“This is the word of the LORD, who opened a way in the sea, a path through mighty waters. Stop dwelling on past events and brooding over days gone by. I am about to do something new; this moment it will unfold. Can you not perceive it? Even through the wilderness I shall make a way, and paths in the barren desert.” Isaiah 43:16, 18-19
I posted the Scripture passage from Isaiah this morning on my Facebook feed, and it started me thinking about this idea of dwelling on “past events.” Taking stock of one’s past is not always a bad idea. Part of the Compline service is an examination of the day, a looking back over the things done, and those things left undone. We do this not from the perspective of brooding or wringing of one’s hands but rather to set the stage for the coming day.
Although I am glad to see the back of 2020, there were some highlights for me. In March, I ended a ministry with a Congregation that I had grown to love over the previous year and a half, and I began a new ministry. When I accepted the call, I had no idea that my very first Sunday would be the first Sunday of suspended worship at the start of this pandemic. It certainly has been a different ministry, that is for sure. In April, my wife Nicky, and I welcomed the birth of our daughter Oonagh. Again, not the way we had planned it, but she was born healthy, and that is all we could have hoped for.
There were also some down periods; I lost a good friend to COVID and several other family members. I will cherish my memories of each of them, and they will remain in my heart. We have had to grieve so much this past year that grief has become part of who we are. But at the end of the day, we are still here, and although we grieve those we have lost, we are happy just to be alive.
But thankfully, Isaiah does not leave us there for the promises that God is “about to do something new.” I have no idea what that “new” thing is, but it gives me hope.
I believe that one of the “new” things God is working on is a revival in his church. I don’t mean a tent revival of old, but COVID has required us to think of new ways to be the church in the ever-changing landscape that has become our daily lives. The church has been called out from the building and into the world in vastly different ways, ways that we still have not even begun to understand. The church and how we minister have forever changed, and I do not think it is terrible.
But because God is God, I am sure there will be other “new” things on the horizon.
I am not one to make resolutions in the New Year, mostly because I have already forgotten them by the end of January. But I will resolve to be open to those “new” things that God will do. I will be open to “new” directions in life and in ministry. God is calling us to “new” and exciting things, and our task is to be open to his calling and his leading.