(This article first appeared in the September issue of the Anglican Journal.)
Two months past General Synod 2016, we are called more than ever to bear with one another in love.
Many people have commented that, in the course of the synod’s consideration of an amendment to the marriage canon allowing for same-sex marriage in our church, all members knew what it was to hear, and see, and feel the pain of those whose views on this matter are radically different from their own. My observation is that, for the most part, everyone endeavoured to bear that pain in the love of Christ.
At the closing Eucharist, I was overwhelmed in the mystery we celebrate. I thought of how generous and sacrificial and splendid the love of our Lord and Saviour is. I prayed we know that love yet again and that it compel us in our life together. As the table was set, I thought of those beautiful words:
“For all thy church, O Lord, we intercede: make thou our sad divisions soon to cease by drawing all to thee, O Prince of Peace. Thus may we all one bread, one body be, through this blest sacrament of unity” (Hymn 57, Common Praise).
I know many are very concerned about the deep division in our church, and I am, too. But I take heart in also knowing that many are absolutely committed to help find ways to ensure room for everyone in our church. And I am encouraged by their unwavering resolve to do so. As everyone came forward and opened their hands to receive the body and blood of Christ, I found myself administering the sacrament through a veil of tears. And then, as the table was cleared, I had great peace in Christ’s promise to be with the church in this moment in time and through all time.
In that work, I trust we will be guided by the counsel of Paul, in being humble and gentle and patient “with one another, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:2-3).
I especially ask your prayers for our bishops and all those elected to Council of General Synod. In this new triennium 2016-2019, they bear with me a huge responsibility for leading our church “in love.” Pray we be given grace and wisdom to do that well.
Archbishop Fred Hiltz is primate of the Anglican Church of Canada.