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Faith of A Mustard Seed           

by Barbara Woods-Washington
Barbara A. Woods Washington, M. Div.

Revisiting the ‘Experience’ component of theology, I turn to the ‘Conversion Experience’, so very personal in nature that the old spiritual says it best— “You don’t know what the Lord told me…  You don’t know, you wasn’t there.  You can’t say when and you can’t say where…”

Notable for word study is the concept ‘strepho’ which in scripture has the meaning ‘to turn’; ‘to twist’; ‘to bend’; ‘to change’.  It is used in the Old Testament to refer to inner conversion through suffering or fear.  After anointing Saul for the Kingship, he is told by Samuel that the Spirit of the Lord would grip him and he would be changed into another man.

Several forms of ‘strepho’ are used in scripture, here most notably two: ‘apostrepho’ (apostacy)— ‘to turn away from; ‘to turn aside’; ‘to turn back’; ‘to reject’, and ‘epistrepho’— ‘to turn one’s attention to’; ‘to pay regard to’; ‘to be intentive’; ‘to turn one’s heart to’; ‘to take up a matter’.  Key to the root and most all forms of this word is conscious action.  It places this experience time and time again in the very heart of faith as the action relates directly to God.  Turning away or turning towards God establishes a relationship that effects how the individual will subsequently experience life and the world in which he lives.

Most recalled in preaching are the conversion experiences of Isaiah and Paul.  this single experience of a person’s life is spoken of by the worlds greatest theologians as one that so alters, so turns, so twists, so changes the individual’s life that ‘they will never be the same again!’  The ‘knowledge/revelation’ gained by this experience dictates all future actions on the part of the ‘changed man’.  The world view of the individual is turned towards truth— in seeking, in living and in propagation.

My birth Church used to sing a song that had an amazing level of participation.  They sang— “Oh, oh, oh, oh somebody touched me! (3 times)  And it must have been the hand of The Lord.”  Then they sang a verse for each day of the week— “it was on a Monday when somebody touched me!  (3 times)  And it must have been the hand of The Lord.”

Individuals would stand up for the Monday chorus and others would join those standing as each day was called.  I remember wondering if and when I was supposed to stand.  I knew that whatever they were singing about was so important, so special that each person remembered the very day that it happened to them.

The late Rev. Dr. Joseph E. Lowery became that Preacher who would “Call America to the Mourner’s Pew.  The “Mourner’s Pew, the Mourner’s Bench”.  The restoration of some of the most important traditions of the Church must be had.  We are into a generation where individuals on a nonsense whim, seek to bring down traditions that were instrumental to the vitality of family and community —glue that held together societal life.  The Mourner’s Pew, the very first Pew in the Church where individual’s whose live were in trouble and distress could find rest for the weary soul. The thing is that it is the one place where you could sit, Sunday after Sunday, or night after night of Revival… ‘til you received the Power of God, Jesus, and/or The Holy ‘Ghost’ for inner conversion!  ‘That Part’ that so alters, so turns, so twists, so changes your life that ‘you will never be the same again!’

Experiencing God in such a way that your life is ‘born again!”  New Life!  NEW BIRTHDAY!  Jesus says that every person MUST have one!

By email: myfathersmansionpress@gmail.com

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