I had recently enjoyed spotting that synergy and cooperation are basically the same word - Greek and Latin version of working (ergos which gives us ergonomics, operatio which gives us operating) together (syn- as in synchronise, co- as in co-locate).
So I have been pleased to spot that the same is true of synagogue and congregation - simply a bringing or collecting together, with Greek route ago for bringing and Latin route gregare for collecting.
It also made me riff this morning on John’s use of a related word - synagagete - as the verb when he reports Jesus as saying ‘gather up the fragments’ after the feeding of the multitude. I asked myself whether at one level it could be us he is talking about – our congregation as the product of a litter sweep.
On one hand there is God’s hugely extravagant grace always producing excess: the ‘deus omnipotens’ whose inexhaustible potential is ever creative; the cup running over; the never failing cruse of oil (we had a neighbouring Old Testament reading); twelve baskets full from the handful of barley loaves with dried fish relish which satisfying the multitude; trees bearing fruit in each of twelve months (in the vision shared by Ezekiel and Revelation).
And on the other hand there are the people bringing the leftovers of all that grace encountered since they were last synagogued, congregated and gathered - baskets of things broken and things discarded as exceeding our need, of what we have missed and of insights given, of damage done and healing experienced.
The Jesus who says in verse 12 that this gathering up should be done ‘that nothing may be lost’ is the one who says in verse 39 that it is the Father’s will he should lose nothing of all he has been given – and that certainly is meant to be us.
Meanwhile, the photograph is a further one from our brief stay in Edinburgh last week.