Today's Lectionary Text
Isaiah 65:17-25For I am about to create new heavens
and a new earth;
the former things shall not be remembered
or come to mind.
But be glad and rejoice forever
in what I am creating;
for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy,
and its people as a delight.
I will rejoice in Jerusalem,
and delight in my people;
no more shall the sound of weeping be heard in it,
or the cry of distress.
No more shall there be in it
an infant that lives but a few days,
or an old person who does not live out a lifetime;
for one who dies at a hundred years will be considered a youth,
and one who falls short of a hundred will be considered accursed.
They shall build houses and inhabit them;
they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
They shall not build and another inhabit;
they shall not plant and another eat;
for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be,
and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
They shall not labor in vain,
or bear children for calamity;
for they shall be offspring blessed by the Lord—
and their descendants as well.
Before they call I will answer,
while they are yet speaking I will hear.
The wolf and the lamb shall feed together,
the lion shall eat straw like the ox;
but the serpent—its food shall be dust!
They shall not hurt or destroy
on all my holy mountain,
says the Lord.
On Sunday, Omaha First UMC had its first in-person worship service in over a year. This was my first ever in-person worship as part of this faith community.
I’ve gotten used to livestreamed worship and empty sanctuaries as the norm. To then be greeted by smiling, masked faces sitting six feet apart was surprising. And it took me back for a moment. It was like this “Is this really happening, are people really here?”
A sanctuary full of people used to be how every Sunday went. We passed the peace, we shared in communion together and we never thought twice about it. But for me on this Sunday seeing everyone together was a whole new experience. I was sitting in a pew and also watching our Facebook livestream. For me when our camera showed all the people gathered it was a joyful moment; I teared up. There were actually people in the seats not empty pews. It was great to see the beaming eyes of others, even if they were hidden behind masks.
I will admit though, it felt different. To me it felt like the start of a new adventure. Some might see this moment as a “return to normal.” But to me it was a start of something new and wonderful. Something none of us would have imagined a year ago.
I think the prophet Isaiah’s image of this new creation, is one we need to hold onto in this “sort of post-COVID times.” We can return to the normal or we can create better systems and structures. We can create new worship experiences which draw people in new ways. We can show more compassion and we can envision a world far beyond what we saw a year ago.
So, I ask you, in the post-COVID times, what does your creation look like?
Pastoral Intern, Omaha First
Prayer for Reflection
Loving God, we have seen so much change over the past few months. Prepare our hearts to be new creations and to find lifegiving ways to show your creation to all. Amen.
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