Saturday, 21 January 2012


New Year.  New challenges.  What are we being asked to do – what WILL we be asked to do – that is new?

New Year’s resolutions.  All very well, but we don’t keep them.  But perhaps we could have new attitudes?  It’s very easy, but when we have worked in the same place for some time it is quite hard to change.  We slip back into the same old comfortable ways of working, ways of responding to our colleagues, clients and customers and ways of speaking.

I’m challenged to be new.

One thing that bothers me about this is that, as a Christian for many years, my relationship with Jesus lacks a sense of newness, of excitement.  That has begun to make sense to me now, through the study of Ephesians.

When I was first in Kenya I was ‘adopted’ by a family, long term residents. I spent my first Christmas away from my own family with them, included, accepted and loved. I loved being with them, accepting the new relationships I was forming, absorbing what it meant to be a ‘member’ of this particular family. I stayed with them frequently. After a while, the sense of newness and strangeness faded. I helped with the elderly mother, ran errands, helped with cooking and the housework.

I realised that my adoption into God’s family is a little like that. The joy of finding a new family is no longer new in the same way: to begin with, my relationship was about taking what was offered, not about giving. Yet now I find I help members of my Christian family; I run errands for them; I am involved with the running of the house.  I am so well settled in as an adopted daughter of God that there is no longer the same sense of ‘newness’.

Yet, however long we have or haven’t known him, God still wants to give us a sense of excitement.
We have a new life. The first verse I ever memorised was 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here!
Romans 6:4  says We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

We are given new commands
John 13:34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 

He wants to give us new attitudes:  Ezekiel 36:26 says I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 
Ephesians 4:22-24:  You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

And we have been given a new song
Psalm 40:3 
3 He put a new song in my mouth,
   a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the LORD
   and put their trust in him.
Psalm 33:3-4 
3 Sing to him a new song;
   play skillfully, and shout for joy.
 4 For the word of the LORD is right and true;
   he is faithful in all he does.
Psalm 96
 1 Sing to the LORD a new song;
   sing to the LORD, all the earth.
Psalm 149
 1 Praise the LORD.
   Sing to the LORD a new song,
   his praise in the assembly of his faithful people.
Song of Praise to the LORD
 10 Sing to the LORD a new song,
   his praise from the ends of the earth,
you who go down to the sea, and all that is in it,
   you islands, and all who live in them.

God brings ‘newness’ to us Isaiah 42:8-10 
 8 “I am the LORD; that is my name!
   I will not yield my glory to another
   or my praise to idols.
9 See, the former things have taken place,
   and new things I declare;
before they spring into being
   I announce them to you.”

Isaiah 43:18-20 (New International Version)
18 “Forget the former things;
   do not dwell on the past.
19 See, I am doing a new thing!
   Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
   and streams in the wasteland.
20 The wild animals honor me,
   the jackals and the owls,
because I provide water in the wilderness
   and streams in the wasteland,
to give drink to my people, my chosen,
How do we become or choose ‘new’?  How do we get rid of the unwanted old? What do we each do to retain the newness of a relationship with God – that sense of becoming a ‘new creation’?

1.       Substitute old habits for new
2.       Do something completely different
3.       Commit to regular Bible reading/study/gathering together
4.       Take a new position at work: develop new relationships; take a new standpoint on issues.

Perhaps we could have a new ‘word’ for ourselves.  It might be ‘joy’ or ‘delight’ or ‘trust’ or ‘follow’ ... what would yours be?  Mine is ‘mercy’.  To be kinder, less brusque...

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