A Pastoral Letter

Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ!

As the Advent season draws us closer to Christmas, we listen for the familiar stories of Jesus, where God’s love becomes flesh and enters our world and our lives. We open ourselves to what God may be saying to us at this time.

We know the temptation to take possession of this gift from God, as if it were ours alone. Yet when we make the gift a possession, it is lost. John the Baptist speaks with authority, echoing God’s voice in Isaiah,

‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth;
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’

Our decision to enlarge the definition of marriage at the Assembly Meeting was made after months and years of prayer, biblical and theological reflection, and discussion. It was made with integrity and hope. For many, it was painful; some due to the long waiting, and some in the decision itself. Our church laboured hard, together, to hear God’s voice and act on God’s will.

The Assembly’s decision has been deeply troubling to some within our church community. Over this season, the Presbytery of South Australia will meet, and consider a proposal which may suspend the Assembly Marriage Resolution and ask the church to work through this once more.

The immediate need is pastoral care for those affected. In truth, that is almost all of us. However, this is an especially upsetting time for the members of our church and community who are lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual and intersex.

The well-being of many of our friends is being deeply impacted. Some are finding this almost too much to bear.

This decision is about our families, our friends, people we love. At this time, as always, we are called to bear witness to the love of God in Christ; to embody that love in our church and our communities.

The dignity and sanctity of all humanity was spoken into being at creation and is proclaimed anew to us at Christmas in the child of Bethlehem. Christ’s death and resurrection ensure our salvation, not because of who or how we are human, but because of who and how God became human. A truly precious, and gracious gift, in which we all share.

Please pray for our church, especially for the South Australian Presbytery. Consider the words you choose and how you participate in conversation (both formally and informally) around the Assembly Marriage Resolution. Please care for all within our LGBTI community, pray, and listen, remembering we are all formed, loved and valued in the image of the one God, in whom all life is found.

Grace, hope and peace for this Advent and Christmas journey,