This Week’s Lectionary Passage: Isaiah 43: 16-21
16Thus says the Lord, who makes a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters,17who brings out chariot and horse, army and warrior; they lie down, they cannot rise, they are extinguished, quenched like a wick:18Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old.19I 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.20The wild animals will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches; for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people,21the people whom I formed for myself so that they might declare my praise.
I am about to do a new thing…Wake up! Pay attention! This is going to be incredible! Remember the context of this passage. It is probably toward the end of the exile, the end of a time of great loss and despair. They have lost everything–homes, land, their way of making a living, even their very sense of who they were. And now this…a new thing. Let it go…leave it behind…let us go forward toward something new. Let us begin again.
God is a God of beginning again. It happens over and over throughout our story. God takes us from a garden that we threw away and places us in a world. God takes us from a world that we let get away and placed us on an ark to sail to a new way of being. God takes us from exile and sends us to freedom. God takes us from death and heads us toward life. God is a God of beginning again. The thing is God is always and forever about to do a new thing. It is the story of our faith. Our problem is that we don’t pay attention. We don’t trust enough to let go. Our faith tells us that the new creation will be better, will be something that we can’t even fathom right now. But we stay, attached to our old way of being, to being comfortable and predictable and seemingly in control.
I love old things. My house and my yard are filled with them. In fact, I suppose that my house IS one of them. But living and decorating with old things requires a few tricks. You want them to look old. (In fact, I have new things that I want to look old.) You want them to look old but have a new purpose. The trick is not to have old things but rather to repurpose them, to bring them in to a new way of being, to perhaps use them in a new way. So I have an old rusty coal bucket with Cuban Oregano planted in it. I have an old rusty metal lawn chair that sits out by the bird feeders. I have old wire baskets that have become shelves. And I have an old wooden ice chest that is a coffee table. And my 1920 bungalow has central air, a modern kitchen, and a new bathroom. Perhaps doing a new thing is not starting over but beginning again with what you have. Perhaps doing a new thing is repurposing rather than replacing. Maybe that’s hard for us to embrace. We live in a disposable society in a temporary world. The thing that we have is always in need of being replaced by the thing that we want. So what would it mean to live a life of repurposing?
God created us and calls us into being. But there is not some new me out there that God is waiting to slip into place. God is a God of repurposing, of making new what is already here, of giving it new meaning and a new purpose, of giving it new life. You just have to believe that God is about to do something new with who you are. That is what faith is all about–believing in repurposing.
Grace and Peace,