For the past couple of months I’ve gone back to my roots with a deeper appreciation. By roots I mean a black baptist/pentecostal faith and tradition. It is a different world (with some similarities) than the world of post-evangelical, missional, and emerging type churches that I’ve had the privilege of being a part of over the past couple of years. I still consider myself very much a part of this emerging church conversation/movement. But the issues are different in many ways. There are similar concerns but the way things play out are different.
Today, during intercessory prayer (yes, for you emergent haters I pray), I prayed with some of the mothers of my church. And I was prayed over and reminded of some things that had been spoken to me by elders in the church many years ago. I’ve recently joined the prayer team which has been a good reminder of the joys of waiting on the Lord in prayer. To press into what the ancient Celtic Christians called the ‘thin place’. That place where we encounter heaven in our midst or what the ancient Hebrews refer to as the Shekinah. And if you’ve ever prayed in a black church then you know what I’m talkin’ bout. God is not philosophical ground of being, a substance-less signifier, or simply an anthropomorphic concept writ large on the cosmos by humans to deal with and survive their contingent existence. What I meet in these prayer sessions reminds me of the days when I was a little boy growing up in Birmingham, Alabama watching my grandma on the front porch reading her bible and praying to God: the living God.
One of the gifts of the church is to offer space where we can corporately meet the living God together. To pray til someone has an unction, til the Spirit manifests, til someone finds healing and deliverance, til there is comfort for the pain of daily struggle. I’ve almost forgot about this gift of the church. I’m grateful to have stumbled upon it again. Thank the Lord for that.
As I walked out of the prayer session this morning I was reminded of the words of philosopher/scientist/mathematician Blaise Pascal:
“Fire. The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, The God of Jacob. Not of the philosophers and intellectuals.… The God of Jesus Christ.”