There’s something in the air
There’s a scent on the breeze. The months of May and June bring out blossom in gardens, parks and woodlands and we have been enjoying some fine, sunny weather.
Spiritually too, there is a scent on the breeze. It is not an original thought: Paul talked about the fragrance of Christ (2 Corinthians 2:15-17).
Ablaze 18 was a significant time in the life of the church in Wolverhampton. It brought together in partnership 14 churches of varying backgrounds (from Anglican to Non-denominational via Baptist and various brands of Pentecostal or free churches). Also, leaders of these and many other churches in the city meet regularly to pray and develop friendship. And people from other churches also joined in the four evening festival events in West Park.
Ablaze is not the only sign of a spiritual awakening and a change in the atmosphere. But it has been very significant. The Argentinian team with Carlos Anacondia were outstanding in the way they prayed, preached and participated with the local church. They have experienced revival since 1981 and brought the fragrance of Christ.
The history of revivals suggests the two key ingredients in preparing the way for a fresh outpouring of God’s presence are prayer and unity. God stirs His people to pray and to treasure the unity which the Spirit creates, even if it is hard to overcome offences, and to overcome historical divisions and differences in how to understand scripture.
As the Ablaze event came closer, people from different churches found themselves joining together in teams to work on different aspects. There were stewards and ushers, ‘advisers’ (to help and pray for those responding to an appeal and to gather their contact details). There were people in the deliverance team and in the hospitality team (including drivers) to look after the team of Argentinian visitors. And, not least, there were the intercessors.
Many of us wondered how we would get on together. We needn’t have worried! As the event got underway we found teams enjoyed working together. My own team found great delight in praying together before and after the work and the banter and conversations during it.
Perhaps it was the sense of vision and purpose that made us overcome any differences of approach. Perhaps we were all so committed to being a blessing to one another. Perhaps it was the example of the Ablaze Planning team, seven pastors/vicars from different traditions working as one and preferring one another. Perhaps it was the preparation in prayer over many months.
I think it was all these things. And something more …… we could smell the scent of God’s presence.
It is not that everything went smoothly and there were no difficulties. Lots of challenges emerged. The things that were expected and did not appear. The places that seemed unsuitable for the intended purpose. The things that were planned but somehow not in the detailed planning. You don’t fall out, even when there are misunderstandings and disagreements, when the presence of God is almost tangible. Staying close to Him and to one another is just too important.
There is the scent of revival on the air.