Today's Lectionary Text
Isaiah 43: 18-20Do not remember the former things,
or consider the things of old.
I am about to do a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
The wild animals will honor me,
the jackals and the ostriches;
for I give water in the wilderness,
rivers in the desert,
to give drink to my chosen people,
I’ve been thinking a lot, this past week, about churches and pastors in our conference who are experiencing a change of pastoral leadership. I admire the bravery of our clergy who make themselves available to be sent where they are appointed to serve. It has to be an unsettled time as they learn new towns and cities, move into a different house, have to find new doctors and learn the names of new congregants. There are new leaders to get to know and discover their weaknesses and gifts and traditions of their new ministry setting to work with.
Likewise, our lay folk are adjusting to new pastoral leadership. They may still be grieving the loss of the previous pastor, or perhaps looking forward to a change. There may be fear that some of their traditions will be lost in the changes. It is a time of stress for all involved, both clergy and laity.
It isn’t true that we don’t like change- we just don’t like change that affects the things we like and hold dear. And yet, we are reminded in this scripture from Isaiah that God is always doing a new thing. We tend to get comfortable and need to be stirred up every so often, lest we become complacent. Some of our traditions are meaningless to those not raised in the church and need to be re-examined. Some of our hymns need a fresh new sound and there are new songs with great lyrics to learn. There are scripture passages that we need to hear in a new way as they relate to a world very different from when we memorized them.
As we begin a new appointment year, I hope our clergy and laity will have patience with one another and be open to the new thing that God is doing in our churches. We need to be able to sort through the things that are foundational and be willing to let go of the things that are not. It may look different, but if we put God at the center, it will be good. Best of all, we can continue to be molded into the people that God wants us to be and the church that leads the way to a better life for all.
-Mary L Brooks
Five Rivers Lay Leader & Lay Servant Director
Prayer for Reflection
God of all good things, be with us in times of change and uncertainty; knowing that where two or more are gathered in your name, you are there. And where you are there, it will be good. Amen.
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