Archive for December 2012 – Page 2

Quaker Revival In Philadelphia Tonight

This evening, we will be holding the first revival meeting among Friends in Philadelphia in generations. Months of prayer, discernment and preparation have been directed towards this moment, and we feel clear in our sense of the Spirit’s leading. It is good for us to be here.

It is also terrifying. As one of three visiting ministers who have been invited to serve at this gathering, I am convicted of the importance of tonight’s meeting – and of my own personal inadequacy to be a vessel for the Living Water that Jesus offers us. I feel deeply the words that Simon Peter spoke when Jesus called him into this same ministry beside the Sea of Galilee: “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!”
I think that all of us who are involved in organizing this revival meeting are aware of our own frailty and weakness. Who are we to invite our brothers and sisters into a deepened experience of the Holy Spirit and a renewed commitment to following Jesus? And yet our hearts are convinced that God has called each of us to be a part of this evening, and to minister to others as the Spirit directs.

It is our prayer that the living Spirit of God will be in full evidence in our assembly tonight. It is our hope that Jesus will be present in the midst, as he promised he would be whenever we gather in his name. It is our strength and comfort to trust that though we are weak and insufficient, we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. He has already won the victory, and he invites us to take up his ministry of reconciliation – to speak peace to the whole world.

If anything positive happens tonight – if there is any healing, any joy, any kindling of the heart and new commitment to following Jesus – it will be because of the living presence of God. This is my heart’s prayer today: Holy Spirit, come! Lord Jesus, stand in the midst of your people and teach us!
Please pray for us here in Philadelphia, that we may be transformed by the renewing of our minds, and brought into a deepened commitment to walking in the way of Jesus.

Advent And The Empire Of This World

Sunday marked the beginning of Advent, a time of remembrance and preparation for the coming of Jesus into the world. Especially for those of us who do not attend liturgical worship services, it is easy to forget about this special period of hope and expectancy in the midst of darkness. Advent is mostly obscured by the Holiday Season that is so vigorously promoted by the profit-driven society in which we reside. Our practice of remembering the coming of Jesus groans under the weight of the prosperity cult that has emerged as our unifying national religion.

In the face of this consumerist onslaught, Advent stands as a mark of radical resistance to the Empire of this world. Together, we remember how God has entered into our world in the person of Jesus Christ, and we confess that it is only in his Empire (his Kingdom) that we may find true peace and fulfillment.

It is easy to forget how radical this season is meant to be. Advent is not about egg nog, Christmas carols and sleigh rides – it is an act of shared recognition that the true Lord and Love of our lives has entered into the world and has unmasked the powers that hold us in bondage. Joy to the world, the Savior reigns! He is here to unmask and put an end to the evil of sex trafficking, political corruption, environmental devastation and the dehumanizing attitudes that have infected every human heart. The Empire of this world is become the Empire of our Lord, and of his Messiah!

His coming is like a refiner’s fire, which purifies and strips down everything that stands in the way of the abundant life that the Spirit is calling us into. Who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when Jesus himself appears in our midst? As we endure this world’s “Holiday Season,” God calls us away from our selfish consumption and comforting rituals. Instead, we are invited to become agents of Christ’s work of unmasking the powers and bringing healing to our broken society.

The coming weeks are a time for revolutionary boldness. Now is the time to remember that the true Light that enlightens everyone is coming into the world. This is a moment to radically reorient our lives and turn towards the the upside-down Kingdom. We are being offered an opportunity to (re)affirm our commitment to the loving Empire of Jesus, and to renounce the death-dealing Empire that so often seems unassailable.

For we know that Jesus has already overcome the world. What would it look like for us to participate in his victory? How might we change our whole orientation, seeing clearly the way that God is re-making the whole of creation? Are we ready to turn away from the darkness and confusion of this world and turn towards the light that we find in the face of Jesus? Are we prepared to tear away the veil of confusion and embrace the radical implications of the message that simmers just under the surface of the Holiday Season?