23 January 2021Luke 5:27-39
But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. (v. 38)
In today's reading, Jesus was issuing a challenge about change and acceptance of change and in it we see the seeds of the split between the Christian Church and Judaism. It is tantamount to saying that new revelations about God can’t be held in old forms. There is also the suggestion that it is possible to put such an emphasis on tradition that the value of anything new is disregarded.
Many years ago I heard a song written by Sydney Carter which began, "Give me the good news in the present tense". It was a plea to make the words and the practices of the Church relevant to each generation.
My children have no real understanding of denominations. To them to say you should be Methodist, or Anglican or Baptist is nonsensical. Are you loved, valued, welcomed, does the experience you have help you meet with God? Those are the questions they ask. Do you leave worship feeling better or worse for having been there? To reach my children, and those younger than they are, we have to live in the present tense.
It is a reminder of the need for resonance of claims and actions. It is a reminder that going to church should help us meet with God. If we say people are welcome, then they need to be welcomed. If we say people are respected, then they need to be respected. These words of Jesus are a reminder that the message we offer must be relevant to those hearing it.
The content, the truth, of what we communicate doesn’t change. The way we communicate, and the method of our communications does. Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and Tik Tok have become staples of church communication, particularly in response to restrictions caused by Covid-19. We need to welcome the Good News told in the present tense.
- What is the unchanging truth that we need to communicate?
- What is the best way to communicate that truth?
- What place do historic formulations of faith and traditional practices of worship have in the modern world? How can we keep a sense of continuity with the past as we live in the present?