Come Holy Spirit

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.

A House of Hospitality

When the new St. Margaret’s sanctuary was available for use in June 1989 The Rev. Brad Hall, Fourth Rector of St. Margaret’s,  preached a sermon, “Solomon’s Prayer: Our First Day in the New Church Building” (June 4, 1989), that we continue to live up to and into as a community.

Though speaking about the building itself and the entire St. Margaret’s community, Brad’s words give us a vision when spoken into our little community–The Sunday Morning Forum–within the larger community. We need to make our room and our presence match what the congregation does in the sanctuary in Sunday worship. Here is an excerpt of Brad’s sermon; hear that the Spirit is saying the same thing to us 22 years later:

God’s House is a House of Hospitality

This is truly a beautiful building, and people will come and visit it. Whether they are drawn here by its architectural majesty, its open, light-filled sanctuary, or to worship and pray, we must always be prepared to welcome and accept all sojourners and visitors who wish to enter our doors.

This is an Episcopal Church, a member of the worldwide Anglican Communion of over seventy million peoples. We are also a community church, a part of this Coachella Valley, and our church is a gift to all who live in their beautiful desert. And so the doors of our building and our hearts must be open to welcome, in God’s Love, all who come to us seeking peace, seeking an answer to their prayers, seeking God, Himself.

My final prayer for us is that your love and Christ’s Love will so shine through these doors and windows that all sojourners who come here seeking will find that their prayers will be answered and that God’s Peace and Joy will fill their hearts.

Note: the entire sermon will soon be posted in the Supplemental Resource category 6/7/11

The Rev. Lane Hensley, current Rector of St. Margaret’s, continues this fine tradition among us. In November 2010 Lane set out some principles for our ministry. Here is an excerpt to help guide our work in the Sunday Morning Forum, a community within a community:

Our collective task is to take our place as members of the Body of Christ, and to come collectively “to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.” Here, then, are some principles that I think need to guide that process.

We are a public Church, and a ministry leader in outreach, formation, music, and worship. Our efforts should be directed to the community we serve in mission, and their highest hopes, deepest fears, and most important deliberations should find home at St. Margaret’s.

We expect God’s blessing on our work, and to grow and be transformed into the Body of Christ.

Lane’s principles can be viewed or downloaded here: From the Rector’s Desk, November 2010

Let us be open and inviting to others in the spirit of Christ’s love as we build community. We have a fine vision and strong principles and God’s amazing grace guiding us along the Way.

Your thoughts and observations and questions are important. Please use the Comment section to continue the conversation.