Greetings from the Moderator JANUARY 2020
New Year, New Wine, New Song
Welcome to the New Year! Are you happy to see 2019 recede into the past, and excited about what lies ahead? Or was 2019 a good year, and you’re unsure what may be coming in 2020? “There is nothing new under the sun” said the preacher in Eccl. 1:9. Oh, no…it sounds like we can expect the same political intrigues, wars, and disasters of past years. But before you lose heart, listen to God’s message in Isaiah 42:9: “Behold, the former things have come to pass. Now I declare new things; Before they spring forth I proclaim them to you.” (NASB)
I choose to believe God! Yes, the Bible is filled with stories of broken covenants, pain and suffering, and flawed humans making poor choices, but it doesn’t stop there. The Bible is also filled with hope, promises, and real experiences of new things: new creation, new life, new birth, a new heaven and new earth, a new covenant, new songs, and new mercies. Jeremiah is deep in grief over fallen Jerusalem and then he suddenly breaks into praise, for God’s lovingkindnesses and mercies are new every morning! (Lam. 3:22-23)
Emphasis on new things can make me nervous, because “new” means “change”. I tend to identify with those who choose the old wine in old wineskins because it is “good enough” (Luke 5:36-39); it may not be the best, but it’s familiar and predictable. The reason for new wineskins is because new wine isn’t ready to drink yet. It needs to age, and that takes time and requires patience. New things in the church work the same way. I may be reluctant to try the new, and when I finally do (whether by my own choice or because the session or the presbytery decides for me), it seems strange and unfamiliar. Yet, after I take time to explore the new and allow it to mature, I may discover that it has become something wonderful. Our Presbyterian motto of “Reformed and always being reformed according to the Word of God.” How then do we face this new year, with changes we know are coming and changes we can’t anticipate? Let us join the psalmists and prophets and “Sing unto the Lord a new song!”We can sing:
- because “All His work is done in faithfulness” (Ps. 33:3-4)
- because of God’s deliverance in times of need (Ps. 40:1-3)
- because of God’s wondrous acts of creation (Isa. 40:21-26)
- because of what God did in the past (Ps. 96:1-6; 98:1-3)
- because of what God is going to do (Isa. 42:9; 43:19)
Read some of these passages aloud. These exhortations to sing a new song are not mere calm suggestions. The speakers are so overwhelmed by God’s presence and activities that they overflow with praise for Who God is, what God has done, and what God will yet do. The old songs just aren’t sufficient!
In 2020, let us covenant together to look with expectation for the new things God is going to do in Central Florida Presbytery, and to ask the Holy Spirit to teach us how to worship our Lord with a New Song.
With songs of blessings and peace,
Ruling Elder Patricia Zinn