The Old Testament Preacher hinted at the meaninglessness and futility of life when he said, "There is nothing new under the sun." He suggests that whatever will be has already been (Ecclesiastes 1). There is something to be learned from his comments. However, his pessimism is not the only truth.
In the beginning God created. The crown of God's creation was human beings. From that time until now the role of these creatures made in God's image and likeness has been to discover, manage, assemble, or rearrange things that already exist.
Every "new" product is made of something that has preceded it and every "new" idea is predicated on previous thoughts and experiences. Researchers continue to discover something that already is and create something new out of it. There is a positive side of "nothing new under the sun."
God revealed to St. John that God was "making everything new" (Rev. 21:5). Note that the revelation was not that God was making all new things. Rather, God was transforming what was and making it better (new).
I must admit that I am more comfortable with "the tried and true." I probably could get rid of most of the clothes in my closet because I tend to wear the same shirts and pants over and over. Rather than buy new dress shoes, I put new soles and heels on the old ones and that is just fine.
Routine and tradition work well for me. At the same time I understand the value of trying new things and doing things differently sometimes. I wake up at the same time every morning (thanks to our dog and the alarm clock) and the way I start my day is pretty consistent. My route to my office is simple and seldom varies.
It certainly would be alright to alter my daily routine and occasionally I do. But the good news is that the sameness of each day does not have to be boring. On my drive to the office recently I saw a man walking with a young boy on the way to school. The way they were holding hands and the little skip in the child's step warmed my heart and brightened my day. My routine drive was made new.
Last Thursday as I was getting dressed I reached for one of my favorite ties and I saw another one which I had never worn. I don't know why it had hung in my closet for so long and had never been around my neck. I put the other one back and decided that I would wear this new one. Now my life was not dramatically changed and I was not flooded with compliments on the tie but it was good for me to make an intentional change in my routine.
Spicy mango chicken is my favorite dish at one of the restaurants near my home and office. When I go there I don't even have to look at the menu. The other day I went to lunch with some friends and I tried something else and it was delicious. I am not abandoning my old favorite but I discovered something new and it was good.
This past week the Office of New Church Development sponsored an "All Things New" seminar for pastors. I am sure everything that was shared was not something that had never been said or heard before but I suspect that the participants gained some new insights that will change the way they do ministry.
Not long ago I was reading the fifth chapter of Ephesians. I have read it many times but there were some new words this time. Of course they had always been there but on this occasion it was if they had just appeared. I gained a new perspective on this familiar passage of scripture.
I suspect that God is constantly seeking to open our eyes to see new possibilities and our ears to hear words of encouragement and instruction. I want to be open to what God will show me and teach me, don't you?
[Taken with permission from "Monday Morning in North Georgia," October 3, 2011. North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church.]