15. Dec, 2021

New Wine

“…And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for they say, ‘The old is better.’”
Luke 5 v 37 – 39

My thoughts have been continually drawn to this scripture. As 2021 slowly draws to a close, I have been reflecting on its relevance for Radiant and our missional purpose as a whole church cluster. God is birthing something new among our worshipping community and how we express that is likely to look different to what has been before.

I write this while in the middle of our Church Cluster’s YouTube ‘Continuing the Conversation’ series called ‘Heritage & Worship Life’. Learning the history wrapped up within the walls of these incredible churches has been fascinating. It is always good to remember where we have come from and what community of worshippers we belong to. Within this history lies wisdom and experience to celebrate and learn from. The same is found in the biblical history of Israel, God’s chosen people. The prophet’s call was always to learn from the past and move on in the path set out before them.

God is unchanging, his love, justice and his word remain constant through the ages, but our response and methods of communication will vary. The apostle Paul wrote that he would be ‘all things to all people’ (1 Corinthians 9 v 22) that he might share the good news of Jesus to as many as possible. Culture and tradition bring differences in response, but if our worship carries heartfelt integrity, it will be a sweet-smelling aroma to the Lord. As carriers of God’s love and as worshipping people, we need to remain adaptable and genuine in our mission to today’s generation. The outpouring of God’s blessing and glory will be into new wineskins able to hold the weight of his presence, as he chooses to reveal himself in this season. 

We continue the journey of Christians from times past, as they followed God’s light on the path set out for them. The baton is handed to us and as we contemplate this, our prayers lift to heaven asking for the Holy Spirit to direct our footsteps. We are continuing the conversation of the ages gone by, carrying the gospel message of Christ crucified, risen and coming again. Jesus is the cornerstone of our faith, and he doesn’t leave us alone during our part of the marathon.

From old to young we are a family of faith and need one another as we follow God’s plan for our worshipping community today. And it doesn’t just end with our cluster of churches. God’s plan is for all worshipping communities to work together to the furthering of his glorious kingdom in their local area. We have seen glimmers of this as we have joined together in prayer gatherings, churches together and supporting one another at light parties and the like.

While seeking the Lord about growing the worship group at our local church, I was reminded that the talent, gifts and ministries are already here. It was as if God was beckoning me to look further afield and not be limited by one location. What the Lord is birthing is a new way and my spirit is excited. I am no longer worried about what the future may look like because I am beginning to see something even wider than the walls of one particular church. I believe God is on the move and it’s time to dive into the flow of his wider plan. We all have a part to play. Let’s discover this together and rejoice that Emmanuel is still with us and still working his way into the life of his unified people.

“…No one after drinking the old wine wants the new…”
Luke 5 v 39

Generally, no one likes to change and often once we have discovered a good thing we can anchor there. Church Revivals through history have been a bit like this. They were great in their time, miracles and numbers added to the church, but then seem to get stuck. Human nature begins to think that unless we sing the same song and fall over when we were prayed for, we are not spiritual and have missed the boat. God will move by his Spirit in whatever way he sees fit, but I also believe that God is always on the move. The challenge for every Christian is to allow the wind of God to move our sails in the direction he goes. The course may not always be our preferred route, but we are exhorted by those who have gone before to stay the course (Hebrews 12 v 1).

The new wine, I believe is the outpouring of God’s glory in his willing wineskins. It is the transformational sweetness of his presence working in and through his people, revealing Christ in ever increasing measure, as we surrender to his purposes. The church of today is the new wineskin, yet to have experienced the continuing fermenting of the wine of God within. Our skin will be stretched to the limit, but it’s a stretching necessary for God’s will to be done. Transformation is not comfortable, but it is worth it.

Father, we look with expectation for your purposes to unfold in the life of our worshipping community. May you prepare us for the outpouring of your new wine and help us to learn wisdom from generations past. We ask this for your glory. Amen.