By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird
Who can forget the classic 1993 comedy ‘Sleepless in Seattle’ where Sam Baldwin (Tom Hanks) and Annie Reed (Meg Ryan) find healing and romance through the delightful impetuosity of Jonah Baldwin (Ross Malinger ), Sam’s media-savy son? Seattle is a beautiful coastal city to visit that has much in common with Vancouver BC.
Fifty years later…
A few years ago, my family and a Christian Ashram team had the privilege of ministering at John and Holly Roddam’s Seattle congregation, the original epicentre of Anglican renewal which began fifty years ago in 1960 and continues to impact the world. I believe that the renewal birthed in Seattle is God’s wake-up call to a sleepy, self-absorbed Church. As Paul put it in Romans 13:11, “The hour has come for you to wake up from your sleep…”
You may remember St. Eutychus, the patron saint of teenagers, who was literally bored to death during the Apostle Paul’s all-night sermon (Acts 20:9). You may also remember how Jesus’ closest disciples couldn’t stay awake on the Mount of Transfiguration (Luke 9:32) and the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus even had to say to them: “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation” (Luke 22:46).
I believe that God is blowing the Shofar of renewal across the Anglican Church saying “Wake up, wake up, before it is too late”. Why has so much confusion crept into much of the Anglican Church regarding sexual immorality, new-age syncretism, and mother/father god/dess worship? Clearly we, as clergy and laity, have been asleep at the switch, instead of being watchmen for our nation. “Let us not be like others who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
What is the calling of faithful Anglicans in these perilous times? It is the same calling that many christians parents have on Sunday mornings while attempting to get their teenagers ready for church: “Wake up O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you!” (Ephesians 5:14) Wake up, O Canada; Wake up O Anglicans; rise from the dead and Christ will shine on you!
It is little wonder that previous times of renewal (which means new-again) and revival (which means life-again) have been called ‘awakenings’. We think especially of the 18th century First Great Awakening with the Anglican priest George Whitfield and Congregational pastor Jonathan Edwards, and the 19th Century Second Great Awakening with Presbyterian clergyman Charles Finney and Yale President Timothy Dwight.
How deeply we Canadians need to wake up to righteousness (1 Corinthians 15:34). How deeply we Anglicans need to recover the discipline of morning prayer, exemplified in the heritage of our Book of Common Prayer. Then we can cry out like the Psalmist: “Awake my soul! Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn.” (Psalm 57:8) Perhaps we can hear Proverbs 6:9-11 as a prophetic calling: “How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep?…”God is saying to us: “Awake, awake, O Zion, clothe yourselves with strength. Put on your garments of splendor…Shake off your dust, rise up…Free yourself from the chains on your neck, O Captive Daughter of Zion.”
Being in Seattle for the Christian Ashram weekend was a wake-up call to me. Like many churches in renewal, the Roddam’s congregation had both a traditional and then a contemporary service on Sunday mornings. Their congregation proves that the traditional Prayer Book service doesn’t inhibit freedom in the Spirit. It was wonderful to see the gift of prophecy graciously exercised in both services. There is such an anointing on their people who have been soaking in the Spirit for fifty years. Being around such godly people helped me shake off my dust and free myself from the chains on my neck.
What a joy to know that a Canadian Anglican couple, the Rev. John and Holly Roddam, were serving the people of Seattle. Canada, through the ministry of the Rev. Dennis & Rita Bennett, has received so much through the Bennett’s extensive travels across Canada. Many Canadians Anglicans can date their awakening to the reading of the Bennett’s bestsellers like ‘Nine O’clock in the Morning and ‘The Holy Spirit and You’.
I believe that God sent Canadians servant-leaders to Seattle as a way of saying ‘thank you’ to Seattle for all that they have given to so many in Canada and around the world. I thank God that the Rev John and Holly Roddam were powerfully used in helping many to be ‘sleepless in Seattle’. While the Roddams have since move back to the Maritimes, they have left a significant imprint in the hearts and minds of many in Seattle. I pray that for the sake of the Anglican Church and our lost world, we sleepy believers will awaken and ‘not rest until righteousness shines out like the dawn and salvation like a blazing torch’ (Isaiah 62:1). Do it again Lord, wake us up for your glory and honour!
Note: The majority of the people at the Roddam’s congregation have now left the old St Luke’s building, re-aligned with the Global South Anglicans and formed a new congregation Emmanuel Anglican Church . You are encouraged to check out this vibrant congregation led by Rev Dan Rice.
The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, Rector
BSW, MDiv, DMin
Past Chair, Anglican Renewal Ministries of Canada
-previously published in the Anglicans for Renewal Canada magazine
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