Us as wine

The term, “Christians” has its roots in an insult.  People called his followers, “little Christs” and they meant it sarcastically.

To my knowledge, nobody ever resisted the insult though.  I find myself wondering if the first Christ-followers to hear this might have thought, “yeah, that’s about right: a little Christ.  That’s what I want to be.”

Regardless of how they felt at the time, speaking for my own self, I can say that I don’t think it’s too far from what the goal is: to be a little Christ.

And so it stands to reason: if Jesus is metaphorically turned to wine, so too are we.

In fact, there are ways in which the metaphor works better for us than it does for him… The most obvious of these ways is the mere fact that making wine out of a single grape is possible, but a little bit goofy.   The idea of a bunch of people serving as a bunch of grapes, and b eing turned together to wine, this idea works a little better.

Jesus of course promised us struggles.  He called us to take up our crosses– an instrument of death and torture.  He promised us persecution.  He told us to die to ourselves.

And a grape does have to die to itself to become wine.  There is something within it that can not be unleashed with out it’s destruction.  And in this destruction, it becomes joined with all the others who have similarly submit themselves, just as the community of Christ followers is joined together.

But it is not only what is within us.  It is also something outside of us.  Because it’d only be grape juice if it finished with the same ingedients it started with.  The transformation to wine is one that is begun by the destruction of the grapes…  But it takes processes outside the grape to finish it, much as we require the holy spirit.


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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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