9 years ago John and I decided to join some friends who were starting a new church. This may sound like a relatively simple thing but we were leaving a baptist mega church we had grown up in and been very involved in to help start an Anglican church. We knew nothing about Anglicanism, did not like liturgical services and were against infant baptism. But we loved our friends, loved the Lord and were convinced that this church they were starting was filled with the Holy Spirit. The goal was to merge the evangelical movement with the historical structure of the Anglican church. We were enthusiastic but guarded.
10 years later the 10 people we joined have turned into 300 people and we have planted a second which has over 100 people. 10 years ago we were part of a rogue little group of churches around the country that wanted to reclaim the Anglican church in this country as they watched the Episcopal church turn away from its roots and the biblical foundation upon which it was founded. I spent 6 years on the Vestry of the church as we watched our little group join with other little groups around the country to form the Anglican Church of North America. The Anglican church is a worldwide mission. We worship on Sunday mornings with churches around the world, praising God, reading the same scriptures and sharing the same prayers. Our group desired to be formally associated with that worldwide mission not just casually.
A couple weekends ago another big step was taken as we formed a Midwest diocese. Our 2 churches in Minnesota along with a handful of churches in Wisconsin and the Chicago area joined together to encourage each other, offer support and work together to further God's kingdom. The pastor of the church in Wheaton where Jake attended last year, the church that planted our church 9 years ago, and who happens to be the brother of our church's pastor, Stewart Ruch, was elected our new Bishop. Isabelle and I drove down for the consecration service along with several other people from our church.
Having grown up as a nice conservative, scandinavian Baptist you can come to a few conclusions about me. I don't raise my hands in praise during worship songs, I don't dance, I don't get wildly excited in front of other people during worship services. You would think that joining a liturgical service would offer me plenty of comfort. More conservative people. Just add a few intentionally placed standing and sitting, group recitations of prayers and the occasional crossing of yourself. But in general it shouldn't be too different.
Except it is because that is not the kind of church we wanted to help start. And that is not the kind of church that draws people to it and there is just nothing biblical about keeping it all stuffed inside. When you are excited about the Lord, excited to worship Him, filled with the joy that comes form knowing Him, you just can't hold it in! One of the women in our church says we are actually Angli-bapti-costal!
You might think that sitting for 3 hours in a worship service with an 8 year old sounds like a long, slow, painful method of torture. But when the purpose of the service is to consecrate your new Bishop and when your new Bishop is filled with as much love and joy for the Lord you can't help but be filled with that same joy. You can't help by be overwhelmed by the presence of the Lord. And when the Bishop has taken his oath, when your pastor as given a wonderful sermon at his brother's service, when the Arch Bishop has prayed, and when everyone has shared the feast of the Lord in communion, you celebrate. But not by just standing with your hands at your side and singing. When you are there in the Lord's presence your worship cannot be contained and it burst forth looking something like this:
If you get this in email you might have to click on the link to watch but it will be worth it. Unfortunately Isabelle isn't in the video but she was out dancing with the kids and is all ready to teach the kids at our church how it is done during our next celebration service.