This blog is entitled, “Random thoughts from the Edge”… and so here is a random thought that occurred to me yesterday.
We often hear about ‘new wine’ – there’s a festival named New Wine, I think there’s a network of churches connected to it. The background is something Jesus said when asked about why his disciples didn’t fast even though John the Baptist’s disciples did. He says there’s no need to fast when the ‘bridegroom’ (Jesus) is present, it’s when he’s gone that we’ll need to fast. So far, so good.
But then come a couple of random verses about putting new patches on old cloth and new wine into old wineskins (this is in Mark 2). Just quite what this has to do with fasting is beyond me, I suppose I’ll need to read a commentary or something to find that out. But normally we focus on the ‘new wine’ issue, generally along the lines of, “God’s doing something new. We need to be careful not to force those new things/Christians into old structures/expressions of church”. Fair enough. New wineskins for new wine, otherwise the wine will be spoiled.
Mark 2:21 goes, “No-one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse.”
The thought that I had yesterday was: What if something’s wrong with the old structures, with the old way of doing things? Is Jesus saying that, rather than trying to fix things with new ideas, we should be going back to basics, to the ancient way of doing church?
If I belong to a church that is centuries, rather than months, old – are the problems that I encounter going to be sorted by bringing in new life, or by rediscovering the old things that will fit the hole snugly? Old patches for old cloth, otherwise the cloth will be torn.