My mother-in-law recently moved into a new house complete with new appliances and modern conveniences. This is newsworthy because she has resided for over 50 years in a house that was built in 1945 that lacked many modern conveniences including air conditioning. She had lived through many hot Texas summers and simply tried to survive despite how hot and humid southeast Texas can be. She had lived through many very cold Texas winters (we do have those now and then) with only a wood burning heater to keep her warm. The house she lived in was built in 1945 by her husband, his father, and his uncle. It was a good house in its day but hurricanes and tornadoes and other weather related issues had caused it to be no longer liveable, as determined by the Federal Government through a program administered by FEMA. So, in about a month's time a new modern home was constructed for her with all the amenities needed to live comfortably in this age.
She has been moved into her new home so, according to the government program that built the house for her, the old house has to be demolished. Seventy years of memories will fall in with the walls as they fall. Walls that saw babies born and grow up to be adults and floors that held up many as they celebrated and mourned and lived through many experiences now will vanish in the heap of rubble to be carried away by modern equipment. Before it is completely gone, though, my wife mobilized and advertised and found people who wanted to buy components of the old house that has served the family well through the years. One man bought the kitchen sink to put into an old farm house he was furnishing. Another bought the bath tub to use in another house. People came one after another to buy the appliances, the wood heater, and the bathroom fixtures.
Some did not buy but were given wood from the walls and window frames that they plan to use in craft projects. A trio of college age musicians gently took away the old antique piano that had sat in the living room for decades but needed a lot of work to be played again. They want to restore it and use it to make music again.
As I was thinking about all the people who had bought or were given parts of the old house, I thought about how the old house that will soon be demolished will live on into the future. The house may not stand as it once did but parts of it will be living in several of the surrounding counties nearby where it once stood. The old house slowly gave up its parts once thought to be necessary and important so that others could claim them as their own and use them to make another house complete or to bring beauty to the world through art or music. The old has become new once again in a new and different way than was imagined when the new house was being constructed on the property nearby.
I thought about the verse from the Prophet Isaiah, "Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?" (43:18-19) God is always about the business of doing something new that totally astounds and surprises us. God speaks in ways that are beyond our thinking. At this time of year, I cannot think otherwise that God's new thing that God did in the person of Jesus Christ was totally surprising, astounding, and mysterious. For God to come to earth wrapped in the flesh of an infant, totally dependent on others, so that God could understand the creation that God brought to life was and is so amazing that it is incomprehensible.
God did a new thing in that manger in Bethlehem, something that had never been done before in all of human history. The old lived again in the new creation that was given to earth as a gift so that humans would learn what it means to truly be loved and forgiven and accepted. The best gift of the holiday season has already been given to all of us. Humans can become new, just as the old house became new in its metamorphosis of lending its parts to others to use and transform for future greatness. Our lives are constantly being transformed as we learn and grow and accept the changes that life brings year after year. We may not be the same as we were when we were children or young adults but we are becoming what God would have us be for our good and the good of others.
Humans often do the same as old houses when they no longer can continue to live. Their parts are used to make others well, to bring healing to others through transplants and treatments. They live on into the future through the lives that they touch by their sharing of themselves in a way that is totally amazing. God continues to do a new thing in human lives as they open themselves up to grace and peace and generosity that lives throughout the year, not only in the holiday season.