Turning Points, an Induction & Hot Stuff

by Michael N. Jagessar

I suspect that our man on the Isle of Patmos (that visionary John) would have had to concede DSCN2031that there was nothing lukewarm or cold about the induction service (Saturday July 13, 2013) of Ruth Whitehead as the new moderator of the South Western Synod. It was “hot stuff” – the singing, the praying, the scripture readings, the preaching, the story of the appointing, Ruth’s story, the affirmations of moderator, members and ecumenical guests, the induction, the words of greetings from near and very far (Jamaica), the tears and laughter, the continuous applause to receive the newly inducted moderator and the table conversations and fellowship that followed – all of which contributed to a moving and memorable occasion. This was noted by a Methodist colleague who brought greetings on behalf of all the ecumenical guests present

And, it would be remiss of me not to mention the “searing heat” flavouring the occasion! ADSCN2045 confession (I do need to make them often): the thought crossed my mind whether we should have identified a first-aider for this occasion, with a “still small voice’ ringing in my ears: “O, you of little faith!” And speaking of faith: among the things that struck me were the place of faith and the individual and collective discernment as told in the story of the appointment and that of the journey of Ruth. A brilliant sermon by the Revd Craig Bowman gave a powerful charge both to Ruth and members of the South Western DSCN2040Synod. Craig reflected on the readings (1Peter 5:1-11 and John 21:4-17) and the words that are etched in my memory are: leadership, listening, following, trusting and humility – all timely for where we are as a church. We would all do well to remember this as “we commit ourselves to speak the truth in love and grow together in the peace of Christ”.

One powerful imagery that Ruth pointed to in her story, and which was captured in our recessional hymn, is “dance” As we sang Kendrick’s “teach me to dance”, I imagined the induction of a new moderator as a turning point (among other turning points) in the life of a Synod. Like a ballerina pirouetting on her toes, turning points allow us to dance in new DSCN2055directions, to encounter life more fully, and to embrace both movement and stillness – a necessary and dynamic tension that creates dance. We may not always know the next step: but if in every moment we can listen, follow, learn and trust in humility we will be able to rediscover our ‘center’ and regain balance and movement

I invite all of us to hold Ruth and her family, the South Western Synod team and all the churches of the Synod in our prayers. And DSCN2068together, we must keep dancing and turning. The converting or turning moments are all around us in each marvellous and mundane moment – may we experience these with open eyes, clear ears, loosened tongues, and released hands and legs.


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