The week after our exorcism/house blessing, I went to a revival at my colleague's church down in Riverdale, IL.
Father Mike Pfleger was preaching.
I'd heard of him before, as he and his parish have done a lot of good in the city. There's actually even a newer documentary out about him which I have yet to see.
After some awesome music,
(Pr. Curry made all the clergy stand up—damn. He blew my disguise),
it was Fr. Mike's turn to preach.
And he preached.
Dude's got energy.
(Good humor on occasion, as well).
Much of what he said wasn't shocking to me.
Pretty much what I've come to expect at a revival.
[ Chicago-style revival, albeit (no ketchup) ],
A call to faithfulness,
Impassioned exhortations concerning the betterment of folks, urges toward re-commitments (or first time commitments) to the work of the gospel, etc.
But nothing new.
Oh—the text was the text about being a city set upon a hill—and that light that shouldn't be hid under some bushel basket somewhere.
[ Ah, the scripture of many-a-Pine Lake Camp messages (aka skits)... ]
And then he got to the juice:
Well, I thought it was good stuff, anyway.
“The New Evangelism,” he says, passion, still, dripping...
“The New Evangelism isn't gonna be you or me or you going to our neighbors' house and asking them if they're saved...”
Oh. Okay. Cool. I can dig this.
“The New Evangelism” He says,
after preaching on all kinds of lights and light bulbs, etc.,
“Is gonna be you and me being lights shining in the darkness of our neighborhoods going to our neighbors and asking are you gonna come be a light with me?”
Are you going to shine in the darkness?
Transform this place?
Are you going to do this with me?
We could add:
It doesn't matter if you believe the same dogma, pray in the same way, worship like I do.
What matters is that we are lights, lighting up this community, this neighborhood, this violent, addicted, beautiful city, in need of a little light.
And the darkness did not overcome it.
I think that Fr. Mike articulated something a lot of us have been thinking for a long time, but didn't have the (quite simple) words to articulate it. So concisely. So biblically.
Carrying a candle through a building.
We come to bless and not to judge.
These words take on new meaning as I struggle, as always, with what it means to be God's faithful in a day when faithfulness has little or nothing to do with right belief or right piety or even right abstention. (Kind of).
Rather, for us (whoever us might be),
we are “Ultimately Concerned”—thank God for Tillich,
yet we are also deeply concerned with the Finite—unsettled with the present state-of-almost-everything. Seeking to transform it.
To be a light in it.
To draw it into the dance of the Love, the Lover, and the Beloved.
Still think this is going somewhere.