Tuesday, August 28, 2007

down to the skin

jesus tells this parable to the religious leaders of the day when they ask him why his disciples don’t follow the rules.

"no one tears a patch from a new garment and sews it on an old one. if he does, he will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old. and no one pours new wine into old wineskins. if he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. no, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. and no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, 'the old is better.'" luke 5:36-39

i have puzzled over that last line. no one, after drinking the new wine wants it. they want the old. the old is better.

i have often focused on the wine in this passage. thinking that the wine represents the new life that jesus had come to bring. this life abundant. the pharisees had turned faith into a list of rules. i was all about keeping in check, and jesus comes along and breaks that with a revelation of relationship. i thought that was the point. that jesus was saying that the pharisees just didn’t get it.

but i now wonder if the point was not the wine, but rather the wineskin. it all came down to the skin. an old wineskin, had the tendency to become rigid, and when filled with new wine, would not have room for the fermenting wine to expand as it gave off gas. it would then crack and the wine would be spilt. both wine and wineskin would be ruined. it all came down to the skin.

the question becomes the flexibility and stretch capacity of the skin. is it able to expand beyond its current state? can it be stretched?

maybe that is what jesus was getting at. if we are rigid and unable to be stretched, we just might miss out on the new wine jesus talks about. we won’t want it. we will be satisfied with the same old same old.

what does it look like to hang on to the old and grab hold of the new? because jesus did not replace the old, he fulfilled it with the new.

what old wine is worth keeping and what could be dumped down the sink? what new wine needs a little time to mature and what is ready for us to share with friends over dinner?

when you think of your faith, your background, your history, what is worth holding tight? what can you stand on? and what things might be making your skin rigid and tough to stretch that might be worth dumping down the drain?

it all comes down to the skin.

peace to you,