New Wine: Getting There Is All The Fun
It’s very human to always be looking for the perfect circumstance: the perfect partner, the perfect job, the perfect group. One of the earliest things we were taught, when the body known as New Wine was birthed, was that there was no such thing as a perfect church. Michael Cook would joke that if we ever found the perfect church, it would stop being perfect the minute we walked in!
The other thing we were taught was the futility of hopping from one church to another in pursuit of that perfection; especially if we were dissatisfied or angry. Dissatisfaction and personality clashes were to be addressed, not run from, we were told. This was a way to mature, just like in the proverb: “You use steel to sharpen steel, and one friend sharpens another.”
We who became New Wine were looking for that: a group of people who would stick with one other and be real with each other; a group that our kids could grow up with and where we could all be encouraged in our attempt to live as Christians. We were looking for a community.
And we got it! And it was most imperfect.
It’s very human to think that we should have ended up with something to show for our years together. But New Wine was not about assembling a thing that we can now point to, as if we were building a city. Rather, it was about a journey that we were embarking on together; as if we had all stepped into a river-raft at the head of a wild, forested river and set off, without much of an idea of what was ahead. This was a journey we would not have undertaken alone, and as rivers have a way of revealing nothing beyond the first bend, it was bound to be an interesting ride.
And it was!
We had a lot of fun together with our parties, trips and events; and we still have fun when occasions call for a get-together. Together, we dabbled in new teachings and spiritual matters. We studied, went to seminars and conferences and connected with other bodies. We worshipped, we danced, and we were healed and delivered. And we prayed. Together, we tried out all sorts of prayer. We wanted to do what the Lord wanted; something we all still want…and so the praying goes on.
And where are we now? It’s as if we have washed up on the shore of the river, muddy and wet, but full of the exhilaration of the ride. We are on the river’s edge; but this is merely a pause in our journey. We have relished the ride. It has made us feel alive. What will we do now? We could continue down the river. We are, after all, experienced river-riders. We could go back to the head of the river and ride it again. Now that we know the landscape, our next ride could be much more successful. Or, we could go off into the forest. The woods are fed by the river. It’s a new, mysterious and unknown place.
And who is this “we”? It is the body known as New Wine, changing and maturing constantly as the years go by. It is anyone who has been on the journey.