In September the internet was flooded with “first day of school” pictures—the photos parents had taken of their offspring standing on the porch, backpacks filled with lunches and books and faces filled with expectation, before they headed off for another year of learning. Baptism is our “first day of school” in discipleship—a school that continues for our entire lives. As we engage in new experiences, face new challenges or encounter suffering and joys, we learn by reflecting on the life of Jesus and his teachings and the guidance of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. We learn to listen to that guidance as we study scripture; engage in worship; pray; act and reflect in community with other disciples.
There is no one right way to be a disciple! There are opportunities in every day to listen, learn, and grow—and to reflect when we fail to live into our calling. Then we repent and try again, secure in the love and forgiveness of God.
When I look back on my own journey of faith and discipleship I am amazed at the twists and turns, discoveries and joys and am grateful for other disciples who encouraged, nurtured, challenged and supported me. I am also aware that my journey has been shaped by the world around me. The ordination of women made it possible for me to discern an ordained vocation. The questions around human sexuality led me to consider, in my doctoral studies, how communities live together in the midst of hard-to-resolve differences, a continuing concern in many places. The truth about residential schools and Indigenous reconciliation is calling me to learn and grow in understanding of systemic evil and human dignity. New opportunities or challenges have called me to reflect and act in new ways.
This past summer, General Synod 2023 affirmed five strategic commitments, priorities that Anglicans across Canada had identified for engaging through the gospel: championing human dignity by, among other things, dismantling racism and colonialism; being mutually interdependent with the Sacred Circle; advancing justice while protecting and sustaining the earth; fostering right relationships with people of faith, at home and around the world; and, at the core of these commitments, deepening our life in Christ—discipleship! What new ways are we being called to act in these areas?
Discipleship is not just for a chosen few. It is for every baptized Christian. It means asking ourselves each day, “How will I live so that the love of God in Jesus Christ is visible in the world today through me?” For Anglicans in Canada today we want to make a difference through our strategic commitments so that others might discover with us the joy and fulfilment of the life of a disciple. It asks of us intentional commitment to the daily school of life in Jesus Christ. What will we do today to make a difference?