Sermon, June 30, 2019 by Rev Gloria Christian
“Every Morning is a New Day”
Every morning is a new day and every new day is a resurrection from the past. I am using this image as a transition from the old to the new. Day to night; old wine skins to new wine skins, old ministry to new ministry. It is all about letting go of what we knew to make room for something new.
Things change. Someone once said the seven last words of the church are these: “We never did it that way before.” It is a fact of life: people resist change.
- A Chevy driver is not interested in test driving a Ford
- A John Deere man wouldn’t think of getting an International Harvester Tractor
- A Blue Jays fan who was raised rooting for that team isn’t going to root for the Yankees. The same thing is true in the church. Those who have had their hearts lifted by Juanita’s worship will resist new forms. Those who have found comfort and strength from a, particular version of the Bible will remain suspicious of modern translations. Those who have been raised in a different denomination will find it difficult to get used to the grace-governed church family in the United Church. When we hold something dear and precious, like our religious faith, we resist change. The more precious the tradition, the more we dig in our heels against change. Sunny is coming with a different background which is similar in many ways as to our tradition; however, there will be differences.
This new ministry that begins July 1, tomorrow might help you understand the difficult time that the Pharisees had with Jesus. They had been raised in the church and steeped in its tradition. The routine was majestic and comforting. There was security in the familiar. Ritual and faith, were seen as one and the same. They said to him, “John’s disciples often fast and pray, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours go on eating and drinking and he told this parable: “No one tears a patch from a new garment and sews it on an old one. If he does, he will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, ‘The old is better.’”
There are people all around us who would like us to also conform to their standards. Here are some examples,
- the way we dress (do Pastors need to wear robes or a collar? do men need to wear ties to worship? Do women need to be in a dress? Should women wear make-up? Should women wear hats? Should they wear gloves . . . at one time or another these were all accepted practice.)
- the kind of amusements we enjoy (is it wrong to play cards, is it wrong to dance, is it wrong to watch a movie, is it wrong to play sports on Sundays?)
- the way we express our worship. (Do spirit-controlled believers always raise their hands in worship, never raise their hands in worship, only sing choruses, never sing choruses, have an altar call, never have an altar call)
There is nothing wrong with giving thought to your style of worship, your attire in the house of God, your practice of the sacraments, your preferred Bible translation, and on down the list. It is good to think about these things. Sunny will no doubt change the format of worship. I kept your format because my job was to keep the status quo and not rock the boat.
Jesus points out that it is foolish for those who are recipients of grace and joy to spend their time in mourning for the past. It is silly for those who are with the wonderful Savior to spend their time seeking God. He is in their midst! They should enjoy Him!
When Sunny comes into your life many things might change:
- Your relationship with God might change. She will no doubt have her own relationship with God and bring it for you to examine.
- Your view of yourselves might change. We are people who have been wonderfully forgiven. We are children of God! We know that we are loved. We know that we are forgiven. We know that we are headed to Heaven. That changes our view of who we are. God sees value in us. We should not mourn past expression of God we should be joyful in Sunny’s new expressions of God.
- Your motivation for mission might change. Now we are not seeking to gain God’s favour, we are living in gratitude for God’s favour and love. We should not mourn . . . we should be joyful. New community endeavours might arise. Your approach to hard times might change.
Jesus tells us that New Life in Christ is inconsistent with worn out tradition, old wine skins. New ministry is inconsistent with the way it has always been, thus the parable new wineskins. In those days new wine would be poured into animal skins rather than in bottles or barrels like they would be today. As this new wine would mature or ferment, the gases in the skin would cause the skin to expand. These skins had the requisite elasticity. However, if you used an old skin it was already stretched out. When the wine began to ferment it would eventually burst the worn skin. Jesus wants us to understand that the way it has always been here at Sicamous is incompatible with the gospel of grace. A new kind of relationship with God demands a new way of doing things. Understand, that your life will change. But it will change as a result of the relationship that you have with Sunny.
Next Sunday, you might adapt Sunny’s methods. In other words, may your goal be to teach the truth of God to those around you, as Sunny brings her ministry to you. You might find the most effective way to do that rather than trying to force yourselves into a familiar mold is to listen to a new way of being a church. Traditions come and traditions go. We need to know when to let go.
The questions we must ask of any form of being church is not “Is it new?” or “Is it old?” Those are irrelevant questions. The questions we should ask are: “Is it honoring to God?”, “Does it point to Jesus?” and “Is it effective in communicating Jesus’ truth?”
The Pharisees and the Disciples of John the Baptist missed the point. They focused on the traditions and missed the significance of the one who stood before them. They lectured Jesus when they should have been listening to Him. They tried to get Him to conform to their ways rather than seeking to conform to Him. It wasn’t a very smart thing to do. God help us to learn from their mistakes. I believe that Sunny will be a wonderful minister for you folks and now, our day has ended. May God’s grace abound as you get to know each other. Amen.