Monday, June 04, 2007

Commissioned

It feels so good to sit down at a table at Panera, with coffee and a bagel and my laptop, and breathe a prayer of thanksgiving for last week--exhausting but so productive--and rejoice in this chance to reflect and write. My kids were thrilled to be left alone to do their schoolwork this morning--we've all been pushing so hard to get our house ready to sell.

More on that soon, but today I have to tell about the wonderful commissioning service our sending church gave us yesterday. It was Trinity Sunday and the readings were all about the holiness of God: "Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness" from the Psalm, Isaiah's vision, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God of hosts," and his response, "Here am I--send me," and the "Holy, holy, holy...worthy is the Lamb" passage from Revelation.

Days before, I had asked Papa Rooster what he had been hearing from the Lord lately about the church plant, and he had said, "Just that it's all about the holiness of God." (I'll try to do a post soon on what all is wrapped up in that concept for us, but what a confirmation!)

The priest who basically planted our sending church--Rev. William Beasley--spoke about new wineskins for new wine and described what is happening through the AMIA all over our Midwest region: Congregations are being started by lay leaders without degrees or ordinations, but with a confirmed call on their lives, and God is pouring life and breath into them. This is a model that has worked well in Africa for decades; when there have not been enough priests, lay leaders called catechists have carried on until they were supplied, and often end up being ordained as a confirmation of what God is already doing through them.

In our region, there is a Hispanic congregation of 200 meeting in Chicago that doesn't have a priest yet, but they're already planning to plant a church! And 75 Northwestern University students meet each Sunday for an Anglican service led by a lay leader there. There are two small Nigerian congregations in Chicago, and now this Kenosha plant, started by a lay leader there, our friend Jan. And there is a family attending it that is planning to start something in Racine, the next city north, as soon as the timing seems right! It's so exciting to be part of this organic movement of the Spirit.

Papa Rooster shared briefly about our journey to this point, including the moment when he realized he was not only willing to move his family and lead this church, but he wanted to do it. (The miracle is that the kids and I feel the same way, though the shift has been so gradual as to be imperceptible.) He also told this little vignette about the movement of the Spirit in Kenosha: Last week Jan was preaching on the Pentecost passage, and he had just said, "Now, the Spirit doesn't always come in a big wind..." when the wind blew the chapel doors shut. "But then again, sometimes He does!" Jan had to add.

After communion and the worship that wraps it up, friends and church leaders gathered around our family, Jan's family, and the other family who had come from Racine and prayed for us. (Actually, they prayed for us twice, during the first and the second services.) There was such a sense, both times, of the Holy Spirit pouring out His gifts upon us, to be His body--His hands and feet--and His light--the Light of Christ, our church name--in Kenosha. And not just on us, but on others who will join us, and on our children; the next generation was represented by 16 children on that stage. It was a powerful time. I know it impacted our older kids, especially, and filled us all with such a strong sense of mission, not in our own strength, but in the Lord, who will do the work through us.

It was an emotional time for us and for many in the congregation--we've been leaders there for 16 years. We love and are well-loved by many; we've received so much there and given so much there--and it's been all joy, even in the difficult times. Yet we are eager to take what we have received there, sow it and watch what new creation springs forth. We know that this daughter church will bear a family resemblance to her mother, but she'll have a unique mission that will give her a look of her own, and we can't wait to watch, in faith, what God will grow there in the soil of Kenosha.

(At Papa Rooster's ordination five years ago, Jan's wife Michelle heard the Isaiah passage read--"Here am I, send me"--and had the first awareness of a call to start a church like this in her hometown of Kenosha. Four years later, to the month, that same passage was read at the commissioning service for the start of just such a work! No one picked it for that reason; it was the assigned reading for the day in Anglican churches around the world. How cool is that?)

6 comments:

Lindsey @ Enjoythejourney said...

All God's richest blessings as you depart and do His work in a new place! How exciting to know that you are fully within God's will. I love that feeling.

Anonymous said...

Wow - how exciting!! Praying for you all.

Regarding AMIA, I have read some things about how they are ordaining women in Canada now (and in Rwanda, as I think they always have). Have you or your hubby heard any rumblings if AMIA in the US will catch up anytime soon? I know women can be ordained as deacons, but it seems theologically inconsistent to ordain women of one nationality as priests, but not women of another nationality. Just curious if you've heard anything.

Jen in Seattle

Linds said...

What a wonderful community to move forward from! And how lovely to have such confirmation that you are following the road God meant you to. I am praying for your move to be full of blessings for both your family, and the community you will be serving.

At A Hen's Pace said...

Jen--

It is inconsistent, as you say, but it is a choice to focus on the essentials that unite us rather than the non-essential that divides. Here is an excellent response to your question.

We are traditionalists on this question--because of our commitment to the undivided church and that which has been believed "everywhere, by all, at all times."

Anonymous said...

I think they really are trying to take a middle road, and that is a good thing. In the long term, its hard to imagine how it will work for ethically and theologically correct to ordain a Canadian woman, but not an Ameican one born a few miles away. But I do totally agree that the issue should not be forced on congregations that would be offended by the concept. Thanks for the article link!

Jen in Seattle

Jennifer, Snapshot said...

Sitting down at Panera with coffee and the laptop is indeed a good thing!

Sounds like you are moving forward with your plans. Good luck on the house!