A Time To Weep image

A Time To Weep

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Doubtless, many will be rejoicing at the news of the removal of Mars Hill Church and Mark Driscoll from Acts 29. All those complaints and accusations and ‘I told you so’s’, against Pastor Mark finally validated and vindicated.

I am currently on holiday in Morzine, a holiday made possible by the generosity of a friend who owns a share in an apartment here. Morzine is crazy town; recreation central. At this time of year the downhill mountain bikers rule, as the skiers and snowboarders must in the winter. I cycled down here, crossing the channel on the Poole to Cherbourg ferry. That was quite an experience, 700 human-powered miles down and across France, arriving 24 hours before the rest of my family pitched up – more conventionally, by car.

This holiday comes at the end of a time of sabbatical which began with a trip to California – a near-three month period thus bookended by mountains: at the beginning of June the mountains of Sequoia and Yosemite, now the mountains of the French Alps.

I love mountains. In many ways I feel most alive in the mountains. Today I walked with my kids to the waterfall at Brochaux, a stunning cascade on the French side of the French-Swiss border. Alpine flowers. Cool air. Hot sun. “Like the sound of many rushing waters is his voice.” I know heaven being ‘in the heavens’ is metaphorical, but at nearly 2,000 meters altitude heaven feels somehow closer.

Normally I disengage from social media while on holiday, but with wifi in the apartment, a bunch of teenage kids, and multiple devices on hand, that is more difficult than it used to be; and this evening I made the mistake of looking at twitter.

There was a torrential storm here this evening. Rain like rain can only be in the mountains, with thunder and lightening. A storm has been coming Mars Hill’s way sometime. In my own church is a guy who got recruited, trained and then spat out by the Mars Hill machine. What at first seemed only malicious rumours became a torrent of accusations too persistent to ignore. A wise American friend told me a year or two back that he feared for Driscoll and what was coming. Now the storm has made landfall.

It is time to weep, not to gloat. I’m not ashamed to name the ways in which Driscoll has helped me – how he gave me a greater confidence in the power of the gospel, a greater clarity about how the church speaks to contemporary culture, how his blue-collared-Christian-muscularity was confidence inspiring. So I weep – for Mark and his church and his influence and for the people he recruited, trained and then spat out. I weep that he was never effectively discipled – or was never willing to submit to such discipleship – and that as a consequence his character failed to match his gift.

This on the same day that the news from Iraq grows ever more grim, with the Islamic State purging the Christian population of that nation. The vastness of the horror unfolding in Iraq, and in Syria, and in Libya, and in Ukraine, and in Gaza, and the much more limited, but for me more personal dismantling of a reputation in Seattle.

I weep.

This morning I read Psalm 90

Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the end of the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

Before Yosemite. Before the Alps. Before ISIS. Before Mars Hill. God.

 

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