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Reflection period on the Synod during the COVID-19 Pandemic

As we live through this difficult and different time, with its many struggles and challenges, we invite you to reflect on what our Synod can learn from our experiences.

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.

Please read THIS LEAFLET which can be downloaded and printed.

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 Easter readings week by week, each one being contributed from a different parish.

Easter reflections from our deanery synod members

2nd Sunday of Easter (Acts 2: 42-47)

Our first theme for Synod 2020 is "All called and gifted by God" and the reading this week gives us an idea of how members of that earliest community responded to the call by offering their gifts among other things. There would have been tradesmen, healers, administrators, scribes and preachers to name but a few, and all were equally important in enabling the community to thrive. Which of your gifts do you value, and how could you use them to help the church in its mission here and now?

3rd Sunday of Easter (Acts 2: 14, 22-33)

The earliest disciples were blessed because they actually knew Jesus as a person walking among them! In today's reading St Peter mentions that even the Jerusalem crowd knows of Jesus. But it took more than just knowing Jesus - it took the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to make the disciples witnesses to Jesus. In the same way through the gift of the Holy Spirit we are witnesses who share in the mission of Jesus. Do you pray for this outpouring of the Holy Spirit in your life? As 'all of us are witnesses' to Jesus, how do you share in His mission every day?

4th Sunday of Easter (Acts 2: 14, 36-41)

The repentance that Peter is talking about in Acts is more than sorrow for sins, more than just leaving the old life behind, more than the shallow Hosanna of Palm Sunday. He means metanoia, a complete change of heart, a complete change of direction, perhaps a 180 degree turn towards God - an opportunity to invite, trust, allow, expect and receive the Holy Spirit in a life giving, life changing, transformation. Do I really want to change? Do I really want to be transformed? Do I dare to pray for that? Do we pray for that together as a community?

5th Sunday of Easter (Acts 6: 1-7)

The Acts of the Apostles tells the story of a community passionate to follow the teaching and example of Jesus. Passion needs structure to enable all in the community to have their needs met and to flourish. While passion hopefully remains constant, needs change and consequently structures require reflection and review. Just as the Apostles and community discerned that change was needed, in our day, in Synod 2020, Archbishop Malcom has invited us all to consider how we can better build community and nurture belonging.

6th Sunday of Easter (Acts 8: 5-8, 4-17)

The reading depicts Philip proclaiming the gospel message through words and deeds, much like people today during the pandemic. The Samaritans had been baptised and had the gift of faith but had yet to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (until Peter and John arrived). Courage and hope are some of the gifts of the Spirit. Hope helps us to look to the future with confidence something much needed today.
How do we see the future? How is the Holy Spirit at work in our parishes? 

7th Sunday of Easter Acts 1: 12 - 14

After Jesus had ascended into heaven, the apostles were left to carry on, without Jesus, but also without the Holy Spirit at this point. So they joined as a community of people, families, women to pray together, to strengthen and support each other, and to do it often, in the face of uncertainty and danger. There is something comforting about praying with like minded people, but the purpose of the prayer, is to enable us to go out and proclaim, to live lives as examples of goodness, to stand and be counted. As Christians sometimes it feels we are being spread more thinly, and separated from each other. More recently new ways of praying together have evolved. Come Holy Spirit, we are expectantly awaiting you...

Reflection for Pentecost newsletter on Acts and the Synod:

There never has been a Pentecost like this one: no church gatherings, lockdown mostly, with internet making the global village, massive mental input and absence of physical contact! Yet it is the same Holy Spirit we cry out to, put faith in, and pray to learn to receive afresh. The Scriptures today show the drama and daring, the divine fire and delivered declarations of bold, powerful doings in public; and also the quiet presence, with wounds of sacrifice, peace being breathed for the persistent, reconciling forgiveness of the Spirit. Our Covidian Pentecost is the Father’s gift of fresh Energy for the fresh Vision we have been praying for since Autumn 2018. The Spirit is surely given. What must we do to receive the gifts?