The New New Creation

By Jennifer Woodruff Tait

June 12, 2024

Scripture — 2 Corinthians 5:14-17 (NRSV)

For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them. From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!


“You have to start from where you are, not where you were. You aren’t there anymore.” God is a great restorer, and we have gotten much back and been immensely grateful for it, but we also lost some things we have not gotten back.


Most of the time, I write new devotionals for Life for Leaders. Because of my habit of matching the Scriptures I pick to the ones in the three-year cycle of the Revised Common Lectionary, it’s fairly rare for us to hit a set of lectionary Scriptures that I’ve written about before. I have written multiple times about certain feasts and days of remembrance, but generally about the different Scriptures assigned to those feasts in different years. It’s unusual for the exact same set of lessons on the exact same day in the church year to fall to me. But I have been at this since 2019, so it sometimes happens, and it is the case for the readings for this coming weekend.

We do make reprints of devotionals older than a year old occasionally at Life for Leaders, to enable writers to take a vacation or have a time of Sabbath. So I went to look at my old devotionals to see if they were good candidates to reprint (as the parent of teenagers, I could always use an extra bit of Sabbath). They were from June 11-12, 2021, and they were all about COVID—both of them. They came so much out of that pandemic moment that they were not good candidates for reprinting without new commentary. (You can read them in full here, which also explains why we are now in Ordinary Time, and here.)

In them, I expressed both the confusion that attended that sad time and the hope that Jesus would walk with us through whatever happened to whatever was next. It’s rare that any of us gets to see how well we did as a prophet, but today and tomorrow I get to do that. Here’s some of what I said about 2 Corinthians 5 three years ago:

Perhaps if the pandemic had lasted only a few weeks or a month or two, the world we came back to might have looked more like the world we left. But after fifteen months, we’ve formed new habits. We’ve disconnected from some things we were connected to and connected to other things we might never have considered being connected to before. The economy has changed. Relationships have changed. Churches have changed. We’re used to doing some things very differently. And over all of us hangs the tragedy of those we have lost—3.7 million worldwide, approximately six hundred thousand in the U.S.

I feel—and maybe you do too—that the world has been made new, but not in any way that I expected, or any way that was welcome. There have been beautiful moments of connection, to be sure, but there has also been so much death and destruction. For those of us who believe in a good God who is at work to redeem the world, it can seem awfully hard to see that good God at work right now. COVID seems to be what is making all things new. What about Jesus? Where is he? Where is the new creation?

Three years later, it does seem clear that the world has been in many ways made new. The COVID-19 pandemic was officially declared over on May 5, 2023, just over a year ago. (This doesn’t mean people don’t still get COVID, of course. I didn’t get it for the first time until October 2023. It just means the illness is not at pandemic levels.) All of the things I longed for in that original devotional, from eating in restaurants to worshipping with gusto, have been restored to the vast majority of us. And as much as we’ve all grown tired of Zoom, the ability of the average person who can afford or obtain an Internet connection to meet and work—and worship—remotely has transformed many people’s lives and some entire industries.

Yet, as a quote I once read says, “You have to start from where you are, not where you were. You aren’t there anymore.” (Google has been no help to me in finding out the origin of this—if you know who said it, please write in!) God is a great restorer, and we have gotten much back and been immensely grateful for it, but we also lost some things we have not gotten back.

Chiefly, we lost people. Those statistics I quoted in 2021 eventually totaled 7 million dead in the world and 1.2 million dead in the U.S. We lost places, too; a virus that spread especially on the kind of occasions when people built community ended up shuttering many community-building places, either immediately or in time. And we lost some of the community built in those places, too. We may be, in many ways, a more connected world, but we are also an even more polarized one.

All of that is to say that hunting for the new creation is very complicated, and if you still feel as though you have been through trauma, you have, and you should be gentle with yourself. But as I mentioned three years ago in my second devotional of this set, and as I’m going to mention tomorrow, we have not been left without hope. Stay tuned.


What did you lose between 2020 and now?

What (if anything) did you gain?

Where did you see the Lord?


One of my very favorite songs about the possibility of new creation, the complications that arise on the way, and the final hope that remains ours is “Hymn of Promise” by Natalie Sleeth. Here’s a performance of it from May 2021 with a masked and distanced choir (lyrics are on the screen). I wanted to select such a performance to honor those we have lost.


(Prayer for Social Justice in the Book of Common Prayer) Grant, O God, that your holy and life-giving Spirit may so move every human heart and especially the hearts of the people of this land, that barriers which divide us may crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease; that our divisions being healed, we may live in justice and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Reconciling the Whole World (2 Corinthians 5:16–21).

Jennifer Woodruff Tait

Editorial Coordinator

Jennifer Woodruff Tait (PhD, Duke University; MSLIS, University of Illinois; MDiv/MA Asbury Theological Seminary) is the copyeditor of and frequent contributor to Life for Leaders. She is also senior editor of

More on Jennifer

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Learn Learn Learn Learn

the Life for Leaders newsletter

Learn Learn Learn Learn