Old and New

Old and New


7th Sunday After Pentecost, July 8, 2018

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

“Doctor Spaeth” is the name of an unusual old, wooden chair that has been handed down from generation to generation in Martin’s family. We are not certain where the name, “Doctor Spaeth” comes from, but believe it to be named for Doctor Adolph Spaeth, who taught at the Lutheran seminary in Philadelphia alongside Martin’s great-grandfather, Henry Eyster Jacobs.

We suspect the chair to be from Germany, and its design is quite a curiosity. It is also not the most comfortable thing in the world.

One of the things that surprises me today is that while curious items like Doctor Spaeth fascinate me, the younger generation, for the most part, is not into “old” stuff. They show little interest in family heirlooms, or collecting things, and look to things that are new.

Old isn’t bad, but neither is new. We awake anew every morning to a new day, filled with new possibilities.

Not everyone, though, embraces new things or new ways of looking at things. This is what Jesus encounters in today’s gospel.

Jesus returns to his hometown, where he is unable to perform any great deeds of power because of the negative attitude of the people there. They lack faith that anything new that he might have to offer can be any good.

He appears in the synagogue teaching and preaching. Everyone sees and hears him and says, “Who does he think he is? He’s just the carpenter’s son. We’ve known him since he was a kid.” They take offense at him and so no deeds of power can be done there.

Except he does do a few healings. Verse 6 tells us, “And he was amazed at their unbelief.”

As I said earlier, each day that we are allowed life on this earth, we witness new things that God has to offer us. In witnessing those things, we are seeing God. Sometimes I think we miss these “God moments” because we either don’t take the time to notice them, or

We lack the words needed to be able to describe these God moments to ourselves or to others. Sometimes we just need to practice noticing these God sightings in our lives.

This past Thursday evening I led a discussion at a Cohort meeting of the R3 Renewal teams from St. David’s, Hanover, and First Lutheran, New Oxford. Specifically, it was to hear how their first, practice project for renewal was going and to talk about the places where we see God in life. It was a wonderfully heartwarming discussion.

One member had just returned from chaperoning youth at the ELCA Youth Gathering in Houston. She told of 30,000 amazing kids at the gathering, not just hearing speakers but getting out and working at service projects in the communities surrounding Houston. For her, that was a real God moment. In the worship with the kids there and in the service of the kids there she saw God.

There was another woman who saw God in the face of a newborn granddaughter. Another sees God in the sunrises and sunsets she beholds. Another in the flowers that grow. Another in the folks she ministers to in the nursing home.

One woman gave what was for me, my favorite answer. She sat outside early one morning watching a flock of turkey vultures playing in the trees and took a picture of them, because even in something so homely, God provides goodness. The turkey vultures are God’s amazing cleanup crew, cleaning up carrion from the fields or roadways.

What I like about this answer, is that she took something that most of us would consider ugly and useless, and flipped it around to find it’s beauty and use. To see God working in an otherwise hideous creature.

Friday, Martin and I spent the whole day in State College with his older sister Virginia, who has a rare form of dementia that makes her unable to put her thoughts into words. We are trying to help get her things in order because we know she will need to move closer to us here, and into a SpiriTrust facility somewhere in the area. It isn’t easy when she cannot tell you what she wants to do or where she wants to go. In one brief moment of clarity Friday, she was able to tell us that the day’s activities helped. “This was really good.” She said.

Sometimes we spend so much time looking for the big flashy God moments, which do sometimes happen, that we fail to see the simple, little God moments in the everyday. We forget to slow down and notice the bear by the roadside, the smile of a child, the wild rose growing out in the field, the little possum in the backyard eating ticks, the warm wrinkled skin of the elderly hand that you held while praying for them.

God is with us all the time, and in many and various ways, but we just need to be more aware of those moments.

God is with us in our worship, when it is old and when it is new. The word of God read and proclaimed isn’t from some “old” book, but is the word of God in Scripture, living and breathing in this day as in all days.

God is with us, around us, in us, through us. We just need to be more aware of it.

I would like us to try something new. For the rest of July, ask yourself “Where do I see God in nature?” If you can, take a picture of it, them or whatever, or write about it. We have a blank bulletin board downstairs and I would like to post your “God moments” on that bulletin board. Next month, we will do the same thing, but instead of “Where do I see God in nature” I will have another question for you to work on. Let’s see if as a congregation we can begin seeing God everywhere.