News from the Bishops, September 2018
Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power…Stand firm…with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. (Ephesians 6:10, 15, NIV)
This coming month as we head into our Diocesan Synod, we will be wrestling together with what it means to be what our family needs us to be. A couple of Sundays ago our lectionary reading was the famous passage from Ephesians exhorting believers to put on the full armour of God, including the 'feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel'. For Bishop Ellie, this has been brought home in stark reality as she has broken her foot and hobbles around the office in a moonboot (healing prayers appreciated!).
When fractures are realigned, there is a tenderness that needs protecting until the bones are knitted together fully again. We know that Christ intercedes for us in the realignment of heaven and earth, and that space between 'thy kingdom come, thy will be done' is where the Church lives. Our role is to perceive and then protect that realignment. Not so much the gospel of fancy shoes, but the gospel of the moonboot…it's truly remarkable that two pieces of bone will fuse to become one – a mirror of Jesus' promise of complete unity in John 17:22-23.
The opportunities to come together, like at the fabulous Diocesan Team Training Day last weekend, and our upcoming Synod, are the times to come together and see the movement of God ahead of us and to align ourselves with where the Spirit leads us. At these events, prioritising praying with and for our people is a privilege for us as Bishops; reminding us of the first gatherings of Christ's family as the Church emerged (Acts 1:14).
One of our three Synod priorities moving in 2019 will be a focus on mental wellbeing. We know that there are indicators of mental pain that run deeply through our fractured society. Secular organisations as well as church bodies are increasingly recognising what some are calling a tsunami of mental unwellness within our young people and beyond. This is a source of deep sorrow and anxiety for many. Bishop Justin has been reading around this topic, noting in particular the link of mental illness and a sense of disconnection. Our Church's call is to connect both to pain and purpose, and ultimately to hope. We will be exploring how as a Church we can protect those struggling with mental illness and speak with confidence and Christ's courage into this space.
As we prepare for this discussion, we are reminded of the song from the Ngatiawa Monastery Chapel of Tarore songbook, written by members of the L'Arche community, Kapiti:
Broken, all of us broken,
All of us loved, all us of loved…
…Beauty, discovering beauty,
Lighting the darkness,
Surprising us all.
May the places where we find ourselves broken and separated from God and each other begin to be aligned and knitted together again in Christ.
+Justin and +Eleanor