Blessed… Something New

At that time John’s disciples came and asked Jesus, “Why do we and the Pharisees frequently fast, but your disciples never fast?” Jesus responded, “The wedding guests can’t mourn while the groom is still with them, can they? But the days will come when the groom will be taken away from them, and then they’ll fast. “No one sews a piece of new, unshrunk cloth on old clothes because the patch tears away the cloth and makes a worse tear.  No one pours new wine into old wineskins. If they did, the wineskins would burst, the wine would spill, and the wineskins would be ruined. Instead, people pour new wine into new wineskins so that both are kept safe” (Matthew 9:14-17, Common English Bible).

I think the analogy wouldn’t have been lost on Jesus’ listeners. As Jesus compares the new unshrunk cloth sown onto old clothes and old wineskins containing new wine, I think that John’s (the Baptist) disciples minds would have gone to the familiarity of Psalm 51. They would have heard Jesus’ words and thought about the words of the psalmist, “Create a clean heart for me, God; put a new, faithful spirit deep inside me!” (Psalm 51:10, Common English Bible).

When I read today’s lesson that is where my mind goes. “Create a clean heart in me…” Just as the old wineskin couldn’t hold new wine without breaking, my old hardened heart can’t hold the new and right spirit Jesus also wants to place within me.

I also think Jesus’ analogy of the new cloth on the old garment carries a similar understanding. Placing new on the old would ruin both the patch and the garment. Jesus doesn’t want to simply fix what is broken, Jesus wants to make us new!

For the Pharisees and those who were John’s disciples, life was about the old covenant. The law only required one day of fasting per year. That was “The Day of Atonement,” or as we have heard of it, Yom Kipper. The Pharisees had increased this from one day a year to two days a week. But, it wasn’t really about a spiritual exercise. It was about showing the world how holy they lived.

For those who had come before him, life was about the old covenant. Jesus came bringing a new covenant. Jesus was bringing something new to place within us, a new spirit and that would require a new heart, a new life, just what the psalmist spoke of in Psalm 51.

I love the words to the praise song, “Change My Heart O God,” particularly the chorus.

Change my heart oh God
Make it ever true
Change my heart oh God
May I be like You

“Change my heart Oh God…” “Create a clean heart for me…” Both sound a bit like a heart transplant. Both sound like I am getting something new, to hold something new, a new spirit, a new covenant.

How old are your wineskins?

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy, Peace and Thanksgiving,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Author:

Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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