WELL, at the time of writing this I have been your Moderator for two weeks. My service of Installation was a very moving experience and I am very grateful to all those involved, in attendance, and the notes from those unable to attend.
In some respects, being installed as Moderator felt a little as though it took place on the tip of a diving board with the ensuing Synod meeting hot on its heels (and the water was deep!).
Richard Rohr once wrote that suffering is simply whenever we are not in control and that the only way God can take control of our lives is when we are somehow not in control. It’s really that simple. He said that we “need to learn to understand, and sometimes accept, the mystery of the cross in an honest and utterly realistic way. So don’t run too fast from such suffering”.
A few hours before my installation, all dressed up in a suit and tie, smiling I said to Kathryn, my wife, “what would happen if I jumped in the car and drove off in the opposite direction?” She just looked at me and returned the smile, and I jumped in the car and headed for Latrobe University.
It’s been a long journey from the time of being nominated –about two years of not being in control. Many times I have had ‘cold feet’ which I suppose has been my ego trying to get back in control.
Certitude can certainly seem attractive at times like this, for it’s risky to be so vulnerable. Perhaps I am finding myself in a not too dissimilar situation to that of the whole Synod as it deals with its ‘financial sustainability’.
A really big opportunity for letting go has now been offered. And have no doubt that similar opportunities will come. I firmly believe that this is a time to be ready to let God do the really great work.
One of the themes that echoed throughout our Synod meeting – in worship, bible study and debate – was the need for prayer and lament; a place to name who we are, the space we are in, and to wait for God’s presence and hope.
Annie Dillard once wrote in a small book ‘Holy the Firm’ “we need reminding … that we are created, created, sojourners in a land that we did not make … we forget ourselves, picnicking; we forget where we are; God is at home, we are in the far country. We are mostly asleep at the switch when we fancy we control any switches at all. We sleep to time’s hurdy-gurdy; we wake, if we ever wake, to the silence of God.
And then, when we wake … then it’s time to toss things, like our reason, and our will; then it’s time to break our necks for home”.
Despite anything above which may appear to the contrary, I look forward to serving as your Moderator. I feel as though I have been an object of God’s grace which has come about without my own will, and that same grace will hopefully lead us all on.