It is just past the middle of April 2020. We are somewhere on the curve of the coronavirus pandemic but there is uncertainty as to our location. Some of the experts think we are standing on its plateau while others think there is still lots of mountains ahead to climb.
While the virus runs its uncertain course, millions of us, including my wife and I, are forced to work from home, in what many believe might be the beginnings of a new normal. This morning my wife came downstairs, ready for work, in a dress I could not recall having seen, and surprised me when she said it was an old dress. It occurred then to me that this ‘new’ normal might not mean that everything post-COVID19 has to be brand new, but that it might simply mean a return to some of the ways of the tried and true values of the past. I also realized that with the passing of time, the old becomes new.
Think of fashion for a moment. Designers have noticed that fashion trends have a 25-year cycle. This means that clothing styles, accessories, hairstyles, and footwear, are literally on a revolving rack. Young adults and teens today are happy to flaunt styles which, unknown to most of them, were made fashionable by folks of yore.
The same holds true for biblical fashion and trends. The wise man asks and answers, “Is there anything of which it may be said, “See, this is new? It has already been in ancient times before us” (Eccles.1:10).
With life going in cycles, it is fair to say the new is always embedded in the old, waiting like an old snake, to shed its skin, and be born anew. This process of shedding, known as ecdysis, allows for the reptile’s further growth, and the removal of parasites that stuck to its old skin.
And perhaps this viral pandemic has brought the church to its ecdysis moment. We have limped and dragged our way to the end of a church cycle and are now ready to shed the old skin of failures and obsolescence, to begin a new era for the kingdom of God. But we must be careful how we navigate this new movement. The snake might get rid of its aged, outdated, and infected outer skin, but it will not lose the essence of its nature and being. It is still fundamentally the same snake.
We can learn much from our age-old nemesis as we go forward into this brave new and uncertain world to enlarge the kingdom of Christ. We can change our styles of dress, and worship, and means of disseminating the gospel, and we can do so without harm because that is just our outer skin. But we must remain faithful to new creation fundamentals. Prayer, the study of God’s Word, fellowship with the saints, and serving the needs of the sick, homeless, and hungry, must remain in vogue. These basics are not negotiable and must never be lost in a post-covid19 ministry framework. The wise man intimated as much when he cautioned us not to “remove the ancient landmark which your fathers have set” (Prov.22:28). In this case, our fathers are those holy men of God who were moved by the Holy Spirit to reveal to us God’s heart, and ways, and will, for us.
Just like my wife’s old dress, those old landmarks can still be made refreshingly new, and shown to be wonderfully relevant, to this, and to any other age.
(Image by Denise Husted: pixabay)