Week of 7 Easter, Year Two[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]
Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:
Psalms 102 (morning) // 107:1-32 (evening)
The last few lines from today’s gospel warn us against the quick fixes and shortcuts that may tempt us today. When we attempt to either preserve or adapt something we cherish in gimmicky, incomplete ways, we often lose both the thing we wanted to save and whatever new thing was coming our way.
For example, Jesus tells his listeners that when a favorite piece of clothing has a hole in it, we might try to repair it quickly with a patch made of unshrunk cloth. However, the new patch will pull away from the old garment, and the clothing will be even closer to falling apart when “a worse tear is made.” A quick fix just makes things worse.
Likewise, an effort to cram new wine into old wineskins can result in a double loss: “the skins burst, and the wine is spilled, and the skins are destroyed.” A new infusion of wine in an old container leaves us with nothing at all.
Many of the solutions proposed for our health and our families, for our congregations, and for our social inequities are often just quick fixes and shortcuts: an untested patch, new wine in an old wineskin. Of course, incremental and symbolic changes can have a significant cumulative effect. However, Christians should recall that the change proclaimed in the gospel involves a thorough transformation of ourselves, our relationships, our communities of faith, our society. Not simple. Not easy.
The message of change proclaimed in the gospel is not simply a matter of getting “new blood” in an old system. The gospel type of change constantly demands an overhaul of whatever attempts to contain it, lest we spill the wine of God’s self-giving love. The world may not have been ready for the thoroughgoing change that Christ proclaimed, but we can persist in bringing profound change to ourselves and our communities today.
Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as Priest Associate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and assists with adult formation and campus ministry at St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.