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Collaboration is Co-Labor

April 02, 2021
FROM THE BISHOP
R. LAWSON BRYAN 

Easter Sunday worship begins with the joyous affirmation, “Christ is Risen!” And the congregation responds, “Christ is risen, indeed!”  This signals the start of The Great Fifty Days—the period beginning with the Resurrection of Jesus and continuing through his appearances to his disciples, his ascension to heaven, and finally the birth of the Christian Church on Pentecost.  

I want to draw attention to one practical outcome of the Resurrection. It changed how those earliest Easter people interacted with each other.  Here is a description of that changed behavior from Acts 4:32, 34-35:  
 
Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no 
one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned
was held in common. 

There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold 
them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and 
it was distributed to each as any had need.

Amazing! The resurrection of Jesus and the arrival of the Holy Spirit resulted in a desire among believers to share their possessions.  

And in the next two verses we meet Barnabus, who will be so influential in the life of St Paul. We learn that he is a Levite, a native of Cyprus, and his name is Joseph. The apostles nicknamed him “Barnabus” because that name means “son of encouragement.” He sold a piece of property and brought the money to the apostles to be used for the common good. 

Amazing! Easter people became collaborators with one another. Whatever each of them had they willingly combined with what others had in order to meet the needs of the community. 

This behavior was not limited to the sharing of material possessions. The rest of the New Testament shows how they collaborated on everything, from spreading the Gospel, to sending out missionaries, caring for widows and orphans, planting churches, and resolving conflicts that arose from time to time.  

Easter turns independent operators into innovative collaborators.  

Collaboration is one of the ways Easter becomes systemic rather than being seen as a one-time event. This is important to me because over the past five years we have developed a collaborative leadership process within the South Georgia Conference. We have such an abundance of gifted, devoted laity and clergy. Our collaborative leadership structure seeks to honor all that God has given us by empowering our laity and clergy to make their own possessions as did the earliest disciples of Jesus. Among those “possessions” are: hopes, dreams, ideas, longings, imagination, conversation, insight, and practical experience in life. We’ve got it all in South Georgia. By God’s grace we are finding ways to be Alive Together at the Table. Key components of our collaborative leadership process are: the Compass Group, the Leadership Forum and Task Force, the Appointive Cabinet, and the Laity Cabinet.  

Our approach to navigating the global pandemic has been collaborative – and you have done your part very intentionally and thoughtfully.  

Our approach to adjusting to the effects of the pandemic has been collaborative – and you have acted adaptively to continue offering worship, Bible study, and community outreach in fresh, innovative ways. 

Our approach to the General Conference is collaborative – we will prepare for it intentionally; reflect thoughtfully on its outcome; and work with each other to discern the guidance of the Holy Spirit in any options that come to us.  

Collaboration is Co-Labor. Those who pool their efforts discover that a lot more can be done when we are working together. But note that 2,000 years ago it was the work of the Holy Spirit that inspired the earliest Christians to want to collaborate. That is what I see happening among us today.

Come, Lord Jesus. Come, Holy Spirit. Turn independent operators in to innovative collaborators – for the salvation of the world. 

Alive Together at the Table,
R. Lawson Bryan

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