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Thursday, May 10, 2018

Ascension Day and Synod News


Dunstan at ease
A fine morning for Ascension Day.  On the morning walk my thoughts run back to the extraordinary passage from Ezekiel  (1:1-14, 24-28) - I use the marvellous Episcopal Contemporary Office Book for the daily Office.  Ezekiel's introduction so simply opens and locates the extraordinary things that follow:


'In the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I was among the exiles by the river Chebar, the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God.'


He begins with the natural phenomenon of a stormy darkening sky and suddenly tips the reader into the the vision of the four extraordinary creatures that uphold the firmament. Nothing could be further from that vision than the scenery about me. Estuary, sand, marram grass, driftwood and clumps of seaweed: Dunstan is untroubled and inspects everything.

The mobile vibrates and discloses a message from Bishop Steven re General Synod and Motion 29:

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ

At General Synod this week the decision was taken to pass Motion 29. While for many of us this has little bearing on us seeking to make Jesus Christ known to our world, for some it has come as a great relief, and for a few it has the potential to cause a great deal of pain and raises the question of whether they are able to remain within the Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia.

This is not the place to go into the details of the Motion or all of the consequences, but given some of the questions that have reached me in the last few weeks I feel I need to confirm that in adopting this motion, no member of the clergy will be under any obligation to conduct same-sex marriages, or to bless them. And neither will it mean they are open to “discipline” if they refuse to.

Secondly I want to affirm very publicly that I do not want anyone to leave the church over this issue. I value deeply the variety and diversity of opinions within the Diocese, and think that we have the opportunity to grow in our faith as we engage with, and even disagree over, theological issues – and please accept that there are biblically influenced theological opinions on many sides of the Motion 29 argument.

And for those who do feel the need to leave the Anglican Church I want to make it as loving and as easy for them to go as is possible, and to try and ensure that they are able to find a home with the fellowship, leadership and accountability that ensures their growth in faith and love of Jesus Christ.

I hope to be available to talk with those who would appreciate it, and remain committed to growing the Kingdom of God in Otago and Southland and seeing the name of Jesus Christ made known.

Please pray for me as I pray for you.

+S

This is not the kind of news that has you whooping with joy, but thank God that decision has been made, at last, and now the Church can move on from what has been so fraught.  Thank God too for a wise and loving letter from our Bishop.

I make my prayers as I walk.

A pair of spur-winged plover (Vanellus miles) are noted.



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