‘God is seeking and sowing and kneading. This is what the Kingdom of Heaven is like. We are sought and treasured and nurtured by God; we are loved.’
A few years ago I wrote a short article for Crosslight about my favourite parable – the little parable in Matthew 13 in which Jesus says that the Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field that somebody found, and then in their joy they bought the whole field.
What had captured my attention in that parable was the interpretation that the parable is not so much about “us” finding “faith” in a field, but about God being the one finding the treasures, which are us – just like in the adjacent parables God is likened to the woman kneading the yeast into the dough, and to the farmer sowing the mustard seeds.
God is seeking and sowing and kneading. This is what the Kingdom of Heaven is like. We are sought and treasured and nurtured by God; we are loved.
In the recent Synod meeting we took the theme “Arise, Come with me” – a theme developed through Bible studies, song and reflections on God’s calling to the Church over the next few years. This theme resonates with the idea of us being the beloved treasures that God finds, and calls to “arise”.
To mix in more gospel metaphors, we are not to be lamps hidden under bushels, but to arise and come out into the open, in the calling and presence of God, so that we can do significant, gracious, reconciling, courageous things together.
We are not just nurtured and loved to enjoy blessing for ourselves, but in order to bring blessing to the communities in which we find ourselves – in the words of the Synod’s vision statement, Following Christ, walking together as First and Second Peoples seeking community, compassion and justice for all creation. By the end of the Synod meeting we could almost all recite this vision from memory – but more importantly, hopefully it is well settled in our hearts as a reminder of our calling and hope.
I was delighted (and relieved!) that we could hold the Synod meeting face-to-face this year (with appropriate levels of care for COVID safety). I’m deeply appreciative of all of the work that went on behind the scenes to enable the meeting to run so well, so that many voices could be heard through working groups, morning tea conversations and deliberations about proposals.
It was especially wonderful that the Synod meeting coincided with the beginning of NAIDOC week, which we were able to celebrate as First and Second Peoples Walking Together with great First People’s leadership.
There is a great journey ahead. Working Groups at the Synod reflected on some of the “signs of Spring” in our local contexts, and what changes and preparations might need to be made to prepare for Spring growth. Feedback from those reflections will help to shape our journeying in responding to God’s call to Arise and come into the open.
In my new role, personally, I’m appreciating being able to get to know some of the people around the Synod offices for a start – putting faces to the voices I’ve previously only met on the phone when I’ve had questions about things such as insurance, culture of safety or communications.
In the coming months I’m looking forward to getting to meet more people from around the Presbyteries – and hopefully meeting plenty of people face-to-face, not just on zoom!
I’m looking forward to that because the Kingdom of Heaven is like treasure in the field that somebody finds – and through Victoria and Tasmania I’m trusting that divinely gifted human treasures will not be hard to find at all.
Peace and grace,
Rev David Fotheringham