As I mentioned in my sermon on Sunday, this coming Friday and Saturday (October 13-14) is our Diocesan Synod. There is a motion to allow the clergy and parishes of the Diocese to make their own decisions about offering blessings of same-sex couples. This motion comes "from the floor" - that is, directly from members of Synod, rather than from a Diocesan committee or authority. We have never had a vote on this issue in the Diocese of Calgary, and there's no polling, so there is no way of knowing how the vote might unfold. There are parishes ready to leave the Diocese if it does pass; and quite possibly parishes ready to leave the Diocese if it does not pass. And meanwhile, the Bishop, as far as anyone knows, is not willing to allow this approach (called the "local option"), which he sees as a fracturing of our unity; so he may veto the motion if it does pass. The atmosphere is incredibly tense. Add to this, a number of amendments to the Canons are being proposed. Most of these appear to be minor edits and clarifications, but there may be challenges to the Bishop's authority hidden among the Canonical amendments that might only come to light during debate on the floor of Synod. If challenges to the Bishop's authority come to light during debate on the Canons, the debate will quickly become heated and intense. In short, this Synod is a powder keg, just waiting for a match to strike.
There is a reason we have not been focusing on any of this at St. George's: because we have more important things to do. Don't get me wrong: these issues at Synod are very serious, but they are not as serious for us as what we're focusing on. We are focusing on Christ. There are too many things that threaten to divide us, and that threaten the life of our parish, for us to focus on anything other than what brings us together. When Paul said, "hold fast to what is good," he meant to hold onto it for dear life! That is what we must do now: focus all our attention on what brings us life, and faith, and what holds out hope to us for a vibrant, meaningful, mission-focused future: our shared faith in Jesus Christ, and how we find our faith together within the Anglican tradition.
We cannot control what happens at Synod; we cannot control what happens elsewhere in the Diocese; we cannot control the circumstances we face. But we can make choices about how we respond. Here is how we will respond to Synod, regardless of what happens. We will remain loyal to the Bishop and to the Diocese of Calgary. We will hold fast to the Anglican tradition. We will respect one another as brothers and sisters in Christ, regardless of how we might disagree with one another. And we will focus on what we share. We will focus on our faith, and God's call to us, and how the Holy Spirit is moving in our midst. And we will pray.
I ask you now to pray for those of us who are going to Synod this weekend; especially for everyone who is presenting (including me - I'm presenting on my rural ministry work), and everyone who will be speaking. I do not ask you to pray for a specific outcome. Instead, I ask you to pray for how we treat one another: that we speak to one another with civility and respect; that we do not lose sight of what we share and what brings us together; and that God may be powerfully present in our midst.
May we hold fast to what is good; in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.