Well, after 10 years of learning how to use the MacBook Pro that my family bought me for Christmas, and growing frustration with how slowly it was working, I finally bought myself an IPad. I’ve had friends tell me for years that it will do everything my laptop computer did. (That isn’t exactly true. It doesn’t play CDs or allow me to burn one. And it won’t hook up to the church’s projector and play videos... at least I don’t think so.)
After a few weeks of trying to switch from my laptop to my IPad, I had to face how hard it is to keep up with changes. My mind just still isn’t organized the way my grandson’s is. I am still not sure I understand the difference between a search engine and an app.... You know. And it is very hard to trust this newfangled technology. (Not really very new) I find myself wondering where my files are? Up in a Cloud somewhere? Not on my hard drive at least....can I trust that?
So, as another year of life starts, I continue to have to put the things I know aside and learn the new things. It seems that this means for everything. I remember that my Grandpa said that over the span of his life, he lived through the changes from horseback, to cars, to the moon walk. Can you imagine how challenging those changes would have been? I know that there are still folks who really can’t trust an airplane...
You know, the same challenges face us Church Communities. We can hold on tight to the way we organized our worship and education, we can be pulled kicking and screaming into the new things that God is doing, or we can jump in, and maybe even be excited and find hope in the new ways our next generations are searching and finding God. It is hard to trust it. It isn’t the way our minds understand things. It is frustrating because if we want to be a part of the next generation’s life, we have to try. Really, I don’t trust Facebook, or all the ways it seems that my phone knows what I have just been talking about and sends ads immediately. This is scary. But because this is the way my children send pictures and stories about their lives, I finally joined Facebook.
In our churches, every generation will struggle to encourage and support the ones following. New wine in old wineskins? Jesus was asked by the Pharisees why they fasted, but Jesus’ disciples didn’t.... And he gave them that illustration. “Neither is new wine put into old wineskins; otherwise, the skins burst, and the wine is spilled, and the skins are destroyed; but new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.” (Matthew 9: 17)
It is a challenging time to be a Christian. It is also an exciting time. God continues to do things in new ways. For example, nowhere does Jesus say that his people have to build church buildings, or statues, or speak English or Latin, or even have priests or Sunday School at 9 am on Sunday mornings. All these things are old wineskins. God is still speaking to people. God is still meeting them where they are and speaking their language. Jesus didn’t organize a religion. He did tell us to feed the hungry and heal the sick.
In this new year, let’s take the time to notice the new ways God is at work, so faith is preserved.