Thus says the Lord, “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? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” ~ Isaiah 43:18-19
December always seems to be a season of newness.
We often experience the first big snowfall of the year in December – the kind of snowfall that covers the entire countryside with a soft blanket of white. It almost looks like the slate of the earth has been wiped clean and is waiting for something brand new.
Even though it’s already grown colder by December, we usher in a new season. December 21 marks the winter solstice, and though the days are short and the nights are long, each day after the solstice brings us just a little bit of new light.
And of course, we celebrate Christmas during December. We delight in the giving and receiving of new gifts with those we love. We send out the newest family photos and news in annual Christmas letters. And even though we find joy and comfort in our old holiday traditions, we create new memories in the midst of the familiar.
But we are not the only ones doing something new during the holiday season. We celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ – that long-anticipated Messiah, the Shepherd King for whom the people had waited for so long. But instead of sending a mighty warrior or a fierce conqueror to free Israel from oppression once more, God sent a tiny baby. God sent vulnerability and compassion and tenderness. God sent the kind of king that could only be recognized through the eyes of faith.
And God sent love … a whole new kind of love. Before this Jesus-child, the world had never known such a self-sacrificing love. Before this Jesus-child, the world had never known such an accepting love. Before this Jesus-child, the world had never known the kind of love that could shatter even the strongest barriers that separated us from God, the barriers of sin and death.
Through the prophet Isaiah, God says to us, “I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” When I read this passage, I picture God speaking like a small child who’s so excited she can barely sit still, who’s bursting with such joy and anticipation and delight that he can’t contain it one minute longer. “I am about to do something totally new … something that’s never, ever been done before! And it’s not just something boring or subdued. What I’m about to do is so sensational and captivating that it’s going to SPRING FORTH. Surely, you can see this amazing thing that I’m doing … right? Surely, you can recognize how amazing it is, know how important it is, understand the impact it’s going to have on the whole world forever and ever … right?”
As the OZ congregations, we are about to start doing new things. We are looking at doing new things in worship – trying new practices, learning new songs, introducing new elements. Some of these new things may cause us to spring forth – to get excited about the way we worship and to inspire us to be excited about the God we worship again. But some of these new things may be less successful. Some of them may feel a little strange at first … a little uncomfortable at first … a little foreign and uncertain.
But I encourage you to give it time.
Remember, God did something totally new and unexpected by sending the Savior of the world as a tiny baby born to an unwed mother in a dirty, dingy old stable. God did something totally new and unexpected to “make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”
And it worked.
Jesus was that Way, the Truth, and the Light in the wilderness – that source of living water in the desert … but it took time. Before he could be that amazing Savior, Jesus first had to experience the newness of life as an infant. He had to learn. He had to grow. He had to trust, all the while being loved and nurtured by his family and by God.
As we begin doing something new, may we learn. May we grow. May we trust, all the while loving and nurturing one another as this unique and blessed OZ family that we are, knowing that God is making our way in the wilderness and rivers in our desert.