Dream word – LIFE
“Now there were certain men who were defiled by a human corpse, so that they could not keep the Passover on that day.” NKJV
The cotillion of smelly corpses and cleaned up cadavers
One afternoon whilst walking up from Brighton Beach I found an old cadaver washed up at my feet. Not a corpse mind you, not an abandoned dead body poked and pecked at by the silk white seagulls but a well laid out old cadaver. Its yellowed, glutaraldehyde stained, sandstone skin, bore the marks of its long preservation and through the barred gates of this old church building the sign read, “St Andrews is no longer used for regular worship. Rather than see this beautiful Grade 1 Listed building permanently locked, the friends are raising money for facilities in the Church, so that it may be used all year round by the community.” I noted that the friendly community consisted of the “Brighton and Hove (actually) Gay Men’s Chorus” and that they would be performing in this very place of present consecration once again this May during the cities annual arts festival. The dead body smelt bad.
As Benjamin Disraeli is purported to have said, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics!” Nevertheless, one consistent trend of church statistics in the United Kingdom, especially since the 1970’s, has been the massive decline in church attendance. Excepting of course for the Pentecostal movement and some newer Evangelical churches where attendance is rising, the over-all trend is down, down and drop down dead down. Whilst the Church of England has had the amazing flexibility of being able to pound the nails into its own coffin whilst still smiling nicely and drinking lots of tea, the Baptists and the Methodists, jealous of the ignored thirty nine articled, bald headed funeral dirge, have had to let their own buildings out as carpet warehouses and Mosques. Don’t get upset, don’t get angry at me, for I am speaking statistically of course and therefore with intense, numerical hyperbole. After all, it can’t be true can it? Even if the Brighton and Hove Gay Men’s choir are dancing with the cadaver of an old dead church, keeping it open as a quaint and queer look at a once rich Christian history now long since past, surely all these statistics regarding the death of Christ again, surely they just can’t be true?
In the USA a “Cotillion” is the name of a place one attends to learn manners, and proper social behaviour in the context of dance. However, the Cotillion, this original French country dance, evolved into Royal Courtship dances and from there spawned everything that was complicated and relational in dancing, from the quadrille to the good old square dance. In the United Kingdom, this same guilty and complicated courtship dance is seen more often than not when Christians themselves start dancing with dead churches rather than leaving them. Yes, it has been my observance that it is a particularly British state of mentality to dance with dead church corpses in an attempt to bring them back to life, and frankly, it is a particularly grotesque kind of guilt ridden desperate dance, very ungainly and quite soul destroying. It’s disgusting really isn’t it? “So then,” I ask myself, “Instead of all the desperate dancing and writhing guilt at the inability to bring the corpse back to life, why not just get out and leave that smelly old dead thing? Why not just let it disintegrate? After all, if it’s got a nice face, then I can assure you that there will be than enough clown face undertakers ready to turn the corpse into a dancing gay cadaver.” For the church in the West to thrive we need revival and revival begins when we choose life over death! Don’t feel guilty about doing this.
To assuage some of our very British and unnecessary guilt may I suggest to some of you, that such persistent association with corpse’s has left you unclean and thoroughly unable and unqualified to celebrate! God gave His former unclean, corpse dancing people, a good amount of time to get clean and then and only then, were they allowed to celebrate the “little Passover,” which occurred just one month after the other famed and much missed official community event. I tell you, some of you have already wasted too much of your time dancing with the dead and in the so doing, you have missed the larger celebration of the main Passover. Yet even now, God has allowed you the possibility of participating in a little celebration before you too die. So, to shepherds and sheep alike may I suggest that maybe it’s time to leave the dead well alone and come and get clean? Come and choose life. Brethren, let the wild dancing begin! Be free from the shackles and smell of death. Leave that dead church.
Listen: “And Moses said to them, ‘Stand still, that I may hear what the Lord will command concerning you.’ Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to the children of Israel, saying: “If anyone of you or your posterity is unclean because of a corpse, or is far away on a journey, he may still keep the Lord's Passover. On the fourteenth day of the second month, at twilight, they may keep it. They shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.”” - Numbers 9:8-11 NKJV.
Pray: Lord, open my mind to understanding and let not the dead triumph, for my eyes have grown dim with grief, yes my whole insides have become but a shadow. I am appalled at this yet I remember, that those with clean hands will grow stronger. So Lord, help me let go of the both guilt and the smiling dead and then at the last, to be enabled to lay hold of life. In Jesus name I ask it, amen.
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