One of my most favorite movies of all time is My Fair Lady. In fact, as I type, I am watching my most favorite scene in it, the Ascot horse race. The excessive fashion of the Victorian era is extremely exaggerated for the movie. The message of it relates to me to be the attitude of many church denominations — appearance. To be more precise, traditional appearance.
There they are, precisely and similarly dressed in black and white, strutting their fashionable selves, behaving precisely according to stiff custom. The race begins.
I’ve never been to a horse race but I’ve been to hockey and football games. I’ve seen representations of horse races in movies. There appears to be a high level of excitement, shedding of inhibitions in the form of jumping up and down, cheering the horse you bet on, hugging if you won, ripping tickets and cursing if you lost money. In other words, the participants at the average horse race at least move.
At the Ascot opening race, they pose. Yes, pose is the word I’m looking for. To do otherwise would expose emotion. Can’t have that. No raising of the arms. No clapping. No hopping. No dancing. No smiling or laughing or cheering.
But the lyrics to their prim song is as follows:
Every duke and earl and peer is here, everyone who should be here is here, what a smashing, positively dashing spectacle, the Ascot opening day. At the gate are all the horses waiting for the cue to fly away. What a gripping, absolutely ripping moment at the Ascot opening day. Pulses rushing, faces flushing. Heartbeats speed up. I have never been so keyed up! Any second now, they’ll begin to run. Hark! A bell is ringing, they are springing forward, look! It has begun!
So far the only muscles that have moved have been the lips and one arm to lift the binoculars slowly in unison. They remain locked into position as the horses rush by. The next move is to lower the binoculars, slowly in unison, and they continue —
What a frenzied moment that was. Didn’t they maintain an exhausting pace? It was a thrilling, absolutely chilling running of the Ascot opening race!
Although we know already that proper Brits are by definition, stiff, this is ridiculous.
I’m on the praise team. Along with the orchestra, I am on the platform, helping lead the congregation in prayerful or joyful praise of our Lord and King, Jesus Christ, who suffered for us. If I’m not looking at the lyrics on the back wall, I look at the congregation. I particularly enjoy seeing my husband lift holy hands in worship, the same man who, when we were young, preferred to fish on Sundays. But a disturbing number of the congregation is similiar to those in attendance at the Ascot opening day. I can’t judge their hearts — so stop before you start — I know that. I just notice that when Shout to the Lord is booming out the side doors, no one seems to be shouting. There’s a little more energy during Days of Elijah.
We’re hearing about the end days, about the prophecies of Joel, about revival in Biblical proportions — Brownsville style on steroids.
Whatever are these Brit-like mannequin worshippers going to do? Suddenly come to life or run out the back door faster than a speeding bullet? I suspect that at that point, when Joel’s prophecies are fact, that’s exactly what will happen. Others you wouldn’t expect to fire up will do exactly that.
Here in East Tennessee, you can’t shoot a BB gun without hitting a country church sign announcing yet one more revival. Pardon my cynicism but I tend to agree with the local Tennesseean in our class who suggested that when he was growing up, putting up the tent was just an opportunity for overtime for the pastor, an extra 3 to five nights when the plate is passed around again. Be sure to clap on the chorus.
What’s going to happen to the unsuspecting average clap-on-the-chorus Christian when God pours out His Spirit in such humongous doses, it’s unrecognizable? How will that average Christian respond to spontaneous dancing and shouting? Prophecying? Healings? Dropping like flies as they’re slain in the spirit?
I can hardly wait.
My advice to the country preachers who schedule an extra weekend now and then and call it a revival is “Be careful what you pray for.”