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Grapes to wine…


I can imagine that it looks a little grim from the grape’s perspective: cut from the vine, smashed, stirred, many of what you had always assumed were your vital parts ripped out…so that all that’s left is a shapeless lump bleeding purple. And that’s just the beginning. There are, still ahead, months of fermenting, straining, and just plain sitting until anything seemingly useful happens.

But then comes a day when a deacon grabs a bottle and uncorks it. And what began (for the grape, remember) in violence and upheaval gets poured out and blessed and shared as the very vehicle whereby Christ gathers with his people and God once again blesses the earth.

Grapes might not possess the consciousness required to grasp the enormity of the journey on which they have traveled from vine to chalice. But, hopefully, human beings can sense the parallel in their own lives.

We know, all too well, our struggles and disappointments. We have experienced days of cutting, smashing, bleeding…perhaps physically, but also emotionally, spiritually, financially, socially. And sometimes it feels as though we’ve simply been forgotten…left to sit, alone and silent, wondering what could possibly be next.

Paul writes to the Romans: “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God…” (8:28). A parishioner who recently informed me that she’d lost her job: “God has gotten us through a lot of things; he’ll get us through this, too.”

These are tough times for a lot of folks, of course…not for just one parishioner. Tough times for the whole church. So I wonder: could this be a wine-making time for the people of God? Are we being prepared so that we can be lifted up in blessing? Perhaps God is using these cutting/smashing/bleeding/waiting days to transform us, to renew our sense of purpose, and to enliven us for mission in ways we had not thought possible.

Make no mistake: God is and will be at work in the world…even at the very heart of our hurts and sorrows, our frustrations and arguments. Grapes today…that’s you and me. So it is that we bleed with Christ. But so also will we rise with Christ. Through the process, God is making of us the new wine of life and thanksgiving poured out for the sake of the world. As a grape, it’s not always comfortable. But the outcome? Vintage stuff. (Thanks be to God.)


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