Synod Assembly 2018
Reflections From Synod Assembly
Andrew and Susan and I were the delegates from St. Paul Church to this year’s New England Synod Assembly in Springfield.
It was both more difficult, and less work, than I thought it would be.
More difficult in that it was very difficult to hear, in detail, about all the problems in the world worthy of our attention, efforts, and prayers:
- Immigrants and immigration, for example.
- Lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender people, and queer folks, for example.
- Women, for example.
- Israel and Palestine, for example.
- Global environmental catastrophe, for example.
A person of faith must not turn their back on suffering; and there is a lot of suffering in the world. More than a lot. So much is bad, in fact, that it makes you doubt that anything will ever improve: there is just no point in trying.
But there was that two-word phrase in there, that two-word phrase that means it’s going to be less work too. “Of faith.” Of Faith. OF FAITH. It kept coming up. In the very first sermon on Thursday when we walked in to the hall. A woman pastor from a Lutheran Church in Jerusalem, Rev. Carrie Smith, spoke directly to me and said it was going to be all right, the healing is already occurring.
The phrase was there in the words of the candidates for Bishop as we went from two, to three, to four rounds of voting. Jim Hazelwood is our Bishop again, by the way.
It was there again in the words of the very last sermon we heard, preached at the closing worship service. A woman minister from the Massachusetts Council of Churches, Rev. Laura Everett, gave the most articulate, entertaining, convincing, passionate sermon I have ever heard. The work of God, the work of Christ, the work of the Holy Spirit is happening now, right now, right here, right in the middle of the muck, and if you have faith, if you are OF FAITH, you know that, you see that, you can take that and run with it. Whatever the problem, you are not born to decline. You are born to succeed.
Susan and I were both proud, and exhausted, to be your delegates to Synod Assembly. There is a lot of work for us in this Church to do, and you’re going to be hearing about it too, coming soon. But it’s God’s work (our hands) and if God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)
One other thing, and this was uber cool. The hall was lousy with former vicars of St. Paul Arlington:
- Tim Oslovich
- Susan Henry
- Andrew Heisen
- Douglas Barclay
- Alissa Oleson.
Makes a person feel proud of where he goes to church.
-Lionel Goulet & Susan Lee