Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Year B Proper 22 WED 2021 New Wine, Bartender

 Year B Proper 22 WEDNESDAY, 6 October 2021

St. James the Less Episcopal, Ashland, VA

“New Wine, Bartender”

Collect: Almighty and everlasting God, you are always more ready to hear than we to pray, and to give more than we either desire or deserve: Pour upon us the abundance of your mercy, forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things for which we are not worthy to ask, except through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ our Savior; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Matthew 9:9-17

As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him.

And as he sat at dinner in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came and were sitting with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard this, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.”

Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “The wedding guests cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak, for the patch pulls away from the cloak, and a worse tear is made. Neither is new wine put into old wineskins; otherwise, the skins burst, and the wine is spilled, and the skins are destroyed; but new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.”

Jesus wasn’t acting much like a Messiah. At least not to the people who had strong ideas of how a Messiah should act.

To Matthew he certainly acted like one, which is why he got up and followed him.

To the tax collectors and sinners, so accused by the “churchy” folks, he certainly acted like a Messiah as he broke bread and spent time with them.

To his disciples, who were living each day in celebration and anticipation, he was the Messiah. And Jesus promised that the days would come when there would be fasting, and mourning, and other signs of pious devotion or grief. But not while he was with them.

It is impossible to live up to people’s expectations. Often they are unexpressed, until we transgress these invisible boundaries. Doing the right thing as best we can each and every day, even then, we will upset and disappoint. If Jesus upset the apple cart, how on earth would we expect not to do so and even worse? Often, though this might sound harsh, one must consider the source.

In today’s readings, we have the Pharisees, the notorious bad guys so often in the Gospels. They are so similar in their beliefs to what Jesus was teaching, but instead of turning his piety inward like they did, Jesus turned his piety outward. Jesus was not about making his life perfect to gain the reward, like this life was some game that could be won or lost. He turned his piety toward connecting and inviting and healing and transforming those who had written themselves off and no longer tried.

Tax Collectors. Sinners. Adulterers. Prostitutes. Those who knew they did not stand a chance were given an open hand up and a welcome door in. They stopped hoping, but Jesus came to heal and give hope in a dark and hurting world.

You cannot put new life into old packaging. You have to start fresh. The Pharisees wanted Jesus to act on their terms, New Wine in Old Skins. But Jesus said that just would not work. The bubbling up of the Holy Spirit requires new skins for the New Wine being poured.

Jesus was serving out this new wine, like some cosmic bartender. One who will listen to your problems with a loving ear, and give you something refreshing that will fill not just your mouth with taste or your head with a happy buzz, but it fills your soul with the very thing it was created to hold. As St. Augustine said, “Lord, my heart is restless until it rests in you.” I never thought of Jesus this way, especially with my evangelical upbringing till I heard a song from the Dave Matthews Band, a national group that got its start in Charlottesville, by the way. It is entitled “Bartender.” Here are just a few of the lyrics…

If I go before I'm old
Oh, brother of mine please don't forget me

If I go

Oh and if I die

Before my time
Oh sweet sister of mine

Please don't regret me

If I die

Bartender, please
Fill my glass for me
With the wine you gave Jesus that set him free

After three days in the ground

I'm on bended knees, I pray

Bartender, please

When I was young I didn't think about it, now I can't get it out of my mind

I'm on bended knees, father please

Oh if all this gold

Should steal my soul away

Oh, dear mother of mine please redirect me

If this gold

Bartender, you see

The wine that's drinking me

Came from the vine that strung Judas

From the devil's tree

It's roots deep, deep in the ground

I'm on bended knees, oh bartender please

I'm on bended knees, father please

When I was young I didn't think about it now I just wanna run and hide

I'm on bended knees, oh bartender please

Bartender, please

This is the type of person that might never feel welcome in our doors. But this is the type of soul that Jesus would have sought out, made welcome, and invited into his Kingdom. May we go, and do likewise. Amen.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Hi! Thanks for wanting to comment. Please add it here, and after a moderator reviews it, it will be posted if appropriate. Look forward to hearing your opinion.
Blessings, Rock