New Wine

Singer cover art
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Audio excerpt: End of verse 1 into chorus

Lyrics & notes

2 Sep 1976

why do we pretend to hold Your life
in forms that just can't bend?
we just maintain
how can we confine the good, good news
to names on dotted lines?
it's such a strain
if we could only take down
all the umbrellas we have built
we could receive His latter rain now

Jesus, I am thirsty for new wine
I have been so dry for such a long time
long, long time
only let me bear the fruit of Your vine
then lead me to Your winepress
and drink me
while I drink You

how can we describe Your sweet, holy fire
in words so cold we strive
to freeze the heart
how can we exchange Your sweet, freedom song
for bonds and prison chains
that hold us apart?
if we could only see
all that You want us to be
but we're much too scared to start now

℗ © Love's Music 1979, assigned to Creative Measures (ASCAP)

1979 Notes:

What I'm talking about is, in part, institutional structures. In the beginning there was life, but as time went on we added "safeguards" and "fail-safe mechanisms" because we were afraid the life might someday run out. And before we knew it, all we had left was an empty wineskin, a great program, a well-oiled machine that could run smoothly—with or without the Spirit.

But what of our lives? If there is to be renewal on a large scale, it certainly must start with each one of us. We must, deep down, commit ourselves to following the Spirit's leading, instead of fitting Him into our already well planned lives.

When I suddenly find myself dying of thirst, it's usually because I have—either consciously or unconciously—allowed the flesh to take over with all its old nature patterns and habits, and ceased to follow the Spirit.

There is only one cure for thirst: Come to Him and drink (Jn. 7:37-39). And somehow as we drink, we are giving up all of ourselves and receiving all of Him.

2007 Notes:

Yup. And now that I've had a few years' experience with a "day job," I've seen the same thing happen over and over again in the workplace, too. What every company wants is that spark. That mysterious, all-important quality that just seems to catch on and make things work. But instead of making sure the conditions are right for the spark to happen, they try to "organize it" (and reorganize it!) into happening. Guess what? It don't work that way, folks.

I have to use my current music buddy, Ann Doyle, as an example here. I feel like what we create is magic. But there are some very important reasons for that. One is that we value each other's contributions to the whole. I value her beautiful songs, her delivery, her stage presence, her soul. She values my perspective as a composer and arranger in my own right, and rewards my contribution by being generous to me—to a fault. If we get $100 for a gig, she's likely to give the whole hundred to me, usually over my protests. And I've come to see the importance of that. Not the hundred dollars, but the real, tangible expression of how she values my contribution. Put all these elements together, and the work we do, at its best (like our last CD, and especially my two favorite tracks, "Let's Not Do This" and "Bruised Peach"), becomes art.

Corporate America today wants that spark but doesn't want to pay the bill. It's trying to take an awful lot of shortcuts to get it, and that just doesn't work. Often the part that's left out is the willingness to show employees how they're valued by expressing it on the bottom line. (Yes, unbeknownst to corporate America, employees have bottom lines, too.)

It's the spark we need. In life, in work, in play, in worship. It's the spark we long for. But we can't manufacture it. All we can do is do everything we can to make the conditions right, and pray for fire.