Back in April, Sonya Renee Taylor tweeted something which has been bouncing around in my mind since. She proposes:
“We will not go back to normal. Normal never was. Our pre-corona existence was never normal other than we normalized greed, inequity, exhaustion, depletion, extraction, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate and lack. We should not long to return, my friends. We are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment. One that fits all of humanity and nature.”
Like many of you, I have held the longing to return to what was within the very core of my being. No, it was not perfect. Yes, the sins Taylor mentions, and many more, left a shadow on our lives. Yet we knew that existence. We had grown comfortable in the way things were. In Mark 2:21 Jesus talks about patching an old cloak with new cloth: “No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak; otherwise, the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made.” Taylor’s urging to stitch a new garment reflects the wisdom of this teaching.
Then, in the next verse, Mark 2:22, Jesus teaches the disciples a similar principle. He says, “No one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost, and so are the skins; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.” As we grow in our faith, we become new wineskins, shedding our old ways in favor of aligning our lives more closely with Christ. If we cling too tightly to what once was, the new things God is doing in our midst will burst our wineskins and the new opportunities before us will be lost. We are in a time of new wine, and we must be new wineskins.
One of the challenges we face in difficult times like these, is during times of stress our ability to think creatively is dramatically diminished. Right now creativity and discernment are vitally important to hearing God’s call on our lives, and living into that new wineskin way of life. So, what are we to do? With the decreased creativity, and importance of discernment, is there hope?
ABSOLUTELY! We can kindle the flame of hope by remembering God’s promises to us. In the final hours of his life, Jesus assured the disciples of God’s continuing and abiding presence with them through the Holy Spirit. That same spirit of God is within and among us today. Jesus reminds us, in John 14:26, “the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.” Our work as followers of Christ, is to be attentive to God’s spirit at work in our midst. Through that spirit, that reminder of God’s love and presence, we can partner with God in co-creating that new garment, a new wineskin, that will be a living testimony to God’s love for us all. I look forward to what we will learn and do in the future as God’s spirit teaches us and reminds us of God’s unfailing love.