Last night at Deeper, our chaplain Ron Kopicko, challenged us with the reality of a Revival, and what it truly means. Revival isn't all fire and brimstone, its a party, its a celebration of love and redemption, acceptance and grace.
He told a wonderful story about Tony Campolo. Tony was speaking in Honolulu, and he's from Boston, so his internal-clock was a little off. So up at 3am, he wandered down the street from his hotel to find a bite to eat. He found this sleazy, dirty diner and went in. He tried to read a menu, but it was covered in grease and food. Then he heard a shout from the back, "What can I getcha?" It was the cook. His name is Harry, his a big, burly fella. So Tony says, "a coffee and a donut." Then eight prostitutes walk in the door.
So there Tony sits, in this sleazy, dirty diner, sipping coffee and eating a donut, with eight prostitutes and the cook named Harry. He is sitting at the service bar. The girls all sit up at the bar as well. Sitting next to him is a woman named Agnes. She is 39. Suddenly she says to her friend, "Tomorrow is my birthday." Her friend says back, "So, what? do you want a party?" Agnes looks at the counter, "I've never had a birthday party." The friend doesn't say anything else, but the girls keep chatting. Then they leave a little while later. Tony says to the cook, "Harry, tomorrow is Agnes' birthday. Let's throw her a party." Harry stares back at him and then says, "That's a great idea!" So he calls his wife and says, "Honey, there's a man here that wants to throw Agnes a birthday party tomorrow."
So the next day, Tony returns to the diner at 2:30am in preparation for the party. By now, word has gotten out that there is going to be a party for Agnes' birthday at the diner at 3:30am. The diner is full of prostitutes and other street folk. Then it hits 3:30 and in walks Agnes and her friends. The people in the diner burst out with, "Surprise! Happy Birthday Agnes!" Then they begin to sing Happy Birthday. Harry brings out the birthday cake for Agnes. There are candles lit on top. She has almost fainted and tears are streaming down her cheeks, so some people are helping her to sit. Harry places the cake in front of her, and says, "Agnes, blow out the candles," and she only cries harder. Harry again prompts, "Agnes! blow out the candles." So someone helps her and blows the candles out. Then Harry says, "Cut the cake Agnes," She shakes her head, "I can't, I've never had a birthday cake before." Someone says to Agnes that Tony is the one who put the party into motion. She thanks him for the cake, "Can I take it home? I want to show my mother. I only live two blocks away." So Agnes picks up the cake and leaves the diner.
An awkward silence fills the diner and Tony does what any good preacher would do, he says, "Let's pray."
So he prays, and then Harry says to him, "I didn't know you were a Preacher! What church kind of church do you preach at?" Tony say, "The kind of church that throws birthday parties for whores at 3 am in a diner in honolulu." Harry says, "No you don't. If there was such a church I would go there."
I love those last two lines. To think that people would be willing to come to church if we would only truly follow Christ and accept people rather than condemn them. I'm not saying to brush their sin aside, but I'm saying that if we love them as Christ loves them then we allow God to do the rest. Sometimes I think we need to trust in the power and conviction of the Holy Spirit, rather than relying on our own words, messages, strength, songs, dramas to bring people to their knees.
So this community that we live in at SAU is extremely blessed and amazing. Where else do you live, eat, do life together in a true community such as this? We all even gather together for worship (chapel) twice a week, and seek God together. That's amazing. So let's not take it for granted. What would it look like if you loved those around you instead of judging them and refusing to open your arms to them? What's wrong with hanging out and spending time in God's word together instead of video games? What's wrong with talking about what God is doing in your life instead of the cool thing you did this weekend? What if we challenged each other to a deeper walk with Christ, held on another accountable, and went into this community thing armed with love instead of apathy and hate? I think it would make God smile, and shout and sing for JOY. a revial. yes.
Lord, COME. Come and invade this place, start with me, empty me of myself, and fill me with you, your love, your joy, your grace. Help me to see others as you do. Lord, you are so good, worthy of all the praise and glory, forever and ever. AMEN.