(Bishop David Graves) - In the middle of the Civil War between the North and South, William Parton (W.P.) Mackay wrote a song entitled, “Revive Us Again.” His song appeared in many church hymnals over the next two centuries and is still used today in many places all over the world. Following the Civil War, revival of the Gospel of Jesus Christ begin again all over the United States. Churches of all denominations began in towns and communities across our land. The Methodist Church was averaging one new church a day. Revival was taking place, lives were being changed, healing was taking place, and people were focused on the common mission of sharing Jesus Christ. Gatherings called camp meetings began to happen again where many had been interrupted by the war. The term, “camp meetings” became a household phrase because people came and camped out for days–a two-week camp meeting was commonplace. Sometimes there would be three preaching services a day: morning, noon, and evening. People gave their life to Christ and the common language was, “I got saved.” Others would recommit their life to Christ, others repent of sin and seek to change their life. For some, it was a time of growing in their faith. Today, similar events happen in churches for a few days or a week at a time that we call revivals.
Camp meetings continue to this day in some parts of our country, especially here in the south. Next summer, I will be preaching at the 200th Anniversary of the Sulphur Springs Camp Meeting in upper east Tennessee where Bishop Francis Asbury preached under the same camp meeting shed that still stands today. I am sure one of the songs we will sing is, “Revive Us Again.”
Many would say that camp meetings and revivals are a thing of the past. Attendance at these events is usually not well attended and most in attendance are faithful church folk. Unfortunately it is not a tool to reach new people these days. Yet, I find all of our spirits need reviving every once in a while in one way or another.
Earlier this month, I had the great honor to preach a three-night revival at Adams Chapel United Methodist Church in Clayton, AL. Their pastor, Pam Freeman, is doing great work at this church and the congregation is filled with wonderful people that are making a difference in their community. We had three wonderful worship services and sang each night, “Revive Us Again.” Part of that song goes like this:
Revive us again. Fill each heart with Thy love, May each soul be rekindled with fire from above. Hallelujah Thine the glory, Hallelujah Amen, Hallelujah Thine the glory, Revive us again.
What I found at this most recent revival is that I was one of several who was revived by simply being with God’s people, setting aside time to come into God’s presence, and experiencing a fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit.
I experienced this same feeling a week later as I preached at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Eutaw, Alabama. The Holy Spirit was alive and well in that place. It flowed from the people and again, revived their Bishop’s heart.
I saw a fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit where I saw numerous lives impacted in Tuskegee and Livingston, AL, by the Alabama Rural Ministries. This ministry is changing the lives of children, youth and adults. My heart was revived once again.
Summer is moving on and school will begin soon, along with the kickoff of football season, which seems to revive many people. Yet, I wonder if what we need most is the revival of our soul, which comes in many forms. For some, it is camp meetings and revival services. For most, it comes from pouring a daily dose of Jesus inside of us and letting that come out in loving ways of providing a backpack for a child, helping an elderly neighbor who needs a helping hand, to a family member or friend who needs to be loved in spite of their unloving behavior.
This I do know. I can’t really change anybody except for myself. Therefore, Lord fill my heart with Thy love, rekindle the fire in my soul, I will give you, Lord, all the glory, revive me again.
My prayer is that our churches, our communities, and our nation will be revived again!