Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Old Wineskins

Now John's disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. And people came and said to him, “Why do John's disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day. No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins—and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins.” Mark 2:18-22

One thing that becomes very clear with age is that we all become less flexible with time. Physically we have to keep stretching and exercising or we lose strength and muscle. Once upon a time our bodies moved however we wanted them to. It is the same with our spirits and our attitudes. They can also become rigid with age, unbending and inflexible.

Jesus is being confronted by folks who wanted to know why he wasn't fasting like John. He replies with the images of new and old cloth, new and old wineskins. He is talking about our spiritual and emotional flexibility, our receptivity to new ways of experiencing God and community. We can all point to times where others were unbending, and maybe even when we ourselves clung to one way in spite of the presence of God's love in our midst. We are invited by God today to practice our flexibility and openness to the changes around us.

Today, may I be an open and receptive vessel rather than an old wineskin. May we all be willing to stretch and grow as God has called us. May we not fear the changes we face but rather know that God is working in the midst of them, and with each change comes a new opportunity to experience God's real presence today.

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