Wednesday, January 18th. Mark 2:18-20

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?”  Jesus said to them, “The wedding guests cannot fast while the bridegroom is with them, can they? 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 on that day.”

 

 “No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak; otherwise, the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made.  And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost, and so are the skins; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.”  Mark 2:18-22

 

“We’ve never done it that way before…”

 

Sometimes the church gets a bum rap.  We are always so quick to point out the obvious that we miss the obvious.  Yes, the church can be a fairly inflexible institution.  Local congregations can get into squabbles over worship practices or how acolytes are supposed to dress, often under the same chorus of “we’ve never done it that way before.”  But surely that isn’t just a church problem.

 

Every institution, every business, every family, falls prey to that kind of “hold the line” thinking.  The safe and familiar will always have an edge over the innovative and daring, even over the different. As they say in sports, “defense wins championships.”

 

But there comes a time when we have to slow down, step back, and take a close look at where we are.  We have to take inventory of our reality.

 

John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting.  They were going without food for a period of time as a religious discipline, as a sign of their devotion.  Meanwhile, the followers of Jesus were having a great time.  But the day will come, says Jesus, when they will fast – and then not out of religious devotion or the subtle idea that “God will notice how dutiful we are and bless us” but they will fast out of heart-felt anguish and loss.

 

God is up to something new in Jesus that the Pharisees and John’s disciples fail to notice.  It isn’t new that God is loving or forgiving or concerned with the poor, the broken, the lost or the least.  None of that is new.  What is new is that God has come out of hiding in Jesus.  The heavens have been torn open and the loving nature of God is in their midst.  And they fail to see it.

 

The disciples of Jesus don’t know exactly what is going on but they know there is a promise happening that is better than the life they have known.  So they follow.  They observe.  They are open to being surprised.  They are new wineskins for the new wine that God is bringing into their midst.

 

Do we have the capacity to recognize where we are new wineskins or where we have hardened and are no longer open to God doing something new in our lives?  Can we realize that on our own or do we need someone else to tell us what they see in us because we can’t see it in ourselves?

 

I don’t know the answer to that one.  But it’s a worthy question.  One that requires us to slow down, step back, and take a close look at where we are.  We have to take inventory of our reality.  Often we are the change we seek.

 

Let us pray:  Dear Lord, keep our hearts soft, our minds open, our spirits willing and our hands busy.  Forgive us when our hearts get hard, our minds close down, and we only see our own way.  Guide us, that we might be open to wherever you lead us.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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3 Responses to “Wednesday, January 18th. Mark 2:18-20”

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