“Enlarge the Space of Your Tent”
“Enlarge the Space of Your Tent” is the title of the document issued on October 27, to mark the Continental Stage of the current Synod of Bishops 2021 – 24. It is taken from Chapter 4, verse 2 of the Prophet Isaiah. The whole verse reads “Enlarge the space of your tent, stretch out your hangings, freely, lengthen your ropes, make your pegs firm”.
The verse evokes the image of a nomadic people living under a moveable tent which, at the same time, is not static and yet secure. The image of the tent is deep in our Biblical story. The exodus story centres around a “tent of meeting” where the Lord is encountered and the tent is an essential part of their journey to the promised land. John 1:14 which proclaims “that the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us” can be more literally translated as “pitched its tent among us”. The God who John proclaims as revealed in Jesus Christ is a dynamic God, the God of the mountain who comes among us in a tent on the plain.
The framers of the document of the Continental Stage of the Synod saw, in reading of the syntheses of 112 Episcopal Conferences, a call to the whole Church to become a more inclusive institution, to enlarge the space of our tent. The tent is “a space of communion, a place of participation, and a foundation for mission! We are all invited to pray through these images and allow them to shape our experience of Church in the months to come.
To the diocese of St. George’s, to bishop, clergy, religious and people, the word of the Lord is ENLARGE THE SPACE OF YOUR TENT.
To our parishes, our schools, our institutions, the same cry goes out. COVID has made us stagnant. The tent has not collapsed, but it became rigid and remains rigid. People leave the tent and we are not even aware that they have left. We have no desire to enlarge the tent because we are comfortable in it; . Enlarging it will mean more work for us. The Synod process calls us to a desire for radical inclusion as we seek to be empowered by the Spirit of God who welcomes all as He hears their cries and wishes to listen in love to all.
Pope Francis has decreed that the current Synod process will continue into 2024 with two Rome meetings in 2023 and 2024 as had happened with the synods on the Family and Youth. He is calling for a deeper listening to the Spirit as the spiritual conversation continues at every level of Church life. The Church has not had a synod.
The Church is IN SYNOD. We are on a synodal path. We are discovering new ways of being Church. Only in an openness to these discoveries, to the demand of this adventure on the road, will we know that we are doing the will of God today.
ENLARGE THE SPACE OF YOUR TENT.
READ WORKING DOCUMENT BELOW: