New (Lent #33)

“New and improved!”

It’s a promise I’ve heard probably a hundred times (or more) in my lifetime.  One product or another trying to convince me the product they loved the day before is now even better.

There’s more of it.

It harder.

It’s softer.

It lasts longer.

It’s tougher.

The formula now does twice as much in half the time.

This go around expect whiter and brighter and shinier.

Now, there probably are times when “new and improved” really means “new and improved”.  Most of the time I think it just means some change designed to make us think the product or service is superior to its predecessor.

Funny thing about the whole thing, the “old” whatever often sticks around.  It just scoots over on the shelf, allowing the new sibling to make its mark in the world (via our bank accounts).

Take Tide laundry detergent for example.

A quick peek at the official website (yes, laundry detergent has its own website) and you’ll find:

Tide Original

Tide Vivid White + Bright

Tide Plus Febreze

Tide Plus Downy

Tide Plus Febreze Sport

Tide Free

Tide Coldwater

(and there’s more)

All I can say is, “Wow!”  I mean, that’s almost overwhelming.  How’s a guy to know if  Tide Plus Febreze or Plus Febreze Sport is the way to go?

Then there is the “new” that doesn’t seem to serve a purpose at all.

new pennyTake our new penny…one cent of “new” someone thought we needed.  Wasn’t/isn’t there a push to eliminate the penny?  Why are we redesigning them?  Why are we minting more of them?  The convenience store I stop in regularly rarely even bothers with them.  And most of the patrons don’t seem to care whether they get their pennies worth of change back either.  So again, new pennies?  Really?

Of course there is some new that completely rocks.

When tagless t-shirts came out, I seriously wondered why they hadn’t been made this way from the beginning.  Brilliant!  No more itchy-scratchy on the back of my neck, now that’s an improvement.

I suppose what I’m getting at is that new isn’t always better.  Sometimes, it’s just…new.  And this kind of new desensitizes us to the new that really might make a difference, the new that is renewal.

A fresh start in life.  A new commitment to God and other. A healthy self-image.  A desire to serve and work alongside the poor.  Giving up an addiction.  Setting aside destructive behaviors.  Standing in the gap. Repairing the breach.

This is radical newness.  This is transformation and change.  This is the kind of new they make movies about, but even if they didn’t, we’d still tell the stories because this kind of new is life-changing.

You can keep the detergent and pennies, I want to see lives being made new.  Families being made new.  The whole creation being made new.

It’s started you know? And one day it will be complete.  Everything will be made new.  (By the way, that’s pretty great news!)

Life is better together,




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