“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 43:19 (NIV)
We are in a new year. 2020 is finally behind us. I don’t know about you, but there were days that 2020 seemed to go quickly and many others where it felt like 2020 had been going on for five years. Pastor Cindy and I were fortunate enough to take several days of vacation together at the end of the year. It was a much needed break and allowed us both to get significant rest. I have also spent a significant amount of time reading and reflecting on the past year and praying about where God wants to lead me individually and us as a body in 2021.
2020 was a difficult year for many of us. It was a year that for many included job loss or layoff, health uncertainty, mental health issues, racial unrest, and many other things. I’m thankful for the reminder of God’s hope, peace, joy, and love during the Advent season. It is because of Christ that we can have hope, find peace, and experience love and joy even during difficult seasons. Personally, this is what has sustained me through the last several months. During the days when I felt defeated and like nothing would ever be normal again, God would reassure me that he is still on the throne and provided me strength and encouragement. It was the days where things just seemed overwhelming that God reminded me about the source of His joy.
As we start this new year, which still looks and feels like much of 2020, here are some things for us to remember:
- God is still on the throne – No matter what, we find our hope, peace, and joy in God alone. Nothing that is going on in our world can take that away from us.
- God can bring healing and reconciliation to His church no matter the source. In 2020 we experienced many things that have caused division from politics to the pandemic. As believers, we are called to be citizens of God’s Kingdom – a kingdom that is considered counter-cultural in our current day. This Kingdom is not of this world and does not look like Republicans and it does not look like Democrats. Let’s remember that we are citizens of God’s Kingdom and let God’s Word define our thoughts and actions.
- Let’s find new ways to connect with each other in 2021. It is likely that the pandemic will not be over for a while yet, but we can still connect with each other, whether through phone calls, video calls, a socially distanced cup of coffee, or on nice days an outdoor visit.
- God wants to do a new thing in and through His church. I am more convinced all the time that God wants to do something new and exciting as we exit this pandemic. Let us take time in prayer and reflection allowing God to point out where we need to give something or a part of our life over to him. Make a commitment (and have someone hold you accountable) to be in the Scriptures and spend time in prayer every day. Finally, let’s say yes to whatever God is going to ask us to do right now, before he asks. When we do this, when he asks we have already said yes to him and can get started immediately.
As we start this year, we at Hope Community are going to be spending the first seven weeks digging in to the book of Acts to see what we can glean from the early church. The days in which Luke was writing were days of uncertainty following the death and resurrection of Christ. They were days filled with waiting for the promised gift of the Holy Spirit. They were days where the church was growing so fast that they had to be innovative and find ways to continue to fulfill the mission given to them and demonstrated for them by Jesus of Nazareth.
Expecting God to show up and show out in 2021,