The following is a reflection on Isaiah 43:16-21
This reading is located within the “Book of Comfort” (Isaiah chapters 40-55). In Isaiah, these chapters offer promise to the Israelites who were now in exile. As a people, they had been destroyed and believed that God had abandoned them. To hear words of comfort and assurance that God was still with them and loved them provided healing in a way that nothing else could.
The words in this passage recall the exodus from Egypt and look toward an anticipated exodus from exile from Babylon. None of the people who first heard these words had lived through the first exodus, but they experienced it through the stories and memories that were shared over the centuries. Together with Isaiah’s words here, these memories gave them encouragement and reason for hope, and moved them to lean into the expectation that God would once again deliver them as a people. But this new exodus, this new freedom, wouldn’t take them back to the way things were before. Instead, God would do a new thing. The people would have a fresh start.
Reading these words as we continue to transition out of the pandemic, it’s tempting for us to think that the “new thing” God is doing is returning us to what was before. But God challenges us to not get stuck in our memories, and to keep in mind that God is always doing new things – brand new things. That’s who God is. We can look forward and have expectations for the next thing God is going to do because we worship a God who creates. Constantly. All the time.
As the season of Lent concludes, what new things might God be doing in your life? What new things might God be doing in our life as a congregation? We know that Easter is coming, the season of resurrection and new life. As we transition into this season of new life, may your heart and mind be open to the new things God is doing in our lives, our congregation, and our world.
Let us pray: God of creation, help us to recognize the seeds of new life you are sowing among us. May they be to us like water in the desert, and may they make us aware of your faithful presence and love for us. Amen.