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New Year’s Wine By Cleo Dailey III (Modernday Lazurus)

He told them this parable: “No one tears a piece out of a new garment to patch an old one. Otherwise, they will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old.” Luke 5:36

There I was, excited about the clock having struck midnight. I had made it! All of the ups and downs, tears and cheers, and “bipolar moments” that had made that year had come to an end, and there I was, ready to cross over. Completely drained, but unapologetically happy, I lifted my hands in praise for the joy of surviving 2019. And then the most odd thought came to mind: “It’s time for new wine…”

Jesus spent the vast majority of His time in ministry doing two things: dispelling the myth of religious jargon, and reaching toward a people who had for one reason or another lost their way back to a Father that loved them. His entire message was love: love for God, love for self, love for each other. This oftentimes came in direct contradiction to the pious principles of the Pharisees, who had marginalized the populace by making unobtainable goals to heaven. Much like many religious sects of today, the Pharisees represented useless works that served them and their opinions first, and then (if there was time left) God and His grace. It offended Jesus so much that He was often seen using plain language to explain deeply spiritual insights. Such was the case here.

Jesus lived in a mostly agricultural culture. This meant that what mattered MOST to the people were things like farming, fishing, and wine. The people loved the wine presses! The wine was not like our overly sweetened, fermented wines. No, this was fresh and pure. In the 5th chapter of Luke’s gospel, Jesus is once again confronted with the religious mindset of new. Like many of us, the Pharisees promised “New Year, New Me… New Year, New Ruler…” they promised a ruler that was to come who would set them free. But the issue was deeper.

The Ruler was walking and talking amongst them! There He was, the promise of God. Yet because He didn’t look like, y’all like, or satisfy their list of religious checkpoints, He was rejected. Sometimes the new we are looking for is being pursued by old eyes. We want a new way, yet we dress it in the clothing of the old way. Jesus knew what Einstein knew long before he existed: doing something over and over again and expecting the same result is insane! Jesus spoke to the Pharisees in a scientific factual way. He explained that the concept of science teaches us that pouring new wine into an old wine skin would cause compression of such magnitude that the skins themselves would burst, making the new wine of no effect. There was also an inward damage done to the old wine skin, as it had already been stretched to the limit. (I REALLY wished I had the time to preach this!)

Miracles, signs, and wonders are usually prayed for most around the beginning of the year. To they who are not used to them, they bring a strong sense of expectation from God with little to no work from the person who asked. The brilliant description of placing new wine into old wineskins has a triple meaning. You see, the spiritual wine comes from above; the wine skin, however, is our responsibility. Spiritually, trying to constantly place a new thing in an old format also causes a thing to burst. Consider political, social economic circles, and religious practices. Are they evoking change in our neighborhoods? Consider our own resolutions and reactions to them. Have we seen growth? What are we asking God for, and have we actually set ourselves up for the change we are seeking?

In the same way that I was hearing the almost insane conversation in my head on New Year’s, I am hearing it for the sake of our New Year and Decade. Have you asked God for something in this year? Have you prepared yourself for it? Have you prayed, prioritized, and planned for its arrival? Or, like pants that no longer fit, are we about to burst from asking for things we have not readied ourselves for? It’s time for new wine!