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Intoxicating Faith – Time for a Drink!

January 19, 2013

The miracle of Jesus turning water into wine is one of the most famous of the stories about Jesus. It is certainly the one that comes up most often in the pub or at parties. I’d be a rich man if I had money for every time someone asked if I could turn water into wine Or for when someone decides to tell the joke:

 Question: What was Jesus’ first miracle?

Answer: Turning water into wine?

Question: What was Jesus’ second miracle?

Answer: The healing of the paralytic!

Despite the jokes, this is still one of my favourite stories. It is also far more rich and complex that it at first may seem.

 The simple message is that Jesus liked a good party and that he liked to have a drink. It is hard for us to say that Jesus would disapprove of alcohol. Jesus did not just turn a little water into wine, so that everyone could have one more drink before they went home. After all, as the steward says, the guests were already more than a little drunk. No, Jesus didn’t just turn a little water into wine: Jesus turned 120 to 150 gallons of water into wine. That’s a lot of wine, and good wine too!

 So when I sit down with a glass of wine or a beer, I feel Jesus near. I feel like the long ago author of one of the most beautiful but earthy vision prayers of heaven. It is an old Celtic prayer that I found, many years ago in a book of prayers collected by A.M. Allchin and Esther de Waal, called Threshold of Light:

The Heavenly Banquet

 I would like to have the men of Heaven

In my own house:

With vats of good cheer

Laid out for them.

I would like to have the three Marys,

Their fame is so great.

I would like people

From every corner of Heaven.

I would like them to be cheerful

In their drinking,

I would like to have Jesus too

Here amongst them.

I would like a great lake of beer

For the King of Kings,

I would like to be watching Heaven’s family

Drinking it through all eternity.

That story of Jesus turning water into wine is about the abundance of the gift that is given in Jesus. The new start that humanity is given in Jesus is extravagant, it is completely over the top, like making 150 gallons of excellent wine for guests that are already pretty drunk. It is like having a great lake of beer for all eternity.

 The wine that was served already, is like the Old Covenant between God and his people. It had ran out. But the new Covenant is even better. God’s blessing is like all of that wine, the very best and more than we can ever exhaust. Sometimes, the wonder of it all is intoxicating. This is the new wine that I have been given. This is the new life that Jesus has given, this is the new wine that is offered to everyone.

 This story of God’s joyful abundance is a wonderful antidote to the doom and gloom merchants. It is a strong defence against those that say that the Christian life shouldn’t be fun. Don’t get me wrong, the Christian life can lead to hardship and persecution, even death. The course of my life, after all, is dictated by God’s Spirit not by me; not by anyone. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not allowed to enjoy the good things that come my way as I follow the Spirit.

 Famine or feast the Spirit is there with me. The Holy Spirit is there with me when times are hard, giving me the strength to keep going. The Holy Spirit is also there in the good times, deepening my joy and appreciation of each gift from God. The Spirit is also there to give  me the strength not to hold onto the good times, the strength to move on when called.

 I’m told that there is an old Jewish saying, I think from the Talmud but I could be mistaken, that goes something like this: On the day of judgement, I will be called to account for all the bad things that I have done. I will also be called to account for all the good things from God that came my way that I refused.

 Good things are given for our enjoyment as gifts from God. Therefore, the only proper response is for ,me to show the giver that I accept and enjoy them to the full.

 So, today and each morning I drink of the new wine of God. Drink deep draughts of the Holy Spirit. Enjoy all the good gifts from God. Bring more people in because all are welcome to join the party. 

When I think I can hold my drink, I drink deeply from the new wine of God, and let my blood boil for the Good News that I have to proclaim. 

  1. Dianna permalink

    Amen let us never forget the wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit I’ll drink to that.

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