If you’re around churches for any length of time, you might hear people excitedly talk about God doing a new thing.
“The old is gone, the new has come,” they might say. Or, quoting Jesus, “No one pours new wine into old wineskins” (Mark 2:22)
New is shiny, flashy, fun, exciting and different.
And God is constantly doing a new thing in the lives of people, in families, churches and communities.
As we say at my church, “God is making all things new,” both now and in the future. That is our great hope.
But we can’t forget or neglect the old things, the ancient paths, as John Koessler reminded readers in the October 2021 issue of Christianity Today.
“We don’t need new words from God so much as we need to repeat what he has already said,” he writes, adding, “Where faith is concerned, repetition is a virtue.”
In the church I grew up in, every church service was the same week after week, year after year.
The scripture readings and the pastor’s messages would differ, but not the prayers and the creeds, the liturgy and rituals and sacraments.
As a kid, I did not appreciate the sameness and repetition. Yet, I could recite and repeat the catechism and the tenets of the faith, even if I didn’t understand their meaning.
“Who is the Creator of everything?”
“God is...for he made all things from nothing.”
“Who is Jesus Christ?”
“Jesus Christ is true God and true man, our Lord and Savior.”
“Why did Jesus die in agony on the Cross?”
“Jesus Christ died to save sinners.”
I knew that at age 7, but I didn’t understand it or truly believe it. It didn’t capture my heart and soul until I was 23.
But when I was 23, on the day I believed (May 30, 1978), all the “old things” I had heard as a child, the gospel stories and the teachings of the apostles and the historical accounts from the ancient biblical writers, came flooding back to me.
And over the past 40-plus years, I’ve built on the foundation of my childhood by the reading and hearing and repeating through my own writings and conversations, the word of God, the holy scriptures.
I was reminded of this last week when my husband and I were at an out of town church. The pastor talked about the list of the people of faith in the book of Hebrews, the men and women of the Old Testament who lived by faith as they waited for the promised Messiah.
The pastor said these were ordinary people just like we are, but that God did great things for them and through them.
“We read about these long-ago people and the things God did for them so we can be encouraged and be confident that God can do great things in and for and through us too,” he said. “If God did what he promised for them, then he will do what he has promised for us.”
The pastor had pointed the congregation back to the old and eternal things.
In Jeremiah 6:16, God says, “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.”
Everywhere we turn, the world is offering and people are seeking the newest new thing.
However, it’s the old thing, the ancient thing, the very word of the Ancient of Days, as the prophet Daniel called God, and the ancient path of faith where our souls find rest.
It’s his repeated word taking root in our hearts and minds, that we meditate on and speak to others, that shapes and encourages us, guides us, gives wisdom and instruction and keeps us from sin and danger.
That’s not flashy or shiny, but it is the firmest foundation, and it is the good way.
Nancy Kennedy is the author of “Move Over, Victoria - I Know the Real Secret,” “Girl on a Swing,” and her latest book, “Lipstick Grace.” She can be reached at 352-564-2927 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.