Summary: Sometimes we just have to let everything go, have everything stripped away, put everything behind us and start again with the only sure foundation the Rock Jesus
Scripture Reading: Luke 5: 36-38
When was the last time you sat down and took stock of your life. Perhaps the beginning of the year? I wonder how many of those New Year resolutions you can even remember making ~ let alone kept! It may seem strange to think of new beginnings at this time of year! But God delights in doing new things with us and for us. This is something we find difficult to grasp. Even in our twilight years God is doing something new. Think of Abraham starting on a new journey in his seventies. It’s never too late for a new beginning with God!
Awful events such as the September 11th terrorist attacks in New York make people review their priorities and activities. Something’s don’t seem quite so important whilst other things become a priority. Some good things come out too. Amazing stories of people helping others to survive ~ even at the cost of their own lives has proved to be the true victory of good overcoming evil.
Often its tragic circumstances that make us stop and think. We are reminded of the uncertainty of life. Tragic events or personal changes of circumstances can be a worthwhile time to look at our life, providing
· A time for reflection
· A time to review our priorities
· A time to set new goals.
2: Old – review, discard, keep
Our reading today implies that “new” is not often welcome, the “old is better”. But having a new start is something we as individuals and as a community should not resist but welcome. It’s an ideal opportunity to review our goals, priorities, and activities.
· Are we doing things because they have always been done that way, i.e. its traditional?
· Has a good thing came to an end – we need to recognise when its time for closure.
· Are we doing something that God is not – perhaps we mistakenly rushed into something that was not for us?
Lets see if we can get rid of the “old yeast”, the obsolete things that are being done for their own sake and not to anyone’s benefit.
ARE YOU HANGING ON TO THE OLD WHEN GOD IS ON TO SOMETHING NEW?
3: New ~ unfamiliar, challenge, risk
Jesus did and said things in a new way – it really upset the traditionalists! His whole life is an example of doing things that had never been done that way before. Yet He fulfilled God’s plans to the letter but broke with man’s tradition. It got Him into a lot of trouble. Maybe it will be the same for us!
We often tend to like the familiar but is it time to be stretched like a new wineskin? Maybe we have put off doing something we know God wants us to be involved in. We like our comfortable routines, the risky unfamiliar unknown is just well ~ too risky, too uncomfortable, too challenging!
We just don’t like the new do we? Barbara Johnson told how she bought new pillows but halfway thru the night she was fishing the old thrown out ones from the rubbish bin, because she could not get to sleep on her nice new pillows. They were far too uncomfortable!
Aren’t we the same sometimes? How we love our old comfy slippers and those well-worn clothes we like to relax in – the familiar! The clothes our partners would like to put in the charity bag but we love to hang onto!
You know Peter needed a lot of persuasion to break with tradition and do something new with God. Acts 10 & 11 shows he needed to be told three times during a vision that he was not to call anything impure that God had made clean; then reassurance from the Spirit not to hesitate but to go ahead with the next step in God’s plan. And after successfully taking the gospel to the Gentiles for the very first time, he then had to explain and defend his actions before the Church! Getting involved with something new is not without its difficulties!
GOD OFTEN WANTS TO CHANGE AND CHALLENGE US!
4: A word in favour of the old
It’s said don’t throw out the baby with the bath water! We need to adopt a positive not negative attitude. We can see from our reading that the old wine is still valued; in fact people seem to prefer it! Lets not get rid of things that work ~ just changing things for the sake of change. It could end up being another form of legalism!
Lets learn from the gospel which although 2000 years old is not due for a change on the contrary it has the power to save and transform lives. It’s often the wine skin ~ the outer wrappings that need a change not the contents.