One of the many hymns I love is, “This is a Day of New
Beginnings”, which is in our United Methodist Hymnal (383). It was written as a
New Year hymn and fitting for New Years, as well as many other occasions. It seems
this hymn is especially poignant at this time in history. Many people have been
worried and concerned over the Mayan calendar prediction that the world would
end in 2012. People pointed to different signs that they saw as markers as the end
was near. Some feared this, others welcomed it. While my fears about the world
ending weren’t tied to the Mayan calendar, I do think the world is changing faster
than it ever has.
The last Stanza of the hymn concludes this way, “This is a day of new
beginnings our God is making all things new”. I believe as Americans we are on the
precipice of something new, a new way of life. This shift will involve a new form of
faith life. What will it look like? When will it happen? Will everything be different?
Well in all honesty I don’t know the answers to those questions, but what do know is
that the people will be seeking faith expressions that are authentic, that allow them
to be in relationship to their community and ask them to seek God in a deep way.
There is a shift going on. More people now more than ever, identify as spiritual but
not religious. One fifth of the U.S. public- and a third of adults under 30 – are
religiously unaffiliated today. This is the highest percentages ever in the Pew
Research Center polling. What this means is the church cannot continue to operate
as it has done for the past 200 years. Does this mean people don’t believe in God?
No, it means people are meeting God outside of the pews. People are meeting God
through service to others, they are meeting God in the great outdoors, and they are
meeting God in small affinity groups. Is that new? NO! We must let the words of
John Wesley ring in our ears “the world is my parish” and meet people in the place
where God is already alive in our community and serve there, and stop waiting for
the pews to fill up and meet people outside of our pews. For service needs to be
done everywhere, and where there is service to be done, there too we will find God.
Welcome to your New Beginning,