About a year and a half ago, my daughter Mathea and I took a walk through the Queen Anne neighborhood of Seattle. While we walked, we talked (among other things) about the Bible. Out of that conversation, I made a decision to blog my way through the gospel of Luke. My hope was to make a sort of dialogue out of the project. Some of you have probably read those blog posts.
This summer I collected all those writings and put them together in a collection. Then I reread that manuscript and decided it needed a LOT of work. (ouch!) I spent several months doing a ton of conversation, revision, study, and editing. (Anyone who says writing isn't work has not tried it.)
One of my weaknesses over the years has been that I love to start projects, but the detail work of creating a finished product puts me off. I promised myself this Luke project was not going to end up just one more manuscript figuratively collecting dust on my laptop. So I ground it out, did the work, and did all the work again. Then I asked for help and did some more work.
Along the way, I had the chance to ponder Jesus on a whole new level. I thought and prayed about him and his agenda–what he called his "kingdom." I thought and prayed about what God is up to in our own time. There seems to be a mass extinction going on in churches these days, not to put too fine a point on it. The mainstream press loves to talk about the rise of the "nones," those who claim no religious affiliation. Churches like the one I grew up in seem to be going the way of the passenger pigeon.
At the same time, there's a breath of new life in certain circles and certain places. Here and there, people are discovering Jesus in new ways and getting really excited about him. Those abundant, growing places almost always have a few things in common. They're rooted in taking the Bible very seriously, but in a joyful way. They're focused on Jesus and his Spirit. They're living the biblical word out in a community that meets in home-sized groups, not just in giant celebrations. Finally, they recognize that knowing and following Jesus requires them to care for this world in really tangible ways.
Jesus spoke frequently about these kinds of changes. One of the most intriguing ways he talked about this kind of thing is when he said you can't put new wine in old wineskins. When you've got a powerful, fermenting wine, you need fresh wineskins that have the elasticity to hold it without breaking. And he said that people who are tied to older, tradition-bound ways of life will reject this new wine, claiming that their version is better.
Realizing what a theme this is for Jesus, especially in Luke's gospel, I called the book New Wineskins. It's designed to lead the reader through a reading of Luke and hopefully into conversations about Jesus and his way of life. Even though I write about Greek words and first century cultural and historical context, it's not a book for scholars. It's for everyday people who want to know Jesus better. It's for those who want to have a conversation in their own community about who he is and what he's up to. It's for those who are open to his new wine, looking for flexible wineskins that can hold his Spirit's dynamic life.
I'd love to have you read it and let me know what you think. Your feedback is so important! I've realized in a new way through this process that writing needs to be a conversation. As I'm working on more projects (and promising myself I will finish those in the near future as well) your input becomes a key way for me to improve my writing. Thanks in advance. You can click on the picture to the right or here to order a copy from Amazon.
If you want a signed copy, send me $12 and your address and I'll mail one to you! My mailing address is:
12720 51st St. NE
Spicer MN 56288