This was my third synod in the three years since I came back home to Scotland.
And I would have to be honest that the papers, when I received them, did not fill me with excitement. There were no decisions to be taken, it felt, that would drastically affect the life of our church, its mission or its members. There was a lot of business, and papers and processes on the table that were about things of great importance. But not a lot was going to be decided and moved on.
Now, as I sit on the train to Glasgow, near to several of my colleagues, it has been a very important synod. But because of what was NOT done at it.
The issues that face us as a 21st century Christian presence in Scotland are many and varied, but some of the most critical must be numerical (and financial) decline, engaging with the state's moves to equalise marriage and, to be frank, working out who and what we actually are. These matters were the context of the discussions, whether it was reflecting in how we train leaders (which needs to change, but has much history and baggage), how we encourage mission at national, diocesan and local level (which could be seen in terms of money grudgingly trickling down) or how we discuss sexuality issues ( which it seems optimistic that any process could be convergent) but no decisions of a material nature were taken.
I suspect that a certain head of steam will now build up in the members of the synod, at least those who are activists and wish to see change. And this, I suspect, will force some of these issues to the point of quicker decision that the viscous processes that we seemed in danger of adopting in the days just gone by.
Prayerful, careful, listening. Careful, loving reconciliation. Walking alongside other Christians in our and other provinces (and other denominations). These are all essential to our life as a church. But a positive, focused, decisive and confident church that has the courage to make decisions and become relevant in the 21st century. That is what I believe we need to be.