2:21-22 “Nobody,” he continued, “sews a patch of unshrunken cloth on to an old coat. If he does, the new patch tears away from the old and the hole is worse than ever. And nobody puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine bursts the skins, the wine is spilt and the skins are ruined. No, new wine must go into new wineskins.”
New wine in new wineskins. Fresh winds of the Spirit needs to distance itself from old church structures. It reminds me of manages concern about starting a new church/meeting/thingie. I imagine in the early days of Jesusianity when persecution flowed from the resistant synagogues and not the jackboots of the Roman Empire, these words were comforting. We are new wine. We need new wineskins.
For me, who tends to view doctrine functionally rather than propositionally, the question is always: how do we apply this? Do we use this to murder or create? And if create, then create what?
And I had never linking this wineskins trope to the fasting injunction. Fasting is for mourning. For folks who do not feel God’s Spirit to bribe God, get God’s attention by some symbolic act of sacrifice. Fasting is for dead souls who want to live not for living souls moved by the Spirit.
I cannot help but apply this to the whole emerging church thingie. And I am one foot in each world, liking some of what I see in this emerging church but also seeing a serious lack of charity and a refusal to acknowledge the accumulated wisdom of the previous generation. I especially see a rejection of the social gospel in emerging church circles. I see a deep longing for community and inclusion and empowerment in emerging church. A longing that needs to be fed. But I also feel a narrowness of spirit. And a confusion of packaging with depth.
Perhaps I see something to be recommended in old wine.