As you know by now - I love words. So I couldn’t help but notice the proliferation of one particular word over the past 48 hours. There’s a new Prime Minister with new policies. We have been promised a new beginning, with a new vision for a brave new future.
Did you pick up on the word? It’s NEW.
In English we use the word NEW in at least 10 different ways. We talk about a new day, meaning one just coming into existence. We are told of new approaches to issues, meaning fresh thinking. We have new recruits, meaning they are novices. We talk about a new normal meaning a unique situation. I may acquire a new car - which might in fact be second hand. We promote goods “as new” describing appearance or image. I love new potatoes, from the new harvest. Some children have started a new school - meaning the first time it has they have been there. After we go for a run or do serious exercise, we might say we feel like a new person, reflecting a better quality of existence. And finally we have a new PM, meaning its Liz Truss’s first time in office.
For many, the idea of going to a new place or facing a new experience brings a feeling of dread. It conjures up the idea of “the great unknown” as they enter a place where they are no longer in control. They become the subject of circumstances beyond their control. Like all of us, I have had friends receive bad news about their medical conditions - leaving them with the prospect of facing a new and potentially painful future. Thousands of people are living with fear about the coming winter with spiralling energy costs. It will be for them a new experience.
Sometimes new, fearful experiences can be made more manageable by the support of others. In the past few days I have been encouraged by an English bakery that has opened up the floor above its ovens to any member of the public who wants to come to have a warm place to sit and be comfortable. In another example the owner of a small Teeside shop has allowed his customers to take food, with the promise they will repay him later when circumstances improve. He has a wall of receipts inside the shop reflecting the thousands of pounds of debt incurred through his generosity. These are new ways of thinking.
Jesus promised that he would make all things new. He used a Greek word which reflected the quality of the transformation.
For me, these small examples of human kindness represent exactly the type of quality, selfless acts to which Jesus refers. So, what act of generosity could you perform that might allow others facing a new, fearful future to feel better supported through their journey?
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