Friends in Christ,
As we continue into the new year of 2020, we turn a page in the life of this congregation. With the election of officers and council members at our annual meeting in January, we begin a new chapter in our life together.
The people of Israel are no strangers to times of change and transition, often marked by incredible pain and violence. Through the prophet Isaiah, God speaks to the people, saying, “Do not remember the former things,or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” (Isaiah 43:18-19a). These words are spoken in the midst of a tumultuous time. The kingdom of Judah is under Babylonian occupation and some people have been forced into exile.
For those that remain, there’s a strong temptation to focus on the “good old days.” Understandably so, they bemoan their current situation and wonder how there can be a future for them as a people. But rather than wax nostalgic, the prophet encourages the people not to lose heart. Tapping into imagination and creativity, the prophet anticipates God’s coming redemption and salvation. Something new is happening and there are signs of God’s promise all around.
“Do not remember the former things,” the people are instructed, “but open your eyes to see the future that is coming into being in your very midst.” It’s a word the Israelites so desperately needed to hear. Even though we don’t find ourselves in the exact same situation, it’s a word we need to hear, too.
As a congregation and part of the church body, it can be easy to lean into our fears and close ourselves to the future God intends for us. It can be tempting to think of the former days as better than they were. It often feels safer to cling to the old way of doing things, rather than to trust the movement of the Holy Spirit. And yet, we are held by the grace and love of God that is always doing something new in us.
We are continually called into renewed discipleship, renewed ministry, renewed work in this world, sustained by the God who has been with us from the beginning. The God who loved us at creation is the same who calls us into new life in Jesus Christ.
The months and years to come will be full of signs of God’s promises and new life. Will we choose to lean into our fears and anxieties? Or, will we use our imagination and creativity to live into the future? Will we be willing to do some new and bold things for the sake of the gospel? I certainly hope so. Trusting in God, our creator, redeemer, and sustainer, may we be open to the new things God is doing for us, with us, and among us.
Friends in Christ,