There’s a tractor in the doorway of a church
in Red Wing, Nebraska, in a coat of mud
and straw that drags the floor. A broken plow
sprawls beggarlike behind it on some planks
that make a sort of roadway up the steps.
The steeple’s gone. A black tar-paper scar
that lightning might have made replaces it.
They’ve taken it down to change the house of God
to Homer Johnson’s barn, but it’s still a church,
with clumps of tiger lilies in the grass
and one of those boxlike, glassed-in signs
that give the sermon’s topic (reading now
a bird’s nest and a little broken glass).
The good works of the Lord are all around:
the steeple top is standing in a garden
just up the alley; it’s a hen house now:
fat leghorns gossip at its crowded door.
Pews stretch on porches up and down the street,
the stained-glass windows style the mayor’s house,
and the bell’s atop the firehouse in the square.
The cross is only God knows where.


Isaiah 43:19, The Message
“Forget about what’s happened;
don’t keep going over old history.
Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new.
It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?
There it is! I’m making a road through the desert,
rivers in the badlands.

DEVOTIONAs I read this passage again in a morning devotion recently – a passage that I have read so many times – I felt obliged to read it again, and then again. So well known, and yet… it almost feels like it has  new meaning in the time we live in right now.

It struck me how, while I was sitting in the quiet, that God is doing something new everyday. He did so in the very beginning when God created heaven and earth and all things upon the earth, and it was very good. That was God’s first  new thing…

And then, as I sat in the silence of the morning, I realized that God is doing a new thing every day. Every morning as the sun rises and the world comes to life – God is doing a new thing today, that did not happen yesterday, and we have every opportunity to make it new and fresh. And I was thinking about how our morning rituals are just that… rituals – the same from day to day – even the ones we don’t necessarily like. But that we have an opportunity every day to do something new, experience something new, be something new, if we so choose.

We did not choose this pandemic that we lived through the last year, neither did God bring it on. But I am wondering what new thing God is bringing through it and through us. My Dad teases me about a phrase I use: “Don’t let a good pandemic go to waste”… But maybe that is just it… what new thing is God bringing about? What old things do we need to let go off?

Can we begin to see this new thing… can we begin to imagine it? Are we awake and alert to the possibilities that lie before us – in our personal lives, in our church life, in our community life and in our life in the world?

I believe if we open ourselves to the new things God are doing around us and through us, we will start to notice the new roads through the desert – this dry season that we are experiencing. I believe that if we are willing to look and grab on, new rives will flow that will feed and nourish us, more than we can begin to imagine.

May it be so…


Sacred Spirit,

In days of hope and grief,
suffering and surrender,
we open ourselves for
healing to break through.

In the face of calls,
for unity and division,
we seek the Ways of Wisdom
to guide us anew.

Be with us, O God,
now and in the days to come,
as we strive in faith
that your will be done, as new things are before us.