Last year I had a dream, a vision really, of driving across country in a RV sharing the good news of the ministry of inclusion within the Baptist community that is known as AWAB, the Association of Welcoming & Affirming Baptists! In this vision the word “revival” was very present. I was curious about this since I am a true-blue New Englander with no real experience in revival meetings, speaking in tongues, or being slain in the Spirit. But as I prayed I felt AWAB was being called to hit the road in the summer of 2013 and bring our message of inclusion to as many Baptists as we could. Little did I know this vision would give birth to the Living Jubilee Revival Tour, the 30-day, 3500-mile trip across 15-states which begins June 10, 2013.
But “revival?” Really?
In the 20th century revival meetings have been defined by a charismatic encounter with the Holy Spirit with alter calls, speaking in tongues, and people being slain in the Spirit. Now I don’t want to besmirch anyone’s experience but I do want to suggest that there is a older experience of revival that I think is worthy to be reclaimed – one that is grounded in the word revival which means “to live again.”
For too long the ministry of inclusion within the Baptist traditions has been bullied by those who can not or will not see the Spirit’s leading in the lives of believers who happen to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. For too long churches that seek to welcome all people regardless of sexual or gender identity have remained closeted for fear of the persecution that too often follows when a church comes out. For too long the church has been gripped by fear and is not free to be fully and wholly alive, hiding their lights under a bushel to avoid being discovered.
I wondered what the AWAB community is being revived to and for?
Why revival now? For what purpose?
This is when my vision became a full-on, 3-D revelation with costumes, smoke machines, and extras. (Ok, I’m exaggerating a bit but you get the picture.) What I saw was the image of the New Heaven and the New Earth with lion and lamb, gay and straight, believer and disenchanted returning to their roots and discovering that God’s Love is for all whether you want it or not! And the most exciting part was the image that Love is what we are called to come alive to; not judgment, not fear, not any human understanding of who is in and who is out.
Once I connected the dots I understood why revival. I understood why, in AWAB’s 20th anniversary year, it was so important that we publicly celebrate our member churches; communities that have given it all to be Love in the world. I understood why, when so many people flinch when they hear the word “Baptist” a revival and homecoming is so important for all welcoming and affirming believers that are weary from the years of struggle. I understood why, because there are so many gay Baptists who want to come home to their tradition and celebrate weddings, baptisms, and all the rituals that mark their lives of faith.
It is time for a Revival.
It is time for Jubilee.
So if you see us somewhere along the road between Boston and Kansas City, Memphis and Milford, come say hi! If you are in a city where we are having a revival celebration, come join in the fun! And above all, please pray for us and that this vision of Love might bring a Jubilee for all!