On a typical Thursday morning at 7 am, a small group of people—3, 5, or maybe up to 6—gather together to pray in the Atrium of the denominational offices of the CRCNA on 28th Street in Grand Rapids.
Our prayer seemed more urgent on this day (February 27) given the recent and sudden resignation of CRCNA Executive Director, Steve Timmermans.
A memo had gone out to staff members, to summarize a meeting of senior leadership. It said, “We need to remember that God is in control of all things, and this includes the CRCNA. This is God's church. We do not need to be anxious.” And, “There is a need for intentional prayer during this time of transition.” Now (and always) is time to come, seeking God with soft and contrite hearts, in hope that he will meet us. What an awesome privilege we have.
As usual, we turned to our devotional, where we read a Lenten theme, Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. (Psalm 51)“Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. (Joel 2:12-13)
The truth is that God has maintained the Church through generations, through sinful people like all of us, and through messy and difficult circumstances. Around the denomination, and in many other places, change and transformation is the one constant, the given; it’s part of who we are.
In our personal and corporate lives, we can see that it’s often in these sad, painful, or difficult places the Lord grabs our attention and draws us closer. God’s purposes stand firm and it’s rather arrogant for us to think it’s dependent on our own understanding, structures, and actions. The day before, on Ash Wednesday, we acknowledge that we are but dust, right?
As our little group discussed what the Scripture passages were saying to us at this moment in time, and as we prayed, we were together overcome with the reality of their theme—our hope is in the Lord. Surely, as the invitation stated, The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. (Psalm 145:8)
The Holy Spirit, ever-present in this little group of praying saints, helped us to believe it, deep in our hearts, and we were truly blessed by the experience. In addition, I believe that the prayers of these faithful saints are effectual, and in mysterious ways, seen and unseen, God’s kingdom advances and we are all blessed as a result.
Staff and community members around Grand Rapids are invited to join in prayer on Thursday mornings at 7 am in the atrium. If not then or there, please join in prayer for the CRCNA in your own time and place during this time of transition. Watch for additional information coming soon about how we can journey in prayer together.
Safe Church Ministry also has a group of people who are committed to pray for Safe Church. We don’t meet together, however, a monthly prayer guide goes out to help guide our prayers. If you would like to join this prayer team, and receive a monthly prayer guide via email please send a note to [email protected]. (Note: February 2020 prayer guide is attached)
The ending blessing that our little group read said, Redeem us from all wickedness, purify us and make us your very own, eager to do what is good. (See Titus 2:14) May it be so, amen.