By Bishop Todd Townshend
This year, the beginning of April sees the end of the season of Lent and the beginning of our holiest time of the year—the celebrations of Easter.
We have been praying for peace in the world even while we do all that we can to give aid and protection to the vulnerable in Ukraine, Eastern Europe, around the world, and in our own communities where other kinds of war claim casualties every day.
Times of war and pandemic have a way of focusing the church on the basics of our life together. The spiritual practices and acts of mercy and justice combine to powerfully draw us together. The power of the church is the activation of speech and action taken together in the name of Christ, and in the presence of God’s Holy Spirit.
One of the ways that our churches come together is in the annual gathering of our diocesan Synod. The 2022 Synod begins on May 15, the fifth Sunday of Easter, when we will hear the one seated on the throne of heaven saying, “See, I am making all things new.” (Revelation 21)
I continue to believe that our common strategic diocesan goal is to shift the centre of gravity in our practices from an emphasis on operations to an emphasis on new creation, better revealing the marks of mission by becoming: a learning church, a just church, a diverse church, a new church.
Attuned to the needs of the world around us, the key is to be willing to go more deeply into the practices of the church, fully open to God’s desire for us and for the world, focusing on Jesus and yielding to the life and movement of the Holy Spirit.
We began this theme in 2020 when Synod met by Zoom for a one-day event in September 2020. With a focus on our “Identity and Mission in Christ”, we explored how we were doing as a church in the midst of the pandemic. In May of 2021, we continued the same theme with a focus on “Yielding to the Life of the Spirit”. For a third meeting in a row, we will continue using the basic theme to focus on life “Together on the Road with Christ”.
I pray that there will be many ways in which this theme will resonate within our life together. From the Resurrection onward, Jesus has come alongside us as the Risen One who teaches us, guides us, gathers us, and sends us. In the Scripture we see that this often happens “along the way”, “on the road” to somewhere or another. These encounters always bring the disciples back to faith and life in him. Through these encounters, they (and we) are saved.
I look forward to Synod this year where we will hear many healing stories of such encounters in our life together.