Friday, 19 May 2017

40 Hours of Prayer

Written by Stuart McMillan

"A very special gift, thank you" was the comment that resonated strongly among our group of Uniting Church leaders as we sat reflecting on our experience of 40 hours in prayer together.

Despite just concluding our 40 hours together in worship, rather than rushing away, we lingered in each others’ company.

Two days earlier we had gathered at the Wesley Church on Lonsdale Street in Melbourne.

We were Moderators and General Secretaries from Perth, Darwin, Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne.

From 3pm on Sunday 14 May until 7am on Tuesday 16 May, we prayed for our beloved Church, for each other, and for the world.

Our collective act of prayer was designed to mark 40 days leading up to the 40th anniversary of our Church’s inauguration on 22 June 1977.

We shared our hopes, worries and dreams for our sisters and brothers in Christ.

We confessed our failures – personal and corporate, and sought God’s forgiveness and strength.

And we interceded   for those in trouble, in poor health or poor spirits praying “come Holy Spirit”.

We prayed a prayer from our inauguration service in 1977 written by Rev. Harold Wood, revised for 2017 by his son and former President Rev. D’Arcy Wood.

The music and grace of Gurrumul and Archie Roach deepened our reflection and reminded us of our Covenanting commitments with First Peoples.

Sometimes we prayed in silence, and we took turns praying through the night.

From Monday morning we moved into the Chapel of the VicTas Synod offices in Little Collins Street.

Prayer, so much a part of the "means of grace" from our Wesleyan inheritance is so vital to the life of the followers of Jesus.

One of the ways we encountered God in this time was to make the same commitment that was made in the inaugural service for the UCA in 1977.

As leaders we relinquished any control or power we possess knowing it is Christ who constitutes, rules and renews his church (as per paragraph 4 Basis of Union).

In identificational repentance we also asked God's forgiveness for the leadership failures which have damaged individuals’ lives, and the mission of God through the Church.

There was recognition too in our prayerful reflection, that as leaders this is a time of change, of transition and of spiritual transformation.

We want to encourage you all to see that Jesus is amongst us. In the heart of the nation and throughout this vast continent. With congregations small and large, remote, rural and urban and with all our agencies and schools. Jesus is amongst us in our engagement with international and ecumenical partners as we pursue God's heart of unity (John 17).

We met, we prayed and we were filled with hope for God's purposes in and through the Uniting Church in Australia.

Over these days leading up to the 40th anniversary, we encourage you to join the prayer journey.

We pray that the Spirit of God will quicken to your hearts and minds God's purposes and promises.

Thank you to our gracious hosts at Wesley Church and the Synod of Victoria and Tasmania.

Marrkapmirri, Stuart.

Marrkapmirri means deep affection, love as with a brother or sister in the Yolngu language of north-east Arnhem land.