LENTEN DEVOTION for Tuesday, March 20



Holy One, renew me this day. Gracious One, help me start anew.



Abba Moses asked Abba Silvanus, "Can a person lay a new foundation every day?" The old man said, "If they work hard, they can lay a new foundation at every moment."

Jesus said, "No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak; otherwise, the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost, and so are the skins; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins" (Mark 2:21-22).


In the second chapter of Mark, Jesus challenges the foundation and framework of tradition. To Jewish lawyers, he questioned what it takes to receive forgiveness. To Pharisees, he opposed long-standing social distinctions. And to inquisitive bystanders, he contested traditional rituals. Jesus was laying a new foundation. The old patterns of thinking could not sustain his new way. You can't build a new house on an old and cracked foundation. You can't stitch unshrunk cloth on a well-worn coat. You can't put new wine into old wine skins. Jesus was laying a new foundation and encouraging his disciples to do the same. 
For those of us that are familiar with Jesus' life and teaching, it is easy to forget how revolutionary Jesus' message and ministry were. It is tempting to think that Jesus was challenging the social and religious customs of his day and that his challenge does not also tear at the foundations of our own customs. But he is still calling us to question our standard conceptions, the bases of our motives, traditions of culture, conveniences of religion, comforts of safety, social systems and more. Jesus wants us to work hard at laying a new foundation every moment until we have no foundation but the love of God.

It is a hard work to keep acquiring new wineskins and laying new foundations. It takes a willingness to think differently, read some different perspective and learn from someone unlike you. It takes an eagerness to try new things, attempt a different spiritual discipline, be in community with those who will challenge you and take action on difficult issues. But this hard work is done one step at a time, one thing at a time. Necessary, lasting change happens deliberately over time. It is a daily, even momentary willingness to begin again at the beginning. And God is always in beginnings.

What foundations and frameworks no longer work for you? What old cloth is now tearing? What things have you long thought and believed that no longer work for you? What things do you do that simply cannot be done any longer? What can you do this day to lay a new foundation?


Creator, you made all things out of nothing. Help me this day to make something new of my life. Amen.


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