Water, wine, and blood.

There are things you only find out by looking through a microscope.  And there are things you only find by looking through a telescope. 

Metaphorically speaking, I think that in America in the year 2009, we do an outstanding job with our microscopes.  I think we are not very good with the telescopes.

We’re very good at isolating events and picking them apart to see what they are made of.  We are terrible, on the whole, at looking at the context and interrelations between things.  And nowhere is this more true than how we approach The Bible.  We’re great at taking one tiny little verse and picking it to bits.  We’re not so good in understanding how this one little verse functions in the whole, or understanding how this verse is related to that one.

The book “Writing in the Sand” by Thomas Moore is equal parts fascinating and annoying.   It gave me this great telescopic view of something I never noticed before.

It’s no big secret that Jesus first public miracle was the turning of water into wine.  But I’d never really considered this in the context of the things Jesus says and does later.  For example, there is the Lord’s Supper: Wine is no longer just wine, but it is Jesus’ blood.  And there is Jesus telling us that he is the living water, and if we drink from him we will never be thirsty.

I don’t think this is precisely a cycle.  It’s a little more like an apparent duality, except it’s with 3… A triality?

Jesus coming into the world is his turning the water into the wine.  And his death is the turning of the wine into his blood.  And his blood is the living water, from which we can drink and never grow thirsty…

I think there’s an entire book of thoughts unfolding in all this from me.  The thoughts are kind of a mess right now.  I’m going to jot a few down so that I can come back to this post later, to fill them out:

#1) Our boring, natural lives, outside of rebirth and Jesus are water. 

#2) There is something in the process of going from grape to wine that is emblamitic of Jesus’ sacrifice and our own rebirth.   In the age before wine was made thousands of miles away and purchased at a store, they would have been much more in touch with this.  The grape is smashed, killed, destroyed.  That which lay dormant within the grape is released through this death… and it combines with something else, in the process of fermentation, to create a substance which, when imbided, brings us outside (a little bit) of our mundane reality.

#3) The term “Christian” etymological means “little Christ” and it was originally meant as an insult.  The early Christian community doesn’t seem to have resisted it, though.  I wonder if they thought “Yup.  That about sums it up… That’s what we want to be, little Christs.”  Jesus is the vine, we are the branches.

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jeffsdeepthoughts

The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

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