Wednesday, September 06, 2006

A Thought: What is Renewal? Does it ever end?!

In Mark's Gospel, chapter 2, verse 22, we find Jesus challenging us again! He says new wine cannot be put into old wineskins, because the skins will burst and wine will be spilt. Instead, new wine is poured into fresh wineskins. Now, I know we have bottles today, but I think we can still get the point! Sometimes, the form that things take can get in the way of the substance. Sometimes the way we 'package' our message actually risks losing the message. Ouch! But people might well say: "Yes, but because our message doesn't change, so we don't need to change" - and on the one hand this is true, because the message of our faith is supposed to be more consistent than 'the ways of the world'. But on the other hand, the message of our faith is supposed to be about change - so if we aren't really having much of an impact on the world, then we're overlooking what is central to our faith: It Should Make A Difference! Now, for some people, some of our 'old' wineskins do continue to help them to live faithful lives in the world; but for many other people, our old 'forms' have stopped working. So we need renewal - again and again - so that how we do things in our churches actually reflects the message of good news. This means exploring new ideas - e.g. "emerging churches" are trying radically different ideas to help Christians relate their faith to all different groups of people - and it involves making changes in our worship, in how we discuss faith with each other, and in how we are led. Renewal is very demanding, but it can also be very liberating, as we find ourselves 'released' to do churches in ways which begin to make sense to the world as it is today. So let's encourage each other to be renewed, step by step, little by little - because we want our faith to make a difference!