Asking, seeking and knocking for relationship renewal
The experience of Synod 2016 was a truly blessed one for me and I hope it was for many who attended as well as those who heard, or read the stories and reports of the Synod meeting.
A sound of clay smashed by a hammer at the opening service reminded us of the broken promises that required our serious confession. And following confession, comes forgiveness, and resolution to move on and do better.
The theme of Synod 2016 was “Come Holy Spirit. Renew our hearts!” And this is nothing but a prayer, a deep yearning for a renewed relationship with God and with each other and with the earth.
This prayer encourages each of us to ask ourselves some questions. What is in us that requires renewal, what is in our church that needs to be renewed, and what about God’s earth?
As a church we are called to be the agents of reconciliation and this means that we need to say “Sorry” when we have done wrong and even when we have not done right. Unless we respond honestly and truthfully, how can we reflect God who shows us what’s right and what’s wrong?
An apology that was offered to Rev. Dr Ann Wansbrough at the Synod, was an acute reminder of our call to Christ’s ministry of reconciliation and healing. The movement of God’s Spirit was there even before the world was formed as the Spirit of God hovered over the surface of the waters when the earth was without form and void as recorded in Genesis. But we are not always in tune with this Spirit of God who is eternally present among us and around us.
Our teacher Jesus said, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you (Matthew 7:7) This simple teaching stays as just words, merely a suggestion if we don’t put it into action. What Synod 2016 did was to put this teaching into action. We asked God to renew our hearts, we sought God’s wisdom for us to follow God’s mission, and we knocked on the door of God’s kingdom for the future.
Three hundred and ten people at the Synod meeting heard sixty-four exciting ideas to renew our church. From this list they came up with nineteen special projects starting with next generation leadership, making a space and time to hear the wisdom from our first people, maintaining a healthy climate and teaching spiritual practices in our church.
May I thank the members of Synod 2016 and everyone in our Synod for your prayers before, during and after our gathering.
I was still excited about the renewing Spirit of God during Synod, when I went to the Uniting Women Conference in Adelaide (28 April-1 May) another wonderful experience of God’s Spirit celebrated, cherished and proclaimed by strong, intelligent, faithful and beautiful women of the Uniting Church from everywhere in Australia and our partner churches in Kiribati, Zimbabwe and Tonga. The first Uniting Women Conference was held in Sydney in 2014, when five hundred women were invited to share their stories of God in their lives. The stories of those women have now led to more stories of hope shared by four hundred women this year in Adelaide!
What a Spirit-filled church we are when we are open to the Spirit of God and prepared to share our stories, for we are the bearers of God’s image and proclaim that God is in us and we are in God. Is this the time that Jesus referred when he said “On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you (John 14:20)?
I am deeply grateful to the Synod Spirituality Committee, which encourages the ministers in our presbyteries to visit a well spring like the Kaltara Retreat. Jesus said “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, it is no longer good for anything”. We must never forget the need to encourage each other for who we are and for whose we are. The Synod Spirituality Committee provides us various information of deepening our spirituality, Day retreats, Women’s retreats, Christian meditation, and Peer support programs.
Brothers and Sisters in Christ, let us together respond to the invitation of God’s mission as we continue to pray “Come Holy Spirit, renew our hearts, renew your church, renew the Earth”
The Moderator, Rev. Myung Hwa Park