Is there a better word? New clothes… new car… new house… new job… new day… Don’t those three little letters, N-E-W, sum up all human hopes?
The poor want a new way, a new hope. The affluent want a new challenge, a new adventure. The living want a new opportunity. The dying want a new reality.
It never ends. When we’re born, everything is new, and we die still seeking newness. Every age, every stage brings newness. Could we live without it?
Ancient Greek mythology celebrated the renewal of the venerated Phoenix, that long-lived bird which was believed to rise from the ashes of its predecessor. Pagans, both ancient fertility cults and modern, earth-based religions like Wicca, celebrate the earth’s seasons and see in the bud of spring flower, the life of spring green, a new day. Nature itself teaches the cycle of life – winter to spring is death to life.
Renewal, through conversion of mind or spirit, is at the heart of every religious tradition. Repentance, conversion, baptism, cleansing – the world’s religions all teach the importance of leaning into this need for newness and all offer rituals, liturgies, celebrations affirming the new that is possible.
At the heart of Christian affirmation is the resurrection of Jesus – the celebration of a new life that is not as important in just what it meant about Jesus as in what it means for us. His resurrection prefigures our own – he is the “firstfruits” of all who have died (1 Cor. 15). Christians believe literally that his resurrection speaks to the hope for an afterlife and symbolically that because he overcame death we, too, can overcome all that “kills” us, spiritually, emotionally, psychically, socially.
I believe in resurrection. It is the work of God, from the beginning. Where there is no life, God brings life. Where there is darkness, God brings light. God says to ancient Israel, and to each of us: “Behold, I am about to do a new thing…” (Isaiah 43). It’s God’s business. Out of darkness, light. Out of sadness, joy. Out of dying, rising. Newness.
We need it today. Can’t you feel it?
We need a new day, a new way. We need a new hope, a new trust. We need new relationships and new conversations and new confidence. Do not give into the despair of division.
Lean into trust. Believe. Hope. Act like Easter. All things new.
May it be so.
Photo: Aaron Burden