine becoming John's 15th. New covenant grace.
Ez17-18 Roots. v5 Where are you rooted? As Ps1v3? How and how deep? .. v7 What are you rooting for? I did root about for a parallel, thinking Hebrews encouraged a 'straining with every sinew toward..' but even with later the interweb's assistance this evening it seems this verse is my own fabrication, however earlier in leafing, had found Heb 12v15 'root of bitterness' – a root we which we forget in the correctly quoted straining ahead of Ph3v13's .. Meandering. .. 'Being as a tree' is a growth, but not all growth is good growth. Just as it is bizarre for a tree to grow towards an eagle rather than towards sun or water, so too we and our churches.. going after the wrong sources – eagles are good but do not grow the tree. What is this true of in my life?
Ez19-20 20v12 Statutes & Sabbaths a gift of God to bring us to life, v6 the gift of a place & provision. God the life-giver, like a strong lioness 19v3 raising us cubs (even if this is not the meaning of this metaphor here). When we distance & distort God's statutes & sabbaths we are our own death. 20v26 v31 present child sacrifice as the right analogy for what we do when we turn from God we destroy self-defeat damage and do violence unto life & love & what is most precious. We are the ones who 19v12 pluck up ourselves in fury. Thank God for 20v37 a purging sanctifying covenant. & v35 here is the face to face we are promised, face to face with God is not all cuddly, it is judgement responsibility accountability challenge. .. Which is such a good, as we get to behold a glimpse of God's holiness, there is no other way. This is part of our intimacy with God, who lavishes love still. Listen: v41 'as a pleasing aroma I will accept you, when I bring you out from the peoples & gather you out of the countries where you have been scattered. & I will manifest my holiness among you in the sight of nations'. Come Holy Spirit.
Ez21-22 v6 Groan with breaking heart. As 9v4, this is the mark of a saved heart: a broken heart. And this is how to pray, groan as the spirit groans, Rm8v26, in a heartbreak shared with Christ whose heart was broken for us. .. v7 Because of the 10 o'clock news – so our hands are made feeble and spirit faint by 'bad' news. This is apocalyptic disempowerment, futilistic fatalism. By contrast, if we have Good news, how much more our hands should be disenfeebled and our spirits stirred. .. And what is our good news? v26 Things shall not remain as they are. Idols are idle, images static, they are ways we take power over space by imposing a fixed time, utopian/nostalgic architecture that is resistant to change. And what is the change? The Upside Down Kingdom. In this architectural problem v27 must follow v26, and this is the way of all architecture built to keep the high high and the low low: walls across Palestine, as across Berlin, as of gated communities, they must come to ruin ruin ruin. .. 22v6-12 Fathers and mothers being less than fully honoured, Sabbaths being kept less than fully Holy. These seem trivial pedantries, alongside the murders of the other crimes here numbered. This because in self-justifying tick-box modes of self-righteousness we will prefer to ignore sins of omissions, and to trivialise the 'good we have not done..' I am convicted that if murder is made a thought crime by Mt5v22, what then of thoughts pertaining to neglect of Sabbath and contempt of parents. Oh I am undone. .. v12 This beginning and end of all this mess is forgetting God. So scripture memory. So constant prayer. So meditations. So tattoos. So daubed doorposts, kitten posters, and every pnemotechnique. Oh remember Jesus Christ, 2Tm2v8 .. Remember you are forgetful. Remember Jesus Christ.
Ez23-24 23v6 Red v15 Purple. Colour as a visual, and ways we distort sexuality, uncondemnedly and unsure quite what to do with these, but they stand out. Brought honestly, that we might look & wear & think & relate differently. Literally and analogously (what would this be?) God, please show us, lead us, in how to be yours, as 1Pt1v13-2v12. In reacting to 24v13-14 with a sense of its reductivity, I articulated to myself why a resistance to a theology of the cross, that works on a market economy of mercy justice, rather than a gift economy, with sin as a monetary transaction. But v15-18 comes to challenge me here; if God here seems cruel & unfair perhaps this is because I forget the giftedness of it all – v18 your beloved, v25 your church, v25 your children, are all a gift from God. So humbled again by this grace economy.
Ez25-26 ..then you will know that I AM the LORD. v7 v11 v17, 26v6 – a promise to lay hold of here: the promise of a missional God, he wants to be known. Is this not enough to bolster our boldness, to lead us out where he has gone ahead, to pay the price where he is our downpayment and our daily wage, to take the risk where he manages all hazards. God wants to be known? .. The esvsb problematises the details of the prophecy as they do not directly reconcile with the history that followed in the fall of Edom etc. This is only a problem if we hope in God's specific promises. Which. We. Do. It is not good for me to blankly avoid wrestling with the sometimes confusing promises God makes. So books on Israel, so preaching on location in the churches described in Revelation.. If not those particular streams and locales, but oh to listen for and lean on specific blood-bought promises for here, us, now.
Ez27-28 Mixing maritime metaphors tells us 28v15 about The Fall, the story of the human heart, where the heart in 27 is both ship and sea. The ship is created magnificent in its v7 ornament, v8 skill, v10 splendour, v11 beauty, v25 fullness, v33 enriching, 28v3 wisdom, even v12 perfection. Corruption comes when our gaze is turned towards these things 28v17 and we worship ourselves as though 28v1 we were God. So narcissus of this week, obsessed with his own reflection unto death, so Gen3. This is our 27v34 shipwreck and so we are our own stormy sea, inverted upon ourselves in totality. The analogy is layered on top of the literal maritime happenings of Tyre, the 28v1 mastery of the ocean (& nature at large) and a capitalist mode of being are 28v16 products & producers of our narcissism. So being in the heart of the seas affects the human heart. Stories of shipwrecks must be allowed, that we take our eyes off ourselves and fix them on Jesus, who Mk5v39 speaks a 'be still' to the sea, and it is still. Eyes fixed on Jesus, you can walk on water don't you know.
Ez29-30 v13-14 God has a plan to prosper even you, O Egypt. He will restore, as if Jer29v11 was God's heart for any and all exiles, all homeless, all wayward, all in hard times, all his rebellious children living towards judgement. .. v15 This new thing, this restoration, it is a smaller thing, a lowly kingdom. Perhaps I am reading onto the text excessively in finding 'small' to be anything other than pejorative, but. Isn't this how God unmakes us to remake us? Always the giantism of our empires gets in our way, our camels keep us out of eyes of needles, but when we are first broken on bended knees in the dust we remember that we are are dust, then we are useful, then we can be caught up on the wind, as mustard seeds, as tiny stars. Because small is beautiful, and the God of small things asks us not to despise the day of small things. Because with that much faith, you can move mountains, don't you know.
Ez31-32 31 Be as a tree, but remain humble, as a tree should. From your origins as a seed you did not plant yourself or grow yourself. Thinking about how to avoid this poisonous prideful self-related mode of being – which may begin by meditating on Jesus through scripture throughout the day. I should train my thoughts to dwell there with the Jesus bigger than myself constantly, otherwise the thoughts of my heart naturally turn to myself, to replayed conversations & imagined scenarios to my own obsessive glory. Meditate on details of scripture to break one's prideful cycle, to spread one's branches beyond oneself. Only then can authentic missional words be spoken to the other, as 32. To begin this morning Rom12v1: 'by the mercies of God present your bodies as a living sacrifice which is your spiritual worship..be transformed by the renewal of your mind..'
Ez33-34 Ja3v1 Not many of your should be watchmen neither to be shepherds, for it is no small responsibility. And yet, we are given no option but to teach v7 whenever you hear a word from God, which is as daily as we text?And if we have tasted that God is sweet, does it no behove us to show the other beggars where to find bread. And are we not obliged to Greeks and barbarians Rm1v14? I fear for my soul v9 if I consider prophecy as optional, or evangelism as extra. How is you soul v9?How is your soul delivered? Is it? ..v32 Entertainment is our culture's dominant framework, paradigm, medium (which is the message) how are we to make a message more than just another advert or lusty song, just another threat of apocalypse, or just another bold promise of the good life? I will venture that in sub-viral unbloggable acts of face-to-face love we make this message meaningful, there is our plausibility, there is the revolution that will not be tweeted and cannot be subverted. (I dichotomise, for surely there is a place for beautiful voices and instrumentation v32; even if only so their children's children might know, by their inherited record collection, that a prophet had been amongst their parents v33. .. Ez33 and the good shepherd pie problem: sheeps are eaten by shepherds, surely even by good ones, is it not their reason and reward for being out all night in the fields? This would be taking the parable too far, but for v3. Beriddled. I will leave this... We have in v15-16 very-much-more-that-good-enough-mothering contrasted with v4-7 nowhere-near-good enough-mothering. So we are privileged to dwell in a sheep pen of a perfect circle of security in which we enjoy perfect attachment. If you've tasted and seen, go show and tell.
Ez35-36 35v10 distorted entitlement again, thought about much this week, but have we let God speak to us about it? what do we take ourselves to be entitled to? What spiritual or emotional 'rights' that we might try to take by force or indignation? God here hates a false sense of ownership. I have not really examined this fully in my life, pray that I would . 36v26-27 hear this. This word has come several times this week, Rom12 and so on. This is the only way we grow spiritually. A divine mutation, nay, transplant, done actively by God himself. God promises to remake renew us. Renewed to obedience, please God. God promises to v29 save us from all that defiles us, that holds us back, and v30 fill us fruitfully. Not because we deserve it but because God is kind and v22 holy. God's name is holy and powerful, we pray these things in this name, Jesus.
Ez37-38 We arrive at the U C Bones. Do you? What do you see and how? Behold v2,5,7,8,etc. Behold boneyness contrasted with breathiness. Just so, every morning my desiccated soul must be reconstituted reanimated revived. The battered rattley thin rusk of ossified coralised calcified residue of a former faith in yesterday's festering manna now parched to a powder dry, bone dry, starched salt flat sort of a religione needs to be saved. That tomorrow morning's new birth new mercies would soak in. And for breath, that would reinflate the bouncy castle bubble ans squeak of a static charged balloon of faith rubbed against a woolly culture. Too much? .. Of me, of London, of my house: Can. These. Bones. Live? → Lord God, you know v3.
Ez39-40 39 The God who turns bones into armies also turns armies into bones. So Pr16v9, our calling is not only hope but surrender. The Rev19v17-21 ref is helpful for understanding this as the undoing of evil, on God's terms. 40 The third temple. The esv notes encouragingly for the perplexed that this begins one of the most difficult passages in the bible. How do you read this, architect? Jesus is both out temple designer and guide (?v3) and the temple itself, for Rev21v22 the new temple is Jesus himself. Which means what? That Jesus is the condition of the possibility of our worship of the father, and the site of this worship as well. Something like what it is for Jesus to be the way, the truth & the life all at once. Why so specifically architectural? Do you relate to buildings like this? (as I mix my metaphors) Waling round them with Jesus, listening to measurements. So all our work – can we believe better that there are ideas conceived in heaven that Jesus would whisper to us and walk us through, in detail such as this, in all and every area. Today I am convicted again of my recurring failure to create the space to listen to Jesus. Jesus our means and our end, please come and make your plans in and through us, to the glory of your name.
Ez41-42 Silly that having left this so long I have so little to say about something so architectural. There are no soundbites to carry with you, we must come at this another way. I am struck by the ordering and the specificity in apportioning space, rather like a CAP budget, and perhaps with something to say to the ways we build our cathedrals-in-time. It is an expression of and an affirmation of a purposeful God that we should make our spaces legibly purposed, intentionally partitioned, specialised. It is interesting in a way similar to Christopher Alexander who attempts to analogise (or not even by analogy) an explanation of ultimate reality, by an extension of our experience of space as 'centres'. We live in an hierarchical universe – that is, of interconnected, interrelated gradients and concentrations of matter and meaning. We build a geometry to express or deny an understanding that the world has a source and will have a climax, so 41v4, 'most' holy, because there is a scale of such things, we point up to a holier one. There are ways that the constituent parts can be arranged to heighten the sum of the experience of the whole – so too time, so too budgeting. .. I scribble these notes in the back of a notebook alongside measured dimensions of overcrowded Battersea flats. All of measured life, all the scaffolding of our existence is the dry bones waiting for 43v4 glory of God to enter and to fill. God, today, please make our lives so ordered as to be comprehensible channels by which we make space for your peace to inhabit a place and time where the nations can find shelter, an abode for abiding, an abode for the כָּבֵד .
Ez43-44 And I find myself again where even angels fear to tread. Let us walk into the holy of holies with intent this morning, and abide there, in gratitude that in Christ we can, we are all 44v3 chosen to eat in God's presence. This is our everyday. Grateful both for the 44v4-31 symbolic reminder that this *is* our everyday, & for the Acts10 reality that this is our *everyday*. In these many temple metaphors we are also the 1Cor6v19 temple, we are Christ's body, filled with the Holy Spirit as 43v5. This means that we are in absolute proximity to God, and whenever we sin we do so in 43v8 absolute proximity to holiness, everything we do we do in the presence of Jesus. Do we feel the horror at what we do, like rotting corpses behind whitewashed walls, defiling holiness itself. Thank God for Jesus, who always reconsecrates us & on 43v18-27 consecration, which is a being-made-holy, but is also a getting-ready, a preparation. Consecrate me, consecrate us, oh God, for the day, for the week, for every new season to come. Behove us for what is to come, for Jesus sake.
Ez45-46 The extended temple district v1 'holy throughout its whole extent'/ If we are the temple, can we analogise this sabbatical and temple-centric urban design into our own lifes-as-temples? Or, if our sanctuary is our quiet time, how is that hour bordered in the townplan of our daily schedule and how do we give away the other hours of day as an extension of the temple at the heart of our timetable? .. 'The future is now' exclaims the esvsb concerning v9-10's mercy justice. Can we say that where there is justice there must be eschatology? That because we know it will be, we therefore believe it can be and so seek it? So the excellence of Christian activism. .. 46v10 a little note on the one-of-us-ness of good leadership. .. Now, of these sacrifices, I am struck by the frequency of these conspicuous displays of the cost of sin and have wasted/spent some little time trying to syllogise myself to Jesus. We love because we were first loved 1Jn4v19 – loving is a testimony to belovedness. To sin is to fall short Rm3v23 of the nature of a love God and his greatest commandment, to love Mk12v31. We fail to love because we fail to receive love or know ourselves beloved. There is a cost to this sin, to this failure of love. I thinkwe constantly risk understating the scale of the cost of our sin, the scale of the high standard of love desired/required by God and the scale of our forgotten/obscured belovedness. So, v13's daily, morning by morning. We new covenant Jews are not less forgetful. It is crucial that we enter our days well rested, well repented and well beloved, so to love as he first loved us. We get to.
Ez47-48 47v1-12 Oh these streams of living water, here you are, Holy Spirit, how quickly I forget you. Please, please v2 take me by the hand and lead me, from shallow splashing to overwhelming depths. Undo my belief that all to come is some spiritual plateau, it isn't true, we are still only ankle-deep and there is so much more of God yet to know and live in and swim around in. Thank you for leading me so far, thank you for all the faithful ways you have drawn us deeper over the years. Remind us, on days like today, when we think this river isn't getting any deeper. Draw us deep, to hear and feel the skin. We pray for ourself, for those we love, for the church & for the world. 48v35 I prefer the gnb to the esv on this one: 'the-Lord-is-here!' Here, & not just there. We are allowed to wade a little deeper, here&now. Hallelujah!