Sometimes we need a zap to our faith life. We need to be revived.
As the African-American parishes of the North City Deanery have known for a long time, a revival is just what’s needed to refuel souls with the presence of the Holy Spirit. Vibrant praise and worship music, preaching, breaking open the Scripture and prayer are the antidote to the lackluster that sometimes is admittedly present in our church communities.
The parishes of the North City Deanery convened May 21-23 to host the first deanerywide revival in at least 10 years at Sts. Teresa and Bridget Parish. Revivalist Father Manuel Williams, CR — who preached at Sister Antona Ebo’s funeral last year — recalled some of the Church’s first revivalists, Paul and Barnabas.
Filled with the Holy Spirit, these men traveled throughout Antioch on the first missionary journey in building the early Christian Church. They preached among the Gentiles, suffering persecution and hardships for the sake of establishing Christianity.
As Father Williams noted, Paul and Barnabas had a very close relationship, friends united by a love of Jesus.
“They preached together. They got hands laid on them together in Antioch,” Father Williams said. “They sang the hymns of Zion together. They spread the Good News all around the Mediterranean ocean together. They broke the bread of blessing together. They raised the cup of salvation together. They endured rejection and imprisonment together. They got run out of town together.”
This was the earliest sense of the word revival, in building up the Kingdom of God. These revivials taught people about God’s presence, love and mercy, sweeping multitudes into a new, vibrant faith called Christianity.
This was authentic revival.
While Paul and Barnabas later had a falling out, moving along on different paths to bring the Word of Jesus to others, nevertheless, the vibrancy and energy of the Holy Spirit that filled both of them could serve as a lesson to those of us who could use a boost to the faith.
How many of us leave our churches on Sunday with a song still embedded in our ears? Or a word from our clergy that has stuck in our hearts? Are we carrying that message with us through the rest of the week? Are we sharing our faith freely with others?
Sometimes we need to be revived. A faith community giving praise to God must show a vibrant energy, each and every day. Those first revivalists, Paul and Barnabas, risked their lives to bring this energy to the early Church. Are we willing to do the same?