I keep the words of Charles de Foucauld’s Prayer of Abandonment on my office wall:
‘Father, I abandon myself into your hands; do with me what you will. Whatever you may do, I thank you: I am ready for all, I accept all. Let only your will be done in me and in all your creatures—I wish no more than this, O Lord. Into your hands I commend my soul: I offer it to you with all the love of my heart, for I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself, to surrender myself into your hands without reserve, and with boundless confidence, for you are my Father.’
This prayer has come to mean a lot to me in recent months, as I have reflected on the governance change proposals that came to our recent Convention of Synod. In reflecting on the proposals in the months leading up to Synod, I knew that they may have a personal impact on me and change the direction of my ministry. And as I prayerfully reflected on the possible changes, I found myself praying Foucauld’s prayer again and again. As a result of the governance changes passed at our Convention of Synod in Ipswich and in order to increase support for the Office of Bishop, Synod delegates voted to change the scope of the position of First Assistant Bishop into a full-time one. Convention of Synod then subsequently called me into this position.
Receiving a call is always a humbling experience. Receiving a call by a vote of Synod is even more so. On the Saturday morning of Synod, I preached about Ascension Day in the light of the Easter narrative, as we had celebrated Ascension Day the previous Thursday. I preached about the many ‘Good Fridays’ that we go through in our personal lives, the many ‘deaths’, both big and small that are part of being a human. I spoke about the many resurrections, when we are surprised by joy and God resurrects and brings new life and new opportunities into our lives. And I spoke about the message of Ascension Day, how God in Christ calls us to hold lightly to things that are dear to us, the many unfinished symphonies of our lives and allow them to ascend with Christ to heaven.
I was really preaching to myself on that Synod Saturday morning, as I was sensing that my call at Redeemer Lutheran College, Rochedale, might be coming to an end and that God was calling me to handover this ‘unfinished symphony’ to him. As I reflected in this way leading up to Synod, I knew that if I was called to serve the District in a full-time capacity, God was calling me to respond in the affirmative. And that is what I have done. I have notified the District Church Board chair Shiron Dixon, Bishop Paul Smith and also the principal of Redeemer Lutheran College, Tanya Crooks that God has led me to accept the call issued by Convention of Synod. In the spirit of Foucauld’s prayer, I pray that God’s will is done as I prepare to transition in the coming months, to assist and support Bishop Paul full-time and to serve God’s people with his Holy Word and the Sacrament. I treasure your prayers at this time.