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Bodies matter to us, and to God.

In 1 Corinthians 12 the Apostle Paul describes the church as the body of Christ. One aspect of that image is the inter-dependence of the members of the body as we each exercise the diverse gifts of God’s Spirit, including the call to particular ministries of leadership and oversight.

Since commencing as Bishop of the Diocese in April this year it has been my prayerful intention to see our episcopal and senior leadership team renewed, especially as Bishop Trevor Edwards moves towards a well-earned retirement in January next year.

I am therefore delighted that at its most recent meeting Bishop-in-Council concurred with my intention to appoint Archdeacon Carol Wagner as Assistant Bishop and Vicar General.

Archdeacon Carol currently ministers as Archdeacon of the Coast and Rector of the Parish of Bodalla-Narooma. She has a passion for the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and for encouraging communities of faith to serve God’s kingdom in the power of His Spirit. In her new role she will have a particular responsibility for oversight of lay and clergy ministry development as we strive together to engage our world of difference with the love and truth of Jesus.

God willing, Carol will be consecrated Bishop at St Saviour’s Cathedral Goulburn on Saturday February 22 and I hope to see many of you there.

I have been reflecting further on our bodies after reading the new autobiography Metanoia, by Australian actor and playwright Anna McGahan. The book’s subtitle – a memoir of a body, born again – gives a clue to its contents. Unlike many testimonies which describe Christian conversion solely in terms of new beliefs or attitudes McGahan’s work highlights the bodily impact of faith.

Here is her description of her baptism – ‘the girl who had been struggling for freedom for twenty-four years fell into the arms of the water in a final embrace. The bond of self was severed – no longer me but still mine, she become my sister, my memory. As my limbs were raised to the surface, she remained, unwilling to leave the embrace. Her lungs were met with oxygen, her loneliness met with abiding presence. The body left at the bottom of the pool was at peace. A new body rose out of the water – so softly born this time.’

The book reminded me that my body matters to God – so much so that God’s Son took on a body Himself for the sake of its redemption and rescue. It matters to God when bodies are starved, or abused or tortured or subject to unjust imprisonment or detention. It matters to God how we use our bodies to serve Him in worship, to love and bless our neighbour and to express our sexuality. Conversations and debates about any of these issues are always personal and sometimes difficult – not because they don’t matter but because they do. Learning in Christ to talk well about our bodies and live well with our bodies may be one of the most powerful testimonies the body of Christ has to offer a watching world.

By Bishop Mark Short