Reflection for Saturday, July 8, 2000: 13th week in Ordinary Time.

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Duffy, Peggy, O.S.U.
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How many times have you heard it said, "But we've always done it this way!" Change always evokes a variety of reactions from people. It doesn't happen easily and often brings resistance because it means letting go of some things. Some of us are able to adapt more readily than others. Today's scripture readings ask us to look at how we deal with change in our lives.|Throughout the scriptures Jesus asks us to keep an open mind toward new ideas. In today's Gospel, he uses the image of the wineskins to make the same plea. As I reflect on Jesus' message, I am aware that it is not only individuals who must face change. There is also a communal dimension and we need to look at how we are called as a Christian community to adapt to the changes that we see all around us each day.|I've come to believe that the ability to adjust to change has to do with an attitude and a mentality and has little to do with chronological age. Three years ago this month I began ministering in a parish with six worship sites spread out over 1000 square miles of mainly rural farmland. The six worship communities vary in size, ranging anywhere from 89 to 265 families, a total of 1050 households. As I experience each community's uniqueness and gifts, I find the movement of new life not only within me but all around me. Our smallest community, which three years ago were mainly adults with some of them getting on in years, seems to be the one that has noticeably undergone dramatic change. The ones whose baptisms the community celebrated in the parish's early beginnings only twenty-four years ago have grown up and married and in many cases have remained in the area. Once again during Sunday liturgies we are hearing the coos, cries, and sometimes the screams of discontent of the very young. That change has not only brought new life but has energized the entire community.|The roots of those getting on in years are solid and one cannot help but experience their sense of ownership. Afterall, they were the ones who cut down the trees, took the logs to the mill, and built each of our worship spaces. The bonding that took place by working together in a spirit of generosity created bonds that provided the basis for a Christian Community. I watch these same people continue their stewardship of time by cleaning and maintaining the buildings as well as the outside environment. When I arrived three years ago I was aware of unspoken questions: Who is going to continue doing this as we get on in years? How do we pass on the sense of ownership to this next generation?|It is often said that the most valuable part of change is the "process" that we go through to get there. Like aging wine, the process is slow and cannot be rushed. What I am observing in this community that comes together at each Sunday liturgy is that the long time members of the community are slowly entering into a process of "companioning" the younger generation. Rather than allow all this newness to be a threat to established patterns, there is welcoming and interaction. This teaches me that we can allow our attitude toward change to create bonds of peace or we can resist new ideas, refuse to let go, and create a power struggle that only causes divisions. However, when people come together in an attitude of rejoicing in the new life that is shared, the roots of Christian community are renewed and life is sustained. Together, in "companioning" one another, we sew the new wineskins.|Each of us at some time in our life is called to let go of the old and pour new wine into new wineskins. This means that our attitudes must be reverently in tune with the process of change. It may not take place in the way we envisioned but it can and will take place "gracefully" if we allow ourselves to be defined by the life that is in us and around us.|Hold up the new wineskins! Bring out the new wine! And you ... ..will you do the honor of pouring?
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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