Skip to content

New Things for a New Year

January 2, 2017

“Now I will tell you of new things even before they begin to happen.” (Isaiah 42:9)

“See, I am doing a new thing!” (Isaiah 43:19)

Our new year begins with Isaiah excitedly declaring “Now I will tell you of new things even before they begin to happen” (Isaiah 42:9). Each new year ushers in a spirit of optimism, of hope. As we look back on the past year, and note the wonderful blessings of the year, we also recall the pain that comes with living, and we hope that some of the sources of that pain will be alleviated.   As we look ahead, we have hope for the coming year— hope for the healing of our fractured country after a bitter election year; hope for peace between nations and in families; hope for prosperity in the land and in our family finances; hope for good health and healing; hope that we and our children will use our God-given gifts productively and in accordance with God’s will. Our Old Testament reading excites us about the possibilities of the new year. A new start. A new beginning. And no matter how broken or bruised or burnt-out we are, God is there to pick us up and to carry us on. He will not step on us or break our spirit (“A bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench.” Isaiah 42: 3). That is the hope that we see throughout this week’s Scriptures.[1]

We have reason to be encouraged in our church. We are welcoming Kenneth Davis, our new pastor, after saying farewell to Wally Mees, our recently retired faithful and loved pastor of many years. Pastor Davis assumes his duties as our new pastor on January 15th. We are excited to have found a pastor who identified us as his flock, as we identified him as our shepherd.

Just as God is doing a new thing in our faith community, so he declared about 2700 years ago that that he would be doing a new thing in the Jewish faith community: Isaiah foretold the coming of the Messiah –“my servant . . . my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations.” (Isaiah 42:1). This Sunday’s Old Testament lesson is sometimes called the Servant Song. Through God’s servant, Jesus, all people can share in the mission of bringing “light for the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring the prisoners from the dungeon.” (Isaiah 42: 6-7). This prophecy came to fruition when Jesus began his ministry at his baptism: “the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.’” (Matthew 3:16-17). Jesus was the new man in town, who did many new and innovative things during his ministry. He revitalized and renewed the faith community, but he was something more.  He was the embodiment of innovation–he was something that no one has ever been, and he did something that no one has ever done.  He was both fully God and fully human, and he rose from the dead.

Paul reminded us “Just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” God promises to do a new thing this year in your life. Are up for the challenge? Will you chuck the bottomless bucket of excuses as to why you can’t (or won’t) hop on the path to renewal that God has laid out for you? Don’t dwell on the past. Look ahead to what God has planned for your life if you will just open your heart to him. Ask him to guide you to the unique path he has forged for only you, the path that is waiting for your footsteps. Don’t think you’re up to it? God knows you are. He will lead you to it in baby steps, and stay by your side.

Think God’s way is boring and restrictive? Nothing could be further from the truth. God’s wisdom is infinite. His creativity is unlimited. His love for us is constant and unchanging. His ideas and plans for us are so much bigger than our puny brains can fathom. God’s path is always exciting, new, and innovative. Will you listen to the still small voice that appeals to your God-given gifts and talents, and break out of your comfort zone– the rut you have fallen into–and answer the challenge? Will you say, “Here I am, Lord, use me?” Will you answer the call? Will you let God do a new thing in your life in 2017?

Diane Cieslikowski Reagan

(Photo from quilt by a local artist hung in the sanctuary of the First Presbyterian Church in Newhall, CA.)


[1] The Scripture texts for the Baptism of Our Lord are Psalm 29; Isaiah 42:1-9; Romans 6: 1-11; Matthew 3: 13-17.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: