On my travels I bought a new piece of pottery with a salt glaze (a finish new to me) that I found interesting. I knew I wanted to use it for something, but I wasn’t sure what for. When I got home I decided that my arrangement of dried curly willow would be perfect for it.

The old container was much wider than my new piece of pottery, yet I just grabbed the bundle thinking I could make it fit in one move. It didn’t work. So I began taking apart the arrangement. As I disentwined and separated it a few pieces broke off. The breakage was minimal because I took the time to figure out how to gently pull it apart.

After I organized all the branches across my floor, I placed the new container in position and began reassembling the arrangement. I took time to reexamine and decide where I would place the branches. Some didn’t go in the right place the first time and I needed to move them after I had placed other pieces of curly willow. It took more time than I initially thought.

When I finished I had a new arrangement. All the pieces were the same, but in different places. Some pieces were a little shorter because ends had broken off when I was taking it apart, but they were still a part of the arrangement.

Looking at the arrangement I smiled at the folly of my earlier thinking of being able to move the whole thing at once. Then the story of the wineskins jumped into my mind.

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

We can find this passage in two other places in the Gospels: Matthew 9:16-17 and Luke 5:36-39. These passages are dealing with how the Pharisees are fasting in contrast to Jesus and his disciples. Around this passage are other tensions dealing with eating and the Sabbath. An oversimplification would be to say that Jesus was challenging traditions.

While one could argue that I put “old wine” into a new skin by using the same pieces of curly willow, a new creation emerged in my new piece of pottery. It is made of the same ingredients as the old, but it is made new again. Sometimes it is good to use the old in a new way