I’d never gotten around to seeing the latest James Bond movie – Spectre – when it came out, so I took the opportunity one night when it was on over the Christmas holidays. Amidst scenes of car chases I found myself musing on that well-known Bond catchphrase ‘Shaken not Stirred’, and a quick Google search revealed that many have (over)analysed this now well-known phrase. Cocktail experts have long debated, it seems, on whether or not shaking is a good thing for a martini (apparently not - it bruises the gin!) Biochemists at the Western University have studied and concluded that the antioxidant properties of a shaken gin or vodka martini were better than a stirred one!
But, James Bond aside, the phrase popped up again at the opening reflection at our UCAN Directors’ Board meeting last week. The context concerned King Herod’s response to the Magi’s visit. Herod was shaken by news of a potential challenge to his own authority and security. The possibility of a new king so disturbed him that he sought advice from priests, teachers and information from the Magi. But at no time did his fear and insecurity translate to any stirring in his soul, that news of the Messiah could be a good thing for him personally. He was definitely shaken but not at all stirred to seek what God was doing in the current circumstances. He sent others to see Jesus and experience the joy of worshipping Him and he remained in his own shaken, fearful insecurity. He epitomised the Collins dictionary definition of ‘Shaken not Stirred’. ‘If someone has been shaken but not stirred by an experience, you mean that they have been slightly disturbed by it, but not deeply enough to change their behaviour or way of thinking’.
There is a large degree of shaking going on around us currently. As I type this we are on the eve of a significant vote in the houses of parliament. News cycles are full of the potential shaking that may result economically, politically and nationally. How do we respond to this as Christians? Amidst insecurity and national shaking let us be stirred to look afresh to Jesus and ask what He can do in the midst of this. God’s people have a long history of experiencing upheaval and shaking and also experiencing the faithfulness of God throughout those times. After a difficult time, God reminded his people through the prophet Haggai ‘I am with you’ declares the Lord (Haggai 1:13). It may well be that those around us will notice that as Christians we remain solid and unshakable because we know God is with us and that ‘the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds’ (Phil 4:7).
How do we respond to this ‘shaking’ as Christians AND church administrators? The months ahead may feel financially insecure for some of our churches. It may be tempting with our ‘administrator hat on’ to become risk adverse and counsel our church leaders to curtail plans for mission and growth. But if those outside of the church feel shaky, it is more urgent to ensure that our churches are actively sharing the good news of the gospel – many revival moments come out of prayer and national upheaval.
‘The Lord stirred up the spirit of the whole remnant of the people. They came and began to work on the house of the Lord’ (Haggai 1:14). Our prayer for you and for all of the UCAN churches is that you are stirred. Stirred to pray, stirred to spend time with God so that you can be reassured that He is with you and is faithful. Stirred to ask God what He is plans to do with and through the church at this time. Stirred to encourage our clergy colleagues and ministry leaders that the church has a good news story – the gospel – to share in the national picture at this time.
If you feel at all shaken, then I pray that you are also very much stirred.
Chair of the UCAN Directors