See, I am doing a new thing!

Looking back on our journey, it’s amazing to see how far we’ve come as New Wine England. Just a year ago, we were unsure of what the future held for us as a family and network.  But now, in September, we can reflect on the incredible things God did during “United” this summer and what He is calling us to in this new season.

Have you ever wondered why we choose to and are committed to gathering together in a field each summer, when frankly, we could be somewhere else – anywhere else?!

We believe that something beautiful and powerful happens when the people of God set their hearts on pilgrimage, when they dwell together in the tent of meeting for an extended period of time, when we withdraw from the places in which God has put us to serve him to be with him, to be re-envisioned by the scriptures, be re-empowered by the spirit, re-invigorated by realising again that we are part of something and to hear what the Spirit is saying to the church in these days.

We gather to encounter Jesus together. We believe when we do, that He puts something in us, that will overflow and spill out of us when we go home!

So, what do we sense that the Spirit is saying to the church in these days?

Isaiah 43:16-19

  • "This is what the Lord says— he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, who drew out the chariots and horses, the army and reinforcements together, and they lay there, never to rise again, extinguished, snuffed out like a wick: “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 is prophesying here about the ultimate new thing that God was going to do in and through Jesus. So, in an eschatological sense, in terms of the Biblical story, this is the ultimate new thing that people were told to wait for and prepare for. Isaiah says: ‘it’s finally coming!’ But within this overarching new thing, God is always doing smaller “new things” – what are called ‘kairos’ moments; moments where God does something significant within chronological time. New things, unto the ultimate new thing, which is the coming in fullness of God’s kingdom.

We believe we are in a kairos moment as a society and culture, and therefore also as the church.

We are living through times of extraordinary change, challenge, and crisis. We’re collectively grappling with hugely complex challenges: the greatest mass movement of people fleeing persecution, more people enslaved and being trafficked than ever before, ongoing conflicts that seem unresolvable all around the world, the escalating climate emergency,  the cost of living crisis, the collapse of trust in leaders, an epidemic of loneliness, and people struggling with emotional, physical and mental health.  You can see why there is a collective sense of weariness and despair in the world all around us.

We are living in an extraordinary moment in human history; this era will be written about and studied by our grandchildren. From a sociological perspective, some are arguing that we’re moving from a secular age to a post-secular age.  One perspective on the secular project is that it was essentially an attempt to create the world we would like without God – and there is a lot of evidence that it has failed.

Mark Sayers says

  • “Western culture is a failing secularised revival entering a moment of doubt. Secular revivalism fails because it wants progress without His presence… the Kingdom without the King.”

All of this this is complicated, it’s disorienting and it’s exhausting. As the people of God, we are not immune to the confusion and pain that the world is experiencing. However, we are called to step in during these moments with faith, hope, and love. We are natural in-betweeners, accustomed to living between the present and the future Kingdom. This is our calling, to embrace the now and not yet of the Kingdom.

In this moment where we might feel weary and worried, we must keep asking ‘What are you saying, Holy Spirit?’   In his talk at “United 23” Rich shared that he believes that the Holy Spirit is saying two things.

Firstly, God is wanting to move powerfully through the church for the sake of the nation. God is calling us to be a courageous, creative, and compassionate church for a world that is in so much pain and so much need of Jesus.

But second, God is wanting to do a deep work in the church first. It is more important to God that we are first a holy, humble and healthy church. He wants first to do a deep work in us before moving powerfully through us.  This means we need to be praying, not only for a move of the Spirit through us, but also for that deep work with in us.

  • 'See I am doing a new thing, now it springs up, do you not perceive it’

Do we perceive what God is doing? Are we seeing and sensing?  And are we up for what God is calling us to be and what he is calling us to do?

Listen to the full talk from the Arena, by Rich Johnson here: