During this season of sheltering in place churches have had to “do church” in new ways as they could not assemble for public worship. Armed with technology, churches have resorted to recording their services, having live events, or even enhancing community through Zoom Bible studies. A quite descriptive meme recently circulated with the reflective Forrest Gump declaring in his innocent tone, “Just like that, my pastor became a TV evangelist.”
While being dubbed a TV evangelist is not always a term of endearment, recording one’s sermons has presented many challenges for pastors. Though, one tool has emerged for some who record their services: the gift of editing.
As I recorded a sermon in the comfort of my home, I learned early the power of being able to perpetually “do over” the rough areas or words I botched as I presented. Preaching live you have one shot to share with God’s guidance the message. But if you are a savvy editor you could continue to craft the message until you get it just right.
It struck me how in life we would all love this power to edit. Wouldn’t it be great to erase an event, some words spoken, a season of pain, or even years of actions that have negatively shaped our present realities? In the Bible, God continually presented His creation with the opportunity for renewal when they wandered from following Him.
God spoke through the prophet Isaiah to tell the hopeless wayward people, “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).
Even when our life can be likened to a wasteland God calls us to let go of “former things,” so we can cling to our new identity in Christ: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection provided the way to be made brand new and in a relationship with God. Living in “newness” means that even though we cannot erase the past, God’s forgiveness points us forward to who we can become as He redeems us. God, in essence, “edits” or cancels out the things in our life that separate us from Him.
Even as a follower of Jesus, we can often feel like we keep needing editing. Paul writes to those of us feeling overwhelmed: “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-17).
The truth is God can continually make us new. Each day and every moment brings a fresh beginning. Today, what can you let God edit in your life so His best can work though you?
Frank Alioto serves as chaplain and pastors at Roots Family Church in Soldotna.
• Frank Alioto serves as chaplain and pastors at Roots Family Church in Soldotna.