Christian’s around the world are celebrating Pentecost today, the birthday of the Church when the Spirit fell like fire on Jesus’ followers in Jerusalem, helping them to both speak and understand new things. Daily, Acts tells us, new people were being added to their number. When the leaders of that early Christian movement were locked up for saying what they had heard and seen, they reported to the authorities, “We are witnesses… and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.”
For the past 2,000 years, folks who obey the word of the Lord have had a tendency to get in trouble with the authorities.
But, as Acts reminds us, God gives the Spirit’s power to those who obey him.
In the Washington Post this weekend, I have a piece on the Spirit’s power that we’ve been witnessing in Moral Mondays here in North Carolina.
When 15 North Carolinians walked into N.C. Speaker of the House Thom Tillis’ office last month, they said they had come to talk about issues of moral concern and would not leave until Tillis agreed to speak with them. The “Tillis 15” waited almost 11 hours in his office before they were finally arrested early the following morning.
Because an unprecedented 1,000 people were arrested as part of Moral Monday protests during last year’s legislative session, national and international media were on hand to witness this prolonged sit-in.
Many political reporters see Moral Mondays as little more than a tool in the Democratic defense strategy. But the Rev. William Barber II, architect of the Moral Mondays/Forward Together campaign, which began under a Democratic administration in 2006, sees things differently.“We’re not asking them to go left or right,” said Barber. “We’re asking them to go deeper. This is a movement about our moral center.”
The scene at the door to Tillis’ office, when viewed as an act of faith, suggests Barber is on to something. If we take Moral Mondays on its own terms and see what’s happening as a religion story, something much more interesting emerges. Maybe we’re on the verge of a Great Awakening.
You can read the rest of the story at the Post’s website. But on this day when young people see visions and the old dream dreams–when each of us learns to hear from another and recognize their language as our own–I wanted to give you a chance to hear from the TIllis 15 themselves. Here’s a video of them testifying from the door of Speaker Thom Tillis’ office at the NC General Assembly.
Tomorrow is, once again, a Moral Monday in Raleigh, North Carolina. You can come and see what the Spirit is stirring on the Halifax Mall behind the Legislature Building in Raleigh at 5pm. For more information, see the NC NAACP website.