1 Corinthians 2:5 – So that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God. (NRSV)
Family history introduced me to an ancestor named Experience Powers, who helped establish Newport, Nova Scotia. Her name, like that of her contemporary, Consider Fuller, seemed unusual. Then I discovered that, in 1760, Experience and her husband had come from Newport, Rhode Island, a community which had experienced the Great Awakening in the United States. At the same time, the Alline family, with their young son, Henry, made the same move as Experience Powers, bringing the community name with them. Rev. Henry Alline eventually led a revival known as the Great Awakening in Nova Scotia or the New Light Movement, beginning in 1776. During both revivals, people placed great value on individual religious experience.
The people of the Great Awakening knew that we must experience the power of God's love in our hearts if we are to become the people that he calls us to be. At that time, children might be named Experience Powers or Consider Fuller in earnest hope that not only the child, but many others hearing the name, would reflect on a deeper message. This way is possibly a bit more dramatic than some of us would choose today to help prepare a community to experience God's power, yet God's love remains ready to enter hearts — today, as then — if we will only open the door and let that loving power enter in.
Yes, each of us in our own way, through experiencing the power of God, is changed. Through the Holy Spirit we are heirs to a wonderful community of faith, a community that is connected through time — and beyond time — and finds even today a great awakening to a new light, a new light that is older than time itself.
Perhaps that is the command for us as communities, as well as individuals, to actually experience the power of God renewing our lives and, through the sharing of that experience, to become the force in the community, the world, that Christ would have us be.
Prayer: Lord, help us to turn to you with open hearts, knowing our faith is renewed when we seek you. We thank you for your word. In our search to experience your power, help us to feel anew the wonderful ways that, through your Holy Spirit, the lives of others who walk in your light can touch our hearts — knowing no bounds of time or space. Amen.