Thoughts by Anne Smith:

What a tumultuous time, a time for lamentation, a time for action and a time for boldness. There is a burning deep in the hearts of men and women. We see its manifestations in the violence and rage of the riots. We also see it in the deep yearning for peace and reconciliation of neighbors reaching across racial divides to ensure each other is okay. 

My heart hurts with the heaviness of the brokenness around us, the insurmountable gaps that need to be bridged, and the weightiness of how insignificant I feel in the midst of the raging storm. The last week or so it felt like oppressive darkness was enclosing all around, and my soul cried out “what can I do, Lord?” His answer came as a gentle reminder that He is the light, in Him there is no darkness, and there is power in prayer

This is a spiritual battle for the hearts of his people, a battle for unity, for identity, and for purpose. For such a time as this is the light of Christ desperately needed. Through prayer, we can unite and call out for His Spirit, His light, to fall afresh on each of us. 

I was profoundly aware of the deep symbolism of the use of fire on Pentecost Sunday. Fire can destroy cars, shops, and churches but fire also has the power to unify, and create a movement of peace and proclamation. The first act of the fire of the Holy Spirit was to build-up, encourage and embolden the apostles to share the news of Jesus Christ. It brought thousands of people from different cultures, languages, races and ethnicities together! The light of the Holy Spirit draws us into greater union with Him and each other, it unifies, and ignites the fire in others for His name sake. 

When I worked in Afghanistan, part of my job was to help bring reconciliation between the government and tribes in remote areas. The first thing we often did was facilitate a “peace shura” or a gathering of the elders and government officials to discuss and air grievances and forge a path forward. Each party had to listen to the other and hear the hurts before they could find common ground. The same principles apply here in Richmond, and even more so among Jesus followers. We are called, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to bring reconciliation and peace. We are called to love one another, to care for our neighbors. As Jesus people, we are called to weep with those who weep, to help the suffering and oppressed, and care deeply for all God’s image bearers. If we do not stand for reconciliation, repentance and forgiveness then who will? 

The last month or so I’ve been meditating on Haggai 1:5 and Lamentations 3:40, where we are admonished to give careful thought to our ways and to examine our hearts. The prayer of confession also stirs my heart when we proclaim “that we have sinned against You in thought, word and deed, by what we have done and what we have left undone.” Lord, what have I left undone, or unsaid that has hurt others, your children, your image bearers? 

Oh, that the light of His presence would expose what needs to be cleansed, and that His love would recapture our hearts! Let us be women who align with the Holy Spirit in the rhythm of the Lord’s heart, which is a heart for healing, for reconciliation, for bringing us closer to Him no matter our race, ethnicity or cultural background. 

In the midst of the fire that burns either literally or that in our hearts, if we as believers do not standup for reconciliation, then who will? We at Porch Lights deeply desire to partner with the light of the Holy Spirit to bring ALL women of Richmond together to usher in His glory and majesty, and redemption. Let us set the example and be quick to repent, quick to forgive, and quick to obey the Lord. For if not us, then who will? 

As believers, we carry the good news that only the light of Christ can drive out darkness. We come in the name of Jesus, the one who saves, who gave his life so we could be reconciled to God. Let us approach this time with boldness of truth in love. May our conversations with each other, our neighbors, community and greater Richmond be with lips that have been purified by the fire of heaven (Isaiah 6:6-7). 

Oh, and if there was a soundtrack to this blog, it would be “Start a Fire” by Unspoken. So, turn up the volume, take a deep breath, and let the light of Christ ignite a fire in you! 

This world can be cold and bitter
Feels like we’re in the dead of winter
Waiting on something better
But am I really gonna hide forever?
Over and over again
I hear Your voice in my head
Let Your light shine, let Your light shine for all to see
Start a fire in my soul
Fan the flame and make it grow
So there’s no doubt or denying
Let it burn so brightly
That everyone around can see
That it’s You, that it’s You that we need
Start a fire in me
You only need a spark to start a whole blaze
It only takes a little faith
Let it start right here in this city
So these old walls will never be the same