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Photo: Kristen deRoo Vanderberg
Council of Delegates at work
Photo by Kristen deRoo Vanderberg

As one of its first orders of business, the newly formed Council of Delegates of the Christian Reformed Church in North America issued a statement urging churches to join together in prayer for the world.

“One of the things we hope that the Council of Delegates can do in between synod sessions is speak to issues in and about our world,” said Rev. Paul De Vries, who was elected as chair of the council yesterday.

He pointed out that staff members of the CRCNA have spoken publicly about issues in the past, and have been encouraged by the former Board of Trustees to be prophetic voices to churches in the denomination.

De Vries added that the Council of Delegates, with representation from every Christian Reformed classis (regional grouping of congregations), is now better positioned to support staff and churches in this task by also speaking with a unified voice.

This first statement by the Council speaks specifically about natural disasters and other crises that have been occurring in the world over the past few months. It calls on churches and individuals to grieve with those who have been affected by hurricanes, floods, fires, shootings, and other recent events. It also reminds people to remember who is ultimately in control.

“We wish to express the heaviness on our hearts, to stand in solidarity with those who hurt, and to grieve and mourn for that which has been lost. We also celebrate that we serve a God who heals brokenness and despair, who hears our cries, and who has promised to heal our broken and hurting world,” the statement reads.

To help congregations participate in this joint time of lament and petition, the statement closes with a listing of worship resources compiled by CRC Worship Ministries. It also asks churches to take concrete action by learning more about the disaster response efforts of the denomination and considering support for World Renew.

Statement from Council of Delegates (CRCNA) About Our Hurting World

In June, Synod 2017 challenged the Christian Reformed Church to remember, reaffirm, and reinvigorate our denomination’s commitment to a comprehensive and integral response to global humanitarian crises. Since then, it seems as if the situation in our world has deteriorated and the need for our care and compassion has increased.

Earlier this year, an estimated 20 million people were already living on the brink of starvation in South Sudan, Yemen, Somalia, and Nigeria. In August and September, hurricanes such as Harvey, Irma, and Maria tore through the Caribbean and the United States, causing untold damage. As hurricane recovery began, a 7.1 magnitude earthquake in Mexico killed more than 300 people and left 6,000 injured. Soon after, we heard about the plight of Rohingya refugees who were being massacred in Myanmar and were forced to flee for Bangladesh. And more recently, we were faced with news of a terrible attack on the streets of Edmonton, a horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas, and raging wildfires in California.

These are just a handful of the hurts taking place in our world right now. There are also daily acts of racism and injustice, persecution of people because of their faith, and ongoing discrimination against people with disabilities.

Our hearts are heavy as we consider all of this suffering. The sheer scope and scale of need can overwhelm us and leave us feeling helpless to respond. Yet, even in times of immense darkness and suffering we are reminded that God is in control.

As a Council of Delegates, we encourage Christian Reformed churches across North America to join us in a time of both lament and praise. We wish to express the heaviness on our hearts, to stand in solidarity with those who hurt, and to grieve and mourn for that which has been lost. We also celebrate that we serve a God who heals brokenness and despair, who hears our cries, and who has promised to heal our broken and hurting world.

Please join us in a personal or congregational time of prayer. The CRC Office of Worship Ministries has put together some worship resources to help you get started.

We also encourage you to act. Please visit WorldRenew.net to learn more about how you and your congregation can support World Renew as it responds to several of these urgent needs.

 Adopted by the Council of Delegates of the CRCNA
 October 12, 2017

Sample Worship Resources

Scripture

Songs

  • O God, Our Help in Ages Past” — Lift Up Your Hearts Hymnal (LUYH) 405; see also Psalter Hymnal 170 for a helpful frame
  • “All on Earth and All in Heaven” — LUYH 922 (could move into 923)
  • Total Praise” — LUYH 420
  • “Don't Be Afraid” — LUYH 429
  • “Day by Day”— LUYH 437
  • “He Leadeth Me” — LUYH 440
  • “My Life Flows On in Endless Song” — LUYH 443
  • “Neither Death nor Life” — LUYH 450
  • “When Peace Like a River” — LUYH 451
  • “He's Got the Whole World in His Hands” — LUYH 26
  • “View the Present Through the Promise” — LUYH 470

Songs from Other Sources

Pastoral Prayer

  • Idea for projecting images or headlines with time for silent prayer: https://www.reformedworship.org/article/december-2009/praying-headlines
  • Written prayer with optional sung refrain:


    Sovereign God,
    who spoke and the world was created,
    who commanded the waters to rise up and flood the earth,
    who divided the waters of the Red Sea so your people could cross on dry ground,
    who commanded the waters of the Sea of Galilee to be still,
    you are all powerful and all knowing,
    and so we ask you, "Why?"

    Why does someone seek to take the life of another?
    Why the shooting in Las Vegas?
    Why another earthquake in Mexico?
    Why the succession of powerful hurricanes?
    Why the flooding?
    Why so many fires across Canada and the United States?
    Why the threat of nuclear war?
    Why the bombings?
    Why the burning of villages and the displacement of so many people?
    Why the forced separation of families?
    Why the destruction?
    Why the death?
    Why Lord? Why?

    Do you hear us? How long, O Lord? How long?
    How much more can the world handle?

    Optional Sung Refrain: “Within Our Darkest Night” LUYH 417
    Or Spoken Refrain: Psalm 43:3
           And so we pray…
           Send us your light and your faithful care,
    Let them lead us.

    And what about our personal and congregational laments?
    [Add congregational concerns]

    Optional Sung Refrain: “Within Our Darkest Night” LUYH 417
    Or Spoken Refrain: Psalm 43:3
           And so we pray…
           Send us your light and your faithful care,
    Let them lead us.

    In the midst of darkness the psalmist declares:
    "Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Savior and my God." (Ps. 42:5, 11; Ps. 43:5)

    Help us to put our hope in you.
    To trust you in the midst of our unanswered questions.
    To look for your light in the midst of the darkness.
    To be your light in the midst of the darkness.

    Optional Sung Refrain: “Within Our Darkest Night” LUYH 417
    Or Spoken Refrain: Psalm 43:3
           And so we pray…
           Send us your light and your faithful care,
    Let them lead us.

    In the midst of our despair, grief, and darkness we thank you.
    We thank you for the lives spared and the property that escaped harm.
    We thank you for the first responders,
    firefighters,
    police,
    health care providers,
    those crawling through holes in collapsed buildings.

    We praise you for how your light is shining through
    those providing food, shelter, and other physical needs,
    those who provide comfort and a listening ear,
    those who provide financial support,
    those who over the next months and years help with the rebuilding of lives and buildings.

    We praise you for how your light is shining through in our own community.
    [Add prayers of gratitude specific to your context.]

    Optional Sung Refrain: “Within Our Darkest Night” LUYH 417
    Or Spoken Refrain: Psalm 43:3
           And so we pray…
           Send us your light and your faithful care,
    Let them lead us.

    Sovereign God,
    the night is not yet over, and we don't know what tomorrow brings.
    Fires continue to burn, flood waters are rising, hurricanes beat a relentless path,
    Bombs are still falling, shots are still reverberating, the threats of nuclear war continue to be made, and so many people are suffering the physical and emotional effects of all of this.
    God, we feel the fear around and within us growing.

    May we
    "Put our hope in God,
    for we will yet praise him,
    our Savior and our God." (Ps. 42:5, 11; Ps. 43:5)

    Holy God, we do hope in you, and we cling to your promises

    • to be with us even if we walk through the valley of the shadow of death (Ps. 23).
    • that nothing, not even death, can separate us from your love (Romans 8).
    • and that one day we will stand before your throne, a people drawn from every tribe and nation, and there will be no more night (Revelation 21).
       

    We pray this in the strong name of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.
    Amen and Amen.

    Optional Sung Refrain: “Within Our Darkest Night” LUYH 417

    —Rev. Joyce Borger, 2017; Copyright: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike