Rev. Sarah Heath
, an ordained minister in the California Pacific Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church (UMC), who currently serves as the lead pastor of a re-start congregation in Costa Mesa – First UCM Costa Mesa -- was the keynote speaker at this past week’s Super Saturday event
. Her presentation, entitled “Living into a New Normal” focused on facing our past to move forward, spotlighting the day’s scripture theme, Jeremiah 31:31-34, and a new covenant.
|Rev. Sarah Heath
Heath, who referred to the year 2020 as a dumpster fire, compared these trying times with the unmet hopes of the people of Israel during Jeremiah’s time. She believes that despite the difficult times they were living in, Jeremiah had a “lens” that for Israel, everything was happening with a movement toward hope. But he had to constantly remind people that even though they may have not been on track, and were in the midst of the bad, they could potentially see newness and hope.
“For the people of Israel, it was unprecedented to live how they were living,” she explained. “They were a people of disappointment, but it was something they were getting used to. We are in the midst of an unprecedented time indeed, but I think there are some things that when we, the people of faith, lean into,
we recognize we’ve seen this before and it can give us an opportunity to be hopeful. We’ve seen disruption before and if we believe that God is with us in the midst of it, maybe, just maybe, we have something to offer the world around us… Maybe unprecedented can be an opportunity… to build and plant.”
Heath advised that building and planting also means reminding people of the covenant that has always been there, reminding them that people are the beloved with whom God is well pleased and they always have been. It might look different now, but God is always there.
One of the major reasons, she believes, that people need to gather – online or in person -- is because we are forgetful and we need to be reminded that we are included, that in the midst of what seems to be a chaotic and scary time that we have been there before.
“All of us are invited to be the community of God. Our job is just to remind people they are already part of this amazing community. That they are already beloved by God. And then we can figure out what that looks like together. This may feel like unprecedented times, but it offers so much potential. Let’s be excited by the call we have been given to be the new normal.”