Adelaide Anglicans

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An extract from Archbishop Driver’s 2015 Synod homily.

He had been taken captive in his his town in Syria, Picked out for special attention because of his leadership role in the Church. Then he was abused, chained flogged, by captors he called wild beasts. Making his way to Europe, he wrote these words:

“I am like wheat…being ground by the teeth of wild beats to make a pure loaf”

He knew his would be a brutal and public death.

These words might be coming to us out of Syria today, on some tragic YouTube clip, with so many of the Christian minority at the forefront of persecution, and among the particular targets of IS terror.

In fact, they are the words of Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch. 

Caught up in a brief persecution in Syria early in the second century, he was sentenced to death by wilds beats in Rome.

We have his letters written to Churches on the way.

Written with the passion and recklessness that comes with knowing that his life is already forfeit; his only concern is that in his dying he will be a true witness.

These are strange words for us, and his is a strange world, where life is cheap and living perilous. Where the price of faith can be the pain of death.

This was the world of Ignatius.

Today it is the world of many of our brothers and sisters from the same part of the world as Ignatius, who called himself Bishop of Syria.

So as we remember Ignatius from Syria, we remember them.

If we are fortunate to escape their circumstances, we cannot escape sharing their call.

The call to live in fearless dependency on Jesus.

The way of the Cross and the grace of the Spirit.

As we gather at Synod, and as we seek to be the church of Jesus, fear and anxiety can stalk us with subtlety.

It’s the fear of change; the fear of loss, a world that is being taken away.

It’s the anxiety that comes as we seek to protect what we have, reputation, influence and place.

Much of what we do in Synod is, in fact, quite rightly about defending ourselves, protecting our life together; putting things in place to deal with issues that might rightly be causes of anxiety.

But as members of Synod meet there is also the call to live in fearless dependency on Jesus.

The way of the Cross and the grace of the Spirit.

May that call resonate through all we do during Synod and beyond.