We are socialized that when September comes, we feel we should start thinking about beginning anew, says Bishop Hughes. And this year in particular the whole world is trying to figure out how to begin anew, due to the changes brought by the pandemic. Given all that, she encourages us to talk to one another about this time that we're in, and how we want it to reflect the priorities that, individually and collectively, we have come to know and value. (Time: 4:44.)
This is Bishop Hughes in the Diocese of Newark. And I want to talk with you about beginning anew. I, like everyone else at this time of year, feel like I'm supposed to sharpen a pencil and get out a clean piece of paper or a brand new notebook to start getting some work done in a new and fresh way. School is starting again. And even if you don't have school aged children in your house, we are socialized, we think that September comes and we should start thinking about beginning anew.
This is going to happen for us again, right after Thanksgiving, as the liturgical year starts with Advent One, and we'll ask ourselves as people of faith as people that worship in a service that's liturgical, we'll ask ourselves, what does this all mean to begin anew. And then the year will come to an end, the calendar year will come to an end, and on January first we'll be thinking of beginning anew again and wanting to sharpen that pencil and get a fresh piece of paper, so we can write out a list of the things that we're going to do differently.
I'm also aware that this year in particular, all of these beginnings happen at a time when the whole world is trying to figure out how to begin anew. As we have continued to work our way through pandemic, we recognize that we are changed – as individuals, as families, as neighborhoods, as cities, as nations, as schools, as churches, as businesses – that every facet of our life has changed in some way. And chief among those changes, is a genuine sense that we have come to value each other, we have come to value the important relationships in our lives, and we recognize that we are put on this earth to do something in particular, for the glory of God, and for the help of God's people, that we have come to know that in this time of pandemic. And so with that knowledge, how are we to begin anew in all of this?
I want to encourage you, wherever you are – if it's in your small group at church, or in your Bible, study your prayer group, if it's in your own household, if it's with a friend, or with a spouse, or with your children, if it's in your workplace or in your school – that I want to encourage you wherever you are, that you spend some time talking with the people that you know and love and care about, about this time that we're in, and how you want it to reflect the priorities that you individually, and collectively, have come to know and come to value. That is part of what beginning anew will mean for us, as church is also going to mean asking those same kinds of questions. What is our purpose? What is it that we are trying to accomplish? What is it God is calling us to do?
I've been saying for over two years now that God is calling us to be a different kind of church. It's going to take our thinking and experimenting and praying and trying things to figure out exactly what that means. But it's going to start in conversation, with you and the people that you worship with, the people that you pray for, and pray about. It's going to start with all of us asking those questions. What is the new thing that God is doing among us?
We can be sure that God is doing something new. We get that in Scripture. We see it in the Hebrew Scriptures, with the prophet saying that God is doing something new, can't you see it? That old things have gone away, pay attention to those new things. We see it in the way that Jesus tells people to wait for the advocate, that God is going to do something new with them. We see it in the Apostle Paul, talking to the family of faith, saying that when you are in Christ, that something new has begun in you.
It is time. Sharpen your pencils, grab that new piece of paper and go to your prayer closet. Go to conversation with those who are nearest and dearest to you. Think on it, on this. What are those new things that God is doing among you? And how are you being called to honor those.