Until about a week ago, I had never heard of Asbury University. Someone pointed out that there was something going on there. I had to look up where it was. “Oh, it’s in Kentucky.” That was my response.
I went to the school website. There wasn’t anything on the website pointing to a specific event going on. Then I heard some more about what was going on. And finally the R word got thrown into the mix – “Revival!” Here’s the thing – I’m not a big fan of the word. Maybe that’s just me. I don’t come from an evangelical background. I was raised Roman Catholic and now I’m Lutheran. I do very much appreciate the mystical side of faith though. St. Francis of Assisi is my favorite saint. He experienced the stigmata – you don’t get more mystical than that as far as I’m concerned.
In college, our Newman club (the Catholic club on a Protestant campus) traveled to Franciscan University in Steubenville, OH for some events, including worship. We went to Catholic conferences where which felt almost revival like-ish – well, as close as you can get anyway. But still not the same thing. Liturgically minded traditions just have a different way of encountering God. That’s not a bad thing. It’s just different. As with most things – there are positives and there are negatives. There are things that appeal to people and things that put people off.
So apparently there’s a revival going on at Ashbury University – or someone decided to label it that and the label caught on with other people. And here’s the thing. I don’t really have a thought about it. I haven’t watch it. I’ve read a couple of articles from some folks who have been there. I’ve read a couple of articles about people postulating why the revival stated – all just guesses really.
I think the thing that is most interesting is the work arounds that the students and professors have to make while this, whatever it is, is going on. Apparently it started with the students, but it’s shifted to other folks? I don’t know. Again, I’m not really following.
So why comment at all? That’s the real question. That’s what I’m asking myself. There are histories of revivals – that can’t be denied. I’m curious why this has caught attention of people. I’m curious if it’s something that is really more a desire for people to encounter God for themselves – something that they feel they are missing in their own lives. And so regardless of what is happening in Ashbury, the pull of it is their own desire to encounter the divine. The question then becomes why are so many then feeling such a lack of encounter with God?
The other question I have is just with the word revival. What is the attraction of the word? Especially if revivals only happen every couple of decades? What about the in-between times? Is God asleep in-between revivals? Are we just spiritually dead roaming the streets waiting aimlessly?
And why does revival have to be in response to some kind of supposed crisis? That’s what one of the articles claimed. For that article it had to do with supposedly “redefining” the sexuality of God. It’s always about sex and gender, isn’t it? Oy. Can’t we just grow up?
So in conclusion, if there is such a thing – I haven’t got slightest idea as to what’s happening on the campus of Ashbury University. Is it a revival? I don’t know. Someone decided to label it that way and it stuck. Will it lead to some kind of change? I guess we’ll see.
Here’s my hope – It’s what I usually hope when it comes to most things related to church. That people’s eye’s would be wiped so that they can see the image of God in others – especially those that look different from themselves. That people’s ears would be cleared so that they can hear people’s worth and value. That people’s hearts might be softened so that they might be changed in order to better listen to Jesus and follow his ways in love, grace, and justice. And that God’s vision of shalom might be implemented in the community of the church willingly participating. If that comes through a revival – great. If it comes some other way – great. I don’t really care what you want to call it. That’s what I want to participate in.