Friday, June 10, 2011

Synod 2011

ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who by thy Holy Spirit didst preside in the Council of the blessed Apostles, and hast promised, through thy Son Jesus Christ, to be with thy Church to the end of the world; We beseech thee to be with the Council of thy Church here assembled in thy Name and Presence. Save us from all error, ignorance, pride, and prejudice; and of thy great mercy vouchsafe, we beseech thee, so to direct, sanctify, and govern us in our work, by the mighty power of the Holy Ghost, that the comfortable Gospel of Christ may be truly preached, truly received, and truly followed, in all places, to the breaking down the kingdom of sin, Satan, and death; till at length the whole of thy dispersed sheep, being gathered into one fold, shall become partakers of everlasting life; through the merits and death of Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.

Saint Barnabas Church is wonderfully privileged and blessed to welcome the triennial Provincial Synod of the Anglican Province of America from Monday 11th July until Friday 15th July 2011. Additionally, the Diocesan Synods of the Eastern United States and Mid-America will also gather here concurrently in Dunwoody for their annual deliberations. It has been almost exactly ten years ago since Saint Barnabas last hosted our Diocesan Synod, and we are certainly honoured to be able to welcome the wider Church back to our parish and the metropolitan Atlanta area. Of your Christian charity, please pray earnestly for the impending Synods and for their ministry and work, as they seek to conduct the administrative business of the Church according to the mind of Christ and His Gospel and to advance the mission, governing, formation, preaching, teaching and evangelistic outreach of our unique branch of Christ’s Holy Catholic Church. We especially wish to thank our many volunteers who have made our sponsorship of the Synods possible; in particular, we thank the members of the Synod Planning Team: Rette Ledbetter, Al Duncan, Lynn Ledbetter, Barbara Shoaf, Elizabeth Raffa, Gordon Bigg, Cathey Eves, Oz Baptist, Ben Badejo, Bill Storey, DJ Fulton, Jack Wilson, Angie Patterson and Father Paul Rivard.

The word Synod, which term may be new or unfamiliar to many, is taken from the Greek word σύνοδος (sunodos) meaning ‘assembly’ or ‘meeting,’ and it is synonymous with the Latin word concilium, meaning ‘council.’ Synod literally means ‘to journey with’ or ‘the way together.’ No better description of the annual meeting of the Church’s authorised representatives, lay and clergy, could possibly be offered! Synod is not merely a business meeting, an ecclesiastical legislative body or a social event, although it is all of these things; it is the Church herself gathered, the Church at worship, in communion, in service and ministry, the Church in movement together. Synod powerfully and tangibly demonstrates the unity of the Body of Christ, the catholicity and universality of the Church, what is called in the Russian language sobornost, from the root word meaning ‘to gather,’ wholeness and inner completeness, wherein the many are brought together into free and organic unity by the power of love, a perceptible manifestation of the Holy and Undivided Trinity in Whom there is both unity and diversity in communion of love.

In short, Synod is the Church, one in heart, mind, and soul, on pilgrimage.

All of the Christian life is described in Apostolic Tradition as being a pilgrimage: we are on a pilgrimage through this mortal world to our true heavenly homeland. We are the Pilgrim People of God, the Church, making our way as God’s ecclesia, His ‘called-out ones’, through this world to the next. Everything we do, pray, say and think as Christians should orientate us towards the ultimate, final goal, the final reward and promise, which is eternal life in Our Lord Jesus Christ, in the heavenly Jerusalem.

If the vocation of the Christian in this life is pilgrimage, the wayfaring journey through this vale of tears to heaven, then the gathering of the Church in Synod, journeying together, should be seen as a microcosm of what the whole of the Christian life genuinely entails.

Pilgrimage is an essential part of life and living. Christians, filtering their existence through the data of the Holy Scriptures, see life itself in terms of a journey, coming from God and returning to God. In her earthly state, the Church needs places where her sacred society can gather together. Our visible churches, holy places, are images of the holy city, the heavenlyJerusalem, toward which we are making our way on pilgrimage. Ours is a daily pilgrimage in Word and Sacrament in the Church. Holy Mother Church is for us the Sign of the Kingdom and the Sacrament of our pilgrimage to Jesus Christ. He is the Mystery lived out at our Altars, Eucharistically, day by day. Synod is thus an intensification, a focus, of that Sign and Mystery which is Our Blessed Lord in His Church.

Let us therefore recognise in the Synod of the Church a kind of sanctuary, a holy place and time, in which is revealed anew the Family of God, the Household of Faith, and the journey of the Christian life from earth to heaven, a
foretaste and precursor of our future arrival in unity in the heavenly Jerusalem, the Kingdom of God, where we shall live and reign in Christ for ever and ever. Those of us who participate in Synod should sense in it the anticipation of the rest of our Christian lives and of our glorious fulfilment in the King of Glory! But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the Mother of us all (Galatians 4.26).

We encourage everyone at Saint Barnabas to take a decided interest in the meetings and events of Synod and to volunteer where possible to assist in the organisation of this intensely gratifying and important occasion in the life of our Church. Most critically, we invite everyone to enter into the spirit, significance and purpose of Synod by prayer. Thank you all so very much for your loving support and encouragement during this special time in our corporate life together.

God bless you!

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