“Let’s be brave in meeting those challenges.” Raymond Joso inducted as Head of Mission Enablement
Rev. Dr Raymond Joso was inducted as the Head of Mission Enablement for the Synod of NSW and the ACT on Friday 16 October.
The induction service took place at United Theological College’s chapel. Due to COVID-19 requirements, only 31 people were allowed in the building, while others watched from Zoom.
Moderator Simon Hansford presided over the service.
Dr Glen Powell preached the sermon, which looked in part at Matthew 22: 15-22, which recounts Jesus being ambushed with the question over whether or not someone should pay tax to Caesar.
This story in Matthew’s Gospel ends in Jesus astonishing his questioners by declaring “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, give to God what is God’s.”
“The Pharisees and Herodians work together on this one. They’re unlikely collaborators…united against a common enemy,” Dr Powell said.
“Sometimes when we think we’re right, we find ourselves united against God.”
The Pharisees in the story, he said, put Jesus in a “lose-lose situation.”
If he answered the question directly, Jesus could be misrepresented as either a Roman collaborator or breaking the first commandment.
He said that the traditional interpretation of the verse, which separates faith from politics and public life, was wrong.
“The take home message for the church, don’t rock the boat,” Dr Powell said.
“But the Psalmist reminds us, the Lord reigns, let the nations tremble.”
“The other way to read this verse (in Matthew) is that…nothing belongs to Caesar.”
“It doesn’t really sound like Jesus.”
Instead, he suggested, that a government was under God, and would need to be loved but held to account.
“Caesar…may appear to rule the world, but ultimately God runs the world.”
“All of us are called to work in the world as it is towards the world as it should be.”
“In 1977, the first assembly of the Uniting Church made a fantastic statement to the nation.”
“Rev. Dr Raymond Joso, head of the mission enablement team, your mission…is to help us to live up to the high ideal that everything we have is for God.”
This involved, he said, more than worship.
“God calls the church not just to write sermons or to sing wonderful songs when we’re allowed.”
“A Uniting Church ethos should be impossible to miss.”
He said the role of UME was to build up congregations and communities, “So they can make a Jesus-shaped difference.”
“Let us be a church that talks about the Gospel of Jesus Christ more frequently.”
“Raymond, you are remarkable, but you cannot do it alone. But you will not have to.”
He suggested that he would be well supported by those gathered.
Rev. Hansford said that Rev. Dr Joso’s job was to equip the church for mission.
“Thank you and pray for me that I might have the strength and courage to continue to encourage the church to be in God’s mission,” Rev. Dr Joso said.
“I have been called to serve as Head of Mission Enablement, and as the sermon said, I cannot do this alone.”
“Our Synod puts priority on God’s mission.”
“We are living in interesting times that bring challenges and opportunities. Let’s be brave in meeting those challenges.”
Rev. Radhika Sukumar-White provided worship music.
Rev. Dr Joso has more than 15 years’ ministry experience in a variety of settings both in Church ministry and Synod roles. This also includes significant postgraduate experiences.