Everybody has things they have to do that they don’t particularly like doing… as much as you might like your job, your relationships, your hobbies, or your home life, there is always an element or elements that you could do without, but because of your situation and your responsibilities, you have to grin and endure it.
For me one of those things is attending Synod once a year. For those who may not know what Synod is, the best way to explain it is that it is like the parliament of the church for each region in the Anglican church. It’s made up of clergy and lay representatives from parishes, schools and other agencies. In the Brisbane Diocese it runs from Friday night to Sunday afternoon/evening until all the business is covered.
There are some elements of Synod I do actually like… I do like hearing the Archbishop share the vision for the future, I like chatting to people from other parts of the diocese in the breaks and, because I’m a bit strange, I love the session where we look at the statistics from across the diocese. What I don’t like is the factionalisation that is expressed, the way that people sometimes speak of each other or not speak to each other at all, the exceedingly long and often deadly boring speeches and presentations, and the way that some people like to monopolise the floor for their own benefit or just to be noticed… a little like the real version of parliament when you think about it.
When I first attended the Synod in this diocese I described it as the most unfriendly expression of church that I have ever experienced. You would think that when key people from lots of different churches and ministries got together it would all be God edifying… unfortunately that’s not been the case in my memory and experience.
When you have to face a situation that has been problematic in the past, then you can almost automatically pre-judge the situation before it actually happens. I know that I’ve been guilty of thinking ahead about how much I will not enjoy Synod this year… it makes me wonder if there is a better way.
I wonder, by me pre-judging the situation and expecting Synod to be unenjoyable, whether I am perpetuating the negative experience? If I enter with a negative experience then in all likelihood, the experience will remain negative. Is it a good witness for me to go around grumbling about these sorts of situations? Is this the sort of thing that perpetuates the stereotype that we can be a miserable bunch at times?
I wonder what difference we could make if we approached the things we don’t like with an attitude of Christ-like humble service? I suspect it might disrupt the stereotype that Christians can be a miserable bunch… but I also suspect we could find ourselves with a new perspective on those experiences, we could possibly even walk away having enjoyed or benefited from the experience.
I’m going to give it a go this weekend, for Synod – I’ll let you know how I go!