Little Fires Everywhere…


Steph McAlinden, The Table, Donegal

Do you ever wonder what revival looks like? What it sounds like, how it feels. Is it a big tent on the outskirts of town with lines of traffic coming from all directions, hoping for a spectacle, frenzied and loud? Or is it the pews of a local chapel, ancient and uncomfortable, suddenly filled with eager and unfamiliar faces, drawn in by whispers of something unexplainable? Mysterious and dramatic. 

I’m often struck by the apparent ordinariness of so many accounts of encounter. Average, everyday people, carving out time of intention, desperate to meet with holiness in the midst of the mundane. 

When we moved to Donegal over three years ago we could never have guessed the importance of our kitchen table. A large, farmhouse style chunk of wood that has evolved with our family. It bears the scars of preschool crafts, Christmas present wrapping and most importantly, countless cups of tea, late night suppers and shared meals with friends, old and new. Markers of conversations where hope has been shared, faith has been multiplied, tears have been spilled and prayers have been uttered. After many nights of raw communion and undiluted worship we have come to consider the revival happening in the hearts gathered around this altar of sorts. I think God might sit at our table – present, honoured and known. Revival to me has a starting place, altars of the ordinary, tables of connection and consecration. 

And so we pray …

Holy God, teach us to return to the practice of building altars of encounter in our homes. May our most domestic settings be the birthplaces of intimacy and awe. 

Father God, teach us the unforced rhythms of your Son as we gather around tables of formation. Allow us to teach through the way we live, learning from one another, shaped by your word, sharpened by your spirit. 

God of rescue, teach us to set up tables in the battlefields of everyday existence. Where mercy is medicine for broken bodies and wounded souls. Equip your saints with the patience to simply sit in the dirt of life with those who cannot move themselves. 

God of hospitality, teach us to lay tables of feasting for those who did not think they were invited to the party. Where there is a seat for everyone and more than enough for all. Where the privilege of participation is shared by the many who never knew what they had to offer was of worth. 

For me, revival has a sound. The whine and crackling of  small fires catching. I find that God dwells there. If I close my eyes and allow my imagination room, I can see the faint glow of little fires all across the island. Fires of devotion, fires of announcement. Not the roaring fires of industry but little blazes burning on the ancient hills, the village greens, along the lanes and between the hedges. A few to start, hopeful against the night, rebelling against the dark. Fires that send word, spread the message; The King has come. He moved here, He is coming to you. You who thought you were long forgotten, overlooked and out of the way. The king is coming! Moving through our rural communities, showing up wherever kindling has been laid. 

And so we pray…

God of unity, teach us the ancient practice of gathering around the fires of worship. Blend our hearts in common pursuit so that unity might be a marker of your presence and a vehicle for momentum. 

God of light, teach us to be people who demonstrate your kingdom of Hope in the darkest places, lighting beacons of announcement on the bleakest nights. Cause our hearts to be undistracted by the pursuit of big, confident that the smallest flame overcomes the darkness every time. 

God of multiplication, teach us to gift kindling. Nurture in your people a desire to give of ourselves so that fires can flicker across the land, small but piercing. Send your people with urgency into the back hills and forgotten corners so that every place can burn for you. 

God of faithfulness, teach us the courage to light fires in the places of scorched earth, where the fire had previously burned and faded. Allow us in gentleness to re inspire those with burned out hearts, inviting them into rhythms of grace and participation once again. 

This year as we join our hearts in prayer, we consider the invitation to turn the ordinary tables of our homes into altars of revival, to set spaces for the least and lost, modelling the hospitality we were once known for, hearts set on invitation and visitation. 

To see little fires everywhere. 

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