Lent 2014: Day 5: Old and new – awakening

As befits a Sunday, there is a lightening of the mood in the #BigRead14 Barefoot Prayers by Stephen Cherry – an Awakening.

Stephen calls us to awake to God; to listen to him and what he wants.   This is something it is all too easy to forget to do in Lent; to be fixated by what we have given up; to listen to the hymns in their minor keys; and to dwell on forgiveness for acts past without praying on acts future. I pray that I may redress this balance.

Luke 5:33-39 is Maggi’s choice for today – new wine and old wineskins. In the past I’ve perhaps skipped past the true message here.

I’ve assumed that as one of the more Biblically focussed networks of churches is called “New Wine” that new wine is seen as the best and that we are called to put it in new wineskins – newer forms of church coming ever closer to God and removing past errors (as if older forms of church saw through a glass darkly; newer forms see Jesus face to face).

Yet, as Maggi points out, old and new can co-exist and complement each other. A rich old red and a crisp young white can co-exist on a wine list, just as old and new can co-exist in church. It’s interesting to read Rachel’s take on this from her perspective as a final year ordinand. Pushing my restaurant analogy slightly further, few people would order that cheeky young sauvignon blanc to go with a steak; likewise, the Bordeaux is unlikely to sit well with the salmon.

Both old and new need to play to its strengths and each leaves room for the other. What seems most important to me is that whatever we do, we do it well. I’ve been to all sorts of church services, high and low, formal and informal, where it has been obvious that people are just Trying Too Hard. Whilst I know (from behind the scenes) that a good service where people encounter God is often hard work, done well that work should not be self-evident and the result focus just on God. The winemaker knows what she or he is good at, and grows the right sort of grapes for the wine they know how to make; occasionally as church we need to remember the same is true.

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