I am the true vine

Feasts are made for laughter. Wine...gladdens life (Ecclesiastes 10:19)

I found a wonderful book while I was in Strasbourg - The Spirituality of Wine, by Tom Harpur, a Canadian. This beautiful picture book was given to Larry Miller by Mennonite World Conference staff and volunteers.

As he talks about the process of wine making, Harpur lifts up an ample number of texts from Scripture that talk about wine and winemaking. Jesus, of course, uses the metaphor of the vine and branches to talk about how we are connected to God and to each other.

Harpur includes a number of wonderful quotes from others, including this one from John Calvin, not necessarily one of my favorite people: "Wine is God's special drink. The purpose of good wine is to inspire us to a livlier sense of gratitude to God." And this one from the Talmud: "Wine is the foremost of medicines...wherever wine is lacking, medicines become necessary."

Harpur's book got me to thinking about the use of wine and alcohol in my own life experience. First forbidden and then, for many years, something hidden. And then I compare that with my experiences the last several years and certainly during my time in Strasbourg - wine has been so much a part of leisurely conversations over meals, deepening friendships and celebrations.
At Taize, we sang the well-known chorus, Eat this bread, drink this wine and again I thought of the profound meaning of wine as a symbol of Jesus' blood shed for us so that we can have life and have it more abundantly.

"Wine is divine, a gift of God," said theologian Paul Tillich.

At 58, I think I'm too old to hide this divine gift of God. As someone who also grieves the lack of sunshine for days on end in northern Indiana, I prefer to think of wine, as someone else has said, as sunshine in a bottle. With gratitude to God, I'm going to let it shine, let it shine!


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