I just spent the last 2 days with 400 something other devoted Anglicans at our annual Synod meeting. This was not the first time that I have been there as a priest in a parish and I have been there for the last 4 years as a part of the Diocesan staff- but it was the first time that I have been there since beginning our new little fledgling community.
And I spent the time thinking about what it means for us to be there as a part of this larger whole. Already we are aware that we do not stand alone. We’re a part of something larger: we are a ministry of Christ Church Cathedral, we meet in this room and can and will have to move a bit because the other communities with whom we share this building, need this space sometimes. We cannot possibly think that we stand alone …and yet one of the worries that I have is that we might get lost in our own uniqueness and think that we don’t have to answer to anyone else: that we might try to set ourselves apart.
Four weeks in, I am already in love with who we are becoming. I love all of the possibility that surrounds us. I love dreaming about ways in which we might invite more voices.
Yesterday afternoon we listened to a presentation on Canadian mining companies in South America: specifically Guatemala and El Salvador and the violence that has erupted over people trying to protect their land, while large companies work to get what they want and if we are honest, we need if we are to keep up our lives as they are currently in the West.
And we were challenged to think particularly about this reading in Acts and specifically these verses:
Since we are God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals. While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent (Acts 17:29-30)
So I began to think about what we worship and why and how: in our lives, in our worship. What are the things that we hold as holy?
I began to wonder what the things are that we are in danger of considering ‘deity’.
The whole of the Synod gathering was held with the Benedictine way: considering Stability – obedience and Conversion of Life, as a way of being for our Diocese. The big pieces in this model are for me accepting these people and this place as ours, not some place we wish we were and listening to God, to each other in order to act as individuals and as a community.
When I think about this passage in Acts and the challenge that I hear within it – it occurs to me that as we gather and form and begin together in this community of St. Brigid – we may well avoid false deities if we can follow the rule set out by Benedict and listen well to one another and to the voice of God among us.