The text of the sermon delivered by Rev. Kirk Moore at Union Congregational United Church of Christ in Somonauk, IL on March 21, 2010
This morning’s Bible reading is from Isaiah 43:16-21
Going back home
It may not be a ‘life rule’, but I think its accurate to say that folks romanticize past positive experiences to a point that the memory of the event is much more positive than the initial experience. I guess folks do the same with bad experiences – with the memory amplifying the experience in a negative way. Though the traditional wisdom on negative experiences seems to be that they fade with time. I don’t know. I do think, however, that when we try to recreate the past positive experiences they usually pale in comparison to our memory.
You can’t go back home, right?
In this week’s Bible reading from Isaiah 43:16-21, the prophet announces that God is going to do a new thing. But just before that announcement there’s a brief warning not to romanticize the events from the past and expect that this new things is going to be just like the things from before.
Romanticizing the past –
The people of Israel – who were living in exile when the prophet from Isaiah 43 spoke – romanticized the past.
- They were a people delivered out of bondage in Egypt
- They were a people who walked through the sea – while their would-be captors were drowned.
- They were a people wandering in the wilderness for a generation.
- They were a people at Sinai – getting the 10 commandments
- They were a people who finally made it to the promised land
- They were a people who had been thrown out of their land
- They were a people with a strong history, but without a place to call home.
And they looked back at the events that defined them and remembered the glory days. ‘That’s what we have to get back to! When we get all that back we will be whole again!”
And the prophet acknowledged the people’s need to remember what God had done for them.
We need to remember what God has done for us.
But there’s that warning I talked about:
Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old.
How does one just forget what happened? How can we ignore our history?
I don’t think the prophet was telling the people to ignore this history. The prophet was warning the people not to dwell on this history or to romanticize it or to expect that what comes next will be just like what had come before – in the glory days.
God says: I am about to do a new thing;
A NEW THING
There’s no comparison to the past possible.
What was the new thing for the people of Israel – it was a return home – with a reminder that it wasn’t going to be just like before. God was doing a new thing.
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
What? Animals? Jackals? Ostriches? What does that have to do with giving drink to the people in the wilderness?
I don’t know. Maybe the animals are being compared to the people in exile. Maybe what is translated “Ostrich” would be better translated as “Eagle Owl.” Maybe it is a word of encouragement that God is doing a new thing for all the people. Maybe it is God doing what God does with this new thing – turning the world upside down.
- God did a new thing
- God is doing a new thing
- God will do a new thing.
How are we experiencing the new thing God is doing?
It isn’t a question of when God is going to do a new thing. God has done a new thing. God is doing a new thing. God will do a new thing!
How do we experience it? How do we experience God turning the world upside down?
There’s another question, too, about the new thing God has done, God is doing, and God will do.
What is the new thing – the turning the world upside-down – that you long to see God do in your life?
What is the new thing – the turning the world upside-down – that you long to see God do in our lives?
May we fully experience – fully embrace – fully be turned upside down by what God is doing – A new thing.
Close with prayer.