Bible Verse: 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.
Like most people, I will be pleased to see the year 2020 in my hindsight. It has certainly been a year with its challenges and dark times. People of my generation and younger had not experienced the worldwide crises that we saw this year. Pandemic, economic hardship, racial unrest, and an erosion in the trust of the rule of law and democracy all took their toll on our collective sense of security, community, and even civility. All these challenges are with us year after year in one form or another, but this year they came together in the perfect storm of distress. But, unlike the many who have not the hope of Jesus in their hearts, I see the year just gone by as the darkness in which the hope of Christ shone most brightly.
We all arrived at today via vastly different paths, each with our own share of sorrows and joys, defeats and triumphs, but at the end of each day, with a hope for the future. It’s that hope for our future that makes us get up in the morning and face the challenges that we know lie ahead. It’s that hope that enables us to fight through the tears and sadness and hurt because we hope there will be better days ahead. And if today happens to be one of those better days, we can even have hope that our best todays will be less than our worst tomorrows. It’s hope that lies at the center of our story; my story, your story, everyone’s story. As Christians, our greatest hope is found in the salvation bought for us by Jesus Christ, the Ever-Living God, the Word made Flesh. And we have this hope of salvation through Christ because someone, sometime, somewhere told us His story, the Gospel story.
In Romans Ch. 10, Paul expresses his desire to see all people saved by their faith in the Lord Jesus because all who call on His name will be saved. In verse 14 he asks the most basic questions, “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?”
How indeed, can someone hear the Gospel unless someone else tells them? These verses fairly shout for us to tell the Gospel story. As disciples of Christ, we are called to take the story of the Gospel to the world beyond the church walls and bring the stories of the people we find out there back to the church. Christians are called to share the Good News of the Gospel with the world, to take it to the people who have not heard it, to remind the people who have forgotten it, and to revive it in the people who have abandoned it. It is a foundational truth that Christians are called to engage with the world.
This year, St. Aidan’s did church differently. We weren’t able to join physically in worship, but that doesn’t mean that church was cancelled. The Lord God Almighty didn’t allow the pandemic to get the way of the work He was doing. “See, I am doing a new thing!” The Lord has been shaking the foundations of the world this year, and people have noticed. This year, St. Aidan’s church has been doing new things to continue the good work He has started in us, and we are reaching farther beyond our walls than ever before. Our livestreams, recorded messages, blogs, and other online content have been viewed by people from all over the world. We have had responses from Australia, England, Brazil, and California. We’ve had encouragements from people in Ontario and Alberta. The Lord is enabling us to spread the Good News of the Gospel far beyond our church building.
In our own congregation, we have not just maintained our community, but strengthened it by making many morel pastoral care phone calls, engaging small groups on Zoom, continuing our outreach to Leaf Rapids and to our Companion Diocese and Parish in Uganda. And through it all, you, our dear parish family members have stayed connected with each other and with our church.
As we await Christmas in just a couple of days, we remember the hope that was born into the world in the person of the baby Lord Jesus. His birth was full of the promise of joy, peace, and love. That is the hope that we followers of Christ base our lives upon. It gives us the courage to try new things; it builds the strength to persevere in the face of adversity; and it inspires us to dream new dreams.
So let us link arms as the Body of Christ, and march together with Him into the light of the Hope of Salvation through Him who was born to us in the city of David, Jesus Christ, the Lord. I wish you all a joyful and blessed Christmas and New Year! Praise be the Creator and Preserver of all Creation, the Lord God Almighty!
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.