I am writing this in an in-between time. I have finished my placement at the CTM and am awaiting my installation as moderator. I am in a time of learning and preparation and my mind and heart are pondering what it might mean to be moderator for the next three years.
Over the last few months I have often been asked how I am feeling about becoming moderator. When I say ‘I am looking forward to it’ many people express surprise. There seems to be an expectation amongst some that because we know we have some hard decisions ahead in the life our Uniting Church, I would anticipate my term as moderator more with dread than joy.
But that is not the case. I am not naive, I know that there will be hard times, moments of darkness, situations where I feel out of my depth, times when I will weep for the Church and for what we have done as church. But still I am full of joy and hope. I am looking forward to being moderator even knowing this. I know in those times God will meet me and sustain me, God will make known to me grace and blessing, including the blessing of many wonderful people who are praying for me. And because I think there is much to be joyful about.
So what fills me with joyful anticipation? One of the things that I am looking forward to is being able to visit a diversity of people, communities, agencies and schools across the life of the Uniting Church in Victoria and Tasmania and engage in conversations about things that matter.
I once heard about a scheme in a Scandinavian country (I can’t remember which one) where you could go to the library and borrow not a book but a person. In the hour allocated the borrower was encouraged to have a conversation that expanded their horizons, opened them up to new insights and help them gain new perspective through conversation with another. I anticipate my visiting across synod will be like being able to borrow many, many people. It will enrich my faith, sustain my spirit and enlarge my sense of how God is at work in our midst.
I am so much looking forward to many encounters with others, to hear stories of the life of the Uniting Church in this synod, to listen to how you follow Christ, how your faith is grown and nurtured and how you build others up in faith. I am excited to see the diversity of the church which in a strange way reminds us of our unity in Christ.
I am looking forward to seeing and hearing of how we are engaged in acts of justice and mercy and compassion, joining ourselves to the reign of God which longs for all of creation to be made whole. I am also hoping to share some of these stories across the church, through this column, on social media and in person, that we might inspire and encourage each other with the new things God is doing as well as witness to the many ways God’s grace is helping us to lay down that which must end. I expect to see signs of ending and of green shoots and flourishing life.
I am persuaded that conversations about faith and theology, prayer and spirit are vital for the life of our synod. I look forward to having such conversations in the various meetings I’m part of, in pastoral encounters, in gatherings and in the stories we tell each other and online. I look forward to hearing about the conversations you are having about ministry and mission. I look forward to conversations about our new Vision and Mission Principles and how they help to provide a framework for our being and doing as the Uniting Church in this synod. I look forward to conversations that matter.
I come to role of moderator full of hope because God is with us, God’s Spirit surrounds us. I hope not in my own strength or capacity but in the promise of God that we are made competent for ministry and mission in this time because God has written into our hearts all that we need; life-giving hope, saving grace, enduring comfort.
We simply need to be witnesses to what God has written in us, to tell each other and those we encounter in our daily lives of how God has written in each of us, in creation, in the world, justice, salvation, love and joy.