The drawing depicted here was inspired by ‘a waking dream’ or ‘vision’. This was akin to seeing a video being played. However, there was a major difference. Every one of my senses was engaged in this.
My sense of smell gave me my first inkling of something unusual happening. I could smell fresh earth. It wasn’t unpleasant. It was like a woodland smell but was so strong that I started looking around my room to see what was causing it. I heard a buzzing like flies moving around, I saw a pile of freshly-dug earth (seen on the left of the picture). I understood that Martin Luther had been at work. He had been digging away at earth that had piled up around a building. His work revealed a cornerstone that had been covered from view. I had a sense that Luther was only on a lunch break and would be back. My eye panned to the left. Here ivy was growing up a nearby tree and was about to overshadow the cornerstone. I knew from my gardening experiences that ivy has a network of roots underground that could choke the tree.
I had no sense of alarm. This revelation seemed purely factual.
Weep for My Church
My eye tracked from left to right along the wall where I saw an object. (I found it difficult to draw, it was complex, so I enquired of an architect friend about it. He said, it is a ‘coping stone’. It looks a bit sinister in the picture but that is because I lack the skill to depict it correctly.) At this point I heard flies buzzing. They had been caught by spiders in a web and dangled there, buzzing ineffectually. Below them, in my line of vision, a door. This door has no handle, rather a ‘post-box’ style gap into which you might place your hand to find the catch.
My eye moved into a church with tiled floors (as things do in dreams where normal laws of physics break down). Someone had been sweeping the floors, and like Luther, had left their implement leaning on a wall. The church was dark but my eye could work out that three people were huddled together. They were clergy. However, looking at them closely, their clothing seemed to be covered in fish scales or chain mail. Either way, it looked like a defensive covering:
Detail: Weep for My Church
I heard the words, “Weep for my Church.” Behind the figures is a door. In my mind’s eye I travelled up the stairs and into a dusty room. It contained old hymn books. I heard the voice say, “You shall sing a new song.”
This vision has plentiful symbolism and it is not all covered here. From its focus on Luther’s spade (groundwork) and the Cornerstone (Jesus Christ) the eye travels down and clockwise through the imagery. The fresh smell of earth gave an immediacy to the imagery. In real life that smell doesn’t last for long.
By chance, I happened across an exegesis by Dr Thomas L Constable, in which he said, concerning ‘style’:
- One stylistic characteristic is Ezekiel’s autobiographical perspective. Almost all of his oracles (except 1:2-3; 24:24) appear in the first person giving the impression that they are memoirs of a true prophet of Yahweh. However, Ezekiel did not often share his personal struggles or reactions with the reader, as Jeremiah did (except 4:14; 9:8; 11:13; 20:49; 24:20; 37:3).
- Two other features mark the oracles in Ezekiel. One is the “halving” of oracles in which the writer first propounded a theme and then pursued a different theme only to end with a coda that links elements from both parts.19 The second characteristic is the use of an earlier text or tradition, the interpretation of it in the light of current circumstances, and the application of it to new situations.20″1)
This brings new vistas to my limited understanding of interpretation. I appeal to anyone ‘out there’ who has biblical knowledge or a theology that addresses these questions that I would like to hear from them! So far, I am blown away that a feature in my visions is an acknowledged feature of the style in Ezekiel’s visions. I had often wondered why, what I termed ‘a coda’ (because it reminded me of the tail end of musical pieces, especially in jazz) existed at all! These codas seem to add hope to what was an already dire situation. Why are they both (in Weep for my Church and Stairway to Heaven?) stone steps? Both seem rather hard as a message of hope! At the end of the steps, however, new songs of praise and an open heaven. Is God cheering us up after a vision of ‘despair’?
Constable’s idea that Ezekiel “first propounded a theme and then pursued a different theme only to end with a coda that links elements from both parts” is replicated here. The Theme of Luther doing the groundwork to reveal Christ is followed by the theme of priestly … what? Sorrow? Defensiveness? Then the words, “Weep for my Church” – a call to intercession. And how might the coda, ‘You shall sing a new song’ relate to this sorry picture? Have the clergy rejected the cornerstone? (Who do I mean? Not all clergy have rejected Jesus, but many preach a very different gospel. Some are caught up in worldly traps.)
A strange element in all of this is the doorway “with a catch”.
Another element, in a key position, central left (in the golden ratio) we see the Cornerstone, Jesus Christ, that has been exposed to the light of day.
[Revised 1 March 2016] I noted that Constable sees three distinct phases in Ezekiel’s visions. He said that a theme was introduced, then a different theme, then a coda. ” Walter Brueggmann might throw added light on this mystery :
- “The matter of the end of the old tradition and the presentation of new actions is a dialectical matter. The actions of God are new, but they are cast largely in the moods and images of the old memories so that the discernment and presentation of the new depend profoundly on knowledge about the old. These speakers present for Israel a new reading of historical reality that is really “there” in the public process, but it is not fully present until brought to imaginative speech.” 2.
Is that why the ‘style’ in Weep for my Church” begins by looking back at the known? Luther is a milestone in church history; we know his deeds; he is on record; “here I stand, I can do no more.” And then what? The next phase of the vision, where the words, “Weep for my Church” are uttered, depict clergymen. If Luther is the epitome of integrity, willing to lose his life, what are these bedraggled-looking defensive creatures? What has the Church become that it is represented by these sorry characters? Why weep for a Church unless something is sorely remiss? Why the call for intercession if all is well? The answer has to be that weeping is the only response left. Earlier today, someone put to me that their own call was into lamentations.
And then the promise of hope. After ascending the staircase to a room of dusty hymn books comes the words, “and you shall sing a new song.” This echoes the words in Isaiah 43:18-19 : “Do not remember former things. Behold I am doing a new thing.” But, as ever our God includes his creatures in the outworking of those new things. Here, the imagination is used to “mine the tradition in ways that cause the old tradition to articulate a newness.” (p2 Brueggemann) That articulation does not come out of nowhere but is situated in the present and “depends on the ability of these poets (in that case Jeremiah; Ezekiel; Isaiah) to speak a newness out beyond the limits of the purview of their contemporaries.” (p3 Brueggemann) So, if ‘Weep for my Church’ is to bring something new, what is it?
What do I see? The clergy are all men. (?) One is seated. Another is covered (covert? and there is a story behind this but I must gain permission to repeat it here.). They cluster together in the middle of the Church building. Are they alarmed that the Cornerstone is about to be covered with ivy? No. Is Luther’s ‘groundwork’ to deteriorate into nothing? Who cares? The spiders are still at work, busily wrapping up flies in their shrouds. Do I sense danger? Yes, and is the danger complacency? Is the Church a glorified ‘men’s club’? I have to say that I personally have been led by some brilliant, strong Christian male leaders who have risked their reputations in order to maintain what they believed. History too, in recent years has produced churchmen of the calibre of Dietrich Bonhoeffer; lay leaders such as Rees Howells. But these men are a rarity. Why should that be?
Even now, since women have become ordained, I put the question, is the order of church business the fair-minded ‘defer to one another’ model? I have undertaken in-depth studies of organisations that reluctantly ‘allowed women in”. Aviation in particular, despite the courage of women like Amy Johnson, has paid lip-service to female pilots. Whilst asserting a pro-female stance behind the scenes there are a myriad of ways of manipulating events to make such women disadvantaged. I am ashamed to say that the same psychodynamics apply in church administration as in lay organisations. That is the shocking truth. The church should be better than the organisations that exist merely to make an effective financial profit.
The reality is, that since Jesus Christ the foundation stone of the Church set good examples of how to relate to fellow-Christians who are women, today’s Church seems to be non the wiser. The organised church produces men who are in a huddle, in the dark, wearing defensive armour against the “monstrous regimen of women” (John Knox)? Or what?
I believe dreams, visions and artwork derived from them to be polyvalent. In other words, there may different levels of meaning.
The third move in this vision relates to, “and you shall sing a new song.” Here is a breath of fresh air. Pneuma. Inspiration. If I look around to ascertain where that is happening today I see organisations such as Elijah House and Ellel. Further, key teachers such as Sid Roth, Jonathan Cahn, and James Goll have a global reach, a new message, and they come with worship teams that produce a new song. Women such as Cindy Jacobs, Jennifer LeClaire, and in Australia, Christie Blaikie. In art theory, and especially art therapy, a basic maxim is that where there has been a change in ‘style’, in expression, there has been an inner shift in the person. Frequently, this shift relates to growth. At a different level, we may witness this shift in the grand changes in art movements that often coincide with changes in the broad sweeps of history. An example of this is the Art Deco movement that coincides with the surge in mechanical engineering developments. The art reflects that in its angles, wheels and cogs. The looseness of handing of French Impressionism coincides with the social fluidity and movement of populations.
In a week when Cardinal Pell stated that it “wasn’t of much interest to me” that priests were sexually abusing children more of us look with a mixture of pity and sadness on a church whose espoused values are covered in dust. The cornerstone uncovered by Luther is being covered again in the dust of indifference. A father of the abuse victims has “given up hope that Pell will do anything to help fix things.” 3. For Rome, the subject is a closed book. Like the dusty hymn books up the stairs behind the priests in the picture, that book is to remain closed.
We are ready for a new song. The wind of the spirit is blowing.
This is my Bible Gateway search result for the word, ‘Cornerstone’:
Christ is the cornerstone, foreordained, to be rejected and then to be built on. Whatever isn’t built on this cornerstone does not have access to the promise that who trust in him will never be put to shame. Luther did the groundwork to reveal this cornerstone that is Jesus and who had been covered from view
I heard a buzzing like flies moving around. They were indeed moving but encased in spiders webs. This speaks of death.
My eye panned to where ivy was growing up a nearby tree and was about to overshadow the cornerstone. I knew from my gardening experiences that ivy has a network of roots underground that could choke the tree. This new growth is threatening the life of the tree; this new growth represents the enemies of the cornerstone. Ivy is vigorous but very destructive of sandstone.
The coping stone was a good touch, and in that way that dreams have of telling us words by using images, I understood that we, the church, were only coping. (I may be wrong; other interpretations are welcome.)
The notion of a door where you have to risk placing your hand somewhere to ‘find the catch’ is an interesting one. Maybe this is theology.
Someone had been sweeping the floors, leaving their implement, a broom, leaning on a wall. The three people huddled together in the dark were clergy. Why would they need a defensive covering? The answer may lie in the fact that Jesus Christ, the Cornerstone was, for them, yet to be acknowledged. Luther may have cleared the way, but has he reported back to the Committee, who have to discuss with their hierarchy, and formulate a way of going forward? Is the church stuck in its own order? If not this, then what is behind the words, “Weep for my Church”?
“You shall sing a new song”
- Psalm 96 [Full Chapter]
[ Psalm 96 ] Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. …
In the context of the preceding vision and the words, “Weep for my Church…” these words seem to demand a conjunction, “…and you shall sing a new song.”
[Revision March] In early March, I met and was prayed for by Reg Morais. I then looked at his eBook, Seer’s Heart. In it he said”
“Gil is a South African who I met in Australia via Facebook. He’s also a prophet. For some time we had discussions via the Internet, then when we finally met, Gil said, “Let’s go somewhere for a meal.” That’s Biblical. I love it.
Gil and I met to see where we could connect as seers, because seers cannot function individually in the gateway. In the gateway, the seers must come together. They must be one voice and one sound. Don’t try to come to the party with your own sound and your own voice and your own song.
God’s giving us a new song, a song we can sing together. (my emphasis) If we have the same song, the same voice of God, it won’t matter if I’m from Africa and you’re from Scotland or Italy. It doesn’t matter where we come from, what matters is where we are in the gateway, where we HAVE to do business together. So let us find the focus point “ 4.
This quote from Psalm 96 “Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples” caused me to picture many peoples singing in tongues.
Paradox Church, Kwinana. 5TH June 2016
During the presentation by Rachael, the Spirit was upon me and I received a quick flash of a picture. It was a ‘close up’ of the Cornerstone from ‘Weep for my Church’. What I saw was a massive scrubbing brush cleaning the stonework. It was REVEALING. It was the stone that had been long-buried but revealed by Martin Luther. Now, it is undergoing a cleaning-up process, revealing the texture of the stone; what it is made of; its beauty.
- Walter Brueggemann, (1986) Hopeful Imagination: Prophetic Voices in Exile. Fortress Press.
- ABC News. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-03-01/george-pells-gerald-ridsdale-testimony-beggars-belief-survivors/7209700 downloaded 2 March 2016
- Morais, Reg. Seers Heart E-Book. p.151 http://anointtheworld.com/old_4-15-15/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Reg-Morais-Seers-Heart-E-Book.pdf downloaded 18th March, 2016