As we journey together through Lent, Christians throughout Columbia will be sharing their own beautifully written personal meditations. Each will be accompanied by a corresponding scripture reading, and be linked to that passage in the Holy Bible. If you would like to join us on Columbia’s Lenten journey, please submit your personal meditation by email. Especially meaningful submissions will be printed. Let us continue our Lenten journey, day by day, to its glorious culmination on Easter Sunday.
Scripture reading: Mark 1:43-51
Southerners have an abundance of grapes available in our area and the urge to make our own wine has found root with some amateurs, often with astonishing results. It is an unforgettable experience to come home to find the smell of fermentation filling the house and discover an explosion of wine across every conceivable space. This is a mess that even exceeds black-eyed peas shot from the cannon of an unregulated pressure cooker. What a loss of time and effort and ‘fruit of the vine!’ Sometimes the explosion is due to the use of the wrong container and sealant, and that is not a modern disaster. In Jesus’ time, the same effect could be gotten from putting new wine in old wine skins.
Indeed, Mark records Jesus addressing this issue after being chastised by the Pharisees for His calling of Levi, a tax collector, a man who was considered disreputable by profession and by the notorious sinners who came to dinner at his house. The Pharisees accused Jesus of not controlling His followers and, thereby, being unfit for leadership Himself. They said the followers were in violation of social and religious codes and were unfit for representing anyone, much less service to God. They placed an emphasis on standards that made them responsible for their salvation and service. They thought Jesus was damaging to the faith.
Jesus recognized the occasion as a teaching moment, and like all good teachers, illustrated how the rules that restricted faith and service might be hindrances to faith and service. He used an example that any housewife could follow. A good wife making new clothes for her family does not put new patches on old woven fabric – it distorts, and then rips apart, even worse than before.
For the Pharisee men, He compared strict adherence to formalized rules and worship with putting new wine in old wine skins. He wanted the Pharisees – and us – to realize that imperfection is part of the human makeup, but that the relentless and permeating love of God can call and transform us all. The new wine of life by grace cannot be forced to mature into fine wine in an improper container. The new container of grace is one that supports the fermentation of the imperfect human spirit, giving it adequate boundaries to insure the successful creation of spiritual maturity, intriguing all by its reflection of the Light and fragrance of bouquet, unassuming, but full bodied, reflection its Creator with joy.
Amanda T. Ballenger
Editor of “The Presbyterian Scouter”
Columbia, South Carolina
Columbia Prayer Chain: Sunday, February 17
In our prayers: Elizabeth Jean Emerson, Mary Reames, Richard Smith, Claudia Strattman, Jennifer Williams, Betty Jo Carson, Gary Davis, Eddie Bolton, Myrna, Esther, Pam James, Doug and Sharon, John Kelchner, Elizabeth Matthews, Nedrick Griffin, Jennifer Handy, Nancy Stuckey, Annemarie Sullivan, Greg and Lisa Steele, Dean Timothy Jones, Linda Langford, Marty Fritz, Harriet Hancock, Tommy and Robby Palmer, Patty and Ted Mac Laughlin, Janet Long, Bobby Wilson, Debbie and Pat Barry, Betty Jo Sullivan, Patrick and Patricia Barry, Jordan Hill, Doris Clevenger, Charles Sigel, Bob Davis, John Whatley, Nancy Zuckerman, Charles Davis Sr., Bill Carter, Betty Peavy Frick, Joye Cantrell, Fred and Gail, Dale and Norma Sessions, Padge Arrington, Jerry Callahan, Norman Masters
Special prayers for Mary Ellen’s four-year-old grandson, Joseph Patrick, who is fighting cancer
In memoriam: Marianne Hillhouse Frick, Lavinia P. Goff, Christolee Sturkie Jones, Willie James Tucker Sr., Miriam “Mit” Windham Wilson, Robert Keller West, Franz D. Wessel Jr., Kevin Lee King
Our prayers are with: the elderly, the homeless, all currently fighting illness, all beloved pets, our president and congress, our police officers and firefighters, all who serve in the armed forces
Columbia Prayer Chain is open to all residents of greater Columbia who would like to share prayers and receive the prayers of others. Please leave your name in the comment box or email me.