Wednesday, 20 May 2015

A Rude Awakening?

The following was published in the Spring 2015 issue of the Anglican Renewal Ministries magazine, Anglicans for Renewal.

In January I enjoyed three days of worship, prayer and conversation with fellow Anglican Renewal Ministries (ARM) board members. We were hoping for some new stuff from The LORD—where to from here? looking like what?—answers to those kinds of questions. 

Imagine my consternation when, during the first time of listening, the only word I “heard” in my mind was rude. Oops. Is that how we’re coming across, LORD, I wondered? So I prayed, “What?” and remembered that rude doesn’t just mean offensively impolite. It can also mean simple or “roughly made or done, lacking subtlety or sophistication” says Google. 

Could The LORD be calling us ARMites to a rude awakening? Are we being called back to basics and simplicity; something like the three Rs in education—Reading, ‘Riting and ‘Rithmatic?  

And that reminded me of three R-words in Acts 3 that always strike a chord whenever I read them: 

Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago. (Acts 3.19-21)

Repent, Refreshing and Restoring: could these be the back to basics prophetic framework for getting our Acts together in a new and rude awakening for ARM and the Church?
It makes sense. After all, according to Jesus, the first word of the gospel is repent (Mk 1.15)—turn back, about face, change directionso our sins may blotted out. Point one of Evan Roberts’ call to revival in Wales was “Repent of all known sin.” We Anglicans are blessed with multiple tools for prayerful repentance. 

Pray any of the prayers of confession in The Book of Common Prayer (BCP) or The Book of Alternative Services (BAS). I’m particularly fond of the excellent prayers of confession and for pardon through the Cross in the evening setting of FORMS OF PRAYER TO BE USED IN FAMILIES (BCP, p730).

Consider carrying out this important first step as you commit observing a holy Lent this year in self-examination, penitence, prayer, fasting, alms-giving and reading and meditating on the Word of God (BAS, p282).
Heart-felt, honest repentance prepares us and makes us available for the refreshing that comes from the presence of The LORD. What does refreshing look like? Like life, relationships and church-going filled to overflowing with the fruit of the Spirit in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal 5.22-23), in all circumstances (1 The 5.18), no matter what. It’s fun and it’s winsome. Who could not but be drawn into such a refreshing presence to be awakened, blessed and transformed? 
Ultimate restoration will only come with Jesus’ return, but in the meantime, our spiritual sight needs restoring(Mk 8.25) so we can see where The LORD is leading, our hands need restoring (Mt 12.13, Mk 3.5, Lk 6.10) to make us useful and our saltiness needs restoring (Mt 5.12, Lk 14.34) to make us tasty again. 

Perhaps aiming for a rich and fruitful restoration (2 Cor 13.11) through repentance and refreshment would be just the rude awakening we need to get our Acts together this Lent.