I'm noticing an uptick of a certain type of marketing of our faith, a new emphasis, ironically, a new emphasis on the word "ancient." Signage, websites, and whatnot proclaim an offering of "ancient" faith. People are exploring "ancient" faith in online blogs and communities. Interest is growing in old writings, old liturgy, etc. Older cultures in the Christian stream, the Orthodox and Catholics delight in this because of course to them belongs the largest aggregation of years, the greatest seniority, the most ancientry.
It's all tosh. We are bowing down before numbers. 'Many' years, 'many' lives of men are not long in comparison to, for instance the lifespan of an angel, or God himself. God is the Ancient of Days. All of man's past is as the grass... And is two thousand years ago really ancient times? Is this not the new age of the Spirit? Is this not the promised time of the kingdom of God? The time that all the (actually) ancient prophecies were pointing to? ..
What's at stake here? Three things. First is the equality of all believers, those long ago and those present. If God is the same God as revealed by Jesus, then our access to him is or ought to be the same as for all our past brothers and sisters. If we venerate the past, we can never attain or even surpass it.
Secondly it is not normal or right to treat the past church as the glorious time that we must get back to. That verse in Proverbs about the path of righteous growing brighter and brighter must surely be God's ideal for the church. That glow has to be on the future, not the past. Somehow we have to believe that the best is yet to be, that we "ain't seen nothing yet!" If not, we're doomed. And besides, any such attempt to return to the first church is doomed to failure. We are not of the same culture and never can be.
Thirdly, if we can divest ourselves of this idea of ancientry, if can see ourselves as being in the same moment, the same new day, as the first century church we might be free as necessary to undo prior mistakes or make new choices in the church without feeling any guilt. We might be able to rethink stuff. It might be as simple as turning around to get the (oops!) forgotten camera before a holiday trip. But if we cling to our ancientry we're locked into whatever came before. All the historic responses to bygone cultures are immutable decisions that handcuff us against actually dealing rightly with today.