By Bishop Todd Townshend
In the celebrations of Holy Week and Easter, God reveals the deep love that is continually poured out for us and for all of Creation.
“What wondrous love is this?!” we sing, knowing that we see this astonishing love as we gaze again upon the reality of Christ’s death and resurrection.
It is strange that we sing, hearts full, in the face of the devastating death of Jesus. We may sing through tears but, even on Good Friday, we know that Sunday is coming, and that God commands life coming out of death. It is the way of God.
Centuries before Jesus’ time, perhaps the most devastating experience for God's people Israel was “The Exile”.
It is the time when they were displaced from their home in Jerusalem and either destroyed or exiled to Babylon—a “strange” land. Rather than devastating them completely, this experience resulted, eventually, in a fresh understanding of God and they committed to new ways of relating to God. They learned to “sing the Lord’s song in a strange land”.
This will be the theme of Synod 2023. This is a year when we are “Singing the Lord’s Song in a Strange Land.”
For many churches and individual Christians today, the COVID pandemic has been a form of exile. We are praying that we can emerge from this time with fresh understandings of God and of our faith, new ways of being and doing church, and a reinvigorated commitment to the wonder of mission.
Mission, particularly the clear proclamation of the Gospel along with our response to Jesus' Great Commission to "go and make disciples of all nations", is the core task of the church.
Every individual Christian has their part to play in this, learning how to sing the Lord's song (the Gospel) beautifully and effectively in our current context, which is not always entirely friendly to it—or to us. Every Christian community, every local church, is already equipped and empowered to sing this song through their life together. It is our joyful witness and mission.
The earliest Christians, starting in the days after the resurrection of Jesus, were stepping foot into a strange new land—the world of Resurrection Life. Things were not the same after the resurrection of Jesus. Whole new worlds had been created and now, especially with the sending of God’s Holy Spirit, whole new worlds were possible, indeed promised, for them!
Through the celebrations of Holy Week and the season of Easter, may God continue to draw us together into these promises and may we act as one great company of people leading the world into a strange but wonderful land.