31 Maple Street
Bristol, Connecticut USA
June 24, 2018
Isaiah 43:1-7, 18-19
Rev. Kristen J. Kleiman
Have you ever learned a new word and then you seem to see it everywhere? New eyes.
Or have you ever looked at someone and thought, “Did they always wear glasses?” New eyes.
For myself, a few weeks ago, I noticed the most amazing smelling flowering tree and now I see it everywhere! New eyes – and in this case, new nose, too.
It can be really easy to get into a rut and not see the new that is all around us. It can be comfortable even to keep our heads down and ignore/ deny all of the new that is happening all around us.
“Do not remember the former things,” God says though.
“Behold, I am about to do a new thing,” God says.
“Do you not perceive it?” “Do you not have eyes to see it?” God says.
No. Sometimes, no, we just do not have eyes to see it. Our eyes are not open to the new that God is doing. Sometimes, it is our fear that keeps our eyes from being open to God’s new thing. We are afraid of change; we are afraid of the new; we are afraid of being changed ourselves. So we shut our eyes tight and try to deny the new.
Honestly, it does not matter if we are afraid of the new, resistant to the new, want to deny the new, it still comes. Behold, God is doing new thing.
We are still going to have to pass through the waters, walk through the fire; and God goes with us. Remember that! God goes with us. God says to us, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.” (Isaiah 43:1)
“You are mine.” Little Kennedy is God’s. Her parents are God’s. We are all God’s. God has called us by name and we are God’s. We don’t need to be scared about anything new; we don’t need to be anxious about change; because God is with us. God is with us.
And God is about to do something new in our world. God is already doing something new in our world. “Do you not perceive it?” “Do you not have eyes to see it?”
Sometimes, fear keeps our eyes from being open to God’s new thing, and sometimes, comfort and routine keep our eyes from being open to God’s new thing.
I am five days into my sabbatical, which will well and truly begin tomorrow. Sabbatical or Sabbath rest is a Biblical concept about humans needing time to rest, our land needing time to rest, because even God rested after creating the world.
Sabbatical is not vacation nor time to catch up on unfinished work or home projects. Sabbath rest is an intentional time to be with God, and for me, sabbatical will also be an intentional time to step back from routine, step back from the busyness of our shared ministry and refresh myself so I can see our ministry, so I can see my ministry, so I can see God’s ministry with new eyes.
Two weeks ago, I invited you to join me in the “Do Nothing for a Moment” society. To take time this summer to just be still and be with God. To appreciate God’s creation, to appreciate yourself as God’s creation – as you did absolutely nothing.
Today, I invite you to also join me in the “Do Something New” club.
In her book, Old in Art School: A Memoir of Starting Over, Professor Nell Irwin Painter talks about straightening her hair for the first time at the age 64:
‘I changed and the way I look, the way I see changed.’ Questlove, in his book about creativity, Creative Quest, also talks about changing the way we see. Changing the way we see so we can see the new and create the new. Turn a painting or picture that you love upside down and stare at it; if you write on a computer, write instead with a pen or an ink and quill; spend time with people who are in a different field than you are.
If you want to have eyes to see the new that God is creating, you cannot do it with the former things. You cannot hold on to the former things. You cannot be trapped by the former things. We need to change so we can change the way we see, opening ourselves up to the new thing God is doing in our lives and in the world.
And if we want to be true to our callings as Christians, to our calling as the Church, if we want to go forth and make disciples, we need to be open. We need to have new eyes. We need to join the “Do Something New” club – so we can see all of the new things God is doing in our world and then partner with God in those new things.
I invite you this summer to do just one thing new – and that new might even be doing nothing for a moment. Lay under a tree for five minutes and observe the leaves, the sky, the clouds, and bird song. Order something different at your favorite restaurant. Intentionally not attend worship one Sunday and go to a store, the park, the beach and observe who is there. Be curious about their lives – because they belong to God, too.
What difference will it make in my life, in our shared ministry, in the world, that I know who goes to the movies on Sunday morning, that I laid in the grass under trees across New England, that I tried smoked salmon, that I painted a picture and then turned it upside down. I don’t know. I don’t know yet; however when God says, “Behold, I am doing a new thing.” I want to be ready to perceive it, ready to see it.