The Climbs, the Plateaus and the Valleys
My spiritual life was growing during those years, but it was still a ‘roller coaster’ of an experience. About that time in my life (mid 1980’s) a friend gave me a copy of ‘Nine O’Clock in the Morning’ by Dennis Bennett.
It is is a vivid account of church revival and the outpouring of The Holy Spirit on the lives of Christians in the 1970’s. It is a powerful book and one which had a huge impact on me at the time. Reading it again recently I believe that I have been as excited and in awe of the experiences of those Christians, as I was all those years ago.
Three lessons I took away from the book recently, which are pertinent to my experience of church life today, are:
- The revival happened in separate prayer meetings which took place during the week. This did not upset those in the church family who liked the current traditions or even liturgy of that denomination.
- Often these meetings lasted hours, as the people were moved to pray and praise.
- Often the teachings would be in single sex groups.
The whole book spoke to me, but these three points made me sit up and think. I’ve often heard people say, ‘how can we change the church and allow it to grow without upsetting the older members,’ for example. According to Dennis Bennett you don’t have to.
One thing puzzled me all the way through the book. Why the title of the book? What happened at 9 O’Clock in the morning?
The answer is not revealed until the last pages and only goes to show how little I know of the bible even now, but you’ll find the verse in The Book of Acts chapter 28!
Two Contrasting Churches ~ Two Spiritual Homes
(Fred was an 80 year old Christian, whose friendship was precious to me in so many ways ~ see last post)
I began attending Fred’s church on Sunday evenings, a charismatic evangelical congregation. These were lively times which I really enjoyed, although being a divorced Christian I didn’t always feel that I fitted in.
I also attended ‘Sunday Night Live’, a form of evening worship at St Mary’s Aylesbury, which attracted an assortment of folks from all walks of life. It was with those good people that I travelled on my first pilgrimage to Iona Abbey, an Easter experience which was so powerful. Here’s a full post. Pilgrimage to Iona Abbey.
The time still lives in my heart even today, and I have visited Iona on four occasions since. My niece even volunteered there one summer holiday. It is an extra special place
‘where the air between this world and the next is thin’
One sad reflection on Christian communities was when I next went to a service with Fred. The church was buzzing with talk about Spring Harvest, but when the congregation was asked if anyone wanted to share any other moments of God’s work in their lives and I gathered courage and stood up to say a few words about Iona. There were few murmurs of approval though and I found this a bit disheartening.
‘Judge Not lest ye be judged’ Matthew 7.1
In my fledgling faith I was uncomfortable with that and other incidents where Christians were being judged. ‘They’re not real Christians,’ I heard said on a couple of occasions. I thought of a tiny old lady who attended the village church of Aston Clinton. Who else but her and God knew what was really in her heart and what she believed?
Thus I came across my first stumbling on my journey to faith.