Al Massira Testimonial
This project is built from its foundations in the Old Testament as the story of Messiah progresses from Genesis towards the NT. Its visual presentation of a familiar Middle Eastern story and its cultural appropriateness is a perfect model of communication to its natural listeners. The genius of the project is that it can completely bypass the last 300 years of Western cultural mis-interpretation of the gospel, particularly as it is found in an Old Testament which is generally considered as an embarrassment to the sensitive western mindset.
The Old Testament, full as it is of story, song and poem is a creative masterpiece of interactive narrative. It is not a story of some distant God, but a God who is always in relationship. As in any bond of covenant fidelity, there is crisis and chaos, betrayal and jealousy, anger and forgiveness, absence and presence. But both parties work together, cry together, worship together, and even fail together.
But there is also slavery, oppression, famine, war, pestilence, extreme wealth and universal poverty; every cultural nuance can be so much more easily understood by the Al Massira listeners. Here is a God who is for the poor, here is set a of commandments that brings justice, grace and peace, here is a story of failure that is in itself redemptive.
If as is claimed, the entire Old Testament, in its written form, was first assembled in exile in Babylon, then every note of hope is prophetic. How else could those scribes write those incredible words of encouragement in the very pit of despair. But in that despair, in that pit, in that absence …………there is Yahweh.
‘for a brief moment I abandoned you, but with great compassion I will gather you…in overflowing wrath, for a moment I hid my face from you, but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you’ (Isaiah 54:7)
In exile, and on the Cross, we see the God who suffers ‘with us’ in our utter desolation; a God who understands the world of the poor, the oppressed, the hopeless, the economically enslaved. But a God who lives in relationship as a gift, who gives us others as a gift, who is generous, abundant in gift, welcomes the stranger, feeds the widow and orphan.
Also a God who overthrows the mighty and raises up the poor in spirit. This is the God who is much more correctly represented in the ancient stories of the Middle East, where people lived outside the dominant militaristic, commoditised, self-absorbed culture with its privatised piety.
The Al Massira project will be very successful because it can reveal a truth that is no longer available to western ears.
A God of the 10 commandments, of sabbath & neighbourliness who does not require us to fight against each other to survive. A God of the poor of Matthew 25; a God of relationships that always leads to human flourishing; we are free because we are no longer in competition with each other.
The task is urgent. People need to look away from western models of ‘success’ which is already broken and does not lead to an understanding of the Truth. The affluent have been captured by the totalism of the system (says Walter Brueggemann) and they in turn have captured the gospel and ‘use it’ as just another form of commodity.
Al Massira is a perfect model to understand that human flourishing in God is through a renewed society of covenantal neighbourliness, new creation and a faith in the abundance of God, despite the evidence of despair that is all around.
Peoples who’s daily experience is war, famine, violent oppression, despair, refugees in a foreign land, can completely understand the Old Testament and its hope in the pit of despair. But a hope built on the gift of an abundant God who, through the Holy Spirit, inspires communities of neighbourliness to bring human flourishing.