Summary: Be confident that Christ who has begun a good work in you will carry it on to completion; that new thing is that God is completing in us is part of his renewing of all creation.

Fresh Starts a springtime for Good Shepherd

Epiphany 7B

Isaiah 43_18-21

You are my witnesses," declares the LORD, "and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no savior. I have revealed and saved and proclaimed-- I, and not some foreign god among you. You are my witnesses," declares the LORD, "that I am God. Yes, and from ancient days I am he. No one can deliver out of my hand. When I act, who can reverse it?"

This is what the LORD says-- your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: "For your sake I will send to Babylon and bring down as fugitives all the Babylonians, in the ships in which they took pride. I am the LORD, your Holy One, Israel’s Creator, your King."

This is what the LORD says-- he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, 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: "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. (NIV)

Are WE Stuck in the Past?

The faith and hope of God’s people in the time that Isaiah 43 was written was at such a low point during their Babylonian captivity that they constantly needed assurance that things would eventually turn around for them. In today’s section of scripture he uses word pictures to reassure them that changes are about to take place.

. Looking to the Past: Isaiah reminds the people of the great things God did for their forefathers when He brought them out of Egypt. He is saying, “He will make it His business to do it again for you.” He is the Holy One of Israel and He is able to do it. Although this generation was in a different situation, the Lord could make a way in the wildernesses well as a way through the Red Sea. The same power of God that can make a way through the sea can make a way in our wilderness as well. Sometimes we are able to believe that God can do SOME things but that He CAN’T or WON’T do other things in our lives. We think, “I don’t see how he can possibly do this because it is a problem of long standing. I can’t SEE HOW it can work out. It is important for us to look to the past to see that God was able in similar circumstances to handle the big problems as well as the small ones. To realize that He can handle the impossible situations as well as the easy ones.

For many of us who have been rowing against the tide for 0ver 30 years, it is easy to become numbed to the opposition, the names we are called, the way we are ignored or patronized as being out of touch. We lose hope. We don’t expect tomorrow to be any better or worse, any different than today. We expect that God will help us through today’s disappointments, but do we still believe that tomorrow will be better?

The movie Ground Hog day is a perfect picture of what hell must be like: a boring place where nothing ever changes.

In the old movie, City Slickers, there is a scene in which three friends are together, and one of them is telling the others about how he has ruined his life. He’s lost his wife. He’s lost his child. He’s lost his job. He’s lost his self respect. He’s lost everything. He is basically telling his friends, “It’s all over. I’ve lost everything.”

To this the character played by Billy Crystal says, “No, that’s not true. You have everything to live for. It’s a fresh start. It’s a ‘do-over’.” Then Crystal reminds his friend that when they were children, playing baseball in the old neighborhood, occasionally one of them would hit the ball toward an old tree and it would get caught up in the tree and interfere with the play. All the kids would yell ‘Do over’ and they would do the play all over again.

In this year, 2006, Good Shepherd is being given a “do over.” It happened to our communion, the Anglican Province during the last two years. With the coming together of the Reformed Episcopal Church, the Anglican Rite Synod, the Church of Nigeria and others our communion is experiencing a revival; finding what God had intended we be 4 decades past. As a communion, I can say that we were certainly slow learners.

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