As we close out 2020, the most unusual year of my lifetime, I’m reflecting on the fact that we as humans, though fearfully and wonderfully made by God, are still only, well—human. The grand projections made at the beginning of the year, projections made by some of our foremost thinkers and academics, proved completely wrong. And we all know what the last 52 weeks have been like: surprises, conflict, pain, and even, for some, death.
In the Today devotional for December 31, 2020, Rev. Arthur Schoonveld reflects on Isaiah 65:17-25 and reminds us that God gives us a glimpse of what is ahead for us and what is in store for his creation—and this gives me hope. God describes a time when broken relationships are restored…when mankind sees God clearly and embraces him as God, Creator, Lord—a time when man’s relationships with man are healthy, affirming and yes, loving. A time when no one takes advantage of his neighbor—a time when we fully embrace each other, in all of our created differences.
We have this vision not only as God’s will, but as his promise. But until its fulfillment, as we live in this moment, we must make do with signposts.
As we begin 2021, as a denomination, we also begin to live into a new ministry plan: Our Journey 2025. In it, we describe 4 milestones, or signposts. These are (my paraphrase): prayer and spiritual disciplines as a way of being; embracing the gifts of all generations; living into God’s gifts of diverse and different people; and embracing the mission of God, seeking his shalom, and establishing new worshipping communities that do the same.
Throughout this denomination, in our churches and communities worldwide, there are myriad examples of God’s light shining through in each of these areas. And I look forward to seeing more and more as we enter 2021.
But until then, we live in hope—we are a people of hope. Romans 8:24-25 says, "For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently."
So, we know the end of the story, God’s will for us and his creation, but the path can be murky. But still, we press on. Paul’s words in Philippians 3:13-14 are a great reminder for us all: Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
May 2021 give you—and all of us—hope that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).
May we live in God’s hope for 2021 and beyond. Happy New Year, church!