Feb 16Liked by Sharifa, Trey Ferguson

🔥🔥🔥 Can’t think of three better people to have collaborated on this.

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Feb 16Liked by Sharifa, Trey Ferguson

Oh snap. So... y’all went off off!

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It's hard to express just how much I appreciate you all for your work in this space. Not just this space on Substack. I mean this space of people grappling with this crazy idea that Jesus, someone who was killed dead and put into a grave, came back to life and still lives today in some weird way that puts hope into people's minds and strength in people's bodies to do *good* as a way to express a similar restoration and resurrection in their own lives. What was beaten to death and discarded, put into a place of silence, walks out and has an even more filled-up life that doesn't pay attention to walls and graves and disappointments because - well, Jesus is alive and still up to no good.

So in terms of this newest movement . . .

I've struggled with the event at Asbury, not because I don't "like" it for not doing things the way I want, but for the way that people who possibly know better are jumping in without thinking through what their jumping in means to others who watch them.

I'm glad to see people trying to find their ways closer to God, and sometime those paths don't match mine.

However -

I look at the actual country I live in - the United States of America - with a known, complicated, and fairly vicious history of dealing with the marginalized by stripping them of their freedom, their bodies, and their lives, done by people who have the name of Jesus on their lips.

And yes, I am troubled to call something "revival" or "awakening" if it doesn't move the needle on our dominating sins of racism and privilege, entwined like the caduceus around whiteness.

Perhaps it's too early to say for sure if this newest thing will lead to anything lasting. Perhaps God, in the mysterious ways that God has, is preparing a people for break from Americanism and whiteness and privilege.

Perhaps. Who can say what God will do?

When I look at what happened at Azusa Street, I see something something significantly different than other revivals and awakenings, a movement that was centered on a Black preacher who had been systematically excluded from white fellowships and Bible schools, a movement that included a rich diversity of people and tongues and nations, a movement that, as noted here, birthed several named denominations.

Even that movement, exciting as it was, foundered when white racism wrested control back from William Seymour, who died nearly unnoticed. The movement got channeled and tamed. The movement split up into Church of God and Church of God in Christ, one river for white people and another river for Black people. Even the power of Holy Spirit didn't seem to be enough to break white American people from their need to be centered, and even as these people go into other nations to preach, they bring white American privilege and theology. (It's so jarring to see friends in other nations in their churches with white Jesus as part of their iconography.)

When I see a church proclaiming its commitment to diversity, I do one simple thing: I check their staff pages, and if I see white men as the main leader and main subleaders for areas such as preaching and teaching and development, then I suspect the commitment to diversity is really just to have non-white people come join them and start acting like white people along with them, under their supervision of white supervision. It's so *hard* for white American Christians to see themselves as how we look to everyone else.

And so I am a bit skeptical when I see a movement in a chapel where the vast majority - if not all - of the people feeling the effects of the movement are from the same group of people who have made peace between the demands of their religion and the needs of their privilege and white supremacy.

What is the fruit? People on the floor? Singing? Feeling good? I like some of those things, and have experienced them. What matters, though, is what happens *next*.

I can't see the wind or Holy Spirit. Both blow where they will.

What I can see are the ways that trees bend and leaves move. The wind is invisible but shapes the world it moves through. And when Holy Spirit moves on a life, I can't see anything but what happens *next* in the actual factual behaviors and choices of the person who has been affected by "revival" or "awakening."

I am always hopeful of life because I truly do place my hope in Resurrection. So perhaps this is a new thing. Perhaps not.

I will wait, watch, and then decide.

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Feb 17Liked by Sharifa

I have all of these metaphors swimming in my head in my attempt to describe the synergistic power that I just witnessed, references to all the top cartoons and sports teams that really exemplified the "the whole is much greater than the sum of its parts," but all I got left is--y'all just PREACHED.

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Thank you all so so much for such powerful words.

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Feb 16Liked by Sharifa

This was SO good and nuanced. Thank you guys!

PS “let the service serve” 🔥🔥🔥

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Feb 17Liked by Sharifa

I'm so thankful for all 3 of you. Sharifa, I've thought of you every time this week I've seen a photo or video out of Asbury. Thanks to our friendship, one of the first things I've noticed every time is how white this "revival" is. I want to see the Spirit do things that I can't explain away. But I also question what is / isn't going on when any given space doesn't even begin to look like every tribe and tongue. Maybe I'm cynical. Or maybe I'm just observant. If it's the latter, I'm thankful for the ways that our Be the Bridge group shaped my eyes to see just a little bit clearer.

Again - thank you to all 3 of you. May your prophetic words challenge me in my privilege and comfort.

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