Revival

revival.gif

What is it? We know of the Great Awakenings that hit in the 18th and 19th centuries. What comes to mind? Sawdust? Fiery preachers? Hucksters?

What would Revival look like in our time? Would we know we were experiencing one or not?

I fear for American Christianity and not because of secular this or that or because of the so called ‘culture war.’ I fear for American Christianity because it is so infected with consuming and individualized faith. A good church is one with the best looking barn, the best looking people, and the most efficient programs.

What if there were no barns, only an altar and a font (or pool), and believers practicing common prayer–worshiping rather than receiving religious goods and services? Bare before God in repentance?
What if we prayed for revival on God’s terms–not ours? What would it look like?

PRN

I highly recommend to all pastors and their spouses a week sponsored by pastorsretreatnetwork.org

They have three locations for a retreat experience that is free for pastors and their wives (no kids allowed).

Mrs. Neo and I had our week recently and have drawn closer to each other and to the Lord.  The theme of the week for us was ‘Sabbath.’  One of the things we did together was to go through the psalter and we have continued to work through them.  The Book of Common Prayer provides a way for one to go through the entire psalter in one month.

There is Only God

Ushpizin

Mrs. Neo and I saw a most delightful movie recently Ushpizin, which is a modern Israeli Hasidic tale. It takes place during the Feast of Succoth, or the Feast of Booths, when the children of Israel recall the wandering in ‘booths’ or ‘tents’ (Ushpizin is the Aramaic phrase for ‘guests’–thanks Fr. D). The Hasids in Israel make literal mini-houses to celebrate and pray that the Lord sends guests. I won’t spoil it, but it contains so much fodder for theological reflection in regards to prayer (I’d say 50% of the movie is one kind of prayer or another–charming, dramatic, earthy, Jewish prayer!), and is a powerful picture of Jesus words from Luke 6:

Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.

My favorite line from the movie: ‘You are nothing. I am nothing. In the end there is only God.’

Kyrie Eleison

I found this in Touchstone magazine:
A Baptist Preacher’s Abortion

Donna Schaper says she’s a grown-up, a pastor, and a murderer. She claims all three labels, and is not apologizing for any of them.

Rev. Schaper, pastor of Judson Memorial Church in New York City, wrote a recent article for the liberal Jewish monthly Tikkun about the abortion she had nineteen years ago. She says she’s “neither bragging nor apologizing.”

Schaper says that her abortion was the right choice, since she and her husband had young twins at the time. “Because women are mature sexual beings who make choices,” she writes. “Birth control and abortion are positive moral forces in history. They allow sex to be both procreational and recreational, for both men and women.” As a matter of fact, as Schaper sees it, abortion doesn’t have anything to do with babies. “The drama of the abortion battle is not about unborn babies at all,” she writes. “Instead it is about women and sex.”

But she doesn’t really believe that. Schaper spends most of this article writing about an unborn baby. She even names the aborted child, “Alma,” which means soul. She also admits that what she did was the taking of a human life. She even calls it murder:

“I did what was right for me, for my family, for my work, for my husband, and for my three children. I happen to agree that abortion is a form of murder. I think the quarrel about when life begins is disrespectful to the fetus. I know I murdered the life within me. I could have loved that life but chose not to. I did what men do all the time when they take us to war: they choose violence because, while they believe it is bad, it is still better than the alternatives.”

I am amazed and discouraged on a variety of levels. ‘I did what was right for me…’ sounds an awful lot like the words from Judges: ‘In those days Israel had no king, everyone did what was right in their own eyes.’

‘I know I murdered the life within me. I could have loved that life but chose not to.’  Unbelievable.