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More a family gathering than a convention

June 9, 2011 One Comment

by Ken Maher 

We are family joined by the blood of Christ

Synod is such a foreign sounding word that Gene Roddenberry once used to describe a race of aliens in one of his television shows. For many, synod sounds like it should be an alien concept. Sometimes even those of us in the Lutheran Church who have at least heard of the word struggle with the idea of synod.  What does it mean? How does it work? What does it look like? How is it different from other structures like organizations, corporations, departments or companies?

This past week I was privileged to see our Synod in action as I served as a delegate at the ninth convention of Lutheran Church–Canada.  It was a humbling and uplifting experience that everyone in LCC should be blessed with at least once.  Even though it was a business meeting that called us all there, and we followed Robert’s Rules of Order (complete with motions, amendments, responses, committees, voting and adoptions), synod is not an organization devoted to business. On paper, Synod means “walking together.” In practice, it simply means being a Christian family.

Just like some of the extended family I also had time to visit while in Hamilton, the Church is a wonderfully diverse group of people.  Our little Lutheran church exists from coast to coast, living in stunningly diverse settings and situations, facing unique challenges and blessed with various gifts and opportunities.  Yet, wherever the church is and whatever differing circumstances it may face, she shares one very important thing in common—a bond of blood. 

Synod conventions are like family reunions.  You rejoice in the joys and share in the burdens; you grieve the loss of those no longer with you and celebrate the newest members to join the family.  When the family gets together they may not always agree, some conversations may even be heated at times, but under it all there is a love, respect and concern. For these are your brothers and sisters, aunts, uncles, and cousins.  You share a bond with these people that you share with no one else.  You are related by blood and that binds you in traits the whole family shares. 

The Synod is a family for she is related by blood—Christ’s blood.  Through Him we are called together and in Him we walk in fellowship.  Jesus Christ in our midst, through His Word and the Holy Sacraments is that tie binding our hearts in love. Christ keeps us a close-knit family even though separated by many miles and the troubles besetting us are daunting.  Out of our love for Him we learn to love one another, talk to one another, pray for one another.

And that is what I saw over those four days in convention: a family struggling with difficult decisions; a family with different perspectives and opinions, but a family moved by love and concern for one and all in Christ.  In this world such a concept is often (and sadly) more foreign than it should be.  I am reassured that it is not so in our synod.

Coming back from such events is always bittersweet for me.  I am reminded of just how many wonderful brothers and sisters in the faith live so very far away. And I am sad that I cannot share in their lives more often. But then I am reminded that in Christ, we are bound together by blood. We are together in worship and prayer and our mutual concern for each other in Christ.  And I am glad that I am part of this family—this Synod.

Rev. Ken Maher is pastor of Christ Our Hope Lutheran Church in Collingwood, Ontario. He blogs at http://hope4thehapless.wordpress.com/

One Comment »

  • (No) Excuses, excuses! « HOPE for the HAPLESS said:

    […] First there was the Synod convention in Hamilton (I wrote about my experiences at it for the Canadian Lutheran Online) and the visit with extended family who live nearby. There was the extended visit from my favourite […]

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