In 2016 Council for World Mission (CWM) chose as its Assembly theme, “Healing: Hope in Action”. Over the years since then, we have been focusing on different aspects and expressions of that theme, believing that our prophetic and pastoral action, grounded in hope, could result in healing and peace for a bruised and broken society. This theme culminates in 2019 with a focus on the sub-theme, “Healing the future: hope for tomorrow”.
The sub-theme speaks of a future that is inextricably intertwined with the present and the past. It acknowledges that the future is breaking in on the present and calling us into a healthy conversation with and reflection on the past without allowing ourselves to be consumed by our mistakes or those of others. Healing is the gift of God to be received and embraced as we claim the past, however hostile and painful; live with conscience and a quest for communion with others in the present, and commit to the future, where hope for something new characterises our action. Whatever the circumstances, our own or those of others, we will find that often the view of the future appears obscured by the struggles of the past or present. And yet God speaks and assures us of God’s plan of fullness of life, of hope and a future, and not harm.
By God’s grace, it is within our capacity to be in conversation with and to reflect on the past, without being imprisoned by regrets or incapacitated by an impulse for bitterness or despair, that will inform the way we live in relationship with others today; and inspire us on our journey into the future. Then the “eyes of your (our) heart will be enlightened” (Eph. 1: 18, NIV) to confession and compassion; healing of the breaches will pave the way for reconciliation; and a new tomorrow, marked by patient listening and positive regard for each other and all of God’s creation, will emerge. It is hard; but therein lies the future, therein lies our tomorrow.
In considering this subtheme for 2019, we have decided that children and youth, human trafficking and inclusive communities will constitute the lenses through which we engage it. We contend that tomorrow will be a better day if:
- priority attention is given to affirming and protecting the dignity and rights of our children and youth, providing space for their full participation in their own development;
- human trafficking, as the cruel expression of modern-day slavery, is challenged and eradicated from trade and commerce, thereby affirming the dignity and worth of every human being; and
- birth is given to a community where all are welcome, diversity embraced and living confidently and with a spirit of goodwill and generosity within a pluralistic society becomes the new epistemology.
The design of our programme for 2019 takes all this into consideration and we anticipate that, in partnership with member churches and the ecumenical community, we will participate in God’s healing ministry and bring about a new day, a new season of hope in action and life in fullness for all, now.
At this the beginning of the year, it behoves us all to pause for quietness. Accordingly, we are all invited to give ourselves space and time to hear each other and to hear ourselves. God may be calling us to be part of the new tomorrow, where taking each other seriously defines the nature and quality of our relationships; where taking time to look into the eyes of children and young people, evokes our hearts to acts of compassion and advocacy for justice; where listening with care provides space for dialogue and understanding; and where living in responsible partnership with the environment activates and renews the life-giving breath of God for all creation.