Synod Sermon

on Luke 5.1-11
June 25th 2019

A good moment to think about what is a Deanery? And what is it for?

1)    The Deanery is a necessary legal and administrative function, a means of communication and connection between the parish and the Diocese, between the clergy and the Bishop.

2)    The Deanery is a reminder of the breadth of the Church of England in all of its range and adventure, that we are connected and united across different ethical positions and different ways of reading Scripture and listening to the voice and guidance of God. We do not get to choose who we worship next to Sunday by Sunday and we do not get to choose who else is an Anglican. The challenge in that is to make sure that we actually actively engage with each other and don’t leave those differences unspoken but dominant in the corner.

3)    The Deanery is a community of prayer and worship who support and encourage each other, and journey together-

e.g. Synod

  • when someone local introduces an idea
  • the prayer cycle
  • the new support groups we are setting up of Wardens and Treasurers… all allow us to know that we don’t travel alone but are part of something bigger and broader and wider and more effective than just us. In some ways the Deanery is a local antidote to too much parochialism. It opens us up to new ideas and new possibilities and in that openness and potential God can work wonderfully.

4)    And in all of this, as the Church, we are called to let down our nets in deep water. At Diocesan Synod this month Bishop Steven gave an address on the reading we have just heard from Luke Chapter 5. He establishes two principles-

  • that the call to let down our nets is from Christ himself and Christ alone,
  • that letting down our nets will look different in every Deanery and parish. It will not be the same because every place is unique and particular and so is every Church community. Such difference is, to quote, “something to delight in for its own sake.”

In the context of the calling of the 12, our Deanery neighbours are those who set out with us into deep water and alongside whom we fish. We read the weather and the seasons together. We learn the ways of the shoals of fish together. We shelter together and set out together and support each other and share life in all of its joyous challenge together.

At times we inspire each other, at times we cajole each other, at times we fish together, at times we are driven to work harder and dig deeper because the fullness of the nets in the other boat show us that now is the time to work and to work hard. We are in it all together.

We are the people who are sufficiently different that it never gets dull but close enough in geography and relationship that we can understand and encourage and challenge. We are ‘the other boat’ to one another, setting examples of fishing, calling us over to where the shoals are to be found, companions and fellow disciples, united in our heartfelt and whole-hearted response to the call of Jesus who bids us set out into deep water and steers us towards the place where the fishing is richest.