I arrived at the opening eucharist a little late, after the clergy and bishops had processed in. The following are the notes I took from Bishop Bob Duncan’s sermon. Please remember these are just my notes – it’s not word for word what he said, and there are probably errors in them. Bishop Bob told a couple of funny stories at the beginning about us not taking the fact that he gave Bishop Charlie a hug, or had breakfast with Bishop Ron (and I can’t remember the example he used for Bishop Trevor) to indicate anything at all about his opinion about the election – and told us that sometimes under stress people will connect the dots in funny ways, and please don’t connect the dots in any way other than scripture.
With that, here are my notes on Bishop Bob’s sermon.
You have gathered in Synod because you actually like one another and enjoy being together, that’s one reason. Another reason is that you have business to do.
The third reason is to elect a successor for Bishop Don. The lessons are the lessons for the election of the bishop, from Matthew 10 and Acts 1.
16 “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. 17 Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, 18 and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. 19 When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. 20 For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 21 Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, 22 and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
Sheep in the midst of wolves. Now there’s a piece of good news! Beware of men who will deliver you up and flog you ….etc Matthew 10 is an address to the 12 he has just chosen. In addition there will be lots of family problems. Father will be set against child etc. (verses 20 and following) I am not going to focus on this because I don’t want the nominees to disappear before this afternoon! However – opposition in the world is the way it is supposed to be in the church. John Stott once said to me ‘if we compromise less we would suffer more’. For the aposotolic office, the office of bishop and by extention the elders and leaders of the church and all who desire to follow the Lord Jesus it is the Sprit who is supposed to speak, not us. This is at the heart of the gospel message read for this day and appointed for this occaison.
15 In those days Peter stood up among the brothers (the company of persons was in all about 120) and said, 16 “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. 17 For he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.” 18 (Now this man acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness, and falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. 19 And it became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their own language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) 20 “For it is written in the Book of Psalms,
“‘May his camp become desolate,
and let there be no one to dwell in it’;
“‘Let another take his office.’
21 So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.” 23 And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias. 24 And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen 25 to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” 26 And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.
There are a series of lessons we can learn here.. v15, 21, 22. Peter who has been chosen to be the moderator of the apostolic group, asks “What are we going to do about Judas?” An apostle must be able in his circumstances to give leadership to those whom he serves and those whom he leads. Peter in giving his leadership is in the word. (in v16-20 Peter speaks about why Judas’ betrayal happened according to scripture and why they have to do something and let his place be taken by another. Peter speaks about David giving us teaching in the scriptures psalms 69 and 109. Peter so lives under the word that he is able to draw out from the word what he believes the Spirit is saying to the church. It is not only a matter of giving leadership but giving leadership in light of the word of God. In v.20 and 21 we find Peter’s guidance in the situarion which has been regarded as advice to the church throughout all the ages. They must choose someone who has been present to the whole story from the baptism of John to the day he was taken from us. Someone who knows the whole story, someone who has been there. Someone who knows Jesus personally. That is what Peter says is necessary for this apostolic leadership. He also says, and this is very important, that the person chosen is someone who was with us through these days, not somebody unknown to us or who wasn’t part of the unfolding of the good news but somebody who was with us in the time that Jesus was going in and out among us. What is interesting in terms of the light of the church this passage tells us that there were many there who Jesus didn’t choose at first, but someone new is chosen who wasn’t recoghnized as a leader before but is brought into leadership. This is someone who has seen the risen Jesus, not only that he knows the stories and has been among us but has been a witness to the resurreciton of the Lord. He has seen Jesus break in and change everything, bring the rule of sin and oprression of death to an end. A witness to the resurrection someone who will witness, be in the tradition and be in the council of the church. In v 23 to 26 we are told that they had some sort of nominating process and 2 names were put forward by the group – they, not Peter alone. We know far more about Joseph Justus than about Matthias. But anyway they put forward these two and their system of choosing – well, we don’t do what the copts do, do we, three names in the chalice and one name picked. But as you prepare to cast each of you your own lot the purpose of the story is to tell us that their trust was completely in the Lord and as you cast your lot the expectation is that you do it under the Lord, not what do I want but what is the Spirit saying. That is the puprpose of this drawing of lots, complete trust in the Lord that the Lord will choose. As we use this privelege of putting our own lot we need to do it in a submitted way trusting in the Lord. It is right that the office be filled in council, that’s how they do it in Acts, and the final thing to observe is what God does with whoever is chosen is up to God. They needed to fill Judas’ office and the process chose Matthias. We hear absolutely nothing more than Matthias in the rest of sacred writ. His purpose is to be chosen and God uses him how God chooses. It is clear that there are many who went among them whose names we do not know. It is unimportant to the rest of the story. Matthias is unimportant to the rest of the story. We can assume that he was faithful, otherwise we might have heard more about him! We don’t know how he was faithful and we don’t know how the one elceted from among you today will be faithful we only trust that he will be. Synod will make a choice and this choice may have a name that is known or not, but we trust that what is important here is that the Holy Spirit will chose through you one who is faithful, under the word, who knows Jesus, is with the other apostles, who is a witness to the resurrection, one who will be God’s choice just as Matthias was. Remember, Matthias was God’s choice and so will the choice you make this day be. Trust that, and trust that he will be one who will fight the good figtht with all his might.
Brothers and Sisters, as you have supported Don support your new coadjutor, stand with him, trust that he is God’s choice. “So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.” Amen.
After the opening eucharist we had lunch, and then I went upstairs to a prayer room where a group of us prayed for the bishop nominees wives, and chatted, and waited. About midway through the voting process Bishop Bob walked through the room, and we all jumpped to the (wrong) conclusion that he had an announcement to make, *sigh*. After another (seemingly very long)while we went downstairs to find that our new co-adjutor bisho is Charlie Masters! I missed the beginning of the speech he gave, but I did hear him say that his dad was not always the most complimentary about bishops, and used to call the office he had just been elected to ‘co-agitator’ bishop. He then turned to Bishop Don and said “It will be an honour to co-agitate with you”.
Here is a link to the photos I took today. The quality isn’t great, but it will give you an idea of what it was like to be there. The door is the locked door behind which the people who actually got to vote were gathered, and the harried looking fellow with the yellow nametag is David Pennyleigon, who deserves a huge thanks, because he did the lions share of the work of co-ordinating synod.
Here is a link to a recording I made of all 300 or so of us singing during the eucharist.
Tomorrow will be a long busy day, so I don’t expect to get a post up until Friday morning, although if I find time and space to do so I will try to upload posts during the day.