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From our archives: D Day for the Church: The Baptism of Fire (By a Lay Communicant)

06 June 2019

From the Church Times of 16 June 1944


General Eisenhower (centre, third from right) and Air Chief Marshal Tedder (right) with a US tank crew, during the D-Day landings

General Eisenhower (centre, third from right) and Air Chief Marshal Tedder (right) with a US tank crew, during the D-Day landings

IN May, 1944, at least we have learnt a little of what expectancy means. As we waited every day for news of a second front, we had a strange confidence in our army and its leaders. We look for great things from Eisenhower and Montgomery. Shall we not expect greater things from God?

How much we need the message that Whitsuntide brings this year of grace 1944. God has not forgotten His Church. The Spirit waits to revive it and the time of revival may well be now, beginning, as before, with the few in the Upper Room.

How much the Church needs revival, renewal, before our soldiers return after the war on the Continent! What if they return after their experience as Crusaders to find a Church which is half dead, half asleep in a Valley of Dry Bones, which gives God only half-time service and partial obedience, and therefore only experiences a partial outpouring of His Spirit, a Church which distrusts enthusiasm and fears initiative.

What will revival mean to the Church which has long known of the Spirit, which has experienced in her long history His quickening power many times already? Does it not mean that as often as the Church grows cold and despondent and spiritually impatient, so often she needs a new experience of Pentecost, first as the great wind, then as the shaking of the house, and always as the baptism of fire?

In other days, revival has come by means of preaching and mass excitement. It may be so in our day also. But this time it seems to be starting differently. It is coming, it has come, now to Peter the apostle, now to Cornelius the soldier, now to the unnamed Ethiopian; first to one, then to another soldier in God’s army.

God has, like the Allies, “a plan — and what a plan”, for it has room in it, not only for cosmic forces and for great movements in history, but also for the calling and the training of the individual for special tasks which, perhaps, he alone can do. The spiritual energy of individuals is somehow vital. For when one loving spirit has, like Barnabas, “been filled with the Holy Ghost”, he will set another’s soul on fire, and he another, and he a fourth, till there are enough individuals aflame with God to generate the spiritual power needed to set the Church ablaze.

After Whit Sunday, close upon it, comes the great day of the Trinity, Trinity Sunday, the turning-point of the Christian year, to which all rise, from which all take their inspiration, the day on which the Church ascends the mount of the contemplation of God Almighty.

After Trinity will come D Day for the Church, as well as the nation. The Mount of Adoration runs down to the embarkation beaches, where the Forces of God are ready to sail on His errand of deliverance.

Who will go for God to take part once again in the age-old warfare against the Prince of this World, entrenched in the dark servitude of Europe, infiltrating, too, even into our Church? On this D Day the invading armies of the Spirit will land on the spiritual beaches of Britain ready to come to close grips, once again, with the Satanic Forces of doubt and despondency which bind our nation fast.

But before the embarkation, for us, must come the battle school. God’s armies can only go with any hope of success if they go in the power of the Spirit. Equipment must be sorted, new weapons learned, old ones brought up-to-date. Do we not need to follow St Paul’s advice at last, to try on our armour and to pray at all times — as we sit at our desks, as we sit at our food, as we stand in ‘bus or crowded tube, as we lie in our beds? What, then, shall we pray? “ Come, Holy Ghost. Set your Church afire, set my life ablaze.”

We have been bidden by King George to be thus instant in prayer for our invading armies, at last ashore on the coast of France. Shall we not pray too for the invading armies of the Spirit, that the Church may regain her commando courage, may recover initiative, may regain enthusiasm, and may rise as a great army to follow Christ, her warrior King, in His great warfare against evil and for the coming of His kingdom — partially, at least, even in our day, upon Britain’s green and pleasant land?
For it is Christ who reigns, and He, whose is the kingdom, will also enter into His glory when He will give His waiting Church, the Church of our generation, at last the gifts of power and joy, the gifts of the Holy Ghost.


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