Thanks Be to God...for the Church
When I make my morning prayers, I always include the general prayer of thanksgiving from the Book of Common Prayer. It is a beautiful prayer in form and content. Being a Presbyterian I take a certain liberty with the prayer and add my own personal thanksgivings to it. These vary during the week but one cause for my thanksgiving, which I always include, is the church.
“Almighty God, most merciful Father, we thine unworthy servants [I pray with the plural subject] do give thee most humble and hearty thanks for all thy goodness and mercy to us and to all people; we thank thee for our creation, preservation and all the blessings of this life [at this point in the prayer I list a number of personal reasons for my thanksgiving]; but above all we thank you for the inestimable love for the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ, for the means of grace, for the hope of glory, and for the church….”
I add the church to those things perpetually mentioned in the prayer of thanksgiving. It could be argued that this is a superfluous addition because the congregation of Christ’s people is assumed in the prayer, but I make a special reference to it anyway. As a person who was raised in the Presbyterian Church and as a minister for some 30 years now, my gratitude to God for creating the church and my love for it has continued to grow. Am I ignorant of the problems in the church, the clergy abuses, the history of its power aligned with the state for inquisitions and crusades, and its lust for cultural popularity and a relevance defined by the world? No, I am not. Have I somehow avoided the maliciousness and conflicts within the church? No, I have not. I know well the sin and weakness of Christians and the church and it deeply saddens me whenever it manifests itself. In my morning prayer, I also pray the general prayer of confession for sin and list my own personal sins along with the general sin of us all. Nevertheless, I am thankful to God for the church, as imperfect as it is.
God created the Christian church to be in this world, and it is baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, in order to confess that Jesus Christ is God and the Savior of the world. As such, it is full of the blessing of God. Providence Orthodox Presbyterian Church is growing in the Detroit metropolitan area with all kinds of people. Some of these people were raised in Reformed churches, but many others have come to us after dropping out of the church-at-large because they experienced its failures. In some cases, they grew tired of the superficiality and the foolishness they found in it. Others came to us with no real experience of the church and yet they came with an openness to God. Each person has his or her own story. What they have found is the presence of God, the ministry of his Word and his salvation that has intruded into this world through Jesus Christ and overcomes the sin that is in our culture, in the church and in ourselves.
With great thanksgiving to God it is my hope to offer, from time to time, pastoral thoughts on the church with the intention of helping those who are Christians and those who need encouragement to join Christ’s people, to give thanks to God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirt.
Blessing in Christ,