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Reflection period on the Synod during the COVID-19 Pandemic

As we live through this difficult and different time, we invite you, as a deanery as well as a parish to reflect on what our Synod can learn from our experiences.

Although events have somewhat overtaken us, and people's minds can be focused elsewhere, the main raison d'etre for the Synod remains as relevant as ever.

Recently I saw a short video from Fr Chris Thomas of the Irenaeus Project, entitled 'What sort of church do we want?'

Please watch it, and try to see the big picture beyond COVID-19, and thanks to Fr Chris for helping us along the way...

The Synod process throughout the Archdiocese started in 2018 and is due to come to a conclusion later this year, after much consultation and discernment. It is our opportunity to listen to each other, and to be heard, and to help form the Church that God is calling us to be.

A brief summary of events so far.

We held listening events in each parish where we asked 4 questions, and the answers to these were all collected, read, and discerned into 4 themes.

  1. All called and gifted by God
  2. Sharing the mission of Jesus
  3. How we pray together
  4. Building community, nurturing belonging

We have now held a series of parish meetings on each of these themes, and sent the results back to the Synod office for further discernment.

Across the archdiocese the Synod office have now received over 700 proposals on Theme 4, Building community, nurturing belonging. This is remarkable in such extraordinary circumstances, especially considering that each parish was asked for 5 proposals each! Thank you! These are now being worked on by members of the Synod Working Party as we continue to discern the way God is calling us.

'The Synod 2020 team are asking an important question of us.

We are being asked to reflect on ‘ How God is speaking to us through our present experience’.

What lessons can we learn, and how will things change when all this is over.
I nearly said ‘When things get back to normal’ but I’m not sure that will ever come. What must our church do, and what must we do? What is God saying to us?

Although we can’t be near each other physically, we need to learn again how we can touch each other’s lives, and form a real Christian community. How will we do that? Please, pray and reflect, and let the Holy Spirit speak through you. Don't keep it to yourself, let us know...

Thank you so much for all your time and effort throughout this Synod 2020 process. We’ll keep you in our prayers, and up to date with developments.

God bless John & Karen, your Synod 2020 representatives.

We would like to thank the many members of the parish who have participated with such enthusiasm.

The current pandemic crisis is making us look very hard at what we do as a parish, and how we do it, and the long term effects have still to be evaluated. The Chinese word for crisis is 'weiji' which contains 2 characters within it, and those characters in English mean danger and opportunity.

It is hard to think that God is with us in the midst of our situation, but He promised to be there, so we must be faithful and strong, for ourselves and each other.

In our local deanery area we have been holding virtual meetings with other Synod representatives on a semi-regular basis, and are compiling a series of reflections based on the readings week by week, like we did at Easter. Each one being contributed from a different parish. We want to keep the Synod alive in the minds of all the Deanery. We believe its success in forming our future is essential.

Sunday 28th June (The feast of Sts Peter & Paul) 'Sharing the Mission of Jesus'

Do you ever wonder how two early Church leaders (who may not have always agreed or maybe even liked each other) are remembered together on the same feast day every year? Saints Peter and Paul shared the mission of Jesus in different ways and without changing their distinctive personalities, approaches and priorities. Spreading the Gospel and being the face of Jesus in the world is a mission for every one of us and our unique, God-given gifts. 

As an individual and as a parishioner how do you share in the mission of Jesus?

Sunday 5th July - Matthew 11: 25-30 (14th Sunday Ordinary time year A)

‘Come to me all you who labour and are overburdened and i will give you rest’ A familiar passage, oft quoted. But how so? There are always so many things to do, so few hands and so little time. He doesn’t say ‘Don’t do anything, I’ll do it for you’ We still have to work at our daily tasks and problems. But if we do them because we truly believe we are pleasing the Lord, because we want to please Him, then the joy of doing that makes the job easy to bear. We must be ready to receive from Him and work with Him, not try and do it all ourselves. If you make what you have to do, what you want to do, you have reached a turning point.

Open our hearts, Lord, to receive from You, admit our weakness, and accept your help.

Sunday 12th July - Matthew 13: 1-23 (15th Sunday Ordinary time year A)

Some seed fell into rich soil. This Covid pandemic has shown us that, like our Synod, we are all on the journey together. There are positive fruits arising from this virus. NHS and social care staff have worked tirelessly, putting the welfare of others before their own, sometimes forfeiting their lives; other key workers have worked hard for the benefit of the community; neighbours have been caring for each other; charities have been providing food for those in need; homeless people have been given shelter. The fruits are many. 
The question is: Will they continue when the pandemic is over? 

Sunday 19th July - Matthew 13: 24-43 (16th Sunday Ordinary time year A)

In the Gospel today we hear how the weeds are allowed to grow so that none of the wheat is damaged by hasty weeding. Our Synod theme "Building community, nurturing belonging" asks me to consider whether I am as patient.  Am I so busy worrying about weeds that I don't take care of the wheat? 
What can we do to ensure that all in our community feel valued and accepted?

Sunday 26th July - “All called and gifted by God”

It is weird to think of everyday life as the ‘new norm’; but every day we have a chance to prove ourselves as called and gifted by God.
Romans 8: 28 We are well aware that God works with those who love him, those who have been called in accordance with his purpose, and turns everything to their good.
Everyone has a gift; whether that is the ability to grow a plant or know how to fix something; or in these ‘new norms’; sew a mask, deliver the bread the person shielding or simply smiling or nodding at a passerby. We are where He wants us to be and in using our gifts to ‘help’ anyone else we are called and gifted by God.

 This Synod 2020 journey has had more than a few twists and turns due to the world situation. The latest information we have has been used to make the following timetable. The filename is 'Timetable - Final'. It will be interesting to see whether that is the case or whether more changes may have to be made!

Synod 2020 Timetable   Final