We had a prayer and worship event praying and singing, praying for revival. So why the odd title for this post, Well the answer is easy, and God woke me up early on Saturday morning with some blunt messages and then prompted me again to get up and write down the thoughts that form the basis of the following few lines. So here goes,
I am a fool. Sometimes I can’t see the obvious. It’s there in front of me but I don’t see it. I’ve written the notes for this post in a notebook I bought for the express purpose of writing down other people’s talks and sermons and the first one I write down is one of my own. My intention was to leave this on the sound desk at church until I needed it but God had other ideas.
I don’t what I expected when we held a prayer and praise event at our church, praying for revival. Hordes of people to arrive, buses to pull up outside attracted by the singing and the fact the lights were shining into the darkness. Did I Mention I am a fool?
It was a long tiring mostly enjoyable night. and we did not actually get away from the church until nearly midnight. We’d had good company, with old friends putting in an appearance from New Life Church, Owton Manor Baptist Church, friends from the West View estate, friends from St Josephs and from Town Pastors, All good and a great way to spend the evening. But where was the revival? I think I may have mentioned “I AM A FOOL!”
God woke me on Saturday morning to remind me of this. Revival, start actually thinking about it. Did you not have your eyes open? Are you not listening? God gifted me a song a few weeks ago. An old song, written in 1977 and rewritten slightly by various people. The version I was listening to was sung by the Northumbria Community. “Brother, Sister Let me Serve you” aka the Servant Song. I’d been focussed on the servant part of the song as the lyrics seemed to describe what I and the other volunteers do for town pastors. But the Brother, Sister message is just as important. It turns out that God can mean many things when he puts a word out as a vision.
Revival was a word given to various people in several churches that led to the praise and worship event. I was a fool, I made the classic mistake of trying to measure success by bums on seats.
What I witnessed though was the revival of people, the miracle of healing and recovery, the way in which God moves in the margins doing things in ways we can’t anticipate. I witnessed a broken person trying to find their place again in the world, struggling to find a new role in their church. I witnessed this person taking their first faltering steps on their healing journey, testing out their ideas for a role they can play in their new church. Testing out what they were capable of in their old church, amongst old friends.
I’d picked this person up from their home and on the way over they told me some of the new changes, their new church was going through, and shared their thoughts on playing an active part in the church. “I can’t be a deacon” the person stated, “I can’t be a leader”. They didn’t feel they could preach or lead a study but they did think of something. “I’d like to do some singing” was said quietly.
Have I mentioned I am a fool. I missed this. I was too busy worrying about how their new church was trying to organise, and getting distracted by issues that were not even any of my business.
When we got to church this person put out the food they prepared. They chatted to old friends and we joined in the prayers and the singing. Over the course of the night, Ian, Mark, Amanda and Viv took turns bringing us music and prayer. But then our friend joined them at the front. Hesitatingly, bowed down, quietly into the lectern microphone, this person began to sing. Slowly they began to stand straighter, to gain in confidence, their voice grew in strength as they began to relax and to explore the fact that they’d “like to do some singing!” Imagine a seedling sprouting and getting taller and straighter, then you will see what I saw.
As the evening went on people came and went, the singing continued into the night. When we drew to a close our friend walked into the kitchen and started washing up, finding comfort in a role and a safe familiar place, healing through routine. Revival in unexpected ways. I was watching healing, revival restoration, doing routine tasks that a few short weeks ago they would not have been capable of. Even this person was amazed that they could just walk into the kitchen and throw themselves into things again. Doing life again without stressing or having to be pushed and steered into something.
But others also brought messages of revival to the church. This fool was of course slow to catch on. Revival can also mean lifting tired spirits, welcoming people into our church family, and even simply feeding the hungry.
One person shared that our church is so welcoming, We function like a big family, with everyone getting stuck into helping each other with lots of different tasks, but always with a welcome for adults and children and a listening ear for problems, Another friend also shared that as a single person, they don’t get to normally have someone else make them food and teas and coffees.
As a final thought can I mention I am a fool again. As we start to tidy up, I’m looking at all the food that is left, wondering what to do with it. In wanders an old friend from our Filling Station days attracted by the music and the fact the lights are shining out into the church grounds. I ask him if he wants a brew, and he settles down for a chat.
By the time he leaves, he’s been fed and watered, we’ve filled a carrier bag full of food for him and his friend, enough to carry them through to benefits day. Revival again through food and hospitality. Amazingly this old friend comes back on Sunday for our services, takes part in our communion and leaves with one of our free bibles and more food. Amazingly the Bible he chose had only been added to our free giveaway Bible collection 90 minutes earlier by someone asking if I knew someone who could use it.
To our friend starting their recovery, you may never be a deacon. You are already a beacon to light up the life of this fool and to remind me that God’s revival is of people, involving hope and healing and small steps in ordinary things.