I hope you all have enjoyed a blessed Christmastide, and that the Christ Child has been born anew in your hearts in this new year of 2023.
Today, the Feast of the Epiphany reminds us to pay special attention to all the ways that Jesus Christ is “manifested” in the lives of all people, for all time. Over this coming Epiphany season, we are beginning the next phase of the diocesan visioning process, Cast the Net, through which we seek to discern how Christ is making himself known and speaking to us as Anglicans in this time and place.
John 21:1-14 – the gospel story in which Cast the Net is rooted – is one of those occasions when the Risen Christ appears to his disciples and intervenes decisively in their lives. Notice that he does this at the darkest hour before dawn, the time of greatest frustration and fear, disappointment and despair. It is a clear call to heed the voice of the Risen One and to act accordingly.
Across the Diocese over the past several months, people have been reflecting on this passage and its implications for the future of our Church. How might we respond to the call to cast the net on the other side of the boat? Now we are expanding that conversation to embrace individual members of every single congregation in the Diocese.
This month, every parish will receive an invitation to choose four people to participate in facilitated online small group consultations about the future of the Diocese. (The invitations will come in “waves” throughout the month, so don’t worry if you don’t receive yours right away – it will come soon!)
My request to all incumbents and churchwardens is that when you receive the letter detailing the process, you will act prayerfully and in a timely manner to identify four folks who collectively embody the diversity of your congregation. And my request to those who are approached is that you will respond positively and participate fully in this important work. To everyone in the Diocese, I ask your prayers for the ongoing Cast the Net process.
The Star of Bethlehem is a powerful symbol. By announcing the birth of Christ to the Eastern sages and calling them to worship him, it represents the proclamation of the gospel to all peoples. Already in the Cast the Net discussions, we are hearing eloquent calls for spiritual renewal in this Diocese: a renewed commitment to a deliberately Christ-centered discipleship that shows itself in loving concern for all of God’s people and indeed all of God’s creation.
Through the upcoming local lay consultations, we will widen and deepen and further enrich those conversations. I trust that in doing so, we will discover together ways of translating them into collective action in response to the call of the Spirit. If we turn faithfully to the revealed Light of Christ, God will complete a good work in us.
May it be so. And may you have a blessed Epiphany!
Yours in Christ,
The Rt. Rev. Andrew Asbil
Bishop of Toronto