The Kingdom of God and wineskins

Mark 2:22 (NIV): And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.”

What Jesus is doing can’t be fitted in to the existing ways of thinking and living. If people try to do that they’ll have the worst of both worlds. At the time, this meant that Jesus’ powerful kingdom-ministry couldn’t be fitted into the ways of thinking that his fellow first-century Galileans already had. They needed to think differently, to think bigger, to get new wineskins for the new wine he had to offer. Most people are threatened by that kind of challenge. (NT Wright, Mark for Everyone)

Incarnation — the work of God in a weary world

I remember hearing the story of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and the writing of his poem, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”. I was reminded of it again as I read an article by Kristen O’Neal on the subject of the poem.

The entire article is well worth your time to read. These last few paragraphs are deeply meaningful to me as I contemplate the world in which we live right now. Personally, it’s been a blessed year. I leave this year deeply thankful. For our world, however, there is a darkness that ever creeps forward.

Continue reading “Incarnation — the work of God in a weary world”

We have lost imagination in ministry

I have no sense of imagination. I will miss Eugene Peterson.

Peterson saw pastors moving from church to church, often in exhaustion, and identified the problem—a sense of pastor as program director for a church that often viewed the gospel as a way to success, or at least avoidance of suffering. His answer was a paradigm shift, but not the kind found in ministry self-help bestsellers.

“The paradigm shift is not accomplished by a change of schedule, attending a ministry workshop, or getting fitted in a new suit of spiritual disciplines—although any or all of these might be useful,” he wrote. “It is the imagination that must shift, the huge interior of our lives that determines the angle and scope of our vocation. A long, prayerful soak in the biblical imaginations of Ezekiel and St. John, those antitheses to flat-earth programmatics, is a place to start.” From this article.

The freedom found in Christ

“The fact that those freed by the divine action still live in the world does not mean that they belong to the world, as though possessed by the world and incorporated into its structure. They are indeed in themselves finite individuals, but are no longer in slavery for — through the process of dying and rising with Christ — they have broken through into the infinity and freedom of God himself.” — Hans Urs von Balthasar, Engagement with God

 

Paying attention to the margins

Who does God receive? The ones without status. The ones society doesn’t recognize.

Then they also brought infants to Him that He might touch them; but when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to Him and said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” (Luke 18:15-17)