The following is a transcript of a Raised Catholic podcast episode. To listen to the episode, click here.
Today is episode 124: What Revival Really Looks Like
Hi friends. Way back on New Year’s Eve, 2018, I wrote a piece on my blog called ‘Re’. It was based on something that Fr. Frank McFarland, a priest whom I cannot wait to meet in Heaven, said on a tv rosary broadcast about the ‘re-ness’ of God, how He lavishes grace and mercy on us over and over again, giving us chance after chance to learn and grow in love. Our God is the God of restoration and resurrection, of rescue, repair, and renewal. And I believe most every ‘re’ word that you could think of reflects some glimmer of who God actually is.
Well, I’ve been thinking about that old piece of writing lately, and aaaalllll the things that we could not know were on the horizon as we turned the page from 2018 to 2019. As I think on the church’s current focus on revival which is expressed in a particular way in the evangelical church, and in the Catholic Church, as the upcoming Eucharistic revival, I’m wondering if we are clear on what revival actually is.
As we consider the definition of revival – literally ‘new life’, I’m wondering, is revival something we humans could plan for or make? Is it something we as church should invest money and significant resources into? And who is responsible for revival anyway, and how do we know authentic revival when we see it?
In the reading from the Book of Acts that describes the first Pentecost, we find attributes of what we could say mark a true revival:
The people were gathered all in one place, there were supernatural occurrences, like the sound of violent wind and tongues of fire appearing over their heads. Circling back to the Tower of Babel story from the Book of Genesis, those gathered there were given newfound abilities to speak to and to understand each other. Some who witnessed the revival of the first Pentecost did not understand what was happening, and in some cases, something about the behavior they witnessed led them to accuse those gathered of drinking, though as Peter did say in their defense, “it was only nine in the morning.”
I’ll speak more specifically about Pentecost next week, but I do think it’s important for us to know that revival, when it comes to the Church, is a gift of the Holy Spirit that we humans cannot make but which we can pray for, and we certainly can and should participate in it.
Though a revival can take place in a soul, in a family, or in a gathering, Christian historians point to various American revivals or ‘awakenings’ that started with a prayer meeting and which grew over time, drawing more people to Christianity. These were marked by a call to prayer, repentance, the movement of the Holy Spirit, and the good fruit of changed lives. Some revivals led to calls for temperance, to abolition of slavery and to the institution of the rights of women. As in all things, as Jesus teaches us, we can judge a revival by its fruit.
A recent revival at Asbury Seminary in Kentucky – a round-the-clock, continual prayer meeting that went on for over two weeks – had other colleges praying for, advertising, and even constructing similar events. And the Catholic Church’s upcoming Eucharistic revival, with its 28-million-dollar price tag, aims to call our eyes back to the significance and real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. And these are all good intentions, but there is a human pride in each of these movements, a kind of preaching to the literal choir, a sort of blindness to the issues that the American church is really struggling with today, and also a scary big allocation of resources that has me thinking about the Tower of Babel, and the hubris that we church people too often bring to the building of a movement or a monument to God all on our own power.
“Come,” they said in the Book of Genesis, “let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves; otherwise we shall be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.” “Let us build ourselves” says all you need to know there, doesn’t it, friend? Well, God put a stop to their project, recognizing that it is actually our dependence on God that allows Him to move in and through us that makes amazing things happen, things we could never construct on our own, things that are truly for the glory of God and for the good of His people.
I think many of us would agree that this would be a great time for revival. And we need it because we need God, and real revival comes from God. Revival brings humans to their knees in humility and repentance, it cracks open hearts with the clarifying power of the Holy Spirit. True revival does not hire marketing firms or video teams or event planners, but it does bear much needed fruit that lasts.
And I guess you could say that a couple of generations of church-going people who see the state of the American church and who question whether its direction really does align with the teachings of Jesus, who see the dangers and damage that clericalism and politicization have done, who are questioning and deconstructing in order to uncover a more authentic faith that looks and acts like Christ, well, I guess you could say that this could be the beginning of the revival that our parents and grandparents may have prayed for. We who are willing to dismantle and rebuild an authentic faith practice grounded in the actual teachings of Jesus is the very definition of revival in a human soul, and it may herald a larger movement of the Holy Spirit that we most need. As author Emily P. Freeman said, “God doesn’t make all new things, but He does make all things new,” and please God, in His church, for such a time as this.
Thanks so much for being with me today, friend. If you need me, you can find me on Instagram @kerrycampbellwrites or on my website at kerrycampbell.org. Thanks so much for rating, reviewing, subscribing and most importantly, sharing this podcast with a friend. That really makes a difference in growing our community, so thanks. If you’d like to support this podcast financially, there’s a way for you to do that in the show notes, along with some resources related to today’s episode, so do check all of that out, but before we go, let’s pray together.
Well friend, I have an index card pinned to my corkboard with lots of ‘re’ words on it that remind me about how God is moving in my life, so today I’d like to try a new way of praying together, if that’s okay with you. Today I’d love to pray these ‘re’ words over us as we ask the Holy Spirit for revival, whether that be personal revival, revival in our family or in our vocations, in our country or in our church. For whatever revival we most need, let us pray.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, amen.
Come, Holy Spirit.
Re-vive us, O Lord.
Help us to re-pent what needs re-penting so that you can re-pair within us what needs re-pairing.
Be our re-fuge and kind friend. Help us to know that indeed, you re-joice over us.
O God, re-place the things and the habits in our lives which need re-placing. Make a new re-novation of us.
Re-create and re-purpose us.
Re-generate and re-juvenate us, O Lord.
Help your words to re-sonate within us.
Re-wind and re-write our stories.
O God, be our re-fuge.
We are your children. Help us to re-claim our faith in this time and to share it with others.
Re-form us and our church, we pray.
Come, Holy Spirit. Let there be true re-vival that we can identify and experience in you who loves us. Amen.
Thanks so much for listening today, friend. I’ll see you next time.
This week we take a look at revival – some historical context, what revival really is, what it is not, and who is responsible for it.
If you’d like to connect with me, find me on Instagram or at my website. If you’d like to help support this podcast financially, there’s now a way to do just that, and thank you – visit me on my page at buymeacoffee.com! Thanks as always for sharing, subscribing, rating, and reviewing, as this helps our community to grow!
Thanks as always to my friend, Peter Vaughan-Vail, for providing the beautiful harp music you hear in this and every episode.
Here are some resources I hope will help you to engage with this week’s topic in a deeper way for yourself:
1. Song: Awakening, by Amanda Lindsey Cook
2. Letters: Readers Thoughts on the $28 million Eucharistic Revival, from National Catholic Reporter
3. Album: Survey Part One, from Amanda Lindsey Cook
4. Article: 12 Signs of a Revival, from Northwest University
5. Deconstruction = revival IG Follows: The New Evangelicals and Kate Boyd and The Jesus Lens
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