“Hallelujah, Thine the glory! Hallelujah, amen! Hallelujah, Thine the glory! Revive Us again!”
A lone voice sung out — reverberating off weathered walls and white, plastic tables. For weeks the twelve of us gathered together. To hope. To dream. To pray. Twelve men and women. Twelve believers and seekers. Twelve disciples untied in the hope that the Holy Spirit might descend among us and answer our longing souls as we prayed the prayer we had each been praying as pandemic restrictions eased and we found ourselves peering into a world that did not look like we thought it would: “God, what do we do now?”
No tongues of fire descended that night. No unlearned languages were uttered. Despite our earnest prayers and hopes, God’s Holy Spirit did not speak. It sang. It sang through the voice of one of us gathered, a voice I had not heard in song, in words to a hymn written before our nation celebrated its hundredth birthday: “Hallelujah, Thine the glory! Revive us again!”
This was the moment I knew that the God-sized dream we found ourselves discussing was more than a hopeful vision, but something we were called to make tangible and real — even if none of us had ever seen anything like it before: Not a Revival, but a Revive All. A full week of nightly gatherings of churches, of neighbors, of the faithful and the seeking, all united together regardless of denominational, racial or theological differences to call out to God in one voice asking God to revive all. All of our neighbors. All of our burdens. All of the things that still need reviving.
Throughout these last difficult pandemic years, there are so many things in our lives, and in our lives of faith that have become strained, broken or have all but died.
Spirits are battered and in need of hope. Relationships have become strained under the weight of divisiveness. Holes of grief persist as we have mourned losses not only of loved ones, but significant life events like graduations, births, weddings and even funerals that did not occur in the ways they should have.
The loving communities that we all need as human beings linger under deep shadows of isolation that no Zoom meeting can correct.
For so many, hope seems like a quaint, naïve notion, joy remains a distant memory, and faith feels hollow.
In so many spheres of our lives, revival is needed. Only God can revive all of it. The Bible is filled with examples of God reviving what is barren, broken, and even dead. I do not believe that God has gotten out of the revival business. Our lives can be revived. Our spirits. Our churches. Our city. The Revive All is a chance for us to seek this renewal, and to do so together.
Every night of the Revive All will be different, with each one focusing on a single aspect of our lives that we are seeking God to revive.
One night will be filled with music and art as we ask God to revive our joy in worship.
Another night we will focus on asking God to revive our families and our ability to share our faith with our children. This service will begin with bouncy houses, arts and crafts, Bible story time and free hotdogs and snow cones.
Another night we will focus on asking God to revive our hope by having a memorial service to name and grieve all the things that we have yet to mourn.
There will be a night where we turn to God asking for a revival of the unity between our churches. Local ministers from many denominations will preach together.
The Saturday of the Revive All will be a day of service where our collective churches will turn to the Almighty asking God to revive our commitment to love others as we blanket our city with acts of care.
The Revive All is a God-sized dream, but it is a dream worth pursuing. It is a dream only possible with God’s help and with other Christians and churches willing to boldly dream together.
What began with twelve people in prayer has now grown to participating churches including: Hay Street United Methodist Church, First Baptist Church (Anderson Street), First Presbyterian Church, One Church Covenant Fellowship and St. Luke AME Church.
There is certainly room for many, many more! If you or your church are interested in being a part of the Revive All contact me at 910-483-0477. May God revive us all as we pray together, serve together, grieve together, build together and sing together in one voice — joining the song the Holy Spirit has already begun among us: “Hallelujah, Thine the glory! Revive Us again!”
The Revive All will take place May 14 to 21 and most services will begin at 6 p.m. under a tent in the grass parking lot of First Baptist Church on the corner of Maiden Lane and Anderson Street (across from the Headquarters Library).
Editor's note: Rev. Robert M. James, Jr. is the pastor of First Baptist Church on Anderson Street in downtown Fayetteville where he has served for six years.