I’ve told you this before. How this is my year of deja-vu.
I felt it again when I pushed those red snowboots onto her tiny feet. The boots look barely worn, but I know they are nearly a decade old. I remember how my oldest, my other daughter, wore them on Chicago’s snowy sidewalks.
Jonathan and I have goofy grins as we watch our baby tumble in snow for the first time. We’ve worn these smiles before. I know we have. Strangely, they feel brand new.
I thought it would be different this time. This fourth baby. This second daughter. And it is.
But not in the way I thought. I assumed it would be recognizable. Known. Like a comfortable coat we’ve worn before. Instead, it feels surprising. There is the shock of newness. We’ve lived it before, but this is no second-hand delight.
It is as if an echo had something new to say, something new to reveal, with each repetition.
At Advent, I am accustomed to seeing the baby in the crèche as the already-was. The one who came but not the one I am waiting for. I look toward King Jesus and wonder how long, but what if that baby is new every year?
I’ve heard this before. How we must make room in our hearts, in our communities, for him to be born again. I always thought it sentimental.
I’m realizing today that doesn’t make it untrue.
What if he could be born again and again to us, shocking and miraculous every time?
What if Christmas could bring us the yearly return of a joy that is always new?
I slumped down at my writing desk one recent morning, and this phrase floated up to the top of my mind: “there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9).
I was feeling a little depressed, a little overwhelmed, and Solomon’s words came unbidden to justify my dark mood.
For me, it was nothing more serious than hot weather, kids fighting (again), and dirt tracked all over my just-mopped floors. Some days it only takes that little bit and we are carrying the burdens of the world: in an instant my eyes roam from the dirt, sweat, and tears in my own house to the global orphan crisis, drought in Texas, famine in Africa (again!).
Why is my life such a mess? Why is the world such a mess?
Supposedly, we Christ-followers are the bearers of “Good News” (just search the Bible for the phrase “good news”: it comes up a lot). But what can we possibly have to say to those suffering amidst the ever-present darkness of this world?
As a child, growing up in the church, I heard a lot about good news. Maybe the message was simplistic or maybe I was only able to understand a simple message, but I believed then that the good news was all about heaven. The good news, then, was that Jesus made a way for us to go to heaven when we die. That seemed like pretty good news to me, which is strange because I was a lot farther from death than I am now. Today, thirty years closer to my own end, that news doesn’t seem nearly good enough.
You and I and our neighbors on this planet? We need good news now. We need good news for today.
Solomon’s words take me there. He writes, “Is there anything of which one can say, ‘Look! This is something new’?” (Ecclesiastes 1:10). I’m not sure, I can’t really answer his question, but then I remember these words in Isaiah: “I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” (Isaiah 43: 19).
God is doing something new. In fact, He’s been working at it for thousands of years. The Old Testament whispers it, and Jesus embodies it. New life. New creation. New covenant. New heaven. New earth.
God is making all things new (Revelation 21: 5).
I don’t know exactly what that means. But I feel something good deep down in my bones when I hear the word new. New, new, new. All is being made new.
Was there ever a more hopeful, beautiful word than “new”?
In me, in you, and in this gorgeous, broken-down world, God is doing a new thing. Look closely. Do you not perceive it?