The Challenge of Change

For many, Christmas is a time of celebration, reflection on the year that has passed and anticipation of a new year ahead. For others, the season can intensify loss, loneliness and isolation. John Venning (pictured) is a member of Brunswick Uniting Church. Each year, the resident of Stewart Lodge Supportive Residential Services looks forward to his role as the ‘black sheep’ in his church’s annual Christmas pageant.  John reminds us that, no matter our circumstances, Christmas is a time for joy.

For many, Christmas is a time of celebration, reflection on the year that has passed and anticipation of a new year ahead. For others, the season can intensify loss, loneliness and isolation. John Venning (pictured) is a member of Brunswick Uniting Church. Each year, the resident of Stewart Lodge Supportive Residential Services looks forward to his role as the ‘black sheep’ in his church’s annual Christmas pageant. John reminds us that, no matter our circumstances, Christmas is a time for joy.

How do you categorise change? Do you recognise change when you are in the midst of it? Do you embrace change, even when it is forced upon you? Change surrounds us. It creeps up or loudly proclaims itself. It is in the everyday, in the minutiae and in the big picture. Change is as certain as death and taxes and we often express a similar ambivalence towards it.

As I look back on 2014, I think about change in three ways – personal, corporate and societal (global).  My husband and I experienced another one of those landmark moments in parenting – our baby (aged 19) left home to attend university interstate. (Parenting is just one big journey in letting go.) We have just sold our house and will spend the New Year packing, cleaning, moving, resettling and moving again. And in a more gradual change – the body ‘ain’t what it used to be’.

Within my work domain, we have farewelled a few team members this year, and we will be welcoming new ones in. This always causes ripples as teams are reformed. The whole Church is undergoing change as a result of Uniting our future, the Major Strategic Review and the Royal Commission. However, the biggest change is again gradual – the Church ‘ain’t what it used to be’ either. The role of Church in society has diminished dramatically in the past 25-30 years. More people shop, play or watch sport or go to the beach than attend Church. We have to adjust and redefine who we are as the people of God.

Much has happened on the world stage this year. We have witnessed the frightening eruption of IS, and as young Australian men have left their homes to volunteer with this terrorist group, the distant suddenly became so much closer.

There is a shifting of power on the global stage. What will this look like for both Australia and the rest of the world? Is China going to replace the United States as the world leader? Are we living through the decline of the United States as the dominant voice?

How do we prepare for change? As an organisation we are changing. It is inevitable. Perhaps it is not a question of preparation, but of living with its inevitability. Yes, it is confronting. It can be scary. However, as the people of God we are born for ambiguity and change. “The Church lives between the time of Christ’s death and resurrection and final consummation of all things which Christ will bring.” (Basis of Union, par 3) The in-between is the very definition of change.
Wishing you and your loved ones a Christmas filled with joy.

By Penny Mulvey

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