Interestingly, for no apparent reason yesterday, a rhyming ditty from my childhood came wafting up from my past. “Make new friends but keep the old; one is silver and the other gold.” I heard it and smiled and then it was gone. I think it was one of the learnings of Girl Scout meetings. It came back to me this morning as I read the parable of the Kingdom of heaven being compared first to a net cast into the sea that collects every kind of fish. Upon return to shore, the fishermen separate out what is good and throw away what is bad.
After explaining that it will be so at “the end of the age” when angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous, Jesus gives a rather harrowing description of the fate of the wicked. He asks his disciples if they understand what he’s saying but when they say they do he proceeds to offer another image. I would have thought he was so happy that they got something he was talking about that he would have stopped there. But no. “The kingdom of heaven,” he continues, “is like the head of a household who brings forth from his storeroom both the new and the old.”
While I’m not trying do a serious analysis of Scripture here (I leave that to the theologians) I am interested that Jesus seems this time to be comparing new and old without judging them good or bad. You can’t know without opening the bottle and tasting the wine whether it is fine or turned to vinegar. I go back to the fishermen and see them grabbing fish and throwing them back or into a bucket, perhaps counting on their experience to help them make a quick decision about good or bad. Sometimes, though, it takes time to assess what is worthy or not.
So I guess my singsong memory is relevant after all. No snap judgments of friends who are getting older or newer acquaintances who have yet to show their true colors. Just looking for the deeper values that come to light with time and patience.