Generous … as God is

Generous … as God is

“Moving with God transforming communities” is the vision of this Synod. As a Synod we proclaim we will achieve this by being courageous, inclusive and generous.

The theme of the 2010 Synod — Generous … as God is , was based on the last of the three words: courageous, inclusive and generous. The last two Synods had themes based around the first two.

A member of the Synod, towards the end of our meeting, remarked to me that that word, “generous”, had pervaded much of the Synod — in worship, in reports, in speeches, in the way people conducted themselves (for the most part) and, indeed, that the whole atmosphere of the Synod had a spirit of generosity. The word had not only been used, it had infiltrated our hearts and minds and, in some sense, it had created a way of being.

There was a generosity of those (particularly from amongst the younger members of Synod) who, having proposed in 2008 that the church “do Synod differently” offered their time and skills to make this happen. There was also the generosity of:

  • those who make the Synod happen year after year in providing the agenda space, the physical space and the space created by saying “yes we can do this;”
  • the Synod members who were prepared to give it a go;
  • those who came with the gift of their experience, leadership and wisdom as they provided worship, keynote addresses and input into the sessions that followed;
  • all the participants who graciously negotiated the inevitable glitches that come of doing something new; and,
  • the speakers addressing the Assembly resolution on the Preamble to the Constitution in what had the potential to be a divisive debate.

I thank the members of Synod for taking that word “generous” to heart, bearing witness to the possibility of being a community of grace in the midst of all our differences about worship and theology and what it means to be the Uniting Church in mission.

But really, can a word have that power?

Yes, a word can have power. In the creation stories of Genesis we are reminded that words are powerfully creative and yet can also be powerfully destructive. Jesus as the Word of God is a powerful image. John’s Gospel recognises the power of the word to bring light in the darkness. God’s Word creates and changes the world.

If we meditate on “love” or “hope” or “grace” — drawing those words into our minds over and over again like oxygen drawn into our lungs — by osmosis they are carried into the depths of our being, they give life to our Spirit, shape who we are and, in turn, impact the world in which we live.

Likewise, if we are repeatedly exposed to words of hate those words can infiltrate our being and make us into something other than the people God calls us to be. Words of hate are like an infection that sucks life from us. “Hosanna” (a celebration of hope) one week, “crucify” (the death warrant) the next. As Christians surely we are to reflect and meditate upon words of grace, words that reflect the Word of God in Christ, words that give life.

We did that at Synod. The word “generous” is a word that comes from the heart of God, and the Word of God changes us, the word of God is life-giving.

Niall Reid

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