Ten days ago, I read something in my study notes which challenged me. The writer was reflecting on the passage in Matthew about wineskins.
Neither is new wine put into old wineskins. If it is, the skins burst and the wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed. But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved. (Matthew 9:17)
The writer made the point that while aged, or indeed truly vintage, wine is wonderful, it’s no longer fermenting with energy and creativity. In the same way we often hold onto faith practices and especially to forms of church worship which are comfortable rather than new and challenging. The gospel is called ‘good news’ for a reason. If we aren’t excited about knowing Jesus and worshipping him, what have we to share with the world?
As we return to church after lockdown, many of us are hankering for things ‘just as they were’. Is this indeed what God wants or is this a fantastic time for change and renewal? In our rush to get back to ‘proper’ worship, have we stopped to listen to the Spirit? One of the amazing things during lockdown is that technology has made church available to more people. I think it’s vital that we don’t lose this. In our rush to get back to church we must stop and remember the housebound.
The tendency to cling to the old goes back a long way. Isaiah said:
Do not remember the former things or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? (Issiah 43:18-19)
As we face the future as God’s people, our first priority must be to seek his will, not just in our personal lives but for his church here on earth. What new thing is God encouraging us to consider? What might we have to let go of? Are there things which we love but which are no longer appropriate in terms of sharing the gospel message and being inclusive? Are we excited or scared by the future?
With God all things are indeed possible.