"Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we're at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind. Don't pick on people, jump on their failures, criticise their faults-unless, of course, you want the same treatment. Don't condemn those who are down; that hardness can boomerang. Be easy on people; you'll find life a lot easier." [Luke 6. 35-38, The Message version]
The first Bishops' letter from the pair of us! We are so grateful to God for the road our lives have travelled to this point, and the new beginning in this phase of the leadership of Diocese.
In the Ordination service on 2 June we inserted a section entitled the 'Bishops' Commitment to Partnership'. We made some bold and audacious claims and for those of you who weren't there we would love to share these with you! It's long, so bear with it…
With God's will, we commit to this journey together. Humbly we come before God in partnership, not weighing our merits but committing to seek, receive and give pardon for our offences. We enslave ourselves afresh to the Gospel of Christ, confident in the goodness of God's Kingdom coming. We beg God's passion to be ours, so that we may listen, speak and act with, and through, the unconditional love of God. In so doing, we relinquish our egos and self-protection into the hands of the crucified Christ, inviting God's Holy Spirit to humble us and make us a holy, merciful and whole people. We commit to walking the way of Jesus together: in places of power and powerlessness, inside and outside the boundaries of the church. We therefore give permission to God to build us, and the people we lead and serve, into the living temple, Christ's body and bride, symbol and reality of true partnership with God. We therefore commit to love and trust each other in this partnership, because we recognise that we each respond in obedience to God's call and because we joyfully entrust each other into the grace, anointing and blessing of Almighty God.
This month, we would like to encourage you to think deeply into the areas of partnership in your life and ministries. In the first Ministry Conference after my (Justin's!) ordination I called for us to believe the best of each other, deal with our own brokenness, and engage in daily prayer, so that together we may find our way in Christ.
We can see Jesus' revolutionary model of leadership in the quote from Luke above, which is from the lectionary reading for today, 21 June. As followers of Christ, we are co-creators of the new humanity, and we are asked to create broader unity by not surrounding ourselves by people who think the same as us. We know that health is created when those areas of tension are acknowledged openly and prayed into by each partner in relationship.
As Bishops together we enter our new relationship knowing that this road will not be easy, but committed to journeying together in full openness. In this discernment phase both of us have received strong images of a waka both as our church and as our shared journey together. Thank you to all those who over this journey to shared ministry have held us in prayer, or given us scripture or images. This week we received this proverb which we would like to share: 'He moana pukepuke e ekengia e te waka' – 'When the seas get mountainous, the waka rides up over the waves.' This too has echoes of last year's Synod image of the galleon making headway through the seas. The journey ahead will have its twists and turns, but we are so thankful to God for this co-way finder role that we share. And as the translation our Prayer Book states: 'Ko te Karaiti te pou herenga waka – 'Christ is our hitching post to which our waka is tied.' The journey of partnership is the journey of Christ.
+Justin and +Eleanor