The one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” (Revelation 21:5).
We all like something new, something fresh, something lifted right out of the crinkly packaging. We try something new, grow something new, do something new. Paint the wall a new color: decanted mint or zip zip lollipop fuchsia or gossamer white. Variety–or really: newness–is the spice of life. So, what’s new?
I like newness as much as anybody–at least, newness in manageable drabs. I never re-read novels. I’ll brake for a new walking trail. I’m a sucker for those New This Year! tomato seeds out of the winter catalog. But I also recognize the risk tied up in the quest for the new, how so often our desire to try or feel or be something new ends up taking us down some very well-trod roads. The Seven Deadly Sins don’t really need an update. Lust, pride, greed, gluttony, and the rest have an unfortunate ever-freshness to them. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
So much of our hunger for newness comes from the seeming monotony of everyday life. We get caught up in this and that, one thing after another, an enervating gray boredom clouding a dull edge of meh. And so we want something new to prick us into feeling again, to spike the punch of the thumb-scroll through the news, to give us a stiff defibrillation. Oh. We rub our eyes and look around. That’s new.
No doubt the hunt for novelty stems from a deep human desire. I know, it’s an old preachers’ trope: whatever’s missing in you can be found in God. Stash the phone and crack open the Bible and all will be made well. But perhaps our longing for new things is really a hunger for The New, for Christ who is both fresh as an infant and the Ancient of Days. Perhaps what we have to do is not concoct some flashy, fizzy newness so much as return to the source of all that is new.
At least, it’s been true for me. All too often I’ve been a card carrying member of the “what’s next?” club, besotted with big ideas, addicted to tomorrow’s project. But all things new are rarely enough things new, and there’s that niggling dangle of something down in me that realizes this. I keep discovering anew the originality of Jesus’ life, the daring freshness of the gospels, his speech and actions and miracles that thread between impossible poles to start a living cascade of a movement. I keep coming back to his table and getting surprised all over again by the vibrancy of that exchange through bread and cup. I get stunned by prayer.
So maybe that’s what you need (sorry to go sermonic. I can’t help myself): a new that’s un-new. An ancient, ever-new. Perhaps, like me, you’ll snap to the realization that your longing for something new will never be sated by ferriswheeling to the next new thing. Instead, you’ll find that you need a go slow, trawl deep, encounter with the New One who makes all things new.