In a few weeks the synod of the Christian Reformed Church will convene for its annual meeting. Synod has a special place in my heart, since it was as an elder delegate at Synod 1986 that I clearly heard God’s call to serve as an ordained minister of the Word. Responding to that call has taken me on an incredible journey.
I realize that not everyone shares my enthusiasm. Some people think synod is irrelevant. Others think synod rules and runs the church. Then there are those who see it as a theological think tank or a weeklong retreat where the “old boy network” gets together.
I see a little of all of these views in the mix, but I also view synod in quite another way. I see it as a mirror; a reflection of the church.
When I shave in front of a mirror each morning I pay little attention to how I look because I’m focused on the task at hand. Yet reflected back is an image of me (unfortunately, it’s a 6 a.m. image). Only when I pause and take note do I see the full reflection—warts and all. Sometimes I even see my parents or grandparents looking back at me.
Isn’t that what we see at synod? We see groups gathered in friendship and fellowship. We witness worship, praise, and singing that rivals massed choirs. We hear healthy deliberations and passions for biblical understanding and ministry. We experience the joy of the church.
We also see our less attractive side. We see lack of diversity. We hear angry arguments. We experience the pain of struggle and the cut of unkindness. These things are, sadly, also part of the church.
Synod is not something “other” than us. It is a reflection of who and where we are as a church. Synod’s decisions mirror the thinking of the church. That’s not to say that each decision is aligned with every congregation’s thinking, but it does reflect the whole.
The ongoing discussion about women in office is a good example. For 50 years we have discussed, debated, and even fought over the rights and roles of women in the church. Since our centennial year, 1957, when synod approved women’s right to vote at congregational meetings, we have struggled.
The struggles have produced tears of pain, of anger, of disappointment, and of bitterness. I wonder when it will end. Isn’t it time to move forward in the unity and oneness of Christ?
While I hope and pray that the time has come, whatever happens in a few weeks will once again reflect where we are.
Synod 2007 will be a very special time as we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Christian Reformed Church. We will remember, rejoice, and rededicate. We will thank God for “Grace Through Every Generation.” We will pray and work for the coming of God’s kingdom.
We will also do the hard work of ministry. As delegates and advisers work their way through reports and recommendations, as they study budgets and ministry plans, they will do so as the church, seeking to bring God the glory.
In closing, I have a favor to ask. Will you pray with me for synod? Will you submit your preferences and ideas to the will of God and pray that Synod 2007 will not only reflect the Christian Reformed Church but will also reflect the heart and mind of Christ?