'Enterprise in hope': an Act2 Advent reflection
November 29, 2022
written by Andrew Johnson, Act2 Project Lead
Christmas is a story of hope. Fragile, uncertain hope, but hope none the less. It is the fulfilment of a foretold promise, ringing down through the ages, and renewed by a messenger of God. It is found down a bumpy road - the origin of a royal line - in a shed out the back. No one seemed to be able to make room for it in a more hospitable location. In this decisive act, God broke into our world with a fresh revelation.
Since our last Advent season our National Assembly met in person for the first time since COVID-19. At that meeting they received the report of the Act2 Project and after sustained discernment commissioned further work. I have had the privilege of being appointed to lead the project unit created to progress this work. I am joined by an incredible team of diverse and capable people within the unit staff and on the steering committee.
This project too is an enterprise in hope. Contrary to the modern prophets, the opportunity to reflect and renew the ordering of our life is not succumbing to the inexorable and inevitable institutional decline of the Church. Instead, it is embracing the calling of the Spirit to consider afresh what God is calling us to.
Christmas is a story of fear also. The stigma of the baby’s origin, the risk of a late pregnancy journey, the threat of Herod were all sources of fear. Yet amid those serious and legitimate reasons for fear, messengers from God come with the words, ‘Don’t be afraid’.
This project will also be a source of fear – what does this mean for my community, my role, the rocks of my faith and church. I too know those fears, as a child of this movement I am deeply shaped by its vision, origin, and journey. I too have fears for where God might be leading us. So, I too am listening to the words of the angel.
The carol says of the incarnation event reminds us – ‘The hopes and fears of all the years, are met in thee tonight.’
As I explore and imagine what our life could be like, I am fuelled by the vision to which scripture, our Basis of Union, and the Act2 Project is calling us. A calling to lifegiving communities of faith that make and grow disciples to a life of worship, witness, and service. To a voice from the margins to a nation and a world crying out for justice. To order and deploy resources based on need, responsibility, and opportunity not legacy and power. A calling to a theological culture and model where everyone can grow deep in the faith and ministry to which they were baptised.
We have little more than Joseph and Mary to make this pilgrimage, however if we are faithful to God’s calling we can find the next stop on our journey where maybe, just maybe, God can break through and do something new in our life.
Prayer is at the heart of the Act2 Project. Through Advent, the Project team is inviting people across the Uniting Church to share their prayers of hope for this process, for the Uniting Church or our future. Go here to share yours.