Making space for God
Act2 Project Lead Andrew Johnson invites you to reflect on making space for the Spirit's calling this Lent
February 20, 2023
By Andrew Johnson, Act2 Project Lead
What are you giving up for Lent? A common question we ask one another at this time of year. Yet in recent years I've been told by people this is a misunderstanding of Lent because we should look to 'take up' things rather than 'give up' things.
However as I think about our busy lives and our busy world I wonder if a season of giving things up is exactly what we need. If we are to take hold of all that God has in store for us, we don't need to just 'give up' things but we need to make space for that new thing God is doing in our lives and our life together as a Church.
"It is a journey through letting go of the security of what has been so we may have the space to seize the new life God offers us"
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I have a large overgrown hedge in my back yard. It seems to constantly need trimming. As I started the hard work of pruning I discovered something unexpected. Beyond a thin layer of green it was largely devoid of growth. There were branches that had died off long ago but never been removed. Branches had grown in a tangled mess, rubbing up against one another.
As I researched what this meant and what I should do I discovered this is all too common with hedges. The layer of green which keeps being trimmed and trimmed, cuts off light to and stops growth inside. The branches dying off sap energy from the healthy part of the plant but with no prospect of recovery. The interlocking branches both get in each other’s way and impact the plants health through constant abrasion.
The advice was to chop back the plant hard, harder than you think. Flood it with fertilizer and water and only when you do that can sustainable and healthy new life emerge.
Throughout the Act2 Project we are asking the difficult questions about what we can do to help bring life and health to our lives and our life together. What things were once full of life but have now died? What things were once healthy and growing but are now over-grown? Where are the places we want and need to make space for new life to grow?
There is no doubt that identifying and implementing change is hard. It involves difficult choices. We are working with the complicated and diverse community of the Church where some people we love and some people we find hard to love.
The story of Lent is the story of a journey to a difficult place which brings unexpected new life. It is a journey through letting go of the security of what has been so we may have the space to seize the new life God offers us.
There is a lot about the Uniting Church's journey to this point that I love dearly. In so many ways it has shaped and defined my life to this point. Yet I also grieve those things I love that we have lost. The people, the communities, the gatherings and the programs that meant so much to my life and faith.
As I am seduced by the temptation to recover and rebuild those things, I think back to our founders. They had enormous courage to let go of so much they held dear about their former traditions for this improbable journey of hope which made space for the new vision and identity we have grown together.
This Lent we invite you to reflect on what you can do to make space for the Spirit's calling to us in the journey of Act2.