Trinity Church of the Nazarene, York Place, Perth, PH2 8EP

Old and New

We have all needed to find ways to pass time during lockdown. Most of us have binged on favorite shows and movies. In our house, we have certainly enjoyed an abundance of Disney and Marvel movies. Somehow, I have found myself with four different streaming services. I certainly don’t need four. But lockdown with four kids seemed like all rules are out the window, and it is every man/woman for themselves when trying to entertain a small army of kids.

Personally, I like to read and listen to books on audio. And during this period of lockdown, I have delved into even more than before. There are so many good books, as well as the fact that I have had so many on my “to read” list that had accumulated over the years. It’s a problem, but I tend to buy books faster than I read them and so they can start to stockpile.

I have read new books, but I have also loved reading old books. During lockdown, I have loved to scour my bookshelf and find old books that had once been a great influence in my life. I love to pull them from the shelf and flip through the pages, as I look at old notes written in the margins. I like to be reminded of thoughts that had once made a big impression and to revisit those same feelings.

Many of the books I read are non-fiction. They are books written by pastors, Church leaders, and theologians. And with these books, I find that I can never read a book the same way twice. Because unlike my favorite movies or fictional books which are more based around story, non-fiction books are more based around thought. And thoughts change. Even though I come back looking for the same ideas and feelings, I always find something more. I find new things that I had never seen before, or I find old thoughts that now strike me in new ways.

It’s like the old saying, “You can never put your finger in the same river twice.” It is always moving. Always changing.

I love this idea, that nothing is ever quite the same, even when all around us seems to speak to the contrary. It would be easy to think that all things are repeating the same problems. Quite literally in our current life when most days run into each other. But more specifically when considering the sin and problems of mankind. As we watch the world around us; whether it is globally, nationally, locally, or even within our own households, we can tend to see the same old problems come rolling back time and time again. It is easy to conclude like one of Job’s counselors that, “man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward.” (Job 5:7) Or like the preacher from Ecclesiastes who would say,

“What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecc 1:9)

This teacher, who was most likely Solomon, was probably not a lot of fun to have around at parties. But, in many ways, he was right. Man (and woman) is prone to problem, and this is due to the sin nature that we carry about within us. And left to ourselves we will perpetuate the same problems over and over again. But as much as he had right, he also had wrong. (Don’t worry, I’m not disagreeing with the Bible!) Its just that the Teacher lived on one side of the Cross, and we live on the other. We have an understanding that he did not. While Man my be prone to trouble like sparks fly upward, we also know that the Spirit of the Resurrected Christ lives among us. And it is His desire that the world would change and grow, as we ourselves are growing and being conformed into the image of Christ. It is the same God who is always Creating, always Redeeming, and always making old things New.

The world, which has so many problems, is not in fact destined to repeat everything ad nauseum.

Rather, we get to pray, and to act into change.

Viruses will get vaccines thanks to the great effort of doctors and scientists.

Markets and economies will recover because of the hard work of businesses and laborers.

Generational and systemic racism will find an end because of the brave actions of determined individuals in protests, council meetings, and public conversation.

And, as Christians, we get to believe and act into the change we want to see in the world. We believe that Jesus has commanded us to go into a broken world and seek its healing. And that includes our own homes and lives. We agree with the Apostle Paul when he wrote in the letter to the Corinthians,

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Cor 5:17)

So, while it is true that the nature of sin perpetuates problems in the world around us, it is equally true that the Spirit of the Living God is actively working against the spiritual and moral decay of that same world.

Sin, and Racism, and the Age-old Problems in our world might not have any new cards to play, but God certainly does. God is in the business of making broken things whole and reversing the effects of sin in our world.

So, during lockdown, it might feel like many days are the same, but we can be assured that God is in fact doing something new. And as His Children we get to live, to pray, and to act into this new future.

 

Reflections for the Week

  • What are the things in the world, in the news, and in your life that cause you to despair that there is “no hope” and that they are destined to repeat? Take them to Jesus and proclaim His Lordship over such issues. Confess our ability to despair, and ask for the strength and faith to see how God will bring change.

 

  • Pray for the protests and societal issues around our world. Pray for strength and the voice of Justice to continue to the Glory of God and for the Good of all People, and that we, with the Spirit of God, will see actual change and a new future.

 

  • Read 2 Corinthians chapter 5. Ask God to give you greater understanding to your identity as a New Creation, as well as for the work He is doing in the world around us, in which we have been called as Ambassadors with the ministry of reconciliation.