So I've just spent a mere 3 hours at Synod and I want to say that this post is not by any means a judgement (heaven forbid) or true reflection of what the whole is like. However what this is, is some rambling thoughts on the proceedings from a total newbie.
I don't know much about the inner workings of the CofE although I find myself attempting to catch up in the wake of the good Lord calling me into the midst of it. But I have to say that Synod was pretty much as I imagined it would be: incredibly structured, a few inspiring leaders, and some tweed-clad-full-of-their-own-importance-(or point)-interlopers, some marginally funny in-jokes, some time wasting, and amongst it all some absolute gems. The Archbishop of Iraq was one of those who shone out in the greyness of clerical shirts, who gave a heart-breakingly honest view of the life of a persecuted Christian, in many cases refusing to give up their country as a nation where Jesus is worshipped despite huge and real personal cost and danger. He littered his talk with requests for prayer, a thing so fundamental to our faith that we so often overlook in times of others crisis. I would have thought the very least we could do as a church is to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ and yet he asked for nothing more.
It was almost laughable that this deeply concerning talk was followed shortly after with a report and response which included such delights as 'this report is printed in the wrong font/colour'.
I mean I am all for inclusivity and accessibility but is a meeting of the governing body of the entire church the place to air this crap? I'm sorry to sound so rude and I wish no ill to the person in question but this just smacks of the reasons why an organisation like the C of E is seen as a dinosaur by so many. If you have structures in place to run this kind of thing then use them, why on earth should this kind of thing be raised in a meeting where people have travelled the length of the country to attend? Surely there must be a system in place to deal with these things? Otherwise it allows Joe Blogs with a gripe to go off on it for 3 minutes, and believe me 3 mins is a lot longer than you think, especially when there are lots of them...
It strikes me also from my limited experience of deanery synods and the like that there are some folk (& I shall be very unkind here) who are rather full of their own self importance. I do wonder sometimes if deanery/general synod reps are a mix of those who delight in the role, of having a title and being noticed, and those who have frankly been press ganged into it...
Then there was the ridiculous pride that since November screens had been used for worship (really since November? what is this, 1988?) and in order to count the number of people present, they used the voting pads which frankly took twice as long as if someone had just stood up and counted them. ARGH!!! Is this the modern face of the CofE?
Ok, ok, I'm really not being very nice, I know, I'm sorry. I know people give up a lot of time and effort to work/volunteer in these roles but personally I came away thinking for goodness sake, this would drive me around the bend. And this is an organisation I work for!
Thankfully the ABC (who I think I am secretly a little bit in love with) saved the day with a stirring speech on evangelism and sharing the gospel. (Although I have to say, it was sad that he even had to say it at all. I mean, surely, if we have devoted our lives to Christ enough that we are even working for the church, or volunteering or whatever, surely there should be enough of Christ in us to compel us to share him with those around us?)
His point that he highlighted several times was that the love and joy of Christ should urge us on to share the most compelling of announcements that is the good news of the gospel.
Yes! Yes! And yes!
So often it feels like this church is apologising for simply whispering the name of Jesus and I want to shout it from the rooftops:
Jesus. Only Jesus.
In Jeremiah chapter 20, he is complaining of the persecution towards him and yet even then he says that if he were to try and hold in talking of God that
'his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed I cannot'.He simply cannot stop talking of the God who he is committed to and he hadn't even met Jesus yet! Surely as church and as Christians we should be as committed and overcome with God's love, as Jeremiah was, and if not I think we should question our faith. Yes, truly I do, controversial as that sounds, oh yes some are called to be evangelists, blah blah, but at the end of the day our job is to make disciples, to share the good news and if you're not doing that, then why bloomin' not?
Ok enough of my slightly irritated ranting. In Summary, General Synod was exactly as I expected (rather frustrating), and so was the ABC (rather brilliant). Could have just posted 2 lines really....