5 minutes with Byron Smith
Tell us a little about yourself
Blessed by my grandmother's faith, my mum's love, my wife's patience, my sister's empathy, my daughter's laughter, my friends' wisdom: God has shown me what it is to follow Jesus through so many creative, credible and courageous women. The shape that takes for me at the moment is pastoral ministry in a local Anglican church, along with working as an ecological ethicist to help Christians join the dots between faith, discipleship and caring for our common home in an age of ecological crises. This involves reading, listening, writing, speaking, some activism and more recently a podcast, The Good Dirt.
What's your favourite bible passage & why?
Romans 8.18-27 because God's redemptive purposes are so broad (creation itself set free!), because our groans of yearning and pain are honoured (we share in creation's groans, even in the Spirit's groans!) and because in light of God's resurrection future, we find courage to endure in love today. It is also where we find the clearest scriptural image of creation as a mother, combining intense pain and expectant yearning through the metaphor of labour, and grounding the widespread traditional habit of speaking respectfully of Mother Earth (personification needn't imply divinisation).
How do you keep your eyes fixed on Jesus?
I am easily distracted. Most of the time, I need the help of others. I am drawn back to Jesus in the regularity of common worship, through the curiosity of children, when delighted by birdsong, and as I witness the truth told unflinchingly, justice pursued at personal cost, grace breaking through amidst apparent impossibility.
What would you like the next generation of Christian women and men to know?
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.
What's one thing that you love about your local church?
That our teaching ministry is shared amongst women and men, older and younger, locals and guests. We all have logs in our eyes that we need one another's help to notice and remove, so it's crucial for us to listen to one another in our diversity of experiences and insights as we read holy scripture and worship together. This is especially true for those of us used to hearing people just like us much of the time (i.e. white educated cishet middle-class able-bodied neurotypical adult males).
What did you learn about God at a time in your life you found hard?
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted (Ps 34.18). This is no promise of automatic divine rescue from our troubles, but of God's companionship in the darkest of days and the deadest of ends. Beware Job's accusers, who assume suffering is always deserved.
What are you passionate about?
Caring for our common home. We only know of one planet capable of supporting life. Our Creator has placed us here as members of the community of creation, not to domineer or exploit or build a name for ourselves, but to care and share, to delight and wonder, to love and give thanks. Loving our neighbour today has to include resisting the powers that destroy, pollute, displace and degrade life, while seeking to nurture life-giving alternatives.
What do you enjoy doing when you rest?
Gardening, reading, bushwalking, beekeeping, films, conversation and sleep.