The following is a transcript of a Raised Catholic podcast episode.
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Today is episode 145: God’s Not Done
Hi friends. This week I went to a gospel concert in the city with my kids and, friends, it was so, so good. Afterwards I went looking on Spotify for some of the songs we heard that night. Well, one song led to another, as happens on Spotify, and I found myself with a whole big batch of new ‘liked’ songs. As a bonus, having listened to all of it over a span of time, I found I had a much lighter spirit, too. The beautiful thing about gospel music in all of its forms is the hope. This isn’t sugary-sweet kind of Hallmark card hope, but hard-fought, hard-won hope. This is music that reflects a real experience with God in our hardest, messiest moments and this music testifies that He is faithful, and that all things are possible in Him, and that God is not done with us yet.
Now, that phrase, ‘God’s not done with us yet’ well, this phrase appeared in one of the gospel songs I heard, but later I heard it again in a completely unrelated podcast. When a message kind of repeats like that, I feel the Holy Spirit asking me to pay attention. Because if that is true – that God’s not done – well, that is such good news for me personally. But also, if God’s not done, what does that mean for us as people of faith today?
There are some Catholics, even some leaders in the Church who will argue that the faith is unchanging, a solid, infallible, unchangeable block of teachings and practices that came down from Heaven at a single point in time, never to be revisited, but that is just demonstrably untrue. The Church has been growing, evolving, changing, failing, recovering, arguing within itself, and shifting from the very beginning. Don’t believe me? Take a look at the Acts of the Apostles and find out for yourself.
Though we are a church steeped in tradition, over time, the Church has changed its teachings, its styles of worship, its focus, and its methods many, many times over. The Bible, which was written and compiled over a time span of about 1600 years, is available today in over 2,000 languages but also over 3,000 versions. That means there is a range of understanding about the etymology of the words and the meaning of the various books of the Bible in terms of audience, culture, time, and place. Bible scholars and translators continue to pour over this ancient text year after year, and still, we’re finding new insight, because it is true that the Bible is the living word of God.
It’s hard to make the case that the Church got it one hundred percent right from the start and never needs revisiting when you just take a look at our history. Over the centuries, the Church and its leaders have made sweeping grave errors, from the Crusades to benefiting from slavery to selling indulgences to the sexual abuse of children and the cover-ups of crimes. The Church is far from perfect because people are far from perfect but thank God, we have opportunities to stop and look at where we are and to consider our future. When it comes to our perspective and our mission, our actions, and our direction, we can clarify, repent, and shift. We can change our course and thank God that’s true, because God is not done with us yet.
God is still moving, still inspiring, interceding, still teaching us, still showing us new things, and moving us along in time. He is still very much Emmanuel, God with us. But it is our job to listen for where God is leading. And for such a time as this, we have the Synod on Synodality.
Synods are nothing new. The Catholic Church has held over two dozen synod assemblies since Vatican II alone and many more before that. A synod is simply a gathering of clergy and sometimes also laity in a division of a particular church. The current Synod on Synodality is taking a broad look at its theme of “Communion, Participation and Mission”. The members of the Synod, approximately 350 of them, are prayerfully taking in the input gathered over the past two years from faithful from all over the world and they are listening for the Holy Spirit on where He is leading the Church in this time. This structure of prayer and listening which started with a retreat for all of the participants and continues with meeting in small groups around round tables with periods of silence built into their process – well, all of this is designed to help those gathered to lay their causes down on the various issues and simply hear what God is saying.
In his opening remarks for this, the XVI Ordinary General Assembly, Pope Francis said, “The protagonist of the Synod isn’t us, but the Holy Spirit,” insisting that if the Spirit is in charge, it is a good synod, and if He is not, “it is not.”
Participating in this Synod are bishops, priests, and laity – among them for the first time, women and young people and each person is praying, listening and they will ultimately vote on the questions and issues that will come up. And who knows where all of this will lead, but in this time, with everything we’ve faced in these last years, it fills my heart to know that with God, all things are possible. Like it says in the gospel songs, He is a way-maker. He is faithful. He provides. His eye is on the sparrow and on His Church, and, friend, God is not done with us yet.
As always, I have lots of resources for you in the show notes, but today I have very timely ones: podcasts and articles to help you keep up to date on what’s going on with the Synod meeting and this meeting will extend through the end of October. I would ask you to please take some time to be informed, because as thoughtful as this Synod process is, there is criticism coming from the outside, especially here in the U.S. There are those who find the whole idea of this Synod wrong and even dangerous, and some of these people are priests and bishops – they are threatened by what they might perceive as a shift in power or control. And though I would pray that we’d all come to this Synod with open minds and hearts, you might hear criticism of the Synod where you go to church or in some places in Catholic media, so it’s a good idea to understand it all for yourself. When it comes to the movement of God, if we are prayerfully listening for where He is leading, we certainly will hear Him say, “Be not afraid.”
Thanks so much for being with me today, friend. If you need me, you can find me on Instagram @kerrycampbellwrites, at Substack at kerrycampbellwrites.substack.com, or on my website at kerrycampbell.org. Thanks so much for rating, reviewing, subscribing and most importantly, sharing this podcast with a friend. That really makes a difference in growing our community, so thanks. If you’d like to support this podcast financially, there are a couple of ways for you to do that in the show notes, along with some resources related to today’s episode including some, as I mentioned, on the Synod and also some truly great gospel music I’d love to share with you, so do check all of that out, but before we go, let’s pray together.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, amen.
Oh God, we thank you that you are not done with us yet.
St. Francis of Assisi, who was called to rebuild the church, pray for us.
Come, Holy Spirit, into the Synod, our church, our lives, and our families, and we pray all of this in the name of Jesus, and wrapped in the mantle of our Mother Mary, amen.
Well, thanks so much for listening today, friend. I’ll see you next time.
This week, we explore the amazing grace of God who is still at work, who continues to intercede and guide us and His Church, the God who is not done. I pray this episode is a blessing for you.
If you’d like to connect with me, find me on Instagram, at my website, or on Substack. If you’d like to help support this podcast financially, there’s a way to do just that on my page at buymeacoffee.com! Thanks for sharing, subscribing, rating, and reviewing, as this helps our community to grow.
Thanks as always to my friend, Peter Vaughan-Vail, for providing the beautiful harp music you hear in this and every episode.
Here are some resources I hope will help you to engage with this week’s topic in a deeper way for yourself:
1. Podcast: Jesuitical: Everything You Need to Know about the Synod
2. Podcast: Inside the Vatican: The Synod Begins – Inside and Outside of Vatican Hall
3. Article: The Holy Spirit Guides Us Toward Harmony and Respectful Listening, from Vatican News
4. Instagram account: Official Synod account from the Vatican, offering helpful updates
5. Song: More Than Able, by Maverick City Music, featuring Tabitha Cobbs Leonard
6. Song: Done, by One House
7. Song: We Need a Miracle, by Clarity Gayle
8. Song: Brighter Day, by Kirk Franklin
9. Song: Take Me to the King, by Tamela Mann feat. Kirk Franklin
10. Mass: 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time at St. Cecilia Boston – don’t miss this homily
11. Song: His Eye is on the Sparrow, by Whitney Houston