Thursday, September 24, 2015

New and Old Together

Scripture Texts: Matthew 9:1-17; Psalm 78

Without special care, new things and old things struggle to exist in the same space. Sometimes it is impossible for the new and old to be in the same place and time. Jesus was talking about this when he challenged the crowd regarding wineskins. He reminds, "You cannot put new wine in old wineskins, or they will burst."

It was not that Jesus had no value for the things of old, instead Jesus wanted to make sure that which has been is preserved while something new comes into being. To be clear something new is always coming and we have to pay attention how we balance the new and the old. The way of relating to God as found in the Old Testament did not go away when Jesus came. Yet, there was something new in our relationship with God emerging.

Holding too tightly to that which has been creates all kinds of problems in our relationship with God. We must make room for God to continue to create anew, alongside that which has always been. To use the image Jesus used, new wine in new wineskins, along side of old wine in old wineskins.

There is a profound moment in a wedding celebration that can be easily missed. It is the presentation of the bride by the family. The person officiating the service will ask something akin to, who gives this person to this other person in marriage? Shortly after the ceremony in a Christian tradition speaks of leaving one family and starting a new one.

This does not mean the families the couple grew up in no longer exist. Further it does not mean the new couple will never again have interaction with their families. What is happening at the wedding is the new family is forged and the existing family is no longer the primary family for the couple. This has classically been called, leaving and cleaving. We leave one family and cleave to our spouse, our new family.

In marriages where there is not a leaving and cleaving great struggle is often found. Trying to fit a new family into the mold of existing families will cause a lot of hurt, pain and anguish. A new family cannot be forced into the existing families mold, something new has come. The family that we grew up in will always be important, and always be a part of who we are. Once we are married however, the family we have with our spouse becomes the most important family, our primary family.

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