Players, Printers, Preachers

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Because this is a Sunday, we are commemorating our Lord’s resurrection from the dead. Because it is All Saints Eve, we are acknowledging all the elect of God from every century, from every tribe and nation, north, south, east or west. And because it is Reformation Sunday, we are marking the great work of God that was accomplished in the 16th century, and by which we are still blessed today. But we don’t want to make the mistake of remembering just a date on the calendar; we want to remember what the Holy Spirit actually did in that remarkable time.

John Foxe, of the Book of Martyrs fame, said that the Reformation had three great conduits, and his trilogy of means may contain an element that surprises you. He said that the Reformation was advanced by “players, printers, and preachers.” We have heard about the preachers, and we even know many of their names. We have some knowledge of the printers, and the role that Gutenberg and his invention played in the Reformation. But players? Actors? Stage companies?

The preachers of a recovered gospel converted the people. The printers informed the people, educating them. And the players captured the people’s imagination. Reformed drama troupes were all over Europe, and however much we have ignored them, they were not ignored at the time.

In our community here, we have been praying for a renewed reformation for many years. We have been praying for God-given revival. As God has begun to answer some of these prayers, we should as a result grow in knowledge, with our prayers becoming increasingly informed and focused.

Jesus told His disciples that the field was white unto harvest (John 4:35). He also told them in another place that they should pray that the Lord of the harvest would send forth laborers into the harvest (Matt. 9:38). As we mark the great work of Reformation, we should do it with renewed zeal in our prayers, informed by what He has given His people before.

So pray that the Lord of the harvest would send forth players, actors, cameramen, script-writers, directors, producers, and investors. Pray that He would raise up something other than a Christian version of the hollow people—that He would do for us what was done centuries ago. Players should serve Christ and His grace, and not their own insecure vanities. As Bunyan saw, Vanity Fair was no “new erected business.” Pray for players shaped by the gospel.

Pray that the Lord of the harvest would send forth writers, bloggers, copy-editors, magazine editors, printers, literary agents, authors, publishing houses, and more. Pray that they, as servants of the Word, would be so in love with words that their exuberance in the grace of God would carry everything before it. Pray for printers shaped by the gospel.

And last, pray that the Lord of the harvest would raise up preachers, the kind who spit on their hands before turning to their work. Pray that He would pour out His grace upon our seminaries and ministerial halls, and do so in such a way that a generation of hot-gospel preachers would declare the wonders of His free grace with glad ferocity and abandon. Pray they would preach a gospel that shapes.

Pray, in short, that God would do what He has done before, that He would do the kind of thing He loves to do. And pray that we would receive it, repenting of our unbelief.

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