It takes elephantine trust

It takes elephantine trust

The Uniting Church has so much going for it. I love being part of a fellowship that asserts inclusion, courage and generosity as part of its core values. We also seem willing to look forward with hope, as was evident in the way the Synod gathering in Newcastle enthusiastically embraced the theme “On new and risky paths”.

The big question is: how far are we willing to trust one another along the way?

By the Monday night of the 2011 Synod I was beginning to wonder whether the theme was going to be all talk and little action. After long conversations and debate we were still unsure about the move by leaders from four presbyteries to initiate a reassessment of the current structures. We also wondered if the Synod itself should move toward greater internal cooperation and cohesion with the General Secretary having a stronger executive role. Most challenging of all was the reflection on the pros and cons of moving from a Korean Commission to a Korean Presbytery by conferring the roles of selecting candidates for the ministry and conducting ordinations.

Some observed that there was an “elephant in the room” — one person even suggesting that we were unwittingly painting the elephant’s toenails! Simon Lee, our resident IT guru even produced an image of the gathering with an elephant in the visitors’ gallery. But what was this elephant and what was it doing in our midst?

For me the elephant was the issue of trust/distrust.

Trust is basic to our lives. According to sociologist Eric Erikson, it is the earliest issue we need to resolve in our personal development. Much of our ability to trust others and the world depends on the quality of nurture we receive in the first eighteen months of life.

Of course, not everyone is fortunate enough to receive such nurture in infancy. However, with our rebirth into Christ we experience the embrace of a loving, nurturing God. This is the new foundation of our ability to trust one another and especially in the Community of Faith.

On the last day of Synod we decided to take the new and risky paths that we had formerly hesitated to commit to. Reaching the big decisions was an act of faith and, for me, a work of the Holy Spirit.

The teachings of Jesus affirm the value and critical importance of trust. Consider for example how many times Jesus said, “Do not be afraid!” or words to that effect.

The Synod gathering of 2011 has been sent out on new and risky paths to do the work it has agreed to. I trust that these will take us where the Spirit leads.

The Rev. Dr Brian Brown

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