I was listening to Sammy Thaiday, the popular Queensland rugby league player describe a State of Origin training camp. “Oh, they’re great times,” said Sammy, “we train a bit, we plan a bit, and we have some fun.”
As I listened, I thought, wow, sounds like that’s what a Synod in Session could be like. Now a Synod is a council of the church, where congregations, presbyteries, agencies, schools and residential colleges commission, all the parts of the Uniting Church, set aside people to discern where God is calling the church, so it’s serious business.
Yet the people of God, surely, should be about training, planning, and having some fun. “Therefore there remaineth a rest for the children of God” says the writer of the book of Hebrews.
Is it too long a bow to draw between “rest” and “recreation”? Sometimes we make ourselves so earnest, take ourselves so seriously, that we think the coming of the Kingdom will be up to us! We lose our joyful hope. So, if you’re coming to the 33rd Synod bring your flares, if you still fit into them.
Martin Luther King Jr said once of church, it isn’t something you come to as much as it’s something you go from.
The underlying connection for me between a State of Origin training camp and a Synod is that both are about something bigger than themselves; the aim of a State of Origin camp is to be ready for a great challenge; the aim of a Synod is to be encouraged and strengthened for the work of being the church in the world.
The reports are out, proposals are in; worship and Bible studies are prepared; the Business Committee is planning some times of training—workshops on the Synod’s discerned priorities.
The Assembly has asked us to take some time to reflect on marriage, so we’ll be doing that.
Some highlights for me are that we’ll be having four book launches while at Synod: Jenny Tymms has written on spiritual practice and work; Julia Pitman on women in leadership in the early Australian church; Noel Kentish on life in Arnhem land in the 1930s and 1940s, including the account of his father’s capture and execution during WWII; and Paul Clark will be releasing some new children’s books.
There’ll also be seminars on building cohesive society, with Nora Amath and Halim Rane, and on the 500th anniversary of the reformation.
So, if you’re coming be ready; if you’re ready to support, link up on Facebook, and pray for those of us gathered.
Rev David Baker
Moderator, Queensland Synod