Monday, December 31, 2018

Father Time

For I have become like a wineskin in the smoke, yet I have not forgotten your statutes.
Ps. 119:83 

This verse reminds me of when Jesus said, "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." But I actually think this bleak verse is more hopeful. Jesus was referring to cold hearts and closed minds. They were like shriveled, old wineskins that couldn't handle a living, expanding liquid. We often think of old people as closed-minded and set in their ways, but experience has shown me that this might just as easily be true of younger people. Just as old people can have young and lively spirits, so young people can have old and shriveled spirits.

A great illustration for this is midnight on New Year's Eve when we picture Father Time as an old man suddenly being replaced by a baby. The old year is suddenly renewed. The year ahead is like a field after a fresh snowfall when no foot has marred the perfection of its surface. Father time did not change into a different character, but the old character was renewed.

And so I think it is with Psalm 119:83. This is not the kind of old wineskin that Jesus was talking about in Matthew 9. The psalmist is like a wineskin that has gone through the fire but is still able to retain the the living entity that's placed inside it—in this case, God's word. Neither environment nor outward appearance has altered inward viability.

I hope to remember this as I enter 2019: The passage of time may dry out an old wineskin on the exterior, but on the inside, those who trust in God are ever renewed and able to handle all that comes our way.

O Sovereign of time and eternity, you bless my beginnings and go with me into the unknown of the coming new year. As I harken to your footsteps through time and follow in their track, I dare to approach you with my hopes for 2019. Give me and those I love life and health, the courage and the freedom to do what is needed, and the strength to let go of the bad and carry the burden of the inevitable. Open my eyes and ears to the suffering under which so many—both near and far—are bowed. Empower me to understand and make clear choices regarding what I can do as an individual, and where I can plug into and even lead my community. Prepare me and those around me to take responsibility for the society of which we're a part, and to share your gift of peace. May your Spirit guide me and direct my thoughts to the promised Realm of your Son Jesus Christ, who taught me to pray...
 Reformierte Liturgie (alt.)