Synod: It seemed good...
When the disciples were scratching their heads about whether or not God was doing a new thing among the Gentiles, they decided to gather together in Jerusalem to weigh the evidence and seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance. This was the first formal “synod” in the history of the church. Having come together, they produced a famous pronouncement which stated, “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us…” This is a remarkable turn of phrase! It not only assumes that the church ought to make key decisions as a corporate body, but that when it does so in the name of Jesus, his Spirit is actually present guiding the conversation. This is how God’s people govern themselves: together, with Christ's presence among us. Thus began a rich tradition of conciliarity in the church which gave us our creeds and continues to our own day.
We Christians are not lone rangers. We are not meant to blaze our own trails, live in isolation, or engage God’s word and worship on our own. We are meant to do it together, in mutual submission and with concern for the welfare of all. Especially when we strive to order our common life and mission, we do so together as the best expression of our Lord’s command that we love one another. All of this serves a much higher purpose than merely smooth governance: that we walk and work and worship together reveals to the world the reconciling power of Christ's transforming love. A synod of the church is therefore a sign of the Gospel itself.
This week Christ Church is privileged to host for the fourth time the annual Synod of our diocese. Yes, it is a business meeting with reports and budgets and the like. But do not let the ordinary character of some of its proceedings blind you to the deeper spiritual reality that is afoot whenever the Body of Christ gathers to move forward by common deliberation and consent. We are testifying in the very act that Christ is making many people in the world into his one holy temple on earth for the salvation of all and for the glory of God. That is what we are doing at Christ Church this week.
I invite above all your prayers for our gathering, that we may be one in Christ. I invite your prayers for all the delegations gathering together, for their members and for the churches they represent, that God would mightily bless them and empower them for his ministry in the world. I invite your prayers for our bishop and his staff, that they would be strengthened for the work ahead and them. I invite your prayers for your own brothers and sisters at Christ Church who are laboring to make this possible, that God would encourage them that the work they are doing is not mundane but rather a deep expression of Christ’s mission in the world.
May the Holy Spirit richly dwell among us as we gather in Christ’s name this week!