Revival is dangerous.
It is dangerous to pray that God would come and stir up the Holy Spirit in a new and powerful way. It is dangerous because God just might do it.
When we pray for revival, we are not praying for more members in our pews or more pledges in our plates. When we pray for revival, we are praying that God would ignite our hearts with a fire for righteousness, justice, faith, peace, and healing for our communities. One look in our neighborhoods and one scan of the news headlines and it becomes clear that we are a long way from the Kingdom of God. When we pray for revival, we are praying that God’s kingdom would come on earth as it is in heaven.
This is what revival means.
Of course, revival is not a new thing for the Diocese of Southwestern Virginia. Under Bishop William Marmion (1954 - 1979), the Diocese was home to frequent “Preaching and Teaching Missions” that sought to kindle the flame of discipleship across age and race within and outside The Episcopal Church. It is in this spirit that we embark on the dangerous work of revival.
We hope to gain many things from the upcoming revival in Southwestern Virginia.
We hope to gain a renewed sense of God’s call for the fifty-five Episcopal faith communities spread across this region. We hope to connect with people who would never darken the door of one of our churches. We hope to provide a place of deep connection for those who feel disconnected from their neighbor and from God.
[Interested in learning more about Episcopal revivals? Visit our page here.]
The truth is that our world is more connected than ever and yet people feel isolated, alone, and anxious. We are met with bad news and fake news at every turn. We are bombarded with images of violence, terrorism, and oppression on every screen. What we hope to gain from this revival is some Good News. For those who have heard it before, we hope for a reminder. For those who have never heard the name of Jesus or this news about him, we hope to provide an entry point.
Our deepest hope is we would be present on the day of revival. Present to the power of God, the love of Jesus, and the healing of the Spirit, so that we can be a presence of reconciliation and love in our families, churches, and communities. We hope that the excitement of the revival service is but a foretaste of the fire that will go out from the theater and into our parishes.
In short, we hope for Jesus as we sing his wondrous story in our time and place. We hope that people will encounter God and commit to following the Way of Love in the world. We hope to be revived!
[Learn more about the Way of Love: Practices for Jesus-Centered Life here.]
Written by the Rev. Canon Connor B. Gwin, Canon for Social Engagement and Christian Formation in the Episcopal Diocese of Southwestern Virginia