Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Begin by praying the Collect for Grace and Collect for Purity.
Collect for Grace:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us safely to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Collect for Purity:
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we might perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Read: Psalm 145, Song of Solomon 4:9-5:1, and Luke 5:33-39
Wine in Jesus’ time was fermented in goat skin bottles. The skins used were freshly tanned, so they still had some stretch in them. The grape juice was put in them, and natural yeasts ate the sugars in the juice, converted it to alcohol, and gave off carbon dioxide as a byproduct. As that happened, the skin would stretch and blow up, responding to the increasing pressure inside. The outside of the bottle, however, would dry out and after fermentation had ended, it would become brittle.
Some people had the bright idea of reusing old skins so they didn’t have to buy new ones. That didn’t end well, because as the new batch of wine began fermenting and giving off carbon dioxide, the rigid, brittle bottle would burst, and the wine would spill out on the ground.
We don’t need to be like old wine skins, rigid and unable to accept change. We don’t need to be too set in our ways, because God is a God of growth. God is continually on the move. God is always trying to get us to grow a bit more, to become more like him. He keeps changing things, making us uncomfortable, making us adapt to new things – thereby learning valuable lessons as we do so. Why does he do that? Because he loves us.
Further, life in general is all about change. We don’t stay infants our entire lives, for instance. As go through life, we become more and more mature, becoming more and more like Christ. This never ends.
Sometimes we look to the past and remember the “glory years”. We remember when we had several hundred people in church, and dozens of kids. We remember how wonderful everyone was to us. Our minds automatically filter out the negative things, and we tend to only remember the good. In some ways, life now isn’t really that much different than it was fifty years ago. There have always been rude people. We forget that winter when everyone got sick about the same time and there were fewer than a dozen at church for several weeks. We don’t remember that those dozens of kids were only there for a few events.
In other ways, life is very different now. We have technology that we were only dreaming about fifty years ago. We have seen the end of the modern age and the beginning of the post-modern age. We eat out more than ever before, and watch more television, and fewer people attend church. Where the church used to be the center of the community, it’s now on the fringe. We have to grow and adapt and change, and we can’t live in our golden memories. We don’t live in Mayberry, even here in rural Alabama.
God wants us to be adaptable, not caught in a time warp. He wants us to grow, not stagnate. Ask God to help you to be flexible and follow the lead of the Holy Spirit. Write your own prayer.