8 July 2017
Genesis 27:1-5, 15-29
Isaac had grown old, and his eyes were so weak that he could no longer see. He summoned his elder son Esau, ‘My son!’ he said to him, and the latter answered, ‘I am here.’ Then he said, ‘See, I am old and do not know when I may die. Now take your weapons, your quiver and bow; go out into the country and hunt me some game. Make me the kind of savoury I like and bring it to me, so that I may eat, and give you my blessing before I die.’
Rebekah happened to be listening while Isaac was talking to his son Esau. So when Esau went into the country to hunt game for his father, Rebekah took her elder son Esau’s best clothes, which she had in the house, and dressed her younger son Jacob in them, covering his arms and the smooth part of his neck with the skins of the kids. Then she handed the savoury and the bread she had made to her son Jacob.
He presented himself before his father and said, ‘Father.’ ‘I am here;’ was the reply ‘who are you, my son?’ Jacob said to his father, ‘I am Esau your first-born; I have done as you told me. Please get up and take your place and eat the game I have brought and then give me your blessing.’ Isaac said to his son, ‘How quickly you found it, my son!’ ‘It was the Lord your God’ he answered ‘who put it in my path.’ Isaac said to Jacob, ‘Come here, then, and let me touch you, my son, to know if you are my son Esau or not.’ Jacob came close to his father Isaac, who touched him and said, ‘The voice is Jacob’s voice but the arms are the arms of Esau!’ He did not recognise him, for his arms were hairy like his brother Esau’s, and so he blessed him. He said, ‘Are you really my son Esau?’ And he replied, ‘I am.’ Isaac said, ‘Bring it here that I may eat the game my son has brought, and so may give you my blessing.’ He brought it to him and he ate; he offered him wine, and he drank. His father Isaac said to him, ‘Come closer, and kiss me, my son.’ He went closer and kissed his father, who smelled the smell of his clothes.
He blessed him, saying:
‘Yes, the smell of my son
is like the smell of a fertile field blessed by the Lord.
May God give you dew from heaven,
and the richness of the earth,
abundance of grain and wine!
May nations serve you and peoples bow down before you!
Be master of your brothers; may the sons of your mother bow down before you!
Cursed be he who curses you;
blessed be he who blesses you!’
John’s disciples came to him and said, ‘Why is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not?’ Jesus replied, ‘Surely the bridegroom’s attendants would never think of mourning as long as the bridegroom is still with them? But the time will come for the bridegroom to be taken away from them, and then they will fast. No one puts a piece of unshrunken cloth on to an old cloak, because the patch pulls away from the cloak and the tear gets worse. Nor do people put new wine into old wineskins; if they do, the skins burst, the wine runs out, and the skins are lost. No; they put new wine into fresh skins and both are preserved.’
New wine into fresh wineskins and both are preserved.
For years I have read this verse and wondered how this is relevant to our lives today. Wine is not made this way in this day and age. Today, wine is fermented in large fermentation tanks and aged in stainless steel or oak barrels. Of course I am simplifying the process here. But you get the point – it’s not in wineskins.
Today, we are faced with change every day. The way we view the workforce, structure our companies, work and interact with each other – these are changing. Millennials and the iGeneration will be faced with a different work environment – automation and new technology ‘taking over’ traditional jobs. Organisations will be looking at replacing the traditional structures and the way we work with more cost effective models. Our world spins faster and keeps on shifting gears. People stuck in the ‘old way’ of doing things start getting more and more frustrated. They get stuck, get dizzy and the world spits them out in the process. Bleak isn’t it?
In the secular world – that’s what happens if we don’t constantly improve and upgrade ourselves. That’s why our government implemented SkillsFuture – to get us to change and move with the times. To change our perspective on how we can make a living.
Are we stuck in old ways or are we people who enjoy the ride, the speed, the new experience. Do we explore new opportunities, new ways of working? The people who do, will grow and thrive!
As I reflected on this further today – somehow the line ‘can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ came to mind. Only that in our Christian faith, we are indeed able to learn ‘new tricks’ if we let God work in us. Most of us live a transactional kind of faith – go to church on Sunday, do good works and think that we can win God’s favour. That’s living a false Christian life. That is not what God wants of us. Our old habits and religious practices no longer matter here. When we go to church each Sunday and then proceed to lead our superficial, lukewarm or worse still, sinful lives the moment we walk out of church, we are like old wine. Our faith walk will not go very far.
Our Christian faith calls us to be more agile, spontaneous and open to where He wants to lead us. We say we are not good enough, not holy enough. Sure, we all need work in our spiritual lives; we need mending, healing and building. But if we are not open enough to God’s calling, too afraid and fear change, how are we to live out God’s purpose for us? Surrender our pain, fear, anger, addictions, stress and worries to God. He is calling us to a life with greater purpose, to be much more than our tiny minds can fathom. We are called to be new wineskins – elastic and flexible. Allow God to stretch, build, and grow us. Only then can we soar and thrive according to His plan for us. We were not meant to be void, empty and helpless.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)
Prayer: God, make us into new wineskins. May your greater plans for us be fulfilled in our lives. Use us and give us a deeper purpose. May we live a life of devotion to You and share sincere love for others.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, that your will is always for our happiness. Teach us to abandon our old ways and allow your good works to begin in us. Thank you for stretching, building and growing us for our greater purpose.