Bishop David Altus challenged General Synod delegates to practise ‘being light to each other in here, so we get better at it out there’.
Preaching on Matthew 5:14–16, the bishop of the South Australia–Northern Territory District issued the challenge to delegates, who are to consider proposals affecting the future of the LCANZ. He called on them to reflect Christ’s light to each other, as well as shine it among the wider community.
‘Maybe our greatest witness to the world today is not just being right but living right towards each other even as we disagree with each other’, Bishop David said, foreshadowing the scheduled debate and deliberations about the ordination practices of the LCANZ during business sessions beginning today.
‘When the Archbishop of Canterbury visited Australia last year, he said: “We don’t do disagreement well – in public life or in the church”. Maybe that’s our opportunity today – to do disagreement well, to whatever conclusion God leads us.
‘We are stuck inside all day. So maybe today can be a practice day! Practising being light to each other in here, so we get better at it out there.’
Bishop David also encouraged worshippers to consider the content, tone and impact of their words and actions if Synod business sessions were broadcast on a big screen in the heart of the Melbourne CBD, for anyone to watch and hear.
‘What would it change about the way we relate to each other in here, and what we end up doing for the sake of those we are serving out there?’, he asked.
‘What light will our meeting ultimately shed on the watching church? What words will we choose to convey our convictions? Words that bring truth to light, enlighten, heal, and lead to life and growth – or words that deepen the darkness we already feel we are living in?
‘That doesn’t have to mean giving up our convictions … compromising truth as we see it. We can still be real and robust, but with words and conduct that reflect that we are people of the light that Christ is among us.’
Citing the text which begins, ‘You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden’, Bishop David asked Synod-goers three questions: ‘Do we believe that? Can we still see it in each other? And are we willing to be his light together today?’
Continuing to draw inspiration from the gospel reading, he said: ‘God has placed us on the lamp stand today. A small church in a big city but called to bring and be the light of Christ to this, and every city, town and community across Australia and New Zealand.
‘Give light to this household of faith today by the way you speak and act, and by what we decide together in here, for the sake of the world out there. “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven”.’
The in-person sessions of the 20th Convention of General Synod are being held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, with two full days of business being bookended by the gathering worship service tonight, and the closing worship service on Sunday 12 February.