Hagios - Holy
All Saint's Day
Hagios - Holy
by The Most Revd Kay Goldsworthy AO | Archbishop
November begins with the celebration of All Saints’ Day. We enter this month remembering, looking back and looking forward beginning with All Saints. All Saints is a day of thanksgiving, what used to be known as a red- letter day in the Church’s calendar. A major festival. Paul uses the Greek word ‘hagios’, meaning ‘set apart, holy,’ extensively in his letters as a way of greeting and speaking to the believers.
To the Church of God that is in Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 1:2-2).
Paul emphasised the importance of the churches learning how to live as people made holy in God’s grace as he exhorted them to value their unity in Christ, and to commit to showing that unity in their relationships with each other.
On All Saints’ Day we pause and take time to give thanks to God for those who have gone before us and in whose lives the love, mercy and grace of God’s son Jesus shone so brightly. Some of God’s saints – the set apart, the holy, the sanctified – have influenced the course of history, bringing to light new ways in which God’s love in their time could be understood and lived out. Attempting a list would be as long as 2100 years, but we can all point out one of the saints whose life has influenced our own. Perhaps St Augustine, the first Archbishop of Canterbury, St Julian of Norwich spiritual writer, Thomas Cranmer, reformer and martyr, St Paul, apostle and martyr, Mary Magdalene, apostle to the apostles, Janani Luwum, Archbishop of Uganda and martyr, St Hilda, Abbess of Whitby, and closer to home the missionaries we know as the New Guinea Martyrs, to name just a few.
Recently the Archbishop of Sydney was reported as addressing his Synod to say that that those who do not agree with his position on marriage should leave the church. Later reporting clarified that Archbishop Davies’ comments were meant for bishops. However intended, it has led to many reflections on our life together as members of the body of Christ.
This is a difficult period in our life as members of the Anglican Church of Australia. Legislation allowing for the blessing of civil marriages passed by more than 75% of the members of the Synod of the Diocese of Wangaratta is before the Appellate Tribunal. The Bishop of Wangaratta has given an assurance that no action will be taken in the meantime. The Archbishop of Sydney, along with some other Bishops from Australia, recently travelled to New Zealand to consecrate a man as a bishop for the breakaway group of “confessing Anglicans” in response to the Church in Aotearoa-New Zealand having passed legislation to allow for the blessings of same sex couples. This action saddens me, and has distressed our trans-Tasman Anglican colleagues.
In a recent letter to the Diocese of Perth, I wrote the following:
Responding to an enquiry from a colleague beyond Perth, ‘How did your Synod go?’ I replied that there was ‘an outbreak of grace as we dealt with the business before us’. By which I meant that although there were some tough things for us to navigate, it was done respectfully across the spectrum of biblical, theological, spiritual and liturgical expressions of Anglicanism within the Diocese. Groups that can become simply party factions when we are angry and defensive did not emerge in that light. People of difference with strongly held convictions reached out in the love of Christ to work through the details of their concerns and to find places and ways for us to move forward together.
Not everything is perfect, not every valley has been lifted up, not every mountain made low, nor has all uneven ground become level or all our rough places made smooth, or our places of difference been overlooked. However, in the face of them the Synod worked together respectfully and carefully so that our places of difference became places in which members saw in each other the longing we have to follow Jesus wisely and well, and our desire to be faithful in our witness to God’s love in Christ our Lord. A new season, a new way forward together. We welcomed each other.
I know that this can be hard work as we make room for each other and for the Holy Spirit among us, and I want to say thank you for the costly grace that is being lived out among us here in Perth. This is not an easy time in our common life, but we are part of the one body of Christ and it is in and by his love that we have been sanctified, set apart and made holy together in this Diocese. However, you celebrate All Saints’ Day this year I pray that together we will continue to show forth the fruit of the Spirit, part of our witness to the power of God’s love rekindled in us.
Let’s be saints together in our life here and now.
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, competing against one another, envying one another (Galatians 5:22-26).