S (Scripture): Matthew 9:14 At that time John’s disciples came and asked Jesus, “Why do we and the Pharisees frequently fast, but your disciples never fast?”
15 Jesus responded, “The wedding guests can’t mourn while the groom is still with them, can they? But the days will come when the groom will be taken away from them, and then they’ll fast.
16 “No one sews a piece of new, unshrunk cloth on old clothes because the patch tears away the cloth and makes a worse tear. 17 No one pours new wine into old wineskins. If they did, the wineskins would burst, the wine would spill, and the wineskins would be ruined. Instead, people pour new wine into new wineskins so that both are kept safe.”
O (Observation): Jesus is always aware of the present moment. The NOW. In the present, what matters most is being present. An awareness of what God is up to us what Jesus is teaching his disciples. They will still need to fast and pray and serve and give…but in this moment, they simply need to be present with Jesus (and God).
A (Application): To simply apply the old / former ways is to miss the point. To apply a ritual / custom for the sake of the ritual / custom is to miss out on the opportunity to be present with God in a new way that might be more helpful / hopeful. (Don’t get me wrong, rituals and customs DO have a place in our society and in religion, but let’s not make those rituals / customs our “god”.)
The only way forward is to be aware of God’s presence now. To adapt to the circumstances before you (without simply reverting back to the former ways or to hope for a new thing using the former methods) can be both difficult and fruitful.
Tried and true can be helpful, but it can also miss the point. And not only miss the point, but as Jesus says, new wine in an old wine skin can ruin the wineskin and thus, ruin the wine as it spills out everywhere.
Be aware of God’s presence this day. Try something new with God: listen differently, pray in a new place, serve where you’ve never served before, and see if you notice God in a new way.
P (Prayer): Lord, you challenge us with new and different ways of being in your presence. You are here. You are there. Help us to be aware of your presence. Amen.