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Three passages on God’s new things

Lynne Baab • Thursday November 19 2020

Three passages on God’s new things

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In the first couple of weeks of the pandemic, while learning how to shelter in place, I felt so off balance I could hardly pray. Then, as we settled into more of a routine, I was able to begin to pray again. My prayers focused on many things, including the future. What new things might God bring to us in this pandemic, and what new directions might God lead us into afterwards? When I write “us,” I’m thinking of Dave and me, our extended family and friends, our church community, our city, our country, and the whole world.

I have prayed for more kindness. I have prayed for more unity. I have prayed that the inequalities that the virus has revealed will be addressed in creative ways. After the George Floyd killing, I have prayed for racial justice.

The months of the virus have been a rollercoaster of emotions. As months have gone by, as political polarization and conspiracy theories have increased, as the economic situation has become so dire, as a contentious election in the United States came and went, I have had moments of optimism and many more moments of sadness.

I am holding on to God’s promises to bring good things out of pain. Today I want to give you three passages about God’s new things that I hope will give you encouragement, as they have given to me. Watch for the words “old” and “new” in these passages and see what God might be saying to you through them.

“The days are surely coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. . . .  I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the LORD; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.”
—Jeremiah 31:31, 33, 34

“No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak, for the patch pulls away from the cloak, and a worse tear is made. Neither is new wine put into old wineskins; otherwise, the skins burst, and the wine is spilled, and the skins are destroyed; but new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved."
—Jesus’ words in Matthew 9: 16, 17

“O sing to the LORD a new song;
          sing to the LORD, all the earth.
Sing to the LORD, bless his name;
          tell of his salvation from day to day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
          his marvelous works among all the peoples.
For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised;
          he is to be revered above all gods.”
—Psalm 96: 1-4

We are living in the “new covenant” that Jeremiah describes, at least in part. I wonder what new things we can see in God’s new covenant during this pandemic. I also wonder what the “new wine” that Jesus mentions looks like now, and will look like in the months to come, as we live with the presence of this virus. I wonder what it looks like to “sing a new song” to God every day, when so many things about daily life are so challenging.

God of the new covenant, help us to see your hand at work in our circumstances that often feel so difficult. Giver of new wine, help us look for your presence every day. Lord of the new song, enable us to sing to you every day of our lives. We want to be open to your future. We want to see and love you in the present, and see and love the people you have placed in our lives. Empower us with your mighty Holy Spirit. Give us the heart of love, compassion, and hope that we see so vividly in Jesus. Amen.

(Next week: Jesus the bread of life, in honor of American Thanksgiving and delicious stuffing. Illustration by Dave Baab. I love getting new subscribers. Sign up below to receive an email when I post on this blog.)

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