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Dear COA Family,

And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins” Luke 5:37-38.

Jesus told this parable to John’s disciples to tell them that they needed to adopt a new mindset and have a new heart. This is akin to having new wineskins for the new wine that God is pouring into their hearts. They had judged Jesus’ disciples to be sinning for not fasting. And Jesus had to correct their thinking to not judge by human standards but according to God’s truth.

This lesson is something we have to learn all the time and should always be learning. If we honestly examine ourselves, we are all prone to judging events and the actions of others by our own human standards and according to our own preferences. And our judgments may not always be right. We need to have the honesty and humility to constantly evaluate our understanding and examine our heart motives before God.

One example of “having old wineskins” in our church is clinging on to the perception that what we have done in the past is always right.

Some members have approached me to tell me how things in Church of the Ascension have been done a certain way in the past and should continue in the same way into the future. And I am sure that this perspective is not unique to them.

But is this form of thinking correct?

Could the Lord actually be leading us to adopt “new wineskins” for the new season that He is leading us into?

There is a grave danger to mindlessly holding on to our traditions or past practices, however fruitful or effective they might have been then. This is because they can potentially become our basis of hope instead of the Holy Spirit’s fresh leading in every season of our lives. They can become the idols that we cherish in our hearts that prevent us from embracing the good that God has intended for us.

So beloved, let us together be continually open to the Lord’s illumination in our hearts and be ready to have new wineskins by letting the Spirit change our hearts and renew our minds.

Please don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that I have all the answers too. But I believe that this journey into the future that God is leading us in our AGM today is one where He is teaching us to be renewed in our trust in Him as much as He is laying out His plans for us.

God bless,
Revd Ian