New Wine into Old Wineskins

January 18, 2017

And so, we come to another new year. Every year, I make the same old promise to myself that I’ll work out more, take more trips, eat healthier, spend more time reading and watching less Netflix, blog more, Tweet less…you get the picture. January of each year is filled with hope and promise, but by June, my wineskin is feeling patched and worn, those eager resolutions less filled with excitement and promise. Because to welcome in the change we were so eager for in January seems far less enticing now that its reality has had time to settle in with the daily hustle and bustle of work, kids, spouses, and the chaos of life. But let’s face it: change and innovation is hard. Switching from the smooth, worn, road-tested wine skin is hard. The “same old, same old” feels good, even comforting.

Jesus came to encourage, to heal and to encourage change, both big and small. It is only natural to be afraid of change. Fear of change is the foundation that keeps us grounded and stable – it is the old wineskin. Yes, you know the one I’m talking about, with all the patches, tears that have lovingly been resewn and fixed time after time, hoping that “this will be the last time it springs a leak, I promise.” And yet, it is exactly what keeps us grounded and stagnant in the traditions of old, rather than freeing us to move forward into the unknown. And to move forward, we must be willing to defy old traditions, to risk being ridiculed and questioned. And in the process, we will liberate ourselves of old patterns, habits, strings that tie us down from feeling free in Christ

Here’s the thing. If we don’t learn from the past, we can’t move into the future. If we don’t cherish and thank the old wineskin for all it has meant to us, all of the wonderful memories associated with it before moving on to the new, then we cannot tackle the new challenges and joys in the year with God, family and friends ahead. So in this year ahead, do not put your “old wine” of 2016 into your new wineskins, but always be looking for new ways to fill it again. And should your wineskin spring a leak, do remember that God our preserver and guardian is there, to fill and patch any leaks and holes that should appear so that you can continue along on this journey called faith.

About the Author
  • Liz Niehoff is a hospice chaplain in Danbury, Connecticut. She attended Princeton Theological Seminary and was ordained in the Reformed Church in America in 2014. She lives with her rescued Chihuahua-Yorkie mix, Oliver James, and they love to hike, explore the small towns of New England, and are on a mission to find all the drive-thru Dunkin Donuts in the state of Connecticut (you’re next Massachusetts!). She is also a die hard Boston Red Sox and New England Patriots fan, despite being a New York Native.

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