The news out of South Australia recently means that the 15th Assembly’s decision on marriage will not be subject to suspension and review.
For some that will be a great relief, as their personhood, commitments and relationships will not be put to public debate and judgement. For others, it’s a challenge to work through being in a church that accepts the diversity within the limits of our faith that we seek to recognise, and how we understand the complex relationship between scripture and the lived experience of the people of God.
I know, from the presbytery meetings, and from face to face gatherings I’ve been in around the state, that many in Queensland felt that they were not adequately engaged over the past six or so years as the church entered into discernment on how we understand marriage. I’m sorry that I didn’t do all I could to ensure that engagement.
The relationship between scripture and lived experience has been at the heart of the questions of the faithful, particularly since, as this season of Epiphany reminds us, the light of the glory of God has shone in the face of Jesus of Nazareth when God’s word became flesh and dwelt among us.
We will go on to seek to understand and give life to that revelation in our own lives, and the lives of our communities of faith.
For Jesus Christ is the hope of the world; his life and ministry, the Easter Event, have shaped human existence like no other person. Cultures have been transformed, and the gospel will continue to challenge the structures and patterns of human behaviour that refuse to honour the dignity of all people, the call to stewardship of creation, and the fundamental truth that we do not live to ourselves—we live in the light of God’s purposes.
Our church faces many challenges, but first and foremost we must have before us the vision of the kingdom of God; a world reconciled to one another and to our Creator. Our call is to be communities that give life to that reconciliation; to the joy, the hope, the faithfulness, the healthiness, the vitality of being reconciled one to one another, and being about common purpose for the common good.
The gospel is indeed good news; while it is not all up to us, – God is at work in God’s world – it is still to us to bring our imagination, courage, and faith, so that people can experience the hope of the gospel.