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Philippians 3:12-14 & Isaiah 43:16-21
We live in a time in which we are looking for some higher power to deliver us from our addictions, the brokenness and stuck-ness of our world that all too often seems to be shut-down, on strike, or over-budget. The way things used to be seems so different, and as a result of today’s overwhelming dysfunction it’s easy to see in through rose colored glasses as golden times. In our day we see things failing and dying that weren’t supposed to: governments, libraries, institutions. We wonder where is God in the midst of all of this? Look at our own church community – we are gathered from two different churches one which closed for lack of income, the other which has remained open in large part because of rental income given to us. God’s grace seems to have both closed and kept open the two dominant church communities that form our emerging CAPC identity. So what is God doing? Why aren’t we growing faster? Why don’t we have a choir? Where is our youth group? Why aren’t things like they used to be?; isn’t that what God promised and promises us still?
Our readings today talk about God’s creative redemptive activity in the world. God loves the world too much to leave it as it is, or to let it remain how it used to be. Jesus wants us to be free in truth and grace, not just comfortable hearing what we want to hear. The Spirit of God moves and gives breath and life, she didn’t just hover over the waters of creation in Genesis 1 like a hot air balloon. So what does that mean for us here in Oakland at CAPC?
Philippians 3 is a personal testimony of the apostle Paul to the church community he serves in Philippi. He’s not just sharing data or information, he’s telling how his-tory was radically altered and changed by knowing God’s love in Jesus the Christ. The way he sees everything has changed: how he sees God, himself, others, his meaning and purpose in life.
Isaiah 43 is a selection that talks about newness and joy. It’s a prophetic word spoken to the exiled Jews in Babylon (think back to what we discovered in our reading of Daniel) – far from home, trapped in a different culture, enslaved by a foreign power. God reminds them of the Exodus and deliverance in the Sea of Reeds (v. 16-17). Where the people might look for the same old thing – God to deliver them from Babylon as he did from Egypt, God says “no!” Look for something different, new…not water through which you’ll escape, but water by which the desert – the world – will be transformed, which will give life even to the wild things that roam the wilderness. The same old thing is inadequate for what God wants for us!
Questions for going deeper:
1. What new thing is God doing in your life?;
2. What keeps you from perceiving it?
3. What new thing is God doing in our life together as a church?
4. What keeps us as a church community from perceiving it?