As the gusty winds of change blow unpredictably through the church, Jesus provides an intriguing sound bite in the Gospel lesson: “One puts new wine into fresh wineskins.” Fresh wineskins, as faith communities experiment with alternative worship rituals. Fresh wineskins, as local congregations adopt new administrative structures.
When the congregation I serve initiated a prayer chain several years ago, its participants were amazed at the response: healing intercessions requested for all manner of illnesses and ailments—physical, emotional, spiritual, societal. The calls poured in from members and nonmembers alike.
We humans know our language cannot communicate the greatness of the divine, but we try anyway. We love to use the prefix omni, which takes a common adjective and expands it to the size of the universe: omnifarious, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, omni-loving, omni-merciful, omni-cool. The omni words are reserved for God and God alone.
Where I grew up, everybody was pretty much just like me. It was a small, southern community, with a long history, deep roots and consistent Christian morality. The only visible difference was our whiteness or our blackness. Ethically speaking, that’s how we saw everything too: white or black, good or bad.
I remember the day I received my call—follow me and I will make you fish for people. In my case it was a call to ordained ministry. Although my call was more like a slow culmination of events and experiences, there was one dramatic moment in my senior year in high school. It was 1973, just three years after my denomination officially allowed the ordination of women.