Thought for the day
"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened."
- Matthew 7:7-8
The Keynote Address in the Triennial Pastors Conference of the Church of South India (CSI), held at Kanyakumari, was delivered by Rev. Dr Daniel Rathnakara Sadananda, the General Secretary of CSI. On 5th November 2019, the first day of the three-day conference, the General Secretary elaborately addressed the challenges that the pastoral ministry face in the present-day context. He told that "The role of the Pastor is explained normally by the two very simple but very profound metaphors. The metaphor of the Shepherd. It is the role in which we are called into nurturing the sheepfold being the providers. Providing the daily necessities for the communities which are entrusted to our care. Shepherds are responsible for the well being of the sheepfold. But we most of the time forget that we are the warriors. The warrior within the shepherd metaphor is conveniently forgotten. The shepherd is the one who fights against the death forces. Shepherd is the one who will fight against the predators against the evil in this shepherd figure you have a village understanding of activism. The grass route activism against empire. It is the protest against royal structures. It is not the King who protects us; sometimes we ascribe this Shepherd figure more royalty than it requires. Even the Israelites communities did that. The Israelites community forgot that this metaphor comes from village and marginalised activism. And conveniently domesticates it telling that this shepherd figure is about shepherd king. Domesticating a resisting and protesting metaphor into a metaphor that will fit into the status quo. And most importantly becomes a work of power. Actually, this power is not about authority but this power is about care and concern, this power is about seeking, this power is about a knowing and believing relationships. If you remember yourselves the confession of Peter in John 6:68. We know and believe. A Shepherd is in a knowing and believing relationships with the sheepfold. That is what we learn from the Bible.
On the other hand, we want this Pastoralia to be transformative, and hence it needs to replicate another metaphor. Another simple profound A metaphor of servant. Servant waiting at the table; that is we call the Pastors. Servant waiting at the table that is what we do every Sunday at Lord's table. It is about telling whenever we achieve something that we are unworthy servants and we have done only our duty. But this servant is given a sacramental and hospitable occasion, that is what we read in John 13. Both Baptism and breaking and shedding are combined in that chapter. In Jesus, bending and washing we see water and cleansing. The water of renewable, rejuvenation and reassures life mentioned there. At the same time in Jesus bending and washing the feet of the disciples is about giving part in the ministry. Unless I wash you, you have no part with me. Peter understood that it is about a discussion on the debate on greatness. Jesus was making the statement, which was an enacted parable the action spoke about the theology, forgiving reconciliation, the healing, embracing the rebels- everything came together.... Greatness lies in not being served, but greatness lies in serving others. And that was an opportunity for transformative Pastoralia.... To be a transformative Pastoral instrument we need to have emotional intelligence. This is about a set of skills. This is about knowing oneself, self-awareness, self-discovery, knowing one's own strengths, one's own weakness, one's own values and one's own impact on the other. But a very realistic assessment, which can give confidence which can also learn and be open for constructive criticism. Because only through constructive criticism, we arrive at self-awareness, a critical self-awareness. Otherwise, we dwell on false assumptions."
He also drew the attention of the pastors to the concept behind the recent major synod level conferences. He explained that "It all began in Bangalore in May 2019. A 1000 children gathered together at the Bishop Cotton's Campus, 'Child Champ' we called it. And around 100 artists from 23 dioceses giving out the message through Brush and Paint with colors. Especially the suffering and pain of Dalit and Adivasi communities. Then came a wonderful performing Art Festival on CSI Day the 27th September again in Chennai. Reminding us about of cultural routes we stand in. Reminding us about the cultural ethos that we need to be proud of. Reminding us about the cultural ethos which calls us for resistance and protest. Then there was an overwhelming response to the International Ecological Conference at the CSI Centre.... Then we gathered together 1000 Missionaries in Dornakal. Almost one third of the fulltime missionaries of CSI joined together to proclaim their commitment to mission and evangelism to build Christ communities to be smart sustainable mission accompaniment. Then a great youngsters' gathering in Trichy, which everyone really enjoyed and we were moved by the exuberance and vibrancy of our young people. 2500 youngsters gathered together telling us that the future of the Church in good hands, the future of the Church in good hands awakening in those 3 days. And now we gather as Pastors. This weekend around 500 women rural entrepreneurs from Dalit and Adivasi communities will gather together in Ranipet, Vellore. In December 1st week there will be a gathering of people in Disabilities around 500 people with Disabilities will gather in Chennai. And that weekend there will also be a meeting of CSI Doctors in the CSI Centre. These are the 10 very meaningful events that will lead to Synod 2020, reminding us that the Synod is not mere politicking. The Synod is about visioning revisioning and reimagining the mission and life and witness of the Church and all these conferences will feed in the content and the visions of 2020."
Reported by the CSI Synod Pastoral Concerns Dept. Team.