I suspect some of my readers aren’t quite so sure about the word oenologist.
How does one say an o and an e together? Is it pronounced o, then enologist? Do folks just forget the o sound and simply say or write enologist? I do the latter. It’s easier! Anyway, an enologist studies and masters the very sophisticated art of making wine.
While at seminary in California, I was told I needed to learn about and appreciate wines because we Episcopalians use them for sacramental purposes. I did as I was told, and, while at it, I also learned about the nonsacramental ones. I’ve been “learning” ever since.
Before seminary, my only experience with wines had been in college when I had a Thunderbird (winos’ choice) weekend. The hangover was terrible! It lasted for three days. I vowed never to touch that poison again. Now I have a glass or two of a nice wine almost every day. I’ve been told it’s good for my heart.
Now let’s go to the Gospel of John, an extremely complex book, and meet the world’s most famous enologist, Jesus. John is the only Gospel that tells such a story. Up until a few months ago, I thought the “school of John” was run by crackpots; then, thanks to our church’s great Bible study class, I did an about-face. I now see it as a gospel about agape love; also, I belive that John simply used fiction to share great truths. The story about Jesus making unforgettable wine is one of the most compelling in this Gospel.
In John’s fictional story (John 2:2-10), Jesus was attending a wedding in Cana and when the wine had run out Jesus’s Mom said, “They’re out of wine.” John reports that Jesus became a little testy and gave his Mom a snotty answer. But there were six stone jars nearby, each capable of holding twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said, “Fill the jars with water.” The servants did as he said; then he commanded them to take a sample to the person in charge, who said, “Everyone serves the best wine first; later, when the people are drunk, they serve the cheaper wine. But they’ve held back the good wine until now.”
Have you ever done that? I have—I know that after a glass or two of a nice wine, one doesn’t really distinguish the good from the not-quite-so-good. Shame on me!
However, this is not a story about winemaking; it’s a metaphor about Jesus taking the ordinary (water) and making the extraordinary (fabulous wine) out of it. The power in this story has to do with taking the agape love that Jesus promoted and incorporating this love into our daily living. I promise you the ordinary will become the extraordinary. For ten years I have practiced this, and I can only say that my life at eighty-five is more rich and fulfilling than ever before.
The bottom line: According to a literal interpretation of John, the world’s most famous enologist is Jesus, who, in my wildest imagination, produced a Petite Syrah, vintage 26, in those six jugs, enough to keep that town well supplied for a long time. (But then I miss the power of this great story.)
The real punchline here is, if you center your life around the highest form of love, agape (unconditional love for all humanity, instant forgiveness, and deep, sincere caring for others), then you can live an extraordinary life.
How does this story work for you? Which miracle do you prefer, water becoming wine or living your life to the fullest?