The California Wine Grapes

Do you remember the California Raisins?  They were these claymated guys that sang all these motown songs.  They were around in the 80’s.   Nobody that I know of ever much contemplated the idea that once they were California Grapes.  Maybe they sang like kid’s lullaby songs or something before they dried out and grew up.

If they had ever made a commercial showing the grapes’ transition to raisins, it could’ve seemed pretty cute.  Big plump grapes all sunning themselves, or something.  Maybe they forget the sunscreen.  Slowly, they get all shriveled and raisinish.

If the destiny of those grapes had been a little different, there’s no way you could make a cute commercial out of them.

Imagine that the California grapes were destined to become wine.  Imagine that they all got smooshed together, bottled, and left to ferment.  It’s not likely they’d be singing too many songs in this scenario.

Wine is something that is important in the teachings of Jesus.  At his first public miracle, he turns water into wine.  I have been suggesting, in these last several posts, that this represents the change he wants to make in our lives.  Jesus is calling us to live more full and complete existences.

A wine-like life is not an easy one.  The process of making wine itself is instructive  in this regard.   There is meaning to the fact that the grapes are squashed, the very deepest parts of the grapes are brought out.  There is meaing to the fact that it is not internal forces alone which make wine, but also an outside, almost magical process. 

Jesus was the original grape turned to wine.  And he expects us to follow his example.  More on this coming soon.


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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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