Our English word ‘synod’ is from two Greek words (syn-h/odos) which literally mean ‘a way together.’ That’s good in itself, but this word ‘synod’ can also be translated a bit more loosely as ‘walking together’ or even ‘on the way together.’ The 111th Synod of the Diocese of Rupert’s Land, just completed (18-20 October), felt like something much more than just a long business meeting. I have to confess that it was only my second Diocesan Synod, but I’m eager to share that it was great to be there. It felt like we were walking together, a people truly on the way together.
To be sure, there were still difficult conversations on the plenary floor, but they were, almost without exception, respectful and loving even when it was clear that there was strong disagreement about fundamental matters. From beginning to end it was most clear that, despite our differences, we are united not by uniformity on every issue but by our being joined together in Christ, people walking together as disciples of the crucified and risen Lord Jesus. For me it was truly a gift, a joy to participate.
There are at least six references in The Acts of the Apostles to the Church as ‘the Way.’ Disciples of Jesus, Christians, are people of the Way, or, on the Way together. We are in a wonderful sense always in synod, as we follow Christ Jesus, who joins us together, makes us one. Our focus is on him, on Jesus as Lord; the earliest recorded Christian Creed, shared by people of the Way, on the Way in the first century of the Church’s history, was very likely ‘Jesus is Lord.’ (Cf. I Corinthians 12.3) Our unity is a gift of Christ, the one we follow, together on the Way, walking together, with Christ, in synod. Our unity is not in uniformity but in Christ, crucified and risen, ascended, and present now in the power of the Holy Spirit. Our recent Diocesan Synod was this kind of experience for me. The power and presence of Christ in the Holy Spirit was evident, thanks be to God!
Gratitude to God is always at the very top of our agenda, but I also want to thank our members of Synod, Shirley Godfrey, Rene Jamieson, and Roger Stagg. All three will share more detail in worship on Sunday. Thanks also to Bishop Don for his leadership; his Address to Synod, shared at the Opening Eucharist here at the Cathedral on Thursday evening, 18 October, is available for you. Most Synod material is available for you on the Rupert’s Land website. Thank you as well to ++Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, who spent the entire Synod with us, who was a peaceful and graceful presence in both word and deed. Thanks also to our own ever-gracious Mavis Ford for organizing a wonderful reception following that Thursday service. But always, always, thanks be to God for calling us to walk together on the Way, disciples of Jesus the Christ, following him on the Way of the Cross, the Way of Resurrection, the Way of Life.