September 1

September 1
by Pastor Judy

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:18-19

As fires in the Bay Area are being contained, our skies are still smoky.  While we are receiving “cautiously optimistic” news about a vaccine for COVID-19, numbers climb while the pandemic continues to march along.  The immediate picture isn’t so encouraging.  But the bigger picture brings hope.

The Old Testament prophets saw both the immediate picture and the Big Picture.  While bemoaning corrupt governments and human sin, they also projected a picture of God’s coming kingdom of justice and righteousness.  They certainly acknowledged the wilderness and the wasteland conditions of their time.  More than that, they demanded the people of God to repent and “do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)   But they never lost sight of the Big Picture.

Sometimes it’s hard to see the horizon beyond smoky skies.  Sometimes, when insult piles itself on top of injury, it’s hard to see a future and a hope.  Some of you have experienced illness and loss, even death of a loved one – in the midst of all these troubles around us.  One wonders just how much more we can take.  Without hope, it’s easy to succumb to despair.

But God says, “Don’t dwell on these things!  There’s something new, just around the corner!  Lift up your eyes and see what I am doing.”  God is all about newness and redemption.  Look up!  Can you see it?

I’m reminded of the beginning of the movie, West Side Story (one of my favorites).  In the midst of escalating gang violence, Tony has gotten a job at Doc’s Drugstore and, while stacking soda crates, is musing on the bigger picture.  He doesn’t know what it is or when it will come, but he knows something is coming, and when it does, it will be good.

Could be, who knows?
There’s something due any day I will know, right away
Soon as it shows
It may come cannonballing down through the sky gleam in its eye, bright as rose
Who knows?
It’s only just out of reach
Down the block, on a beach, under a tree….

In the same way, God is doing a new thing – and it’s just around the corner.  Already it has begun.   God’s New Heaven and New Earth will be completely finished at the end of time.  That is a very great hope! But while we await God’s New Creation, we are not to just “mark time.”   As citizens of God’s Kingdom, we are to model that New Creation.  And as we seek justice, practice acts of random (and intentional) kindness; as we walk humbly with our God, the yearnings for his New Kingdom are awakened in us and also in those around us.  Already, God’s work has begun, as he makes a way for us – through the fires, through the pandemic.  He has the Big Picture in mind.  See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?

Here is a new arrangement of an old favorite: “How Great Thou Art.”  Let your spirit soar as you listen – and may it give you hope in the Bigger Picture.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0HJYZj8PqEY


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