Encouragement for the Journey.
Greetings fellow travellers!
This week it is a joy to bring three of the four wonderful women to be ordained as elders, and to welcome them into the team of elders who guide and care for the community at St. Aidan’s.
The Presbyterian system of church governance is unusual in that it gives the elders of the congregation the responsibility for the guidance, both spiritual and practical, of the community.
The role of the minister is, in essence, not to lead the church but to guide and encourage the church as together we engage in prayer and worship, conversation and contemplation of scripture.
Ideally, this is a teaching and learning relationship where elders and minister are open to learn from each other; where there is mutual respect and appreciation for gifts and skills and understanding and compassion for flaws or failings.
According to our system, the minister has a role as teaching elder, but while we might look more democratic than some of our protestant cousins, there is often a hidden hierarchy at play.
Sadly it is not unusual for congregation and minister to battle for power and control of the shape and flavour of worship or teaching or mission focus.
As we at St. Aidan’s ordain new elders, and at the same time are conscious of the impending search for a new minister, it seems a good time to reflect upon the role and responsibility of each member for the life of the community.
We are better together than we are divided. We need one another to keep a balance in our communal life.
Whenever one of us is overworking it must then follow that another is either being deprived of or has deferred their share. The body only works well when all the parts work together.
If all of that sounds like a lot of work, then let us remember that we are like fish, living and moving and having our being in the life of God.
It is not our church. It is God’s church. There is no doubt that the same God who calls us to worship will guide us onward as we learn to listen together for the voice of the Spirit. When we bring to our community our willingness to pray – to breathe underwater – we bring an openness to all the possibilities of the One who calls us and walks beside us.