My father says that am too small.
My mother says that I am slow.
My teacher says that I am a dreamer.
My boss says that the others are better.
My colleagues say that I lack solidarity.
My lieutenant says that I am a coward.
My pastor says that I am a sinner.
My wife says that other earn more.
My children say that I am old-fashioned.
And you, my God, what do you say?
You say that you made me in your likeness.
Over the past year, I have found my soul deeply stirred through reading, re-reading and continually reflecting on Walter J. Hollenweger’s opus magnus work titled, Pentecostalism: Origins and Developments Worldwide. Hollenweger’s 400 page work is largely and purposely, story driven. Not a system of thinking but stories and songs. Scattered through his book are several prayers. I have already quoted his first prayer, which is about what people say versus what God says about us. Following are the other several prayers:
- Prayer of thhe Eartthworm.
- Pryaer of the Caterpilar.
- Prayer of the Mosquito.
- Prayer of the Turtle.
- Prayer of the Cow.
- Prayer of the Singing Bird.
- Prayer of the Frog.
- Payer of the Ostrich.
Hollenweger is by now an old man. People often found his life message provocative, but I believe he is the most definitive Pentecostal statesman and theologian for the 20th century. His book narrates what he believes are the “five historical roots” of Pentecostalism:
- Black oral root.
- Roman Catholic root.
- Evangelical root
- Critical root
- Ecumenical root.
Hollenweger believed these are not only the roots but also the true seeds of our future. Emerging from each of those five seeds is the true calling and true future and calling of Pentecostalism. They point the way if we are towards that future where the Spirit has always wanted us to go, and flourish and bless the whole Church and the world through a new Pentecostal outpouring of the Holy Spirit. I think Hollenweger was right all along.
You see, the problem with virtually all of us today is that we have forgotten who we are. We have lost our identities. We have lost our identifies. because we have lost our roots. We are thus now rootless people. We have become like the eagles who now act like turkeys because they forgot or never knew that they are really eagles. We are all together like the parabolic lion character named Simba in the movie, Lion King. So we just carry on our lives like every other creature in the forest because we forgot we are really lions. We like Simba need to hear the Spirit of his father, who still cries out even from beyond the grave, “Know who you are.”
We live in a day when the word “tradition” spells something very unspiritual and irrelevant. Hence, Christians do not know their inherent giftings and callings within the entire Christian Church, and to the world. They fail to know that the DNA of where they came from represents a gift to the whole Church as well as to the world. Every spiritual tradition has a part to play and needs the engagement of every other tradition within the Christian Church.
On this theme, the problem with far too many Pentecostals, is that they see themselves as simply Evangelicals who speak in tongues. Or Evangelicals who believe in the miraculous works of the Spirit; or are passionate about reaching people for Christ. But alas, we have forgotten our prophetic calling—our prophetic consciousness, to call into to question the prevailing consensus and status quo. We have forgotten our calling to offer an alternative vision of reality that is radically counter-culture to this world’s prevailing norms. We have forgotten that God’s dream and vision is far grander than the world’s dreams and visions for self-gratification. We have exchanged gold for bronze because we think that bronze is gold.
We have brought into the lie that to be effective as a church we must be at the “cutting edge” of whatever is relevant. So we have replaced the stories, symbols and narratives of the Bible for the stories, symbols and narratives of the world. We had failed to know that in doing so, we have allowed the world’s symbols to shape our thinking and behavior, more so than the symbols of the Scriptures. So we have become, as so also have become Christians of other traditions, “fat cows of Bashan” who are far too at home with the first-world middle class yet very oppressive value system. It is indeed an oppressive value system because it defines human worth according to monetary and material capital, and encourages Christians to see salvation as a ticket to heaven, and a ticket to consume whatever brings pleasure to our tummies.
Now back to Hollenweger’s prayers. Each of his prayers tells a story about Christian life, and about being Pentecostal. And if we are honest about ourselves and one another, these prayers express our real needs before the Lord. I am going to recall these prayers over several entries. I am doing so because I also believe that these are prayers they reveal our true need for repentance and revival in the Church today. Is it not amazing? The recession will soon past and yet our sins are still undone. Revival is still somewhere beyond the crashing waves at the shore. But one day the rain will fall again.
I think some may find my sharing something like that which comes from the mosquito who likes to draw blood from others. Maybe it is; we are indeed earthen vessels. Oh, how we need to pray like the “Mosquito.”
Sometimes I feel like a mosquito.
In the morning, when the sun is shining,
I hum away happily.
But then an urge comes over me:
I must sink my sting into somebody;
I must draw blood in order to survive.
God, I have not made this sting.
Why must I be a mosquito?
I would prefer to be a fly,
Who lives on sugar-water
Or a butterfly who drinks honey.
Why must I be a mosquito,
Who can only survive by stinging others.
I did not make myself.
You did not ask me whether I wanted to be a mosquito,
Neither did my parents.
Dear God, will there also be mosquitoes in the kingdom of God?
What are you going to do with those that have sting others?