“No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak, for the patch pulls away from the cloak, and a worse tear is made. 17 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 9:16-17).”
Jesus had just done things that the religious people of his day would not have done. Jesus ate with Matthew and his tax collector friends. Jesus also healed a paralyzed man and proclaimed the forgiveness of sins, something considered blasphemous by the Jews because only God can forgive sins. As Jesus walked through the villages and towns, the winds of change were blowing! God was doing something new, in person, focusing more on love and care for people than rules and regulations. And guess what? The religious leaders didn’t like it! They told Jesus so. Thus, he shared the image of an unshrunk cloth patch sewn onto an old cloth which shrunk as it was washed, tearing an even larger hole in the shirt than was there before. He also shared the image of new wine being put into old, fully stretched wineskins. Their inflexibility, their inability to stretch and change led to them bursting, spilling the goodness of the new wine on the ground. Harold Wilson puts it this way, “He who rejects change is the architect of decay. The only human institution which rejects progress is the cemetery.” So, change is inevitable, and, when we follow Jesus, he invites us to change for the better by deepening our love for God and each other.
Most of you know Lakeside is facing tremendous change as we relocate and rebuild. We are building on a great location with frontage on State Road 46 where we have an even greater opportunity to reach our community with the love of Jesus Christ! And, yes, it means God is inviting us to change! With God’s Spirit and our efforts to reach and serve our community, Lakeside will grow. As we grow, God will require us to be more attentive to welcoming strangers as friends and to be sure to help new people get connected into the life of the church. Many of you already look for new people to welcome, and I’m proud of you for showing God’s love!
Let’s all agree to intentionally connect with people we know that don’t go to church in our neighborhood and at our kids’ sporting events and at our jobs, and invite them to join us as we grow with Jesus! And let’s also agree to make a special effort to extend a hand of welcome to any new people we see at Lakeside, asking them how we can help them connect to God and our church.
Here is one more funny quote about change to send you off with: “”Change is inevitable – except from a vending machine (Robert C. Gallagher).”