Daily Reflection
September 7th, 2001
Shirley Scritchfield
Institutional Research & Assessment
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.

Colossians 1:15-20
Psalms 100:1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Luke 5:33-39

“…no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed.  But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins.”
                Luke 5:37-38

New things…  Do you like new things?  Do you seek change out?  Are you comfortable with change?  Or, like me, do you find change disruptive, difficult, at best uncomfortable? 

When I was younger, I think I always associated newness with goodness.  Newness meant progress, advancement, growth.  But, then, newness became change--parents aging and dying, longtime friends moving away, dreams being dashed by the realities of humanity, work that was once fulfilling becoming stale and confining, beloved sons growing to manhood and beginning the flight away.  And, suddenly, I am resisting change, mourning the inevitable losses that accompany it even if it is good change, and sometimes even participating in a kind of anticipatory grieving process that obscures the joy in the present moment.  How bad is that?

So, when I looked at today’s gospel, I again felt like someone had some secret insight into my heart and head—and had deliberately assigned me a scripture because I needed to grapple with it.  While I know that is not the way it occurs, I also know the Spirit has this way of making coincidences opportunities.  And, so, here are my reflections…and my prayer.

Spirit of Life,
am I like the Pharisees of old?
Do I turn away from the good news you bring?
Do I try to use the new cloth of your love
to patch the holes in the pre-existing fabric of my life?
Am I guilty of working 
to put new wine 
into old wineskins?

At  first, I don’t see how 
the lessons you teach apply to me.
They apply to others
--today’s Pharisees, holding on to doctrine, 
refusing to trust the Spirit to blow and 
bring love and light.
They are the ones 
who need this lesson
--not I.
I welcome the good news,
I rejoice in the transformation you proclaim.

Then, again…do I?
I hear you calling me 
to join in a new song, to dance a new dance,
to step into tomorrow with “only” your promise.
But I hesitate…
my habits of spirit, mind, and body
may be confining, 
but they are familiar, they are predictable.
I know them, 
and they offer the comfort of illusion. 
Like those Pharisees of old,
I too like my old wine—
I cling to it in the face of
radical transformation 
and unpredictability.

And yet…
I hear…and I hunger…
I reach out my hand,
it meets with yours,
I find I have to try…

May it be so.

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