Awaken, Advocate, Act
“Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light”
Ephesians 5:14 KJV
These days the words awaken, advocate, and act keep arising within me. I think it is because they describe for me a trajectory toward transformation both at a personal and global level. I find myself pressed by this question: What is the process by which individuals and groups change so that flourishing may more and more be the lived experience of the whole human family and the creation?
Awakened by a What
You likely know there are all kinds of awakenings. This past Sunday, like many of you, my awakening was punctuated by the terrible news of the shooting and subsequent loss of life in Dayton which only multiplied the experience of grief and loss of other mass shootings. Sometimes the process of awakening will be a what. That is to say, some event will interrupt the which the slumber of our lives. It may, quite possibly, hopefully, move us or shake us in such a way that we discover that we can no longer be silent in the same way we once were.
We may discover that we must add our voice alongside others to work against the motion and energy of death-dealing fear. This is literally what it means to advocate. I have to think that this is in part what the writer of Ephesians meant by “arising from the dead” to join in the chorus that says we will not succumb to that which diminishes, denies or destroys any human being.
But there is at least one more piece to this motion of love’s transformational power. It is to act – to work for a different kind of arrangement of life whereby the light of resurrecting love may concretely take form in the shared life of the human family and in the whole creation. We will demand more of ourselves and those who shape the policies that shape our common life.
Sometimes, our awakening will be a result of a “what.”
A New Awakening in Our Life Together
But as people of faith we recognize that there is another source of our awakening. It has to do with the One whom we dare to call God.
This past month we began the process of forming the Conference Commission for Schools of Ministry. The idea behind this commission is to find ways that we can collaborate around what already exists so that the reach and scope of this already vital resource can increase its impact and reach in ever more robust and creative ways. As part of this gathering of leaders of our schools of ministry and our Association ministers, I asked folks to share about what brings them to this work.
As I listened to the stories around the table, I realized that the word, “awaken” again kept arising within me. In each story there was an awakening either observed in others as a result of their teaching or in oneself because of the influence of somebody else. For many that awakening was connected to the power of scripture to open up a different view of life and a deepened experience of the love of God.
At a personal level I also realized that hearing those stories and adding my own had the effect of creating something that was strangely more than the sum of the parts. Could it be that this is why the Holy Spirit is sometimes called “an Advocate”? I have to think so.
You may know that this awakening, initiated and empowered by the discovery of God’s present love, and strengthened by the voices of others, has the power to rearrange life from the inside out. It can, if we will consent to it, reshape how we act in the world such that God’s vision of shalom can more and more take root.
This is one of the reasons why I am both excited for and passionate about the work of this new commission (and those yet to be formed). Imagine, if you will, a world awakened and formed by the One who is Love. Imagine individuals and communities mutually deepened and empowered no matter the geography of their setting or the size of their gathering because of the newly framed availability of our schools of ministry. Imagine that! It might just awaken us to find a voice we never knew we had. It might just empower us to act in ways we never before thought possible.
It might just be like rising from the dead. Yes! Yes! Yes! A thousand times yes! May this one who never sleeps grant you both rest and awakening to join in the fashioning of a new creation!
Blessings on you, dear people of God!