“What Is This New Thing?”

Sermon – 04-03-22 – Lent 5 – Cycle C
Scripture: Isaiah 43:16-21; Psalm 126; Philippians 3:4b-14; John 12:1-8
Sermon Title: “What Is This New Thing?”

For what new thing are you yearning? We have such easy access to new things. Stores abound around us. Internet shopping is way too easy for some of us. There ARE ways that we can control our spending:
● out of necessity or
● because we are out of space to place things or
● because we know that saving is better than spending.

Even so, if we have any amount of extra money, we want to help our children and grandchildren – mostly grandchildren. The gifts can be small like a trinket or large like a college education. We are thinking “new” and “more.” We are willing to sacrifice if it will mean a better life for the people we love or because we have pity on people we don’t even know. Pity. Compassion. We want something better for others. We want others to have a new life.

Often new things are not objects. A college education is not an object but is a way to a new life, usually to a better life. Being led to a new job, falling in love, having a baby, someone dying are events that bring a new thing into our lives. New things sometimes happen after a hard time. The new things are especially meaningful and appreciated after hard times.

We have two major times of new things happening to a large group of people in the Bible. It is God working with his people – the people that we call “Israelites.” God brought his people from Egypt through the parted Red Sea to the promised land in 1446 BC. Much later – 900 to 1000 years later in 538 BC through 432 BC, God brings his people home from their exile in Babylonia – a new life. Both of these new events happened after extreme hardship.

New things, new times. Through Isaiah, God is saying, “I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” God likens his new thing to bringing water in the desert. The life-giving gift of water. He is bringing his people home from exile in Babylonia so they might be refreshed. This is new life for the Israelites.

When Mary anoints the feet of Jesus, she is preparing Jesus for a new life, for a transformation. As Paul writes in our Philippians passage, Jesus gives Saul a new life – a transformation from being a strict follower of the law to the freedom of faith in Christ. This new thing with Paul is not a life of ease and happiness as we think of happiness. The overwhelming grace of God in Jesus does something new in this persecutor so that Paul becomes an apostle for Jesus Christ. Now Paul wants everyone to find this new freedom from sin, this new dwelling in Jesus, this new set of values, this hope of dwelling with Jesus in eternal life. A new thing for us.

Being baptized is a new thing for each believer. We are brought into relationship with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. We don’t need to carry our sins around in our heads and our hearts. We can do a new thing! We can ask forgiveness, we can fall at Jesus’ feet and bring ourselves, our costly selves, in devotion to Jesus.
Our baptism is not a once-and-done event. Our baptism, in the name of Father, Son, and Spirit, manifests itself daily if we give space and invite the newness that wants to appear in our daily life. But the ultimate new thing for us is when the gates open and Jesus himself calls us to enter our heavenly home for eternity. This is the ultimate “new thing.” Praise God!

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