FRIDAY, OCTOBER 23rd – The kick off to the Anglican Church of the Redeemer’s three day mission event occurred as a guided prayer night. For anyone who walks into Redeemer, Franklin’s sanctuary, it becomes quickly evident that Fr. Dan is not only a pastor but an artist at heart. Their building, found within the Moseley Mill Complex, was originally a very simple, stripped down karate studio now transformed into a stunning worship space with stained glass windows, a lit cross, an altar and altar rails, all given to the Redeemer community from churches of different denominational backgrounds – an ecumenical set of gifts that, in the hands of an aesthetically gifted pastor, make for a beautiful place to worship the Lord.
It was in this setting that Redeemer’s Mission Event Weekend took place, the first night of which was spiritual preparation. After set-up the day before, where many of the parishioners came together to give their gifts for the room’s eventual transformation, Redeemer was ready to usher the church into this night of meditation. With the main lights dimmed, Christmas lights wrapped around columns, and candles at various prayer stations, Redeemer was filled with a contemplative, sober atmosphere. Fr. Christian Huebner, who came all the way down from Vermont to help, added to the general meditative mood by playing worship on the piano. About 35 people came to pray, including Bishop Bill, who led many of the prayers. Fr. Dan began by encouraging each attendee to take their time and walk through the sanctuary to each prayer station, where individuals could participate in the activities and prompts to help them connect with God. Parishioners then came together again, and with both Fr. Dan and Fr. Christian leading worship, sang and prayed together. A particularly powerful moment was when almost all of those there approached the altar and the cross, knelt down, held hands, and began fervently praying for their parish and their community.
Fr. Dan’s approach to planning the prayer night was to have structure but leave enough leeway for spontaneity and freedom as people explored praying for the community around them. The prayer stations all had visual prompts around a different theme, usually accompanied by a single meditative act; this would help people connect with God over specific areas in their lives together as the church and as individuals. In addition to the children’s table, where young and old were encouraged to draw pictures to the Lord using crayons and markers, there were six other prayer stations and prompts:
Take a diamond from the basket and ask the Lord to show you what treasure you are holding in your heart that comes between you and God, between you and your neighbor. What diamond in your life outshines God? Take the jewel and place it in the basket before the cross on the altar.
Oftentimes we wear a mask in front of our neighbors and sometimes even in front of God. Put the mask over your face in the mirror and contemplate the ways you’ve hidden behind the mask and have run from authentic relationships. Ask the Lord to help you live more authentically before Him and others.
The stepping stones in the basket represent steps the Lord is asking you to take as you move towards relationship-building in your community. On a stone, write the next step God is asking you to take as he leads you to be a missionary in your home, work, neighborhood, and church. Take it with you as a reminder.
Sometimes our faith runs thin, and we fall short of walking in the Spirit as we engage others in relationship. Prayerfully consider the bottles filled with water, each labeled with a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Take the fruit you sense the Lord currently strengthening in you, or that you sense you really need, and add some of that water to the vase, representing your heart.
Write letters to God expressing the needs you have for help in engaging your community, whether asking for help serving at Church, finding your gifts, forgiving those who’ve hurt you, engaging with co-workers, or overcoming fear. Seal the letter in an envelope and after a season open it to see the ways God has been answering those prayers.
We are building our church family into a strong foundation, and we seek to add to it from our community. Write a prayer on the wall that you have for Franklin and the surrounding area.
The night had a tangible, sweet presence of God, through which each person was able to draw closer to God and one another, all focused on a common theme: reaching the community of Franklin with the transforming love of Jesus Christ. Rather than simply launch into days of activities and outreach without attending to the soul, the prayer night gave people the opportunity to stop and think about why they were participating in mission, deal with some of their fears and frustrations, and pray over spiritual barriers coming between them and their community. It helped them be more ready to receive others in the coming days, and it turned their focus to the One who made it all possible.