Many years later, Anne and Harmony could make out a figure coming quickly toward them. It was clearly clothed in bright colours and was impressively tall.
“An angel!” gasped Anne with surprise and excitement.
“Hello Anne, Howdy Harmony,” grinned the Angel. Angels were often surprisingly informal, with a childlikeness about them.
“I’ve got some news. Jesus is giving you all notice that the first Jubilee is nearly complete. You’re to go to Zion for a team meeting in one month’s time. Start preparing your community for transition.”
“Understood,” said Harmony. “This means we will be moving on from here,” she said, turning to Anne. “It’s the end of the very first jubilee season.”
“This will cause some distress among the women,” said Anne. “But I know it’s all for their benefit long-term.”
“That’s right,” agreed the angel. “The growth that comes with change cannot be made with short-cuts. Anyway, all the best with the next month. We’ll see you in Zion in a few weeks. I’m off to see Sylvia and Carlos now. See ya!”
“Send our love,” called Harmony as the Angel headed off down the road.
“Wow, there we go!” said Harmony. “That Jubilee went quickly, didn’t it?”
“For us it did,” replied Anne. “I am not sure some of the women feel the same, but it’ll be interesting to find out.”
The two friends ended their evening walk and headed back to their cabins in their respective clearings in the forest, both pondering the task ahead of them, but also excited to see the whole team again.
Despite having lived for years in their shared home, Carlos and Sylvia were unused to knocks at the door. Carlos got up from his table where he had been lovingly constructing a model zoo made of whittled sticks. Opening the door, he was overjoyed to be greeted by an angel.
“Hallo Carlos!” said the angel.
Carlos laughed and gladly accepted a high-five. Sylvia appeared beside him and was treated to an angelic fist-bump.
“Time to get ready!” said the angel. “Jesus has called a meeting for Team Thomas in Zion. The first Jubilee transition is coming!”
“So, we’re moving on?” said Sylvia, turning to Carlos. “How exciting!”
The angel explained a few more details before heading onwards. Sylvia and Carlos sat down together in their front room and began discussing some of the villagers.
“If Imelda and Dawn are separated, that will put an end to their clothing enterprises!” reflected Sylvia.
“I wonder if Fran and Kelly will end up in the same place or not?” mused Carlos. “Hard to know which would be better for them, to persevere with each other and grow that way, or be able to move on?”
“Jesus will know. Ruach and he will have the best idea of where they should go next.”
“Where is Yan?” asked the angel. “I have something to tell you both.”
“He’ll be meditating about now,” said Yvonne. “He lives just around the corner, let’s go and find him.”
“Oh boy!” shouted the angel, jumping up and down. Yvonne giggled at the sight of the messenger’s excitement for doing his job.
Yan came to his door in a toga, a serene look on his face. Noticing the angel, his face lit up.
“I have great news!” enthused the angel and proceeded to explain the impending transition to Yan and Yvonne.
Waving the angel off, the two friends began to marvel at how the time had passed. How they had watched Gerty, Eric and the other children grow into amazing young people. They rejoiced at the progress Johan and Ebo had shown in releasing their prejudices and finding a path towards full reconciliation. Yan was moved by Johan’s consistent willingness to address perceived prejudices.
“Do you think we’ll miss everyone?” asked Yan.
Yvonne was upset by the question. She paused as tears began to well up in her eyes. She smiled through her emotion and looked at Yan.
“Oh yes. I think we will. The love we have for these people is deep and real. We will certainly miss those we are no longer around, but I believe that, in time, we will be seeing them again.”
“I don’t doubt it,” said Yan gently putting an arm around her shoulder.
“How do you feel?” asked the angel.
“I will be glad to see the team again,” replied Bull.
“Are you finding it hard here, guys?”
“Well, yes – at times it’s been very challenging,” replied Thomas. “It has been hard to remain patient and kind, but if you keep the results in mind, you can endure the process.”
The angel looked around their cabin.
“You really have a wonderful spot here,” he said. “Do you get many visitors?”
“We began to get some, but we found that they would take some steps forward and then some steps back, which is what we expected knowing the type of people that are here,” Bull responded. “Progress is very slow, there is much to work through.”
“And Agape never insists on its own way,” the angel added. “There is no use in forcing anything. Right, I best be off. I’ve seen all of Team Thomas now, so I’ll head back to Zion and tell Jesus that the team has been notified. Good to see you both!”
“Am I allowed to feel a little excited about the end of this first period?” asked Bull with a cheeky grin.
Thomas took a deep breath and blew it out slowly. Turning to his friend he approached him and wrapped his arms around him, holding him tight.
“Yes. Of course,” Thomas said gently. “I love you, brother.”
Bull loved a hug and was enjoying squeezing Thomas back, “I love you too, mate,” he replied.
They parted and looked out of the window which had a view down the valley onto the camp.
“Wow, this is going to be interesting!” said Thomas.
“That’s right, it is meant to feel different. Kairos time works much better for humans than Chronos time. Kairos is about quality, Chronos is about quantity – seconds, minutes, hours… In Kairos, you don’t think about how time is measured, you are just in the moment.”
Jesus handed Yvonne her drink he’d just made.
“I think we’re all here!” he said with a smile and made his way to a large table.
Yvonne followed him, thankful that her question about why fifty years hadn’t felt very long had been answered.
Jesus sat down and started to drum a little beat on the table with his fingers. Everyone started to look around and laugh as Jesus bobbed his head along to the rhythm. The whole team took their places around the table as conversations were put on hold. It was time for the review of the first jubilee.
“Ok, my friends! I’m so excited to see you and hear about your first jubilee!” Jesus was animated and almost overflowing with genuine relish at seeing Thomas’ whole team again.
“Thomas, Bull, why don’t we start with you?”
“Where to start?” Bull chuckled gently.
“The community is situated a long way from Zion, but we always felt reassured knowing Cedric, our watchful Seraph, was on hand nearby. We had a couple of hundred very tough men from gangs around the world, all of whom had been hardened by their experiences in the Previous Age. Initially they were very individual and fought amongst themselves for supremacy. There were regular brawls in the town square, but to give them credit, they soon realised it was futile.”
“They decided to create temporary committees by drawing names at random. It worked as none of them wanted to be held responsible for long. It meant everyone had a turn at guiding the community. At times it was brutal, as some still had a tendency toward inflicting pain on others. Cedric had to intervene when they tried to torture one another. Many of them got extremely bored with their lives!”
“Soon into the jubilee, we built a place outside of the settlement so that we could meditate in peace, and demonstrate the technique to others,” continued Bull. “A few of the men began to see what we were doing and began to experiment with meditation privately. This practice has begun to see a noticeable maturing in some of the men, and even helped them come to new ideas and get more out of their lives.”
Jesus turned to Carlos and Sylvia. “Now, how have things been in your village?”
“Life there has mostly reached a stalemate,” began Sylvia. “The past fifty years has seen people start to take small steps toward relationship with one another, but mostly only for selfish reasons.”
“It’s sad to say, but their need to be ‘right’ and to one-up each other remains a primary driving force in their existence,” said Carlos. “The only sign of community co-operation has been around swapping food items with one another to vary their diets.”
“There have been some working relationships established,” said Sylvia. “Some of them have started to use each other’s talents in order to set themselves up in business, but this is very much in order to serve themselves.”
“The exception has been Kelly, she has opened up to us frequently and made some progress,” concluded Carlos.
“Right, thank you,” said Jesus. “We will need to put most members of each of those communities in a similar community in the next jubilee. It will only be by reaping the consequences of their self-centred desires and meditating on their past behaviour that they come to recognise how distorted their desires are.”
“We will move Kelly to a community nearer Zion as she would benefit from a more supportive environment,” added Jesus.
He looked around the table at the whole team. “All of you will be moving to new regions, and you will mostly have new members in your communities. The kindness you show them will keep drawing them to better choices.”
Jesus was pleased to see that the team reacted with excitement. Some glanced at each other, and flashed grins and others leaned forward with renewed interest.
“And how have the children come on?” Jesus asked Yvonne and Yan.
“Well, it’s been a very emotional fifty years!” enthused Yvonne. “We’ve watched the children grow up together in the village and become treasured as part of the community.”
“Each person needs to learn how to operate in the physical world. Thank you for providing the school and community environment that allowed each child to reach physical maturity. It is essential that each person gains the knowledge and discipline needed to live as an individual,” said Jesus. “Every individual must become competent in the techniques needed to physically exist. If they didn’t get the chance in the Previous Age, then the process must be completed on the New Earth.”
“It was a privilege to help these children grow. We developed a curriculum that ensured they all had the skills of reading, writing and arithmetic. These were developed so that they could research anything that interested them. We also ensured they knew how to keep themselves, and their environment, clean. Knew the essentials of cooking, making clothes and maintaining their accommodation.
It often surprised us that they seemed to naturally know agape love without being taught,” said Yvonne.
“Indeed,” said Yan. “They have often naturally led the learning process of the adults.”
“This was always the great gift of childhood,” said Jesus with a twinkle in his eye. “Children carry innocence and wisdom into the world, and often help the older ones find it again.”
“There were various deep-seated issues in many of the adults carried over from their experiences in their Previous Age. Many times, it was the children who helped identify these and helped bring breakthrough and healing.”
“Yes,” said Yan. “We found the adults were mostly able to talk with us, and we are pleased to see much progress in their journeys.”
“People were mainly happy to work,” said Yvonne. “Once they realised work was enjoyable and satisfying. The New Earth yields abundant crops with much less toil than before.”
Jesus leaned back on his chair. “Yes, working to bring in the provisions for everyone is a great joy. It brings me so much pleasure to see the systems Papa and I designed working so well.”
“Even the produce in our community is abundant,” said Bull.
“Yes, the whole of New Earth is able to yield the same in all regions. The providence of Agape Love makes sure no-one need go hungry. This was the way things were in the Previous Age, until humanity plunged the planet into such chaos that many groups were unable to access the resources they needed,” Jesus said sadly. “The villages of Beulah, Anne and Harmony?”
“We had a very fractious time to begin with,” said Harmony. “The women were in such fragile, vulnerable states.”
“It is taking many years for the trust to be built,” commented Anne. “We understand that the traumas they experienced will only be healed with faithful, patient and loving kindness.”
“Some are in a perpetual state of victimhood,” continued Harmony. “We know they are victims, of course, but we are looking for their identity to be rooted in who they are as whole people now, not as who they once were.”
“Yes, this is delicate,” agreed Jesus. “Victim identity is connected deeply to shame and hurt, but also to pride. It takes humility to release oneself from the need to always consider oneself a victim and begin to believe in a stronger and deeper identity away from what happened to oneself.”
“This is the process we are in,” added Harmony. “For some of the women, the sense of self has been relocated to what they can do in the community.”
“And this can look like avoiding the issues,” said Anne, “though it is also progress.”
“Yes, it’s not one or the other,” said Jesus. “The lines in our hearts are always blurred. Do you feel any of them are ready to meet some men, yet?”
“I would say that by the end of the next Jubilee, some of them may be,” said Harmony.
“Alright, we will place each of them in communities with just women for now,” said Jesus. “Johan and those in his community will be placed in communities appropriate to their current maturity.”
Jesus looked around the table once again. His heart swelled with loving pride in this group of friends.
“And how are you doing in yourselves? You’re not expected to be superheroes! What are you seeing, and learning? How are you feeling?”
Harmony checked the others to see if anyone was about to speak.
“I’m aware of just how different my background is to most of the women I’m working with,” she said thoughtfully. “I’ve learned to not assume anything from my upbringing or education is the same as theirs. I feel I’m constantly having to check my assumptions.”
“That’s really good, Harmony. The process of learning about others will never stop,” said Jesus.
“I’ve felt tested at times,” said Bull. “I’ve been beaten so often, some days I’ve felt like I was the one being chastised.”
“I know exactly how this feels,” said Jesus, kindly.
“I know you do, Jesus. It’s kept Thomas and I going in the darkest moments. To know that you didn’t pick sides either. You stayed true to the way of Agape Love - and they killed you for it.”
Jesus nodded slowly. “It’s the price we pay for representing a love that remains neutral amongst the power games of humankind. When we choose to not exercise our power, we get taken advantage of and it looks like we are being punished. Punished by those who are deciding our circumstances on earth, but also by God, if you have a view of God that says God must punish.”
“When I think back to all I’ve done, all I’ve seen, it’s confirmed that the way of Agape Love doesn’t need to punish or seek revenge. Sometimes it has been necessary to gently and lovingly enforce boundaries to prevent excessive pain. But only the process of experiencing the consequences of one’s own actions produces lasting transformation. At times though, it seemed that these men would never change,” Bull sighed.
“How are you feeling about it, Thomas?” asked Jesus, turning to his old friend.
“I trust the process, but it can feel like there is no Kairos time for the men, only very slow Chronos! The days can really drag, but Bull and I can always find Ruach as we pause and focus. Bull and I seek her in the mornings and in the evenings, and she has never, ever failed to be with us. Her guidance has often brought us into very helpful insights. She lifts our heads and gives us the energy to face the harder days.”
“Our respite periods in Zion were always completely refreshing,” added Thomas. “We have never burned out or lost the plot, because we can so effectively be restored here in the city. The angels and cherubim really know how to bless us!”
Jesus laughed, “Yes, they are wonderful like that!”
“I have often been struck by how deep the trauma is within those who experienced war in the Previous Age,” said Yan. “We all suffered, but we also remember better days. Some of the men in our village died so young, and violently. They had years of war and being institutionalised by their training. They don’t remember life outside the military environment.”
“Those who became soldiers saw things that shake the human soul to its foundation,” said Jesus, sadly. “Some of the young men that died in uniform need a lot of tender understanding. That’s why I’m so glad you were there with them, Yan.”
“Do some of them go to desert communities, even though they were co-opted into war with no choice?” asked Yan.
“A few do,” said Jesus. “We understand that they were given no choice as to what they were made to do. However, for some it gave them a chance to give themselves over to depraved desires and tendencies, and we do have to be very firm with them to help them see clearly what they did.”
“Those that were institutionalised have had to do the most learning, and unlearning,” Yvonne pitched in. “Many conversations and inner work through the years has led some to gain an insight into their harmful ways. Some have come a long way and are in a place of reconciliation. Others are still in denial about the extent of their inherited beliefs. We are definitely seeing a lot of encouraging things, though!” she exclaimed with a characteristic chirp.
“Carlos and I see a lot of pride and bitterness in our village,” said Sylvia. “But we have found that this only serves to inspire us to go the opposite way.”
Carlos smiled warmly. “We were very happy in the home we built. It was really good to involve some of the men from my end of the settlement in building it. It gave them a project to join in with and some actually started to communicate with each other after decades of silence.”
“Whereas the women were arguing and gossiping throughout,” added Sylvia.
“Of course, not all women are like this,” said Anne warmly. “We found our community kept themselves to themselves for a very long time.”
“It seems that some people still believe they are addicted to things that they used to be addicted to before,” observed Carlos. “We’ve had tremendous trouble from some people in our community demanding all sorts of things, turning things upside down trying to find nicotine or alcohol.”
“And we’ve had folk who find it hard to accept that there is no sexual desire,” added Yan.
“Their minds are still psychologically programmed to think that they want these things,” explained Jesus. “It won’t be until they are able to fully embrace the present moment and be completely in-tune with their resurrection bodies that they will be able to see that they are truly free of any addiction.”
“So, is it just an illusion that they need these things?” asked Harmony.
“No,” replied Jesus, “It’s relative. If they are craving it, they are craving it. They just haven’t realised where that comes from and that it’s not a genuine bodily need. It’s not the brain, the brain in resurrected bodies is completely new. It’s the mind, which is more than simply the brain. They have psychological crutches that they believe are part of who they are, but it’s not the truth.”
“We had one lady try to smoke tea leaves at one stage,” remembered Sylvia. “She soon realised it wasn’t doing her any good.”
“It often takes people unpleasant experiences to understand something isn’t good for them,” said Jesus. “Those, outside of Zion, are in environments that encourages them to learn from such experiences. It will take some a long time to choose to leave their unhealthy attitudes, behaviours and beliefs behind. They are still perfectly free in their agency to choose, as we will not coerce anyone. It is possible that in the coming Jubilees some will dig themselves deeper into their unhealthy and destructive choices whereas others will start to decide on much healthier and constructive courses.”
“Will mixing up their community and location help them?” asked Anne.
“Moving to a new community every fifty years is good for everyone. It allows each person to ‘restart’ their lives unencumbered by acts they had previously employed to fit into the community. Sometimes a person desires to change but feels unable to because of the expectations of their neighbours with whom they have a relationship. Moving everyone into a new community allows each individual to change the persona they present to others, if they wish to do so.
Some people also need a new environment to explore their attitude to relationships they had previously not encountered. Though some may have made significant progress on one issue, say, their attitude toward people of a different colour, they may be surprised to realise that they struggle when asked to relate to a person with completely different musical tastes. This is to be expected, but as they experience multiple communities people will learn a deep and lasting lesson.
This is the lesson that Agape love decides to see the best in other people. Not just our ‘favourite’ people, but everyone. Once people start to think this way, they can be anywhere and not discriminate, judge, or look down upon their neighbour. You have already learned this lesson because you’ve listened to Ruach’s voice, showing you the true value in each person.”
“So, it’ll take several Jubilees for each person to make any progress?” asked Bull.
“I cannot predict how long it will take,” said Jesus with a smile. “However, I am often surprised by people’s abilities to change and grow. Don’t forget, everyone is free to choose how to apply their own will power. For some, it may only take a few Jubilees to reach a level of understanding and maturity that means they can be welcomed into Zion.”
“Jubilees transitions are a time of change within Zion as well, why is that?” asked Sylvia.
“Those living in villages within Zion eventually feel they know everyone else in the village very well and they can begin to feel bored. At the start of each Jubilee period everyone is moved to a new village so that they have a whole new set of people to get to know. They will also have any talents accumulated removed and each person given 40 talents. This will ensure that no one is tempted to feel special just because they have been successful or unworthy if they have not achieved an objective. Everyone in Zion knows they are equally loved by Papa but if inequality were allowed to continue unchecked some might feel unloved,” replied Jesus.
“It is still possible to meet up with friends and family, travel between villages in Zion is not restricted,” added Thomas.
They all helped Jesus clear the table and wash up. Laughter rang out across the home and everyone was thrilled to be given one week to enjoy Zion, visit friends, and be refreshed, ready for the second Jubilee to begin. They knew there would be new locations and community demographics to understand.
Jesus waved them all off from the door of one of the apartments he used for meetings.
“I am so proud of them, Papa,” he prayed silently. “Nothing about any of this was predetermined. They have all overcome so much. They carry our heart so beautifully.”
“There is something so perfect that I feel when we are all together,” mused Yvonne as she walked with the group back to their accommodation. “But I can’t quite explain what it is.”
“I know what you mean,” agreed Harmony.
“I have an idea of what you’re talking about,” said Bull. “I think it’s love being completely accepted and returned.”
“Yes!” exclaimed Sylvia. “That’s it! When we are all together with Jesus, it feels so complete. It’s as if there is nothing inhibiting our love flowing from one to another?”
“It’s so beautiful,” said Yan. “And I think you’re right, I mean, it’s not every day we all get to be together with Jesus. One day everyone will be able to give and receive Agape Love in this way.”
“Exactly, that’s where creation is heading,” enthused Anne. “But for now, it’s only here, in the heart of Zion, where we can truly experience that heavenly flow of perfect love that is both coming to us and coming from us.”
Thomas had been quietly pondering all that was being said.
“It wasn’t even like this in our time with Jesus in the Previous Age. Even then there was resentment and unforgiveness within the group. We weren’t yet perfected in love.”
“Did you ever glimpse this kind of feeling, though, Thomas?” asked Carlos. “Was there ever a moment when it felt so complete?”
Thomas took a moment to think back to the days he and some other men followed Jesus throughout his travels.
“We had special times: like when it was just us in a boat with Jesus, or when we had meals and talked and laughed together. But there was always some ego in the group, probably from all of us to varying degrees. There were definitely different ideas about what was most important, even some rivalry. We were close as friends, but none of us were perfected in Agape Love, despite the amazing things we saw and did.”
“Even in the underground communities in China, although we were persecuted and very protective of one another, there was always fear in the community, and that could lead to paranoia and mistrust,” added Yan. “But here, there is no fear at all. We are all free from insecurity and the drive of ego.”
“I would say that although I am not dominated by insecurity, I can still feel anxious about the goings-on in the community we serve,” said Bull, honestly.
“We are not immune from human emotion, but we are in tune with Ruach. We know the parameters here are such that we are always, ultimately, completely safe. I think that makes a huge difference,” observed Harmony. “The role we have is not ‘easy’, though it is so deeply rewarding.”
The friends continued to talk about what was to come in their various communities and encourage one another with honest and vulnerable conversation. Soon they were back at their apartments. The building was made of white stone and had huge windows with balconies set out with tables and chairs. It was now night and the intense darker colours ranged across the sky; deep midnight blues and intense mauves and purples. The friends relished their final moments together and sat on the soft grass outside the front of their apartments, taking in the vista spread before them. Soft warm light could be seen twinkling in windows of dwellings that were grouped in small numbers across the undulating landscape. Steam could just be made out, rising from the hot springs that gave energy to Zion.
Later long hugs were exchanged and ‘good-night, safe travels’ bid. The morning came and after a refreshing and cosy sleep, the friends began their journeys to their new communities, feeling completely invigorated and envisioned for what was to come.