“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland." Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV
There's an old joke about Methodist churches, "What are the seven deadliest words? It has never been done that way." I strongly suspect you can change the denomination, and the meaning would still hold. Since churches are not buildings but people, we are talking about ourselves. The danger is that we become so entrenched and immovable in our routines that we become unable to see the new thing God is doing.
We love our routines; they are known and comfortable. The problem is too often; we don't understand the original reason for the tradition doing what we've always done out of rote memory. For example, my friend Dean tells a story of his mother, who always cut the ends off a pork roast. One day upon observing this, he asked his mother why. She didn't know but said her mother always did it that way. He then asked his grandmother the same question. She responded that she only had one roast pan, and when the meat was too large, she cut off the ends to fit. We probably don’t need to look too far in our own lives to find similar stories.
In this New Year, let's not fear questioning the routine. Instead, let us seek God's guidance in everything we do. He is doing new things and desires us to be part of them. We are likely to be awed at the changes in our lives, churches, and communities.
God of new things help us to forget those things that are unimportant. Open our hearts to new possibilities. Help us see you in everything around us, guide our actions into new ways in the wilderness, and make us fresh streams in the wastelands. We pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.