Fifteen years ago The Rev. G. Bradford Hall, 4th rector of St. Margaret’s, died. Brad’s oft prayed sermon prayer, iconic of his service and inspirational to the service of many of us, was simple, direct, compelling.
Come Holy Spirit,
Come with your fire and burn us.
Come with your rain and cleanse us.
Come with your light and reveal to us.
Convict us, convert us, consecrate us
Until we choose to do something with our lives.
Many who remember Brad and his prayer and others who encounter the prayer anew ask where did Brad get it.
A year after Brad’s passing his collected sermons were published in THE JOURNEY HOME…Make It A Good One and in that book compiler Peggy Herz Smith tells of the source of ‘Brad’s Prayer’.
Brad and Carol Hall were living in Coronado, California, when they decided one Sunday to go to a nearby Methodist Church. Brad didn’t like what he heard in the sermon that day, so he wrote the minister a blistering letter. The minister, whose name was Tom Warmer, invited this stranger to his office to talk about his anger. “Once over my initial feelings toward him, I found in Tom a warm, sensitive, accepting person,” Brad later wrote. “We talked more, I shared more … and before long I had poured out a tearful confession of guilt, anger, fright, hope, anxiety. I was totally embarrassed and planned to flee, but Tom accepted who I was and where I was. It was a turning point for me and, as I reflect on it now, a real conversion experience. I joined his church the next Sunday. In this church I experienced my Protestant reformation. I heard Bible stories, attended Sunday school and listened to great preaching. With the talent of a great Wesleyan preacher, Tom brought these stories alive not only to me but to the whole town. His church was packed every Sunday.” It was from Tom Warmer that Brad first heard the prayer which he was to use so often during his ministry. He changed the wording occasionally, but never the heart of the beautiful words: “Come Holy Spirit, Come with your fire and burn us … Convict us, convert us, consecrate us … Until we do something with our lives.”
I thought I’d track Warmer down – offer my thanks for his influential prayer – but I didn’t have any luck. An internet search yielded the church but when I called I was told that Tom Warmer was no longer at that Methodist Church and they heard that he had a ‘store front’ church downtown somewhere. A brief conversation with a retired Methodist Minister acquaintance confirmed that Warmer had left the church. So I left it at that for a dozen plus years.
Renewed interest, this year, in ‘Brad’s Prayer’ prompted me to search again. Online I did find Coronado Community Church and on their website they acknowledge Pastor Emeritus Tom Warmer.
Here’s their website http://www.coronadocommunitychurch.org/
I especially like their statement of “What We Believe”
We believe God speaks in many languages and has revealed divine truth in the major religious traditions of the human race. Our central belief is that Jesus Christ is Lord. But in proclaiming that Jesus is the way and the truth does not preclude that his way may also be manifest in religions that do not worship him as Lord. We believe there is a mystery of how God works in our traditions exceeding our knowledge and control. We celebrate the revelation of God presented in the Holy Bible and trust God’s Spirit to unlock how we are to understand divine truth and apply it to our lives.
Thanks again Tom.