Giving our lives to the things that really matter
My desk calendar has just offered me the following conundrum: “If shared problems lessen the burden, how come we get so upset in a traffic jam?”
The appropriateness of the theme of the April 2013 Synod gathering: “Uniting for the Common Good” seems self-evident. It fits neatly with our ethos of welcoming and hospitality. It reinforces the vision of a church that, at its best, provides a safe place for healing and the opportunity to grow and serve; and which, at its most courageous, stands up for the marginalised and vulnerable.
With the principle in place, should it just not be a matter of course and determination that major issues are resolved in a way that all will flourish? Would that it were that easy!
The reality is that even when we are together, and with the best will in the world, finding the common good solution can be downright hard work. In this edition of Insights, which focuses on rural issues, it is appropriate to mention our church’s recent three-day gathering in Albury to discuss human and environmental challenges around the allocation of water resources in the Murray Darling Basin.
In spite of much determination and the goodwill of this diverse group representing various sides of the debate, we had to concede an impasse, with no consensus to satisfy both irrigators and environmentalists ‑ even though we, as a Synod, affirm both irrigators and environmental scientists for their efforts in seeking solutions for living sustainably in the Basin.
Nevertheless, we are a church committed to being: “…a fellowship of reconciliation…for the building up of the whole; an instrument through which Christ may work and bear witness to himself.”(Basis of Union, para.3). In spite of the ‘traffic jam’ of conflicting ideas, we did gain some precious ground.
- We affirmed that the current dilemma is the result of past policy decisions, and not the fault of irrigators; and that there can be a future for irrigation in the Basin.
- We recognised the polarisation that has come about between country and city, and affirmed the value of ‘discovery tours’ to help urban dwellers get a feel for the Basin environment, and help country people hear first-hand what urban folk think.
As difficult as they are, traffic jams (including those caused by the Deniliquin Ute Muster) sometimes have to be faced in getting to where we need to be, slow and difficult though progress may be. My conviction is that we will resolve these hard issues in proportion to the extent that we resist blaming one another, and work together for common good solutions.
Embracing the common good requires us to accept the validity of its gospel claims, the reality of its tough challenges, and the demands it makes on our compassion. Alternatively, we can accept the proposal that achieving the flourishing of all is in the ‘too hard basket’.
Jesus had some sharp things to say about clinging to old and lifeless ways at the cost of embracing that which has abiding value. He invites us to give our lives to the things that truly matter.
Rev. Dr Brian Brown, Moderator
You can follow the Moderator on Twitter @BrianBrownUCA
For a copy or DVD of the Moderator’s address to the 2013 Synod “Uniting the Synod for the Common Good”, please contact Sue Willgoss on (02) 82674382 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
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