Newness isn’t new. In fact, it’s the oldest concept in the universe. And in the end, it’s the longest lasting. In the opening lines of Genesis, we read that “God created the heavens and the earth,” a new creation. In the same way, at the end of Revelation Jesus proclaims, “behold, I am making all things new.” Newness is woven into every aspect of nature and every part of our lives. That’s what makes starting a new school year such a special—yet ordinary—endeavor.
In morning assembly this quarter, we are learning how God speaks to us through nature. Through our hymns and scripture, we are taught that “there is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard.” This, right after seeing that “the heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork.” Nature is speaking to us about God, and it is speaking to us about the nature of newness all around us.
A fascinating thing about newness is that, when we think about it, newness almost always follows on the heels of a death of some sort. A new sunrise follows the previous day’s sunset. A new tree follows the death and resurrection of the previous tree’s seed. A new age in history follows the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. And a new heart—our new hearts—follow the symbolic death, burial, and resurrection of our baptism, into newness of life.
As Christ slowly makes all things new, we act out the liturgy of newness in small ways each day. We lay ourselves down to sleep in darkness, and arise to new mercies (and new sunrises!) in the morning light. We daily put to death our own sin and selfishness, and rise with new passion and vigor to love our God and our neighbors. The death-burial-resurrection-newness paradigm is all around us, if we just look for it. We can even think this way in the context of our children’s education.
Remember, newness isn’t new. When we are baptized as a new creation, we are baptized into a centuries old faith. When we begin the journey of a new classical Christian school, we are joining an old educational tradition. Although there is a newness in both our lives in Christ and our educational pursuits (especially for first-time co-teachers!), we do not enter into newness in isolation. Rather, we have friends, institutions, and—most importantly—God’s word to guide us along the way. I must admit there is great peace in knowing that generations of faithful people have gone before us, for the euphoria of newness (whether new life in Christ, new marriage, or new school year) eventually fades, and we are left to face many pitfalls and setbacks. Our passion for the things of God wanes, our friends try our patience, education becomes labor and toil. The cares of this world threaten to choke and stifle the new growth we see in all these areas. Embarking on something new is hard!
But this is exactly why the daily liturgies of newness are so important—and meaningful. Each morning when we wake up to a new sunrise, God’s mercies are new as well. His grace to sustain us in all things is fresh, and it is is given for that day alone. When we place our trust and our hope in Christ, these promises are ours. The daily rituals of newness remind us of these promises, and they invite us to incline our hearts to the one who makes (and will make) all things new.
As we reach our stride into the new school year, remember that the newness of the year will fade; pitfalls and obstacles will come. And they will threaten to undo us. But as Martin Luther once wrote, “we will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us.” When we wake up each new morning to teach new lessons about God’s world to our children, we partake in that triumph of truth, by God’s grace. So while our school, our lessons, and our teachers may be new, we are telling an old, old story about how the Son of God came to make all things new along the way.