I am about to do a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? (Isaiah 43:19)
These words came to the people of Israel as words of deliverance from exile … but the truth is, God is always about to do a new thing. And it’s never about just one person. It’s always about God’s dreams for all the people. At 7:30 p.m., Monday, February 27, we will celebrate the “new thing” that God is already doing at All Saints Church. Yes, Bishop Bruce will be here, and there will be some official “installation” pieces that are about me being your new rector, but this is truly about the entire community – about how God is always making us new and preparing us for new challenges, opportunities and joys.
God’s new things always involve loving deeply and boldly. God’s new things take us to new homes and undiscovered countries. God’s new things invite us to new places of compassion and transformation.
When I think of God doing a new thing – one that is about bold risks, healing compassion, and the transformative power of love – I always think of my dear sister Becca Stevens and the women of Thistle Farms.
I first met Becca nearly 20 years ago as she was just bringing together a small group of women who had lived lives of sexual exploitation, drug abuse, violence and life on the streets. She brought them together with the simple conviction that love is the most powerful force for change in the universe. That there is no trauma so deep that love cannot heal. It is the same conviction that led God to become incarnate in Jesus. The same conviction that is the heart of the mission of the church.
Both in Nashville, and later in Magdalene St. Louis, I have seen this power of love lived in community change and literally save lives. I have seen mustard seeds become giant trees giving shelter and shade to birds and humans alike. I have seen women, who as Becca says, have “known the underside of bridges, the backside of anger, the inside of prison walls and the short side of justice,” through the healing power of love in community become entrepreneurs and leaders, poets and preachers.
I have seen fear turn to resilience and I have seen images of God forgive and feel freedom. For nearly two decades, Becca and the women of Thistle Farms have been my spiritual guides.
We are perhaps as aware of the deep trauma in our hearts and in the world … and of our deep need for God’s healing power lived out in community … than we have ever been before. Anxiety is everywhere. We are being encouraged to turn against one another in hate and fear. For generations, All Saints Church has been a beacon of hope, love, and justice – and so as we embark on this new chapter together, I am deeply grateful that Becca and women of Thistle Farms will be with us not only to celebrate but to share a vision of how God’s love can heal our hearts and heal the world … and how All Saints might embrace that mission for a new generation.
I hope you will be a part of that evening – as well as the Sunday before (Feb. 26), when Becca will preach at 9 and 11:15 a.m. and lead the Rector’s Forum on the topic “Forgive and Feel Freedom” – about how the church can be a community of healing from extreme trauma.
So much is changing right now. We are being tempted to fear. But the edge of fear is where the Holy Spirit goes to work. And I look at you all, and I am filled with hope.
God is doing a new thing, now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
More information on the February 27th celebration here … or call 626.796.1172