Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Seeing New Things

Today's reflection on the Daily Texts:

See, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth, I tell you of them. - Isaiah 42:9

The mystery from which true godliness springs is great: he appeared in the flesh, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory. - 1 Timothy 3:16 (NIV)

Two-year reading texts: Psalm 119:81-88; 2 Samuel 17; John 9:35-41

With Reformation Sunday coming up this week, I'm thinking about how God is always doing new things. In our individual lives, in the form and work of the church around the world, in the relationships among all peoples and with all creation, God is at work for the reign of love and grace and mercy and reconciliation. This has been the story of the Bible all along, and it's the story of our life with God today.

Today's Isaiah verse is part of one of the "servant songs," prophetic visions of a suffering servant who will be a light to the nations. Does the prophet mean Israel as a people? The messiah? Everyone who follows God's ways? Yes, I think Isaiah means all of these things. And he calls us to see, to pay attention to the direction and pattern of God's word, and to watch for its fruition. Today's 1 Timothy verse points to Christ as the center of God's new things, and calls everyone to see and follow Christ, rather than going after the other forces and influences around us.

In reading and praying today, it strikes me that the "new thing" coming for each person today is an awareness of how Jesus Christ is alive and active in ordinary life. Sometimes this comes as a big, dramatic, memorable moment, but often it comes from simply seeing something common in a new way. Jesus liked to talk about the kingdom of God as something that starts small, seemingly insignificant, but has an enormous effect. And he used images of death and new life - a vine that is pruned and just abides, a seed that's buried in the ground - to talk about the simple yet profound transformation we experience in his care.

We live in a time of anxiety and bluster and noise and conflict. Yet all around us, God is doing a new thing, bringing the kingdom of God to people through simple acts of service, quiet observation and prayer, ordinary fellowship, and small signs of love. Our hope is in Christ as the center of all this. May we see, and hear, and stay rooted in God's promise of renewal and redemption in him. May we be blessed as God's new things begin within us and among us, to be extended as a blessing of new things for others.

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