Good evening everyone
My name is David Watson,
I’m the minister of Clark Memorial church
Grace and peace to you from our Lord Jesus Christ.
I am delighted to be here this evening
at this time of the Second Synod encounter
and I’ve been invited by Monseigneur Magee
to share a few thoughts with you.
There are good relations between the churches in Largs
And I’m grateful for the various ways
that we are able to share with each other in ministry
and in Christian witness in the community.
The Synod Encounter process initiated by Pope Francis
Is an opportunity to think the future direction of the church.
The discussions have been themed under the headings;
What can we be proud of?
What do we need to work at?
What are we missing that’s holding us back?
These are question which are relevant to all of us.
How will the church look post pandemic?
How do we engage with the younger generation?
How do we approach moral issues
in a way that are pastorally sensitive?
How do we adapt to our fast changing world?
What are our core beliefs and what is simply tradition?
Ever since I attended the Scottish Christian Youth Assembly as a young person
And visited the Taizé community in France
I have always felt that I have more in common
with practising Catholics than with Protestants
who never darken the door of the church.
I lived in Govan when I was a student and while I was there
I went along to an inter-church dialogue.
I was chatting to this other guy
And asked him what denomination he was.
He told me that he was a GC,
I said I did know what that was,
Glesga Catholic, he smiled.
Many of the issues that we face as churches are the same
Regardless of our denomination.
We need to have an honest appraisal of the past,
Acknowledging our faults as well as celebrating
The rich history of faith and its influence in Scotland.
The Christian faith has had a profound influence on our national identity.
Truthfully, historical divisions have weakened our mission.
Abuse of clerical power, which was covered up to prevent reputational damage has weakened our moral authority.
Facing up to the truth isn’t easy but it is necessary.
Confession is an important aspect of our faith.
We need to recognise our mistakes
in order to try to avoid repeating them.
Change is a fact of life we need to embrace it
We are living through a change of epoch
The world wide web and the information age
Has brought about change which is as far reaching
as that which followed invention of the printing press.
Like any change it has positive and negative aspects to it.
We need to adapt to the change which is happening whether we like it or not.
We are in the middle of culture wars
In which everyone is promoting their version of the truth.
None of us have a monopoly on the truth.
Anthony De Mello was an Indian Jesuit priest who collected stories from different mystical traditions in one of them
the Devil was walking along with one of his cohorts.
They saw a man ahead of them pick up something shiny.
“What did he find?” asked the cohort.
“A piece of the truth,” the Devil replied.
“Doesn’t it bother you that he found a piece of the truth?” asked the cohort.
“Oh no,” said the Devil,
“I will see that he makes a doctrine out of it.”
As churches we need to be open to new insights,
And flexible enough to embrace new insights.
The truth is elusive, the minute we think that
we have it all sewn up, we have lost it.
If we are open to God’s spirit
we may receive glimpses of the truth
but we also need the humility to learn
from each other’s insights.
The world is constantly changing
although we believe that Jesus Christ
is the same yesterday today and forever,
we must always be seekers after truth.
At one time when Scottish pupils
were given the strap for writing with their left hand.
That may seem strange to us now
But it is a measure of how much the world has changed,
In the lifetime of many of us.
We don’t belt children anymore and we certainly don’t
Try to force them to write with their left hands.
The word sinister comes
from the Latin sinistra meaning left.
It was thought that being left-handed was sinister.
Left handers were forced to conform
there was a tyranny of the majority.
Now we rightly celebrate diversity.
I’m left-handed along with about 10% of the population,
forcing people to be right-handed
was oppression by the majority.
I didn’t choose to be left-handed
that’s the way God made me!
Around 10% of the population are gay
They didn’t choose to be gay
that’s the way God made them.
We should celebrate the fact that we are all different.
Morality is to do with the choices we make
We don’t choose our race or gender or our sexuality
We don’t choose with whom we fall in love,
But we do choose what kind of relationships we make.
For me the hallmark a Christian relationship is fidelity
To be faithful to ourselves, to those we love and to God.
Rather than trying to compel everyone
to conform to a certain way of being
we should celebrate diversity.
We can’t impose our moral values
on others even if we wanted to.
The church in the Europe certainly is in a very different place, increasingly marginalised in our secular society.
However, that isn’t necessarily a bad place to be
Outside the structures of power
The church can once again find its prophetic voice
And to speak truth to power.
The world is changing ands we need to adapt too.
As we approach the season of Pentecost
When the Holy Spirit transformed the church
We pray for a similar transformation for all of us.
The early church grew exponentially at least in part
Because the community was seen to care for each other.
And boldly proclaimed the Good News of God’s love.
The church is at its best when it is creating a caring community and binding up the broken hearted, caring for the grieving, helping the lost and lonely
Passionate about peace and justice
and caring for our planet, a church without walls
which shows God’s love by living out the gospel
in word and action and by the quality
of our relationships with one another.