We ate at Andary’s last night – the first time Monica had been there since last winter.  It felt like a whole new thing!  Except, of course, the split pea soup was as splendid as ever.  And the staff just as gracious and friendly as we have always known them to be.

From there we drove to church for choir practice – Monica to sing, me to serve as greeter at the door (this pairing was not new, either).  However, the rehearsal was filled with multiple new things.  Face shields were provided for each singer.  The choir was spread about the sanctuary in pews marked S A B and T.  Microphones were propped high and aimed down upon the singers.  Why microphones when no audience was present?  Another new thing – the choir was recording their anthems to be played as the voluntary on Sunday mornings.  I found the entire scene to be exhilarating.

It also got me to thinking about all of the GREAT new things God has gotten us to do over the past eight months.  Have you heard about THE FLOCK – our virtual Sunday School?  While we do not have any children from Indiana participating (yet) like we did for our Virtual VBS, some living in Romeo and Macomb are finding it to be a great experience.   Our CrossTraining – JC Style is all new – and drawing high schoolers into the mix for the first time (I am already thinking about some extra new things to add to it)!  Zoom FHL groups, zoom meetings, facetime staff conversations, hospital visits over the telephone … new, new, new things … everywhere … and we have not even hit the holiday season yet.

It feels like my head is on a swivel as I see myself surrounded by new blessings, and my smile too broad for my face to contain it!  I know that some are saying that they cannot wait for 2020 to be over, but not me.  I am too busy rejoicing over all the new things I see everywhere I go.  It seems like I learn something new every day.

Thus, my theme for this year comes from this Sunday’s Epistle reading: “Rejoice in the Lord, always; again, I will say, rejoice. … The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things … and the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4.4-9)

No, I am not saying that everything has been perfect these past eight months.  What I am saying is that there are many, many new AND GREAT things virtually every day.  Add them together and what is the sum total of the year?  How about this: “We know that for those who love God all things work together for good for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8.28) If we only stare at the muddy part of the year we will become sticks in that mud.  However, when we gaze upon the one who makes all things new, we realize that “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (Romans 8.37)

And if you are hopelessly stuck in the mud of 2020 and only thirsting for it to be over, feel free to look beyond as you hear your Redeemer, “he who is seated on the throne say, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’  Also he says, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true. … It is done!  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.  To the thirsty I will give from the spring of water of life without payment.  The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my child.’” (Revelation 21.5-7)

So, my friends, what are the new things for which you will be thanking our God in Christ Jesus for today?  You just received the tip of the iceberg from me – a partial list of things at STL.  If I included my personal list … well, let me just say you would probably fall asleep before you got to the end!

New Things