Reimagining New

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And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.”

—Revelation 21:5

Fridays were cleaning days in our family growing up. I would come home from a half day at elementary school to the smell of Comet and bleach spray, and suddenly things looked and felt brighter. The ordinary parts of our apartment took on a new shine, not because they were new but because care had been given to them; attention had been paid to the corners and crevices.

And it needed it. Use and function (and sticky small humans) removed some of the sheen the arms of chairs once held. The sofa, constantly pressed down by tiny bottoms, somehow was re-inflated. The bathtub was erased of layers of the dirt we deposited in there on a regular basis. I still hold the scent to this day of Fridays, where everything old looked new.

I consider alongside this memory our cultural fascination with new things. The latest and greatest item, the upgraded version, the new fad. I don’t have a problem with the idea of new—much as a crusty Episcopalian might—there are too many factors involved in equity, access, and cultural stature to dismiss those who crave the new entirely. I wonder though whether we limited the idea of new to unused rather than restored, revealed, uncovered.

The promise of a new kingdom in Revelation, and indeed the new life and new body of Jesus in the resurrection, initially invites us into a dream where it’s a new kingdom—clean, untouched, unused, and uninhabited. It’s as inviting as a hotel room with clean sheets and no emotional history attached (which to me is supremely inviting).

But in the resurrection, Jesus still had the scars of the crucifixion. He might be arriving inside of locked rooms, meeting people on the road and then vanishing, and surprising the disciples on the water, but his body was not made new as the latest version of an iPhone might be—his body was instead revealed to us, in love, with the marks of that love as part of this new life—the marks of that love as crucial to this new life.

When we seek out the new, what are we truly seeking? Are we seeking something devoid of human living and interaction, or are our eyes ready to reimagine that what we consider old may be made new again? Made new, restored, with love, attention, and elbow grease.

— Kit Lonergan

Photo: “The Wounds of Mercy,” Lawrence OP, St. Giles’s Cathedral, Edinburgh

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