Time to Pack ‘er In!

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Synod and Summer 2012 have come and gone. Where I live (Niagara in southern Ontario) the weather was hot and dry—less than 3 inches of rain between June 1 and September 1. Then last Saturday, September 8, God blessed us with nearly 3 inches—4 hours of soaking rain, then 1 hour of near monsoon.

And Synod? Some discussions and debates surely may have been hot, in committee, over mealtimes and in plenary sessions. But from what I heard and gleaned, they were never dry. Nor was the Synod Network conversation.

I’ve reflected in blogs both before and after Synod on the agenda issues of creation care, Form of Subscription Revison/Covenant for Officebearers, The Belhar Confession, the name change from Christian Reformed World Relief Committee to World Renew and a couple of other issues that grabbed my quirky attention. The comments that followed several of those blogs were sometimes near steaming and never dry. Folks are engaged and are free to comment. A church that keeps taking is pretty alive.

But I wasn’t the only one who worked this blog this year. I heartily thank Joel Boot, David Koll, Mark Hibbelink and Chris de Winter—pastors all—for their contributions to the Synod Network these months.

Joel Boot posted a pastoral letter about “the difference between the mission of the church as institution and as organism” (Agenda for Synod 2012, p. 467) and later his own reflections on Synod. Joel has been a pastor for many years and though his career is nearing retirement, his vocation as pastor continues, especially in his job as Executive Director—kind of lead pastor of the CRC.

David Koll looked at the title change from the clunky “Ministry Associate” to the more, well, pastoral “Commissioned Pastor.” That doesn’t exactly slide off the tongue either, but it’s a good move. In any case, I’d bet—well, not MONEY—most of those Ministry Associates” were most often called “Pastor Jill or Pastor Bob” before mid-June 2012.

Mark Hibbelink offered an impassioned report on the link between Synod 2012 and re-kindle 2012. He provoked an interesting series of exchanges about young adults staying in while many leave the CRC for different communions or abandon the church and often the faith altogether. The issues of youth and young adults belong at every Synod every year. And thanks, by the way, to the Young Adult Delegates who participated with dedication and knowledge.

Chris De Winter wrote his own eager and respectful reflections on being a first-time pastoral delegate—and this after not quite two years in the pastorate. My, they send children to Synod these days! Must have something to do with Jesus’ wise words about letting the children come to him. The museum-guard disciples wanted no part of young’uns near Jesus, but Jesus’ word trumped theirs then and still should today, especially at Synod. I saw young delegates—elders and pastors both—make fine, thoughtful, devout contributions to plenary and committees.

Chaplain Syd Hielema (Redeemer University College) posted his reflection on Faith Formation, the process of the years that committee has been meeting and the decisions reached steadily, gradually gaining ever greater traction, he hopes, within the denomination. Syd is the right person to judge, since has been a member of the committee since its organization more than five years ago. Faith Formation is, of course, the issue that deals initially with children, then young people, then young adults and finally with adults all our lives. We all belong, body and soul, in life and in death, to our faithful Saviour Jesus Christ. And at every stage of life we need that faith to be formed relationally, ritually, spiritually, intellectually and emotionally. Let the work continue.

Thanks, next to last, to CRC Communications, in particular, though not exclusively, to Jonathan Wilson, for herding us cool blogging cats and prodding us tirelessly and always politely to get stuff in, to make it neat and interesting and to the point. Jonathan did well and good work; I hope the rest of us did too.

Finally, thanks to all readers, commentators, correspondents and lurkers of the Synod Blog. Keep reading, writing, thinking, talking, and working for the Church of Christ in God’s world wherever you go, whatever you do. Soli Deo Gloria.

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