Wine and Wineskins

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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"And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine is stored in new wineskins so that both are preserved."

Matthew 9:17

In the time of Jesus, wine was often stored in the carefully prepared skins of animals. As the wine fermented, the skins would stretch without breaking. But it was not wise to re-use a wineskin after it was empty, because an old wineskin lost the ability to stretch. New wine required new skins.

So it is with the new presence of the kingdom of God, Jesus explains. It will require new forms. Thus, for example, the disciples of Jesus didn't follow all of the rules for fasting that were common among religious Jews at that time. The newness of being with Jesus was an occasion for feasting, not fasting.

I have found Jesus' teaching about wine and wineskins to be extraordinarily challenging. In fact, it was this verse that first encouraged me to be open to the possibility that God wanted me to leave my pastorate at Irvine Presbyterian Church. I wanted my life to be like a new wineskin for the new wine of Jesus in my life. Little did I know when I asked the Lord to show me if my life needed a new wineskin that he would lead me and my family to Laity Lodge in Texas.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Is God wanting to do a new thing in your life? Are your "wineskins" supple enough to contain the "new wine"? Are you open to God's newness in your life? Why or why not?

PRAYER: Dear Lord, thank you that you want to do a new thing in us and through us. Even if we often get into a rut in our lives, you haven't given up on us.

Help us, gracious Lord, to be open to the new wineskins that will be able to contain the new wine. These new wineskins might involve moving, or a new job, or a new spiritual discipline, or all sorts of things. Give us courage to consider what our new wineskins might be. You know how much we become attached to what is familiar, and how scary newness can be to us. Help us to trust you more fully, so that we might be open to and eager for your new wine in our lives. Amen.