On Saturday the diocese gathered at Holy Trinity and St Barnabas, Paisley to welcome the Revd Tom Wilson as the new Rector. Tom has arrived here from Canada and was reminded with great wit by Revd Drew Sheridan, who was preaching, of the cultural differences he was going to encounter. (You will find a link to Drew’s full sermon over here on Anne’s blog were you will also find a picture of Tom with +Gregor).
Despite the hilarity that Drew’s observations picked up on there was also an important point being made, we are no longer live and witness in the same culture as our forebears, the same rules do not apply, the same prescriptions can not be relied upon ensure full health, the same certainties no longer hold true, but neither should we throw the baby out with the bath water.
The church today is being challenged: challenged by an ever-changing society; challenged by growing secularisation; challenged by misunderstanding and miscomprehension of what the Church, Christianity, and indeed faith itself is about; challenged by vocabulary, and lack of it; challenged by distractions, from within and without; challenged it would seem every which way. But the church has always been challenged so we shouldn’t be unprepared, we shouldn’t be surprised, and we certainly shouldn’t be fearful. The challenges might be different for this generation and it is maybe all too easy to say the solutions also need to be different. However there is a wisdom needed, the wisdom to know when to go for the new wine skin so that the new wine can develop and reach its full potential unencumbered by the past and the expectations of another time, and when to let the wine mature a bit more in the old skins so an even richer vintage can be savoured. Yes don’t put the new wine in old skins, but don’t throw out the old wine just because the skins are getting on a bit.