An uncomfortable connection exists between change and following Jesus.
And we've been through a season of unprecedented change: new church, new building, new community, new name, new staff, new people, new ways of doing things. New wineskin?
Some of us are still catching our breath, some of us are mourning, some of us are loving it, and some of us, like the people in this passage from Luke, are asking Jesus, "Why don't you do things the way we've done them before?" (Luke 5:33).
Jesus knows our deep love of the familiar - after he speaks about the new wineskin, he looks us full in our oh so human faces, knowing our motives, and recognizes how hard it is to change:
"No one, after drinking old wine wishes for new; for he says, 'The old is good enough." (Luke 5:39)
I have, in many areas of my life, settled for good enough. Out of exhaustion, out of disappointment, out of hardship, out of addiction, out of laziness - I've nestled my heart into cozy, self-satisfied places that I'm loathe to give up for something as jarring, astringent and not mellow as new wine tends to be.
We must also remember that the opposite drive is no less destructive - to constantly be chasing the new and trampling the old is a hazardous occupation - and there is always lots of collateral damage - usually in the form of relationships with other people, and the loss of valuable traditions and life-giving legacies.
My husband and I are preparing to move - and while I'm thrilling at the thought of all those boxes leaving our house for the thrift store, never to return, and making plans to chuck out most of furniture and try a completely new style of decorating, he is figuring out how to pack up his impressive collection of compact discs and tape cassettes. Some of us love change, and some of us don't.
Every time we move, we fight a little (well, perhaps a lot) over this difference in method. But every time we move, we move together to a new place that allows both of us to rethink what our life is meant to be together. And this time, we're moving not because I won, and convinced him to embrace something new, or because our current apartment is bad, but because we have an opportunity. In fact, I'm losing something I love almost more than I like change: a place filled with light and sun, and a healing view of the ocean. What are we giving this up for? A pretty quirky basement suite. It's not quite what we hoped for, or what we're familiar with, but unlike our tiny, pretty nest of a home now, this basement suite is big. Huge.
We've always known that for the sake of our calling as a couple, and our heritage of hospitality, we're going to have to keep making room in our lives and our home for more. Our life at present is good enough - but we both want it to be better, filled with purpose and turned outward, moving forward, ready to host the work of the kingdom in our midst.
Let us sit together, then, those of us who thrill at revolution and those of us who like things the way they are. Let us set aside our preferences and consider together the source of change - the reason we might possibly need a new wineskin in the first place:
"If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water." (John 7:37-38)
It's not about the wineskin - it's about the wine. Rivers of living water flow into a community who is hungry for change not for its own sake but because we believe in the healing, resurrection power of Jesus Christ, and we want to see it happen in our midst.
We must be ready to rally - like the fishermen in the boat drowning in fish, like the women enlarging their tents, (Isaiah 54: 2-3), like the drought-stricken village in the midst of first monsoon - grab every available container to catch the rain, and then, when we run out, make things bigger, change the shape of things, stretch out our hands, repurpose our possessions, and find new spaces to catch as much of the coming river of living water as we can.
- Sarah Kift