New Wine and Old Wineskins

Mission Sunday at First Lutheran Church

April 8, 2018 + Mark 2:21-22


No one puts new wine into old wine skins.  Why?  Because they burst open and the wine is spilled, and it makes a mess of things.


As you all probably know, in the time of Jesus wine was not stored in bottles but in leather skins made from animals (most likely goats).  And if you ask any chemistry professor they can tell you that “new wine” or “grape juice” becomes an “old wine” or an “alcoholic beverage” because it is going through the process of fermenting!  And that process involves a chemical reaction, the emission of gases, and a building up of pressure.   So if you put that new wine into an old wineskin, a wineskin that has already been stretched out, a wineskin that has become dried out, hard, and maybe even brittle; you can imagine what the consequences would be once the new wine begins to ferment.  The old wineskin just can’t take the pressure, and it bursts open!  So, in order to prevent that from happening, wise makers of wine, put their new wine into new wineskins and in good time, along with the miracle of chemistry, they produced great wine!


It’s a great analogy, especially for the folks who lived in the time of Christ, people who made wine, agricultural people who lived closer to the land, who worked the land, who turned seed and earth into food and drink.  But we get our food from the store, and our wine comes processed and labeled in a bottle.  What do we know about wineskins?


So, I came up with another way to look at this text!  I found my old High School Letterman’s Jacket.  I wonder if it still fits?  (Put on jacket) As you can tell, it still fits!  Well kind of, if I don’t move, or reach for anything.  I remember the day that I bought this jacket.  I was a freshman in High School, I weighed about 120 pounds, and this jacket was huge.  I told my mom that it was too big, but she assured me that, I would grow into it, that it need to last me a long time.  Well she was wrong, I didn’t grow into it, I grew out of it!


Today Jesus reminds us that we grow out of things, that things change, that people of faith are by nature dynamic.  God declares, “Behold I am doing a new thing!”  St. Paul reminds us, “that in Christ all things become new.”  “Put away your former life, your old self, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, clothe yourself with a new self, in the likeness of God!”


I had some great times in this jacket.  Times that have shaped me, but the jacket’s only so big.  And today not only does the jacket not fit, it doesn’t represent my current passions for life, the ways I want to live out my faith, my identity in Christ that is “always changing,” being “made new,” being “raised up!”


I still love this jacket.  I had some good times, and some great friends when I was in High School.  I’ll keep it forever, but it won’t keep me in High School forever, it won’t keep me from becoming the person God intends me to be - today, it won’t hold me back from being part of the kingdom of God that is being raised up all around me, right here, right now!


Jesus reminds us all, “No one puts new wine into old wine skins; otherwise, the wine will burst the skins   New wine has a life of its own, it’s dynamic, and as it matures it grows.  Old wineskins can’t stretch, they can’t contain the new wine.  You are new wine, and you need fresh wineskins.”


Believe it or not, you are new wine, together we are new wine, and we are on the way to becoming a great wine. (a full body round wine, not too sweet, with a nice bouquet and a hint of fruit and nuts) God is at work, “turning water into wine,” at good old FLC.


Today we gather to celebrate “Mission Sunday,” to share the passion for faith and service that God has raised up in each of us, to dream about “what’s next” at First Lutheran, to take leaps of faith, trusting that God is at work in each of us, and once again “making all things new.”


And finally, in the midst of all the changes, all the transformation, all the letting go and jumping in; I invite you to remember the one thing that never changes.  You are the beloved of God!  In the waters of baptism, joined to the death and resurrection of Christ, God claimed you, redeemed you, and holds you forever in love.


May God’s love for us, and for all of creation, give us peace and lead us together into “the living out of our mission” here at First Lutheran Church.  Amen.


Mark 2:21-22


“No one puts new wine into old wine skins; otherwise, the wine will burst the skins   New wine has a life of its own, its dynamic, and as it matures it grows.  Old wineskins can’t stretch, they can’t contain the new wine.  You are new wine, and you need fresh wineskins.”