So many choices! Forgiveness/healing, or inclusion,  or fasting, or conflict with the authorities, or home economics! What will you choose?

A Hole in the Roof
A Hole in the Roof

That is my first reaction to reading the passage from Mark (2:1-22) for this week, 5 different sermon starters jumped out at me. You can read the passage here.  I suppose in part that is a result of having a short period for our hop skip and a jump through Mark to get to chapter 16 by March 27th — long passages. And in Mark, who seems to be moving through life at a pretty good clip as it is, long passages mean you get lots of sermon fodder.

The Working Preacher commentary is here with the podcast being found here.  Resources from the Text This Week are here.

SO is the passage mainly about forgiveness? And in the story does Jesus proclaim or offer forgiveness when he says “your sins are forgiven”? Is he actually doing the forgiving or is he stating a fact, similar to the priestly function of the Assurance of Pardon?

OR is the primary focus of this passage the beginning of open conflict with the powers that be? A conflict that will eventually lead to the cross. The Working Preacher commentary highlights this function.

MAYBE the passage is pushing us to look at who is shut out and who is welcomed in? This is of course also a healing, and is closely tied to forgiveness as a way to that healing.

THEN there is fasting and feasting. Which is more offensive? Which is more appropriate?

FINALLY we have the last couple of verses. How does one patch cloth? What sort of wine-skins does one use? Is this possibly the piece that unifies the passage (assuming there is one piece that unifies the passage)? Mark’s Jesus begins his ministry by proclaiming that the Kingdom is at hand. The time is now, the day has come. Does this perhaps mean that it is time for new cloth and new wine-skins? Are the healings and the teachings and the conflict signs that there needs to be a new way of looking at things? Even more, is there a hint that it is difficult to live the new way using old patterns?

It seems to me that this is the challenge of Christian faith. Mark has been clear thus far that interacting with Jesus changes life completely and immediately. [Mind you in Mark everything seems to happen immediately, when does anybody get a chance to rest in this Gospel?] And yet human nature, particularly within faith communities perhaps, tends to resist major change. We tend to try to slow it down, to make it incremental and reforming rather than sudden and revolutionary. We want to patch the hole, to make use of the old containers. This seems to be common sense. This seems to be prudent. This seems to be making best use of what has been handed down to us. Unfortunately it also seems that it often doesn’t work.

Wineskins, they look new
Wine-skins, they look new

What cloth in your midst has been patched but is about to tear? What wine-skins have been used one or two times too many? Is there a need to punch a hole in your ceiling to allow wholeness to come in? Where is the new trying to break through?


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11 thoughts on “Narrative Lectionary Leanings: New Wine, New Skins Edition (Mark 2:1-22)

  1. Ordination and installation of officers going on this week so I think I’m going with Levi and then old things/new things… but that’s about all I’ve got.


    1. We also have council installation and such. I think I’m going to talk about New Year, New You, which I HATE to see, but which Jesus is actually talking about…how things are always being made new in the reign of God/kingdom (which I know Mark doesn’t say, but whatev).


  2. AS I was writing the Assurance for the Bulletin this morning (the PRayer for Grace I am borrowing from another source but so just needed the Assurance) it struck me that one of the things GOd is doing in us is making US into the new wine-skins….
    Not sure where that line will take me.


  3. I’m trying to mix the NL and Mark with a month of looking at how we can connect to God—practices that connect us. It feels like a lot to mix this week. A mashup really. I like all three stories but I’m not sure about using them all.
    Revgord’s question helps—Are we being made into “newskins”?

    Are you using all three stories this week? Are you connecting them with a theme?


    1. I’m doing the same thing, trying to connect Mark and basic faith practices. Reading all three of these stories through the lens of forgiveness, I’m seeing the stories and the “forgiveness” both in a new light. Without being too “how-to,” I’m reflecting on the way forgiveness necessarily makes a tangible difference in the relationship. If you’re not seeking a new relationship with the person, I’m not sure Jesus would say you’ve forgiven them.


  4. I have been thinking (dangerous) about the whole wineskin thing…that new wineskins stretch and grow, while old ones can’t accommodate the fermentation process of new wine. The kingdom is like yeast, right (I say, borrowing from another place entirely)? So…if the kingdom itself isn’t what grows, but rather what CAUSES growth, then the skin needs to stretch around it, or else we’ll be bursting out all over.

    Isn’t that also kind of what the digging-through-the-roof is about? the house can’t contain the growth, it bursts out. And the sinners/tax collectors/fasting things too….the kingdom of God is here among us (in Jesus) and that causes growth, and sometimes we can stretch to accommodate it (the sinners and tax collectors came to dinner, after all) and sometimes we can’t (people were mad about that).

    Possibly? I can sense that there’s something there but I haven’t quite put my finger on it yet.
    So I titled my sermon “full to bursting” and am hoping for the best. lol.


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