Before Synod 2023 I wrote the post, “So We Pray…”
Synod 2023 is now in the rearview mirror. I believe that now, more than ever, we need to keep praying.
I’ve heard many responses from Synod 2023. Responses like this:
- I thought it went well.
- Synod again made the right decisions.
- I think we are divided into at least 3 groups.
- We’re a mess.
- I haven’t felt that kind of grief since a loved one died.
As an intercessor for synod this year I prayed through it all. And there were many good moments. Let’s not minimize the unity felt in worship, the zeal for evangelism, the excitement from new ministries like Thrive and words from passionate new leaders of ministries. There was again a glimpse that we are growing multiculturally. The two new professors that will be teaching at Calvin Theological Seminary were inspiring and brought fresh energy. There was genuine concern that we do not abuse our power. The president and officers led well.The leaders of our denomination, our seminary, and our university are people of faith, prayer, and vision. There is much to give thanks for.
But if we’re honest, Synod 2023 had its struggles and certainly did not end well. So while we have many things to give thanks for, we have much work to do. I won’t go into my personal impressions of the state of our denomination because I want to focus on prayer and on our God, who is much bigger than our shortcomings.
This morning at our regular monthly CRCNA Prayer Gathering, the online gathering of CRC pastors, staff, and CRC members from around the US and Canada, we focused our post-synod prayers for the CRC in three directions. First, we gave thanks and praise for the good that was experienced at Synod 2023. Second, we lamented the brokenness and pain. Third, we prayed for the church going forward. We used the words of Psalm 46 to guide us. I would encourage you to do the same in your personal prayers and your prayer groups.
Verse two of Psalm 46 says, “Therefore we will not fear…” As a prayer group we took that phrase and offered up that which we pledge not to fear. Below are several of the things that we shared.
Because God is our refuge and strength, we will not fear:
- That our gospel witness is diminished
- Each other
God understands our confusion, our mess. He knows we are human and have limited understanding. We can cry out to God with what we think went wrong and whose fault it is. But let’s keep praying. I would encourage you to read Psalm 46 for yourself and give your fears over to God as you finish the sentence for yourself and your church: Because God is our refuge and our strength, we will not fear….
Let me state the obvious - we don’t all agree. We will never all agree. But we all pray to the One God who is Lord of all and who loves the Church more than our small minds can possibly comprehend. So my plea is that we keep praying together.
We ended our prayer on Zoom by turning on our mics and saying out loud the Lord’s Prayer. As you know, that creates a kind of holy chaos. But isn’t that also the state of the church we love - holy chaos?
We prayed the Lord’s Prayer out loud today, joining our individual voices from locations spanning from east to west and north to south of our two countries, and it was a beautiful holy chaos. I wonder if Jesus knew 2000 years ago as he walked this earth with his ragtag disciples, that we as his followers would still be a mess and would need to join our voices and say together, “Our Father”. We become like little children and look to the One who brought us all into being and say, “Our Father”. We join with saints of all ages saying “Our Father”.
If we can’t figure it all out, maybe that’s okay. We have a Father in heaven. God is Our Father - all of ours. And someday we’ll all be together with our Father in heaven and fully alive with him on this redeemed, restored earth.
Please join us in prayer for the CRC. Jon Hoekema is the Prayer Shepherd for the CRC and together with the CRCNA Prayer Team hosts a CRC Prayer Gathering on the 2nd Wednesday of every month at 11:00 am EST. Email us at [email protected] and request to be sent the monthly reminder and zoom link. We’d love to have many more join us. In these trying times, one thing is certain - we need to keep praying.
There are more opportunities to pray for the CRC listed here - https://www.crcna.org/get-involved/pray. Check out more resources on the Prayer Page of The Network. Please join in whatever way you can.