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New wineskins

by davesandel on July 2nd, 2022

Saturday, July 2, 2022

(click here to listen to or read today’s scriptures)

New wineskins

On that day, says the Lord GOD, I will make the sun set at midday and cover the earth with darkness in broad daylight. I will turn your feasts into mourning and all your songs into lamentations. I will cover the loins of all with sackcloth and make every head bald.

Oh, no, not that!

I will make them mourn as for an only son, and bring their day to a bitter end. Yes, days are coming, says the Lord GOD, when I will send famine upon the land: Not a famine of bread, or thirst for water, but for hearing the word of the LORD. Then shall they wander from sea to sea and rove from the north to the east in search of the word of the LORD, but they shall not find it. 

Not for food or drink, God says, but for my word. You will be ravenous like starving wolves for the word of God.

Will this happen to me? Or to you? In our lifetimes of privilege we’ve had as much of the word of God as we want, to say nothing of food and drink. This famine is hard for me to imagine.

As I get older, though, I become aware of two different states of being. I become more conscious of my personal accomplishments, of precious relationships, of books I’ve read or written, of years spent listening to people, sometimes helping, always praying for them. And of the privileges I, personally, have enjoyed.

At the same time I merge into the companionship of all God’s children, from the beginning of time stretching out to the unreached end, and from one corner of God’s big green earth to the other. This wondrous Milky Way of people swirls around me and inside me (although there is really no “me” like there used to be). And in those moments of intimacy with the universe, the threat of being deprived of God’s word pushes and pulls me into heartbreak.

We are all in this together.

Amos does not leave his people with the doomsday prophecy. As Jesus puts it later, God pours new wine into what He promises to be fresh wineskins:

The Lord speaks of peace to his people. New days are coming, says the Lord, when the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the reaper caught up by the grape presser. The juice of grapes shall drip down the mountains, and all the hills shall run with it. You shall rebuild and inhabit the ruined cities, plant vineyards, drink the wine, set out gardens and eat the fruits. Truth shall spring out of the earth, and justice shall look down from heaven.

This is the world that the Lord will make. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. The promise of this poetry is gracious and true.

Kindness and truth shall meet; justice and peace shall kiss and truth shall spring up out of the earth.

(Amos 8-9, Psalm 85, John 10, Matthew 9)

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