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.
Six words. In this season of denominational discernment, six words from scripture continue to resonate strongly with me: I am doing a new thing!
On the surface, these six words, spoken by God, signal His provision for the people of Israel in the forty-third chapter of Isaiah. It’s God’s promise of their rescue from Babylonian captivity. And when you look closer? These six words give reference to the ongoing redemption and renewal story of God’s chosen people. It’s a repeating theme throughout the Old Testament.
If you read the line before these six words, God tells the people of Israel not to dwell on the former things. Why not? Isn’t it helpful to recall what worked or didn’t work as a means of improvement for next time? No. God’s logic is different from human logic. God’s logic is altogether different: in the passage, God is telling His people they won’t be able to experience the fullness of all He is preparing for them in the future, by staying focused on the past.
Do you not perceive it? No, at this point in the story, I don’t think the Israelites can fathom everything God has in store. Yet isn’t God gracious? In their absence of full understanding, God is reassuring and guiding His people to move forward in faith, even if it means traveling through the wilderness.
A wilderness season is not a wasted season, church.
With regard to denominational discernment, I can’t think of a more fitting scripture to frame the moment we are experiencing right now: letting go of past divisions and theological misalignment within the greater United Methodist denomination, while reaching for new opportunities to partner with God now and for decades to come. He is doing a new thing!
As we perceive our future together at The Woodlands Methodist Church, I can’t help but lean into God’s promises and provision found throughout scripture, and honestly, throughout our 44-year history as a congregation. It’s one of the most engaging stories in all of Methodism. With the congregational vote coming up in a matter of weeks, we will soon begin writing a new chapter. The page is still turning, my friends; the words have yet to be written.
But here’s what I do know: I believe the fruitfulness of our ministry is a direct result of our faithfulness to God’s Holy Word and to Jesus Christ’s teaching. This practice will not change. Our mission will remain the same. The church we have been, the church you have grown to love, will continue to be the same church moving forward.
So, please join me. Let’s stay prayerful, watchful and expectant in the days ahead. With God as our guide, let us move forward in faith. He is doing a new thing! To God be the glory!