Make A New Thing With All Your Heart
Recently I walked in the back door our home on a Friday afternoon. Camden had already been picked up from the bus stop. I could tell he was settled in for the afternoon because as I made my way from the backdoor and into the kitchen there was one shoe, a few feet later another shoe, and his backpack was laying on the floor next to the dining room table. Whatever had happened after school must have been exciting, so exciting he would abandon the after school procedures instilled in him by his parents. His grandmother had picked him up from the bus stop and I chalked the mess up to that - Oda did not know our after school procedures and her charming grandson had pulled one on her.
As I entered the dining room, Camden burst out of the living room waving a box in the air. I had an idea of what the box was but his rapid shaking of the box made it so I could not quite make out what was in the box.
“New LEGOS,” he exclaimed.
“LEGOS! LEGOS! LEGOS!”
Ah, that explains it. Obviously, one should abandon the proper after-school procedures for new LEGOS. Everyone knows that.
These LEGOS were not like any other LEGOS he had before. These LEGOS, they were Marvel superhero LEGOS. More specifically, these were Spiderman LEGOS. We were the proud owners of Star Wars LEGOS, Washington Capitals LEGOS, and Batman LEGOS, but we had yet to enter into the realm of Spiderman LEGOS.
“Those are amazing,” I told him.
“I can’t wait to build them with you.”
In his hands, he held something new. In his hands, Camden knew he was holding something we had never experienced - the awesomeness of LEGOS married to the amazing Spiderman.
I know what you are thinking and yeah, you should be jealous.
On that Friday afternoon, with shoes and a backpack thrown about the house, we were entering into a world of new possibilities. These new possibilities were only available to us because we had these new LEGOS.
A new thing was going to happen because of a box of new LEGOS.
The childlike wonder that our kids have opens them up the new possibilities that are leaping through our world. They see the world with anticipation and not anxiety, hopefulness and not despair. New experiences are just around the corner and those new experiences will blow open the doors to the new world awaiting all of us.
I am talking about the joy that comes when new things are made possible. When the old gives way to the new and opportunity is not stifled by life beating the joy of us.
The Lord had promised to do a new thing for Israel. The prophet Isaiah reminded the people of this as they were in the midst of wandering during their exile from the land promised to them. As the wandered the wilderness, being forced into exile after they lost the battle with the Babylonians, they needed to be reminded that the same Lord who, “who made a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters, who brought out chariot and horse, army and warrior” and made it so “they could not rise” would also see Israel through this time of wandering in the wilderness.
I find it odd that Israel had to be reminded of this lynchpin story during a time of great trial. It is as though they had been delivered by the Lord and had forgotten exactly how they arrived at that place, turning to their own works and credentials to see themselves through and forgetting the childlike wonder they developed as they relied upon the Lord.
Childlike wonder is not naïvety.
Childlike wonder is not wearing blinders to how the world really is.
Childlike wonder opens us to the possibilities of what can be because joy has not yet given way to the hardships of life.
Childlike wonder enables us to see the possibilities of what is in the box when others just see a box full of the same old stuff piled up in the room down the hall.
As we begin to lose our childlike wonder, hardness begins to build up around our hearts and we put up blinders to what the world could be and begin to accept the world as it is now. A world where change, new things, are not only impossible they are not practical.
The things we can prove. The accolades we can attain through hard work, putting our nose to the grindstone, and bearing through life thinking if we just work hard enough or do the right thing, everything will be ours in the end.
Everything we do will produce what has been promised to us by others.
The Lord who had seen Israel out of the bonds of slavery in Egypt, was seeing Israel through the pains of wandering in the wilderness, and now promised a new thing and when this new thing is fully realized by the very people it was intended for, they will all declare praise for the Lord.
The Lord is telling Israel, “yes I did a new thing in bringing you out of slavery. And yes, you are being provided for in a barren land where not even the wild beasts can survive. I know it is hard for you to see it because you have become hardened by life but if you could just look at the world with possibility and joy you will see the best is yet to come.”
“It may seem dark and difficult now, but what I, the Lord your G-d, am going to do, will turn the world upside down.”
The Philippian church had its credentials. They were confident. They thought they had done the right things to attain righteousness, and Paul tells them, “you think that’s good? Listen to me, I’ll tell you what confidence in the flesh really looks like.” Paul then went on to lay out his resume and how his achievements helped him see possibility through himself and not the world around him.
Then Paul pivoted. Paul told the Philippians, and tells us today, that whatever those gains were, whatever achievements he/they/we may have accumulated are nothing in comparison to the new thing G-d had done through Christ.
The new thing promised to Israel and realized through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ opened the Kingdom of G-d to be realized here on earth and broke down the barriers we create for ourselves, preventing us from seeing the possibilities in the new thing G-d has done and is continuing to do.
Paul reminds the Church that in order to experience G-d’s new thing with all our heart we must lay aside the accolades and credentials we have given to ourselves and regain the childlike wonder we all once had.
Because we live on this side of the empty tomb we have the ability to see the new thing the Lord did in Christ Jesus and yet still, we still stand with our arms folded, hardened to the possibility that this new thing really changed the world. We find it hard to believe the new thing the Lord has done is still changing the world.
Jesus told his disciple in orders to experience the newness of what the Lord is doing we are to assume the posture of a child. Meekness in the sense that we are open to joyful possibility and not despair caused by the current state of society or the church. Jesus invites to open ourselves to experience the fullness of new creation. We find it hard to experience the new thing promised to us by G-d through the prophet and realized in Jesus Christ because the institutions charged with cultivating and nurturing our childlike openness have at some level fundamentally failed. Doctrine and polity have taken the place of promise and experience, the surprise of the new thing the Lord has promised to all of creation.
Whether we opened ourselves up to what the Lord has promised or we wait decades to do so, the invitation to all is still the same. Jesus told his disciples to taste and see. The invitation is extended to everyone. And once you taste and once you have seen the new thing the Lord is doing the childlike wonder and joy reenters your life. You, we are radically changed. When we taste and we see, we embrace G-d’s new thing like a child, seeing the fullness of what G-d makes possible. Viewing the world with possibility changes the way we see the calling G-d has given each of us. Childlike wonder opens us to seeing the bread and the cup as an invitation into full participation int he new thing G-d did through Jesus Christ and continues to do today.