‘I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?’ Isaiah Ch 43 v 19
So says God through Isaiah to the Israelites as he reminds them of all he has done for them through history whilst also telling them not to rely too much on the past, important as that may be. These were people living in exile in a foreign land. They were surrounded by unknown gods, oppressive rulers, unfamiliar languages and strange customs. Some had become used to this new way of life whilst others longed for the day they could return to the old familiar ways.
It is not difficult to feel that the experience of the Israelites in their exile equates with some of our own experience as individuals in the fast-changing world of social media, chaotic government and violence on our streets. Or indeed in the fast-changing global context of increasing and widening divisions, extremes of ‘left’ and ‘right’, leading to conflict which manifests itself in extremes of violence resulting in injury, heartache and death.
So, if we feel like exiles in a foreign land how do we read those words from Isaiah?
Maybe our first reaction in answer to the question is ‘well, actually God, if by new you mean better, no, we don’t perceive it!’.
In his key note address at the Elders Conference at the end of March, Andrew Roberts, referring to the Holy Habit of Gladness and Generosity, commented that a bit of that around Westminster would make a difference. I suggest a bit of that in all sorts of places would make a difference. Ask yourself where you have observed gladness and generosity in the world recently and I would be surprised if you have not seen it in New Zealand in response to the terrorist attack on the mosque, in the gathering in London ‘Standing Together with families and communities affected by violent crime’ and no doubt in many, many smaller and more personal ways between neighbours and friends.
As we approach with gladness, the generosity of Easter. As we have daily reminders of the new things God does in his creation let us make it our job to seek out and praise each new thing however small so we may show the world a new way.
image: writer’s own