Over the past few weeks Archway Close has been a place of chaos while the council has been beautifying the island site with wide pavements and a restored ‘cobbled’ road. By coincidence one day I found myself looking at a photograph of the area in 1969, taken during the works which created the island site, which presented a strangely familiar scene.
Do you ever have that feeling that nothing ever really changes and that you keep coming back to the point where you started? If so, rest assured that you are not the only one – as suggested by popular expressions such as ‘what goes around comes around’, ‘same old, same old’ and ‘plus ça change’ (the more things change, the more they stay the same.) Our church life often seems the same, not helped by the fact that so much of what we do is cyclical – the seasons of the Christian year, the regular round of meetings, schedules to be completed every year.
But then something new catches our attention and makes us think again. This can be something relatively trivial. On Mothering Sunday after church I was making my way to the bus stop when a phone box – caught my eye. For a start, I didn’t remember there being a phone box there before. Then I realised that there was something different about this phone box – the glass and roof had been removed and it was filled with plants – variegated ivy trailed through the now empty windows and daffodils emerged where the roof should have been. I wasn’t the only one to notice – a woman insisted on taking a photo of her mother standing next to the phone box. Even after getting on the bus I overheard one passenger pointing it out to her neighbour. ‘Look at that! What a clever idea!’ It was a pleasure to see something that had become redundant put to new use. The old becomes new.
This message, of God transforming the old and doing a new thing is at the heart of the message of Easter which we are celebrating. On Easter Sunday at Archway a number of young people are being confirmed during the morning service. They are a visible reminder that God continues to work in people’s hearts and lives and thus renews his church. In God it is never a case of ‘same old, same old’ but rather ‘I am a new creation’.