From the Pastor
A Message From Pastor Miranda Denler
What does it look like to have hope? As we enter a whole new way of life, I have found myself contemplating this question. There is a sense that we are longing for what was before the pandemic. But does hope really look like going back? Or is hope moving forward? I found Bishop Beard’s sermon in the closing worship of Annual Conference to be helpful to me in this inner process. I want to share some of what he said here, in hopes that you will also feel uplifted by his message in this time of transition.
2 Chronicles 7:13-16, NIV:
[God says to Solomon:] “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.”
Closing Worship Sermon from 2021 Annual Conference on June 12 (This includes parts, but not the whole. His sermon can be watched here: Videos (igrc.org), under 2021 Annual Conference at the end of the Plenary Session video.)
Hymn writer Thomas Dorsey pens some beautiful poetic words: “If we ever needed the Lord before, we sure do need the Lord now.” During the past year and a half, we realize that we have been broken at times. We have been battered by the storm at times. There are times when we have felt beaten. But the good news is, that we are not defeated. Broken, yes. Battered, yes. Beaten, yes. But thanks be to the Lord Jesus Christ! We are never defeated. Now is our time to heal.
I believe that the longings of both laity and clergy are not just for healing, but there is a genuine desire for revival. While we are not exactly sure just yet what we mean when we say we need a revival, we know that whatever it is, we cannot continue without it. A return to business as usual simply will not cut it. Much like those early disciples huddled together in the Upper Room waiting for the promise of the Holy Spirit and the power that Jesus would send, we wait. Not exactly sure what all was included, but knowing that something was missing and needed, they waited. (…)
I hate to wait. But is seems that waiting is where God has positioned the church. Not just the local church. Not just the United Methodist Church. But the Church of Jesus Christ worldwide is in a holding pattern, apparently. Perhaps we should use this time to see God’s face and deeper, seek God’s direction.
Well, I’m not sure what a revival looks like, but I’m certain of what a revival is not. Revival is not about feeling good or looking good. It’s not about self-improvement, self-advancement, self-promotion, or self-preservation. Revival is a time to allow self to take a backseat. Revival is not about evangelism. Evangelism is the fruit of revival. Revival does not come because lost people get saved. Revival happens when saved people get right with God. Revival is not a series of worship services designed to reach the community. The heart cry of revival begins within the church community. Revival only happens when an individual cries out, in the words of the old spiritual, “It’s me, it’s me, O Lord, I’m the one standing in the need. It’s not my brother. It’s not my sister. But it’s me, O Lord.” I need to be restored. I need to be rescued. I need to be renewed. I need to be repaired. I’m standing in the need of revival.
Well, revival does not come from a prepackaged program or a pre-described plan of action. Revival does not come from the Methodist headquarters in Nashville, Atlanta, New York, Washington D.C., or even Springfield, IL. Revival often comes from some little church in the middle of nowhere, where folks have a genuine hungering and thirsting for a deeper walk with Jesus Christ. And those folks refuse to be satisfied with anything less than a fresh visitation from His Holy Spirit and His divine presence. Revival is found wherever spiritually thirsty and hungry folks cry out for a fresh touch from Jesus.
Well, another thing I know that revival is not: Revival is not a temporary patch to get us through difficult times. Revival is a heart-warming return to our first love with Jesus Christ. Revival is bathed in prayer, immersed in confession, showered in repentance, rinsed in forgiveness, and clothed in an outpouring of the Spirit of God. When we experience revival, we are filled with the power of God. We have a new way of walking. We have a new way of talking. And a new way of living. And a new way of loving. (…)
The scriptures are clear: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves, seek my face, turn from their wicked ways,” God says, “I will hear from heaven and I will forgive their sins. And I will heal their land.” Sounds like revival to me.
Revival starts when the people in the church pews get saved and set on fire. Revival happens when we cry out in the words of that old hymn: “Breathe on me, breath of God. Fill me with life anew, that I might love what thou dodst love and do what thou wouldst do. Breathe on me, breath of God, until I am wholly thine. Until all this earthly part of me, glows with thy fire divine.”
We need a revival.