We enjoyed a wonderful time of fellowship in worship and listening to the Lord during our special ‘Advance’ weekend gathering at the end of January 2023. Sixty of us were able to gather in person – our first weekend gathering in 5 years! – with others joining us online. If you would like to see any of the sessions, video recordings can be found here.
The title of our gathering was ‘Prepared for Such a Time as This’. We believe the Lord has clearly confirmed that He has raised and trained us as the Maranatha Community for His particular purpose and, during our time together over this special weekend, some clarity began to emerge about the journey ahead. Here are some of the ‘headlines’:
- As diverse members of the Body of Christ, our oneness is an essential part of the fulfilment of God’s purposes for the whole Body. We are as pixels on a screen – each tiny light is necessary for the whole image to be seen clearly. Our individual lights shine as we keep the focus of our lives on worship of Jesus. It is time to “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.” (Is 60.1). The purpose of the Body of Christ is to reveal the true, unique image of Jesus in and to the world. “The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed” (Rom 8.19).
- The living Body of Christ transcends time. It includes all those who are ‘in Christ’, whether they have lived on earth in the past, present or future. Our roots and security are in Christ Himself, not in traditions, events or time frames. We are called to be totally distinct from the world and its ways, as salt and light.
- From the beginning, God has established patterns on earth, which reflect and connect us to the heavenly reality. (The tabernacle which God instructed Moses to build is an obvious example). When the pattern on earth – the way we live, the way we gather as His people, the way we relate to God and to one another – matches God’s design, we see His will accomplished ‘on earth as it is in heaven’. The Lord has established patterns in our Community, to which we should hold – ‘as it was in the beginning, is now….’ – in order for us to continue to fulfill His purposes. Some instances are: the way in which we gather in a circle with a central table – a statement of our Christocentric orientation, our discipline of listening to the Lord and discerning His will through oneness of heart and mind, the absence of named speakers at gatherings – our declaration that only the Name of Jesus matters and that we gather to listen to Him, our regular affirmation of oneness with the persecuted church.
- The landscape has changed! (See 2 Kings 7.5-9). For some time we have spoken about this being a ‘kairos’ time – God’s time of opportunity. It is time to step out with a new boldness of faith, believing that we will see “mountains melt like wax…” (Ps 97.5) and that it will only take one small stone to slay a giant. We believe that the Lord is saying that He has made us ready!
- Over the past 2 years the Lord has taught us how to ‘Ascend and Advance’ as a Community. This discipline of seeking the Lord’s heavenly perspective at all times is key to the way in which we discern His will as Jesus did: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing…” (John 5.19). As we do this we will exercise His authority.
- The Lord is giving us a map. This is in contrast to our recent journey through ‘unchartered waters’. The map is not a static 2-D route but, rather, a way of navigating all the various situations we will encounter.
- There is greater shaking to come. Wake up! We believe the Lord has been shaking the world and especially the Church for the purpose of bringing about a ‘re-set’ and ‘re-formation’. It is important that we recognise the Lord’s hand in what is about to happen in order that we embrace it and ‘ride the wave of opportunity’ and reach out to those in need, rather than allowing ourselves to be submerged through a negative perspective.
- We have a sense that the Lord is calling us to make a ‘clarion call’ to the Church.