A New Year!

See, I am doing a new thing!

Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?

I am making a way in the wilderness

(Isaiah 43:19)

These words from the prophet Isaiah speak of God’s promise to do a new thing for his people. Yet, at the time of this proclamation the people struggled to perceive it. Sure, in the past, God had made a way for them in the wilderness delivering the Israelites from Egypt. Isaiah reminds them, “He who made the way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, who drew out the chariots and horses, the army and reinforcements together, this is the LORD who says, ‘See, I am doing a new thing!’”

Yet, this new work was not obvious in the time of Isaiah. Israel faced what looked like decline. Surely they wondered among themselves, “Where is this new thing? Why can’t we see it now?”

At the dawn of 2018 you and I confront a similar situation. Clearly, there is declining interest in society about matters of faith. It can be hard to perceive what God is up to. Yet, Scripture tells us that if anyone is in Christ, that person has been made new and begins to live in the reality of the new creation. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here!”

(2 Corinthians 5:17)   Why, you may ask, is it so easy to see our failures and frustrations and not see the new thing God has done, and is doing, in us?

At the dawn of the new year we need to look carefully and prayerfully at what God is doing in and through us. Sometimes, when I perceive it, I find that God uses others in my life to help me see God at work in me. At points in my life, I have been helped to see the Spirit’s work in me through colleagues, mentors, professors, and friends. At other times a spiritual director offered insights I needed to see.  At some point this month I encourage each of us to check in with a trusted friend. Invite them to help you see how God is at work in your life. If you need a place a start try Galatians 5:22-23 asking in what way(s) the fruit of the Spirit is evident in your life, at this time, that is different than a year or so ago. Such insights help us cooperate with God in renovating our lives.

Friends, there is evidence of God’s movement among us at West Side in this newsletter. I pray it is an encouragement to you. As you hold this newsletter in your hand, I encourage you to use this as a tool for prayer and contemplation. As you acquaint yourself with the news of the church, it is my prayer that you catch glimpses of what God is doing in our midst. Such reflection helps us cooperate with God in his renovation of our life together.

Prayer: Gracious God, even as Israel had a hard time seeing your new work, so it is with me from time to time. Forgive me, Lord, when I overlook your transforming work in my life and in your church. Help me to see what you are doing, so that I might thank you, and so that I might cooperate with you in all the ways you ask of me. Thank you, dear Jesus, for the new work you are doing in me. Thank you for making me more like you. Thank you for the gift of others in my life who help me see you. To you be all the glory! Amen.

~ Pastor Shari

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