Summary: We live in a revolutionary time. Can we seize it for Christ. God is doing something new and is calling us to join Him in it, as walls and barriers come down.
If this winter is like most winters, you will wake up one morning, peer out your window, and find the whole scene blanketed in pure white snow. It will seem like a fairyland to you, and for a little while, at least, the whole world will appear to be new. Brand new, clean and fresh, sparkling and exciting. A new world.
You will then turn on your radio to find out how to deal with this new reality, and, depending on your perspective, you may be given either a monumental headache or the gift of a new, easy day.
If you have to go to work, you are awarded the headache as you strategize how you are going to maneuver in a city where everybody is a maniac on slick tires. Excedrin time!
Ah, but if you are a student, likely they will tell you that Montgomery County Schools have closed, D. C. Public Schools have closed … if you live out in Virginia, in fact, you didn’t even have to turn on the radio, because you know those folks close at the very rumor of snow. Your new world has just gotten newer and fresher; you have a whole day to spend that you didn’t know you were going to have. And whether you will roll back into bed for extra sleep or get up and invest the newness some other way is your choice.
A new world brings a new day and new choices, new options, new possibilities. Inevitably, however, some of us are going to sleep through it.
Last November, some of us attended the sessions of the D. C. Baptist Convention and listened to a battery of speakers working their way through Paul’s great passage in the Ephesian letter about the Christ who breaks down dividing walls. And on the very day we were hearing those messages, over in Berlin one of those dividing walls was coming down, literally being torn down. It seemed to be the dawning of a new day in German life, maybe, some of us dared to hope, in the life of the nations so long at odds across what we had come to call the Iron Curtain. November 1989 -- was that to be the dawning of a new day in politics? Was that to be, as the pop song puts it, “the start of something new?"
November, December 1989 -- the rumblings we had heard in Eastern Europe built. Noises were coming not only from Poland and not only from East Germany. Noises signaling the start of something new were to be heard
in Hungary, in Czechoslovakia, in Bulgaria, in all those places we can scarcely find on the map, much less pronounce. But we knew something new was happening there and we sensed that it mattered.
The noises of something new built to a crescendo as in the Soviet Union itself, on one day we heard with awe the rasping voice of a Soviet dissident, once exiled, once maligned, once thrown into a Siberian workcamp, but now a member of the Soviet Congress … on one day we heard him speak again with force in opposition to the regime which had so often stripped his countrymen of their rights, and the next day, as his life had ended suddenly, we heard from his enemies words of respect, words of sincere appreciation.
Something new is going on here, isn’t it? Even in what an American president had once called an Evil Empire there seemed to be a new day.
And then Romania. A land of mystery and of pain. A place of poverty and of oppression. A nation whose people had been robbed and raped and plundered beyond imagination -- Romania at Christmas time – the people took to the streets, they seized their destiny in their own hands, they toppled the dictator, and they have started something new.
At Christmas time -- somehow it seems exactly right, for at Christmas we had all gathered to celebrate the coming of Him of whom it had been said, "He has put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent empty away."
Now I know that we have to be a little cautious about the meaning of all of this. I know that it would be easy to get caught up in euphoria and to think that the Cold War has been won and that Communism is wiped out. And I do not want us to be naive. But my faith insists on telling me that the God who is always a surprise, the God who is always starting something new, is doing it again. This God, who will be Lord of the nations; this God, whose will is in some ultimate and mysterious way going to be accomplished: this God is doing something new.