June 2024 Message From Pastor Stephanie “Seasons”

As we move from Spring into Summer, I’m just now finally getting accustomed to it actually being Spring! When I lived in Arizona, I desperately missed the seasons changing. I missed the rhythm of the fast pace of summer moving into a slower pace in the Fall as the earth slowly began its slumber. The slow contemplative nature of Winter, and then the excitement of new birth during the Spring all brought a sense of movement in my life.

Whereas, in Arizona, there are two seasons: hot and hotter. You moved a little faster in the Winter, but slower to a slumber in the summer as people huddled inside by their air conditioners, barely able to move in the sweltering heat.

But here it’s gradual . . . the seasons move from fast to slighter less fast, to slow and then it picks back up a bit into a quicker pace.

“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. (Isaiah 43:19)

In this chapter of Isaiah, God is telling his people not to be afraid, because God had rescued them from slavery in Egypt. Why would they need to be told this? Because they were currently in exile in Babylon as a result of their choice to worship other gods. The consequences for their sin, after God mercifully sent prophet after prophet calling them to repentance and they refused, was for God to remove them from the Promised Land, and place them in Babylon for a time.

For some people, winter might feel like exile. They dislike the cold and the snow. For others, summer might feel like exile while they huddle near their fans inside and ask the Lord to bring cool breezes.
We live our lives in a rhythm, whether we realize it or not. Our days and weeks have rhythms that we have carefully put into place based on our choices. There is a breathing in and out to all we do, with people and activities, and those rhythms build our lives.

Our spiritual lives can have rhythms – types of ups and downs. We experience times when God feels far away and cold and times when he feels close and personal. These, too, are rhythms in the same way seasons are throughout our year.

In the verse just before, God tells his people:
“Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.” (Isaiah 43:18)

In this case, he’s specifically telling them to forget how he brought them out of Egypt, because, as amazing as that was, he was going to do something even more amazing to bring them out of their exile. “I am doing something new and different this time! I am preparing something even better for you,” he says to them.

In the high and low rhythms of our lives, the presence of God is always there. It may be our circumstances, our sin, or some other external force that makes him feel far away. The promise is not just that he is present, but that he is doing something in each rhythm, each season, of our life.
The New Testament also speaks of God moving us forward and doing something new in many places. Philippians 3:14 says, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” And from Hebrews 12: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off every-thing that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.

And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

One of my favorites is Philippians 1:6: “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

So even though this word from Isaiah is to specific people in specific circumstances, we, too, have the promise of God doing something new, and, as that last verse reminds us, something good. This is even after Jesus’ rescue of us on the cross. There is more to come in the way Jesus is redeeming the world, and I’m not just talking about when heaven comes to earth and Jesus will reign over all. I’m talking about what he is doing in us, here and now, as we are called to make disciples and push back the effects of sin in the world. There is more coming in this redemption. Are we ready?

In Christ, Pastor Stephanie

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