The opening ceremony of the synod is always an event that every parishioner of the Anglican Communion looks forward to. For those who belong to the Diocese of Lagos West therefore, it is a unique opportunity to thank God for witnessing yet another year of stock-taking in the diocese. Beyond this, it s always an opportunity to listen to a fresh sermon from the pulpit.
Therefore, the opening ceremony of the 2nd Session of the 7th synod held on Thursday,16th of June 2019 was indeed unique for the fact that it s the first time, in recent time, that the erudite scholar and the Bishop Theologian, The Rt. Revd. (Prof.)DapoAsaju, ViceChancellor, Ajayi Crowther University, Oyo, will preach the sermon at the opening ceremony of the synod.
Interestingly, the hymn before sermon, 'Master speak! Thy servant heareth, waiting for thy gracious word…' seems to be the entire preacher needed to inspire him; for indeed the Lord spoke through him. Bishop Asaju took his text from Psalm 46 verse 1,'God is my refuge and strength” which happens to be the diocesan theme for this year. To drive home his analysis, he alluded to the German bunker built with very hard concrete as being akin to refuge in time of troubles and difficulties. He therefore likened 'refuge' to a place of shelter or protection from danger or trouble. Drawing inferences from the security challenges confronting Nigeria as a nation, Asaju admonished the congregation to stand by the Lord, so He can salvage the land. Even though all appeared hopeless at the moment, he advised that the only place where hope is assured is in the church. He therefore urged the congregation to pray ceaselessly, so that all the evils pervading the land can be averted.
The preacher looked at the present situations around the world, that of strife, insecurity and evil, which suggests that God is angry with the world, and these being signsof the end-time. He further argued that the only way God can be appeased is by going back to Him in supplication and in a sober mood. He assured that God is a forgiving and a compassionate God.
In expanding the meaning of refuge, Bishop Asaju highlighted three key aspects that Christians must focuson. The first is refuge of the soul. He noted that it would be sad for one to experience the tribulations of this world, and also miss heaven, especially as it remains the only peaceful place. According to him, salvation of the soul is the main essence of earthly living, hence heavenly refuge is desirable from both seen and unseen enemies.On refuge of economic emancipation, the preacher admonished Christians to liberate themselves from shackles of poverty and lack. He admonishedChristians that it is not enough to pray and fast, but that Christians must rise up to contribute to economic growth.
Refuge of prayer and good family set-up is another area he mentioned. In this regard, he recommended sound religious background for every family. According to him, the old Anglican tradition of building family altar should be revived, especially at this perilous times when evil abounds. He admonished Christians to return to the ways of our forefathers to bring up our children in the traditional Anglican way. He was of the view that in a godless society we found ourselves today, we must prepare our children for the battle ahead. 'We must begin to build the church in our homes! he remarked. He ended his sermon by raising prayer points for a new beginning and a fresh courage, so we are not disappointed.
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