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Archive for April 5th, 2019

Isaiah 43:16-21 Do the New Thing

Isaiah 43:16-21

This is what the LORD says— he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, 17 who drew out the chariots and horses, the army and reinforcements together, and they lay there, never to rise again, extinguished, snuffed out like a wick: 18 “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. 19 See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. 20 The wild animals honor me, the jackals and the owls, because I provide water in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen, 21 the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise. [NRSV]

  1. Remember What God Has done
  2. Forget the Past
  3. Trust God to Provide
  4. Do the New Thing: Live a Witness of Praise to God for all the world.

REMEMBER

One of the themes repeated throughout both the old and new testaments is the call for God’s people to remember. There is a call to learn the workings of God, and to remember the works of God, not only for our benefit or for God’s praise, but remember so that others can know and experience God’s works of love, strength, protection, and grace. 

a. Remember so you will know in times of personal trouble, when you feel lost or alone, remember where and how God has been found for thousands of years and through trillions of people.

b. Remember so that God will remain on your mind, in your emotions, on your lips, in your ears and in your tasting of life. Remember to praise God with all that we are

c. Remember so that generation will know. How easily our faith could be lost with just one generation failing to share or one generation of twisting the memory. The lesson of the wondering in the wilderness was the life practice of ensuring that two generations from your own are assured of knowing God because you and I are intentional of doing so. Remember we are called to the heart of God so that other will find the way through us. [Which begs the question: Who are the people that you are certain that your witness has lead and continues to lead to God in Jesus Christ?]

FORGET

The balance of remembering is that some things are not helpful to us and our relationship with God and one another and we also need to develop the ability to forget.

Have you ever wrestled with forgetting the sins of someone or do you hold them over for protection, prevention or punitive just-in-case circumstances?

a. Don’t remember the former life of slavery to sin. Don’t hang on to the hurt that others done nor the good others have neglected to do. Don’t blame the previous generation? Don’t blame the institutions, the structures and system – ONCE WE HAVE LEARNED the lessons for our past, let the pain, the judgement, the division be forgotten. 

b. Have we not all had some parent, grand, or maybe aunt or uncle try to motivate us to see how easy the next generation has it because of the hardships of the past. On one hand we MUST remember to respect what previous generations have done, endured and struggled through, that we now no longer have to deal with today. It is why we hold our elders in honor. But we can forget their complaints about doing. This act of forgetting has a double edge: on the one we must always retell how God has been faithful in generations past, but forget the idea that we did these great thing alone, by our own strength, our own will, our own resources.. for without God we are nothing.

c. Forget the hurt and remember the healing. Forget the disease and remember the loving. Forget the separation and remember the renewed unity. Again our call to forget comes AFTER we have learned from the past. But we will never fully know forgiveness, grace, new life, until we are fully forgive, extend genuine loving -kingness and celebrate new life at God’s banquet table. {23 Psalm ..you make a place for me, even in the presence of my enemies, you anoint, you bless, you provide for us all the days of our living.}

TRUST

How do we ever remember. I once preached a sermon in my preaching class for Dr Fred Craddock, the prince of all Preaching teachers in the second half of the 20th century if not beyond.  My point was that the first phone number I memorized with my grandmother’s home phone number. I declared that I would NEVER forget that number. That number lead me to someone who always, unconditionally loved me and God. It connected me across states and various dates to someone who had stories, songs, gifts, treasures for ever occasion. It connected me to family, faith, creativity, thriftiness, appreciation of beauty and creation. All I had to do is remember:  and I began to recite it as, 404.475.3244. But half way in I pulled a Barney Fife (recall how he could not think of the next word until Andy coached him through the preamble of the Declaration of Independence.) In my sermon on remembering I forgot my means of connecting.  Dr Craddock, interrupted and to remind me. Trust your notes and not your nerves. I promptly looked down at the pages and read the numbers I had most certainly had forgotten. 

Trust the notes and not my own weak-mindedness. Proverbs 3.5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight

NEW THING

Verse six in the fifth Proverb takes us back the beginning of today’s Isaiah verse: God making a way for us. It is a historical call to do the new thing: ACTUALLY Remember God, Forget the brokenness of ourselves and others and Trust God, ACTUALLY do the thing we read about, talk about, sing about, dream about: Live a live showing the world what it means to trust God.

Living as poster-child for God. 

February 19, 1855, Charles Sumner, the Massachusetts senator, wrote his supporters about an enslaved 7-year-old girl (Mary Mildred Williams) whose freedom he had helped to secure. She would be joining him onstage at an abolitionist lecture that spring. “I think her presence among us (in Boston) will be a great deal more effective than any speech I could make,” the noted orator wrote. He said her name was Mary, but he also referred to her, significantly, as “another Ida May.” Sumner enclosed a daguerreotype of Mary standing next to a small table with a notebook at her elbow. She is neatly outfitted in a plaid dress, with a solemn expression on her face, and looks for all the world like a white girl from a well-to-do family. When the Boston Telegraph published Sumner’s letter, it caused a sensation. Newspapers from Maine to Washington, D.C. picked up on the story of the “white slave from Virginia,” and paper copies of the daguerreotype were sold alongside a broadsheet promising the “History of Ida May.” [cite:https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/enslaved-girl-americas-first-poster-child-180971444/]

The call of the prophet Isaiah calls out through history to the people of God, to you and to me: Are you living a faithful witness of trust God? The New Thing is the original things, but we hear and living a new today!

The answer Isaiah was looking for from the people in his day was, “NO!” Tell us how! Hear now comes the Good News! Jesus Christ lived and died to save sinner like us. Jesus emptied himself taking on the form of a servant and served us. The lamb the was slain became a life – sacrifice – payment – solution – redemption for us who could find no other way. Jesus said, “I am the way” 

Remember Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.

Forget our failures, excuses and weariness

Trust the presence of God that wait with a place for us at the table, even in the presence of our enemies,

TO DO THE THING that we have been called, saved, equipped and loved to do.

Love the Lord your God will all you have and let the world see God through you.

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