Friday, January 16, 2009

New Wineskins

"And no one pours new wine into old wineskins.If they do, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins." Mark 2:22

The coming few days will mark some great transitions in the life of our country. A president, who has served for eight years gave his farewell address last night, and a new president will be inaugurated on Tuesday. More than just a new president, but the first ever African American president, the first president of color in our nation's history. Historic times calling for new wine and new wineskins. Our family too is in transitions of sorts. Our youngest Phoebe returns to college after break and I fly out to North Dakota to attend a national native gathering which is being held for the very first time on the Standing Rock Reservation. When I return I will then begin a spring time of being Procter Fellow at my seminary allowing me to do some research and study. Not as great and monumental a transition as the coming of our 44th president, but for a family, these are important changes too, worthy of new wineskins also.

Sometimes, especially in families and church communities, we don't want to fully acknowledge the transitions individuals and communities are experiencing. Transitions are difficult for all people and we often resist change by going back to the old ways, the old habits. The Pharisees were testing Jesus and did not approve of the change he was bringing about, bringing tax collectors and others sinners into the life of faith. They didn't approve of the disciples' lack of fasting, and didn't really approve of the whole of Jesus ministry. Big change meets with big Resistance. But, without change and new wineskins, everything will be ruined. The world needed new wineskins then, as the world regularly does, and new wineskins are needed now. Some times you just can't go with the same old, same old. God calls us from time to be made new, to be reborn, to be transformed and to live into a new name and new skin. But transitions are difficult whether large or small. Making new skins is tough because it requires time and patience.

Today, I want to acknowledge that these wonderful transitions ahead also herald an awkwardness. Filling out new skin is much more difficult than remaining old wine in old skins. May I remember that God, who has been patient with me so far, will also endow me with the patience and time needed for these coming transitions. May we all rejoice in the transitions in our lives, and ask God to help us become new vessels of God's love in the coming days.

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