Something New?

Do not remember the past events, pay no attention to things of old. Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness, rivers in the desert. Wild animals—jackals and ostriches—will honor me, because I provide water in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people. The people I formed for myself will declare my praise.

Isaiah 43:18-21

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come!

2 Corinthians 5:17

It’s been a difficult year. The ongoing reality of COVID has made all of us weary. It’s certainly taken it’s toll on churches and Christians: emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually.

We need something new. Don’t we?

Does the New Year give us hope or is it simply flipping the page on a calendar? Is the transition from 2021 to 2022 merely numerical or do we have genuine reasons for anticipating something new?

Often I just expect more of the same. Even if I believe God can do a new thing—in me, my faith community, my family—I don’t always believe he will. After all, why get my hopes up?

Yet, through the prophet Isaiah God tells the people of Israel he is going to do something new. He is going to make a way in the desert, through the wilderness. God promises to refresh and renew with life-giving water.

Where do we need refreshing? Or: in what way are our hearts and souls dry and parched?

Do we believe God can do something new there?

What new thing do we want or need God to do in our churches? Or: in what way are our churches stuck or discouraged?

Do we believe God can do something new there?

How can God transform this arid desert into a place where there is life-giving water?

And how must we position ourselves to see it, to experience it, to participate in it?

Remember the words of Isaiah: Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it?

Sometimes, I confess to being spiritually blind, unable to see past my own limited experience and understanding. is this true of you too?

Lord, in your mercy open my eyes. Open our eyes.

How often do I underestimate God, not only what he can do but what he desires to do? How often do I treat him not as a living God who continues to do new things but as a God who once did things worth remembering?

Maybe something new begins with confession, with a heart of repentance. Don’t we all need to come clean about our faithlessness and hopelessness, our spiritual complacency? Even as churches?

What might God want to do among us and in us and through us? Do we think he’s done? Is his work in our midst all in the past, on calendar pages we’ve long since turned or torn off altogether?

May God by his grace and by the power of his Spirit give rise to a fresh hope, to genuine anticipation, to a willingness to confess our sins and admit our need for him. May God in his mercy lead us to places of refreshing in the wilderness of the here and now of COVID, constant negative news, and confusing cultural change. May he lovingly orient us anew towards the cross and empty tomb, to the very source of our life. And may we be willing to have our hearts broken open and healed once again by his eternally good news.

And from The Book of Common Prayer:

O immortal Lord God, who inhabitest eternity, and hast brought thy servants to the beginning of another year: Pardon, we humbly beseech thee, our transgressions in the past, bless to us this New Year, and graciously abide with us all the days of our life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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