Monday, August 07, 2006

"The time is coming," declares the LORD, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them," declares the LORD. "This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time," declares the LORD. "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' because they will all know me..." (Jeremiah 31.31-34a).

It's hard to miss the excitement in the voice of God as God forecasts a time of new beginnings. The novelty of the new -- be it a new car, a new home, a new ministry, even a new covenant -- excites us, as it did our God, in ways the routine does not.

I am personally experiencing that very excitement right now in my life. The elders of the Woodward Park Church of Christ have entrusted to me the role of Preaching Minister for a great church in Fresno, California and I couldn't be more excited.

Our new beginning yesterday was met with great enthusiasm. The spontaneous applause that paused my sermon yesterday three different times was very encouraging. The enthusiastic "Amens" echoed encouragement. Funny how at home a new minister can feel after just one Sunday, but that is the very contentment I have this morning.


Let me tell you a little about the Woodward Park church. Woodward Park is located in north Fresno, on the edge of the thriving suburb of Clovis. The Woodward Park church is a dynamic, multicultural, multiethnic fellowship of God's people. On Sundays, five different assemblies meet in four different languages. There are the Sunday morning and evening assemblies in English. Contiguous to the morning English speaking assembly are assemblies for the Laotian members in their language and the Cambodians in their language. In the afternoon, the Hmong meet for worship in their native tongue.

I noticed yesterday during our communion service that the sound of the Laotians singing in an adjacent, overflow room echoed through the main auditorium. It was wonderful, beautiful, to hear the voices of other Christians praising God in worship while the English-speaking assembly was participating in communion.

Ironically, the thought hit me, "This gives a whole new meaning to the debate about singing during the communion service."


I must confess I am getting older and beginning to sense the effects. The English-speaking membership of Woodward Park is around 750 and the process of learning names is driving me nuts! I'm finding it harder to recall people's names as easily as in the past.

Since I'm here solo for three more weeks, I am eating breakfast, lunch and dinner each day with small groups of members to connect. Currently, I have shared a table with 69 different members of Woodward Park. The fellowship has been great, the food has been incredible (and my expanding waistline proves it) and the forming bonds of friendship have been a true blessing.


What's new in your world today? Perhaps life this morning finds you in a rut, stuck in a monotonous routine. Perhaps this morning you are looking for something new in your life to infuse you with enthusiasm.

"Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness" (Lamentations 3.22,23).

Every day is new and every day brings with it, even in the midst of our routine chores, revelations of the compassion of God. It might be the sunrise or sunset. It might be a spouse's simple expression of love. It might be a child's hug. It might be a friend's phone call. It might be a walk in nature.

Today, look for and seize the expression of God's compassion and mercy for you, His child. It might be just the spark of enthusiasm your faith walk needs!