Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Fresh Wineskins of Youth Ministry

And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine desires new wine, but says, 'The old is good.'" ~ Luke 5:37-39

This passage of Scripture has often perplexed me, but it is clear that Jesus is speaking about the relationship between what is new and what has come before.  The other day I was thinking about youth ministry when this passage came up. 

To illustrate the strain of thought that entered my mind, consider the following highlighted groups of words:

And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine desires new wine, but says, 'The old is good.'" ~ Luke 5:37-39

Now substituting roughly using the following legend:

new wine = energetic, unformed youth
old wineskins = Christian community; Church
fresh wineskins = youth ministry
old wine = mature, formed youth

And no one [thrusts] an unformed young person into the Church community; otherwise the youth will burst the community and will be spilled, and the Church will be destroyed. But youth must be put into youth ministry. And no one after [encountering] a mature young person desires the unformed, but says, 'The old is good.'" ~ Luke 5:37-39

Now obviously it doesn't fit one-to-one, but the point is made: good youth ministry acts as a bridge into the Church community.  Their experience, however, cannot be too short (like immature wine) or too long (like vinegar).  But, youth ministry rightly done can act as a wonderful way to full integration into the life of the Church.  If we are not seeking to integrate the youth, then we are consructing a ghetto.  That reeks of division, not unity.  Good youth ministry will lead to integration into the community, especially the celebration of the Mass.

Recall what Sacrosanctum Concilium, paragraph 10 states:
...the liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; at the same time it is the font from which all her power flows.  For the aim and object of apostolic works is that all who are made sons of God by faith and baptism should come together to praise God in the midst of His Church, to take part in the sacrifice, and to eat the Lord's supper.