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Joan of Arc

Stained glass window of Joan of Arc

First posted on https://godspacelight.com/2021/05/29/joan-of-arc-2/ on 29th May 2021

I wonder what we would have thought of Joan of Arc today even in some of the more crazy charismatic churches. She doesn’t fit the stereotype of prophetic leader. She didn’t have visions of Jesus but of Michael, the archangel, Catherine of the “death by flaming spinning wheel from which the firework known as the Catherine-wheel comes from”, and Margaret who was tortured and murdered because she would not renounce the vow to remain a virginal bride of Christ when a pagan king wanted to marry her. Would we have been more like one source and just say “she claimed to have heard voices in her head”?

I wonder if she had come forward today, a young girl of 16 or so, and said she heard voices of an angel and two martyred women and that she wanted to lead her country to victory, she would be taken to a psychiatric ward? Or, if one of our children said they heard voices, would we tell them to hush and maybe get them checked out for autism? Or, what about ourselves? What would you do, what would I do, if we were sure we could hear voices telling us to do something bold and brave? I wonder if we would just keep quiet and wait for our voices to be “confirmed”. 

As I pondered Joan of Arc, Greta Thunberg came in to my head, the teenager who has stepped up to the mark to try to lead the world to another place. I wonder if there were other young people who felt the same but whose parents, teachers, or churches, told them not to be so silly and the whole thing was too big for them. Greta, I believe, has only got as far as she has because her parents didn’t stop her. There is nothing to say what Joan of Arc’s parents thought but it was her relative who was bold enough to take her to a local garrison and from there she made it to the French court. 

Joan experienced lots of opposition but preserved because of her total belief that this was what God was telling her through his messengers; Michael, Catherine and Margaret. How often do we hear something, and hear it very clear, and yet when we hit opposition, or lack of support from others, we give up? This doesn’t mean that we should power on through because we think this is what we should do but sometimes, like both Joan and Greta, we need to listen to what we are hearing, listen with our hearts, and keep on keeping on even if it means we lose our reputation, our livelihoods, and in Joan’s case, our lives. 

I don’t think Joan cared what other people thought. I don’t think Greta cares much either. This isn’t to say I think either of these young women lack emotion at all. I think they both believe/believed that what they were doing is/was so right that they just can’t/could stop. 

From pondering Joan of Arc, and as a result of that Greta Thunberg, my hope is that when I hear a voice or voices telling me to go and do something I won’t hold back whatever opposition I face, or however much it might damage my reputation. But also when I hear of some young person talking about a dream, a vision, voices speaking to them, that will change the world I will be willing to encourage them rather than hinder them. 

Our world needs to change to stop it going back to the same pre-covid patterns where those who have stuff and status, fear of losing out to those who do not, and where those who do not have status are treated with disgrace and live in fear of having the little they have taken from them. We need to change and I believe we need younger people to help us with that – with more energy, more determination, more of an innocent belief that things can change. 

I would like to be like Joan of Arc’s relative, helping to get someone young person to where they believe they should be, helping and encouraging them to see the change they believe in. 

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What Are BLM Protests Teaching Us?

My daughter and her friend at the BLM protest in Cardiff on Sunday 31st May

There are many prophetic posts and articles about how the next “wave of revival” will be led by young people. Revivals are always led by young people and I believe this is because God wants to stay relevant to the prevailing culture, whether us oldies like it or not.

In North Wales, where I live, last year we commemorated the hundredth anniversary of the last big revival in Wales. That revival was led by young people, and interestingly curtailed by older people. But the majority of the people who led these services and gatherings calling for a new wave of revival were older people, middle aged, my age. The services were conducted in a way we all like – words, prayers, songs, talk, all led by the man/woman at the front, with little space for someone else to react, question or interject. It is how we have grown to know and expect church to be. Are we willing to change not only what we think church services should look like but to let this expect “wave of young leaders” mould church their way? There’s more to it than faster, louder songs and a more catchy preach.

I have noticed the Black Lives Matters (BLM) protests that a high proportion of the people attending aren’t just going along to the protests but are reading and researching the issues. They are then posting and sharing on social media the things they are learning. Things are very different from my protesting days! Sharing and connecting and finding information is so much easier and more varied. Interestingly I noticed that many of those protesting against the BLM marches were white middle aged men, who did seem ignorant of some of the facts.

I believe, if we really do hope for this revival that has been prophesied, not just the older generation, but the younger ones who’ve got used to “how to do church”, need to back off, let go, and also gain some in-depth and varied knowledge on our faith, [which I do see happening in some ministries] because when these young people grab hold of God they will want to know the whys and hows and whats. Are we ready for that? Are we ready to let go? Are we ready to educate ourselves in what we believe? As it says in 1 Peter 3:15 “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,” Note it says “to everyone who asks”. We need to learn to wait until the questions are ask and only answer what is being asked not what we have our stock answers already prepared.

The crux of the BLM protests seem to be about changing attitudes to race but if you listen there is more. There is a challenge to look at our attitudes regarding sexuality, relationships, and life in general. All those things many of the older generation, especially the white middle classes, are stuck in thought patterns of what’s right and what’s wrong that have never been questioned. I have noticed if I spend time with a radical young person I am pulled up on things I didn’t even realise were racist or sexist. How are those who have been in Church for a long time going to able to cope when this rising younger generation talking of God as She or It or They?

The young people will not only lead but they will revolutionise how we think and feel if we let them. I believe some older church members, church leaders and even those who prophesied this wave, may not be willing to accept these changes.

A prophetic word that came out at the outbreak of Covid-19 was that this would be a time to “reset”. Perhaps this is part of the rest – a rethink of our attitudes to each other. Maybe this is a subject for my next blog?

BLM Cardiff 31st May 2020