Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 22; 148, Genesis 40:1-23, Corinthians 3:16-23, Mark 2:13-22
It is our largest organ and one of our primary tools for interacting with the world. Through sensations like temperature, pressure and texture it tells us about our environment. Most of us recognize each other by the skin on our faces. Some of us mark it in ink to tell our stories. Others work against the story our skin tells, by hiding it under makeup, slathering it in moisturizers, bleaching it chemically, baking it under lamps, or cutting parts of it away. It is so essential to our identity that skin diseases and disfigurements can be socially crippling, whether through our own insecurities or the rejection of others.
We identify it with personality traits. We may be thick- or thin-skinned; things can “get under our skin”; we all want to be comfortable in our own skin; our attitudes may grow callused. It can reveal our inner state – sometimes to our dismay – through blushing, goosebumps and sweating. It is intimately connected to our physical and mental health: studies show that skin-to-skin contact reduces stress, promotes healing, and is vital for an infant’s emotional development.
Skin is so much more than a container. When Jesus says we can’t pour new wine into old wineskins (lest they split under pressure), his message isn’t just about storage methods or the need for religious institutions to be more flexible to contain larger truths. It’s about our need to redefine our spiritual identities so they can contain the new life God pours into us. Recreated in Christ, our new skin perceives the world in new ways. It is a new face to the world, who sees us differently in demeanor and action. The story our new skin tells does not need to be adorned or denied – it grows more beautiful with time. Our blemishes and imperfections remain part of our story, but they no longer hold us back, or allow others to; rather they become evidence of the transformative power of God’s love and forgiveness. Our inner and outer lives are in harmony.
Are we wearing our fresh skins? The new wine is ready …
Comfort: Your identity in Christ renews you from the inside out.
Challenge: In what ways are you spiritually inflexible? Ask yourself whether that’s due to conviction or obstinacy.
Prayer: God of renewal, prepare me to receive the new life you are waiting to pour into me. Amen.