Pastor Mark’s eNote – Needed: Revival

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     We are Americans. We are young. We are old. We are Republicans. We are Democrats. We are non-believers. We are believers. And we are sick, soul-sick, from the depths of our being.

     We gorge on news that supports what we already believe—news from sources legitimate or despicable—until, like children on a sugar high, we are anxious, angry, or, as my mother used to say, “ill as a hornet.” Over the past few years, I’ve had several conversations with folks truly worried about loved ones’ growing bitterness and obsession with partisan news. Spending more and more time in the echo chamber of cable news and social media, we are quick to dismiss, even demonize, those with whom we disagree. We live in a general buzz of anxiety and anger.

     And yes, yes, I know. Everything I’ve said here has been said a million times before. So for good measure, I’ll add one more obvious observation: Such behavior isn’t healthy.

     We are sick from our souls, and the sickness is both personal and communal. Mutual disdain has become the community we share. The very atmosphere is noxious and infectious, a breeding ground for hatred, yet we are shocked and confused when the sickest among us suddenly explode in demonic fits of violence.

      While we still await details from the horror of Las Vegas, what we know for sure is that such moments do not spring from nowhere. They are the product of our age. No, you and I are not to blame for the choices and actions of another person, but we are certainly a part of the culture that has become a petri dish for madness.

     We are sick to our souls.

     But the One whose image is there in our souls can heal us.

     I truly believe that what we need is a revival, a soul-saving, world-changing, culture-transforming movement of the Holy Spirit. The sickness among us did not develop overnight, and the cure won’t happen instantaneously either, but healing can move, like the sickness before it, first in the lives of individuals, then through the shared life of community (That such healing is possible is seen, ironically, in the midst of disaster and terror when for a moment we forget what divides us and see only people in need).

     It so happens that revival is something we Methodists have some experience with. So, who knows? Maybe God will use us again. Lord, let it be.

     First, let us pray that the revival will start with us. Let’s remember who we are, by whom we are saved, and for whom we live. It’s not always simple … no, I correct myself … it is rarely simple, this life in Christ. We are “double minded,” to use James the Apostle’s word, drawn to the kingdom of light and truth and pulled by the world of bitterness and self-worship.

     It doesn’t help that we are spending more and more time in the realm of the world and less among our fellow seekers, our fellow Christians, our fellow sinners-made-saints. When I am not careful, when I don’t live with others in Christ’s truth and seek correction and guidance in that truth, it is easy to mistake my own opinionated, flawed voice for the voice of God. The only thing more tempting than anger in this world is righteous anger. We need the fellowship of the saints.

     I invite you to come to worship this Sunday. I invite you to join a Bible study or Life Group and to explore moments of service with others. I invite you to rediscover the comforting, life-shaking quietness of prayer. I invite you to hear Jesus’ word of forgiveness for you. I invite you to be as simple as a child and allow his love to embrace you. I invite you to trust that his way of love and grace is more powerful than any other force in this world. I invite you to dive into the love of Jesus Christ and into a life shared in his mercy.

     When you are here this Sunday, look around. No, we don’t all agree on the issues of the day, but we are one in the power of the One who can make all things new. We are all sinners whom God has declared saints. And God can use us to revive a land. Like the myriad saints before us, let us dare to love, to care, to look at the person standing before us through the eyes of our Savior who died for that person. Let us invite and welcome and together grow in the Spirit.

     There is a lot of distressing news out there, real and sometimes fake, but in the midst of it all, moving with the power of the Holy Spirit, is the Good News, always good, always true. Someone needs to speak it and live it. Are you available? Can Hamilton Mill United Methodist Church be known as a people who choose love?

     Can the revival begin with us? Yes, it can.

 

In Christ,

Mark Westmoreland

Author: Mark Westmoreland

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