Someone once asked Matthew what Jesus meant when he said that ‘no-one sews a (new) patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment… (or) pours new wine into old wineskins.’ (Mark 2:21-22).
We often lose the immediate meaning of Jesus’ illustrations that would have been blindingly obvious to his first-century listeners, so we are always grateful for the wisdom of those who write Bible commentaries or the footnotes in Study Bibles! They point out that Jesus used the people’s knowledge of repairing clothes and wine-making to point out that their old way of doing things was not flexible enough to accommodate his new way.
By the time you read this, Matthew will have led our deacons’ awayday. The plan is to take the opportunity given by the gradual return to a fuller church life, to reflect on whether we should be going back to ‘the way things used to be’, or whether, in some ways at least, we should look for a new way of doing things and discover ‘the way things ought to be.’
As we celebrate Easter, we remember that on Good Friday, Jesus took on himself all the consequences of our ‘old ways’ – the selfish nature that separates us from God – and found himself separated from his Father on our behalf. But we also remember the Good News of Easter Day, when he defeated death and rose again, to show that our ‘old ways’ can be replaced by a new way, and a new life with him. In other words, Easter is the moment in time through which Jesus gives us the opportunity to become part of God’s family and be transformed from ‘the way things used to be’ to ‘the way things ought to be’.
God still wants to do new things in all of our lives. So this Easter, it is worth reflecting on the opportunities that his new life presents us with today. Does my life reflect his new life, or have I slipped back into old, inflexible, comfortable ways of doing things? Am I flexible enough to accommodate the changes he wants to bring? We know what our answer often is – and what it should be… and the two aren’t always the same! How about you?
Thank God that a new start in life is always possible with him, because…
…Christ is risen!
…He is risen indeed!
With our love and prayers
Matthew & Pauline