Greg Strand is EFCA executive director of theology and credentialing, and he serves on the Board of Ministerial Standing as well as the Spiritual Heritage Committee. He and his family are members of Northfield (Minnesota) EFC.
Yesterday when we gathered as the people of God at our EFCA church, we heard President Kevin Kompelien's call to the EFCA to repent and pray. This was followed by a pastoral prayer, which I include below.
This morning we join with other EFCA churches around the world in prayer.
"Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of Israel our Father, forever and ever. Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is Yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and You are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from You, and You rule over all. In Your hand are power and might, and in Your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. And now we thank You, our God, and praise Your glorious name.”
With the events of this past week, added to the events of last year, we are troubled. We are disturbed. We grieve. Division, discord and death continue. The turning of the calendar may have ushered in a new day, but it did not usher in a new way.
The insurrection of this past week at our nation’s Capitol was unsettling. That action is strongly denounced, just as the riots and destruction in our cities last summer. Neither is right. Both are wrong. The kingdom of God will never be ushered in through human means.
Many have stated this is not who we are. And yet, we must acknowledge, it is. It is who we are, it is who we have become. And we in the church live with similar idolatries and brokenness.
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. Because we are people of the truth, in a posture of contrition and confession, we, corporately as the church of Jesus Christ, repent.
We repent of our sin when . . .
If we confess our sins, You are faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. We humbly and gratefully thank You.
We also, once again, profess Jesus Christ is Lord. Kings and kingdoms rise and fall. Jesus Christ is the King of kings and Lord of lords, He is the same yesterday, today and forever, He is seated at Your right hand and rules over all.
When we gather as the church – the people of God, the body of Christ, the temple of the Holy Spirit – we worship Jesus Christ who is the author and perfector of our faith. We remember His promise that He will build His church and the gates of hell will not overcome it. There is no other institution with a similar promise.
With our corporate profession that Jesus Christ is Lord, we acknowledge no one else is. We also affirm we no longer live for ourselves but for Him who loved us and gave Himself for us. We also manifest that though we live in the world, giving thanks for where we live, that God’s kindness has fallen to us in pleasant places, we are citizens of another world. Our ultimate citizenship is in heaven, part of the now of Your kingdom, and our ultimate allegiance is to You. We live in the world while not being of the world. We do not love the world for the sake of the world.
In gathering as believers at this time in this place, we also remember we are strangers and exiles on our way to a better country, the heavenly Jerusalem, the not-yet of the kingdom. We are grateful we have received a kingdom that cannot be shaken.
Help us, by Your grace, to proclaim with lips and life Your excellencies, as You are the one who called us out of darkness into Your marvelous light.
O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for Your own sake, O my God, because Your city and Your people are called by Your name.
In Jesus’ Name. Amen.