Father Stewart Ruch, the bishop-elect of the recently-formed ACNA Diocese of the Upper Midwest recently completed a brief but powerful prayer tour to congregations in northern Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota. It was a great idea, well-executed, and sent a strong message to the diocesan constituents about what our Church in the Upper Midwest will be built on: prayer.
At both of the gatherings I attended, Father Stewart intentionally took time to hear from anyone in attendance who may have had a word from the Lord, or a Scripture passage, or just a phrase or something that stood out. I was encouraged by what people shared, but also heartened by Father Stewart’s openness not only to receive these words, but to affirm them within the larger context of the body of Christ, the diocese or deanery.
It’s easy to think that when we hear from the Lord, the message is just for us. Maybe it has something to do with our individual walk with the Lord, and nothing more. It’s natural, that’s how we’re raised: we’re individuals. It’s not natural to think “How is this word to serve the Church?” That’s something I’ve learned this summer in my travels to all of our congregations from downtown Chicago through Kenosha and Madison and up to Hudson and the Twin Cities – that these words are not only for me, but for Hope Anglican Fellowship, or for the Greenhouse Movement, for the Anglican Church in North America.
We are entering a time of great faith in the church in the Upper Midwest. There is so much work to be done. We need everybody and every word. We need to be people of expectant prayer and fervent listening to the guidance of the Lord. We need to have our eyes opened and ears tuned to the possibilities of the Kingdom in our time.
Father Stewart taught us that prayer involved Friendship with our Father, a Vision of the Kingdom, and Freedom. Are we people who pray like Jesus taught us, trusting our Father to provide a vision we will be free to walk into in the light of God’s saving work?
What is the Lord telling you? What is the Lord telling the Church?