Showing posts with label wine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label wine. Show all posts

10 July 2012

Water becomes wine

Part 1 of a series - 'Seven signs in John'
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Jesus was invited to a wedding in the village of Cana. While the wedding reception was still under way the wine ran out. How embarrassing for the bridegroom! There is so much to learn from the people and events in Cana that day.

A modern British wedding reception
This is the first sign in John's gospel. Just to recap, here is John's explanation about the inclusion of this sign in his book about Jesus.

'Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book.'

'But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.' (John 20:30-31)

Now read John's account of this first sign.

On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, ‘They have no more wine.’

‘Woman, why do you involve me?’ Jesus replied. ‘My hour has not yet come.’

His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’

Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from eighty to a hundred and twenty litres.

Jesus said to the servants, ‘Fill the jars with water’; so they filled them to the brim.

Then he told them, ‘Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.’

They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realise where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, ‘Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.’

What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him. (John 2:1-11)

We'll go through the four questions in turn, and although I'm not going to provide answers I will try to point you to where those answers might be found.

What does this story tell us about people? - There are several people in this short passage, consider them carefully one by one. Bear in mind that the people in the story are just like us; although they lived two thousand years ago they have the same characteristics and motivations and do the same sorts of things.

The disciples are mentioned twice, near the beginning and again at the end.

Jesus' mother knew her son just as any mother would. What does she do and how does she respond to what he tells her?

Don't forget the servants, they are easily overlooked. Remember that servants would not be expected to chat with the guests, but they would be expected to be attentive and do whatever they were told. What do you think they might have been thinking as they took the water to the MC?

Then there's the Master of Ceremonies, he's supposed to be in charge but he doesn't seem to have noticed where the new supply of wine came from. In what ways are we like him? He was familiar with the little tricks people often use, do you sense his surprise? What does this tell you about people?

And how do you suppose the bridegroom felt when the wine ran out? Why might this have happened? (I can think of several plausible reasons.) Have you ever been in a situation where you were responsible for something important and didn't get it quite right?

What does it tell us about Jesus? - Was Jesus stuffy and religious? Notice that he was invited to a party and was happy to be there. Is he aloof or approachable?

Why do you think he says one thing to his mother and then seems to do the opposite? Who told him it wasn't time yet, and who told him, 'Now is the time'? Remember that he said, 'I only do what I see the Father doing'. Is he being difficult, or just being obedient? Compare this with John 7:8-10.

What do we learn about his power and authority in the world?

Does he do everything himself or does he send others?

What does it tell me about myself? - Are you like any of the people in this story? In what ways?

Who else needs to hear this? - Do you know people who need to hear this story, this 'sign'? If so, who is going to tell them? Could you share this with others individually? Could you share it with a group of friends?

Additional points - The wine had run out so there must have been plenty of empty wine jars and/or wineskins around. So why did Jesus used the hand-washing water jars? Would you want to drink washing water?

Consider using this blog post as a discussion outline for a CU meeting or for a home group or cell group. Use it as part of a Bible study or for informal sharing. There are all sorts of possibilities.

< No earlier items | Index | Healing at a distance >

12 December 2011

What is the Organic Wine tab?

Organic Wine - [ Home | Bible | Resources | CO2 | Topics | About ]

No, we're not trying to sell you a bottle to accompany a fine meal - it's just a name. We look at wineskins and wine in terms of church life.

Red wineWhat's the Organic Wine tab all about? - There are early signs of a major change in organic church, not in the way it's organised or the principles behind it (person of peace, oikos, new church, networks) but in what happens as we meet. Only Father knows where he is leading us, our place is to enjoy the journey and give him all the glory for whatever he may do. This 'Organic Wine' tab is here to facilitate sharing about these things.

Wineskins and Wine - Let's define 'organic' church very loosely, generally we have in mind something small with the feel of family about it - friends in close community, brothers and sisters caring for one another. We also see organic church as something alive, its members going out into the world actively looking to share the good news, make disciples, and encourage them to gather as further, new, living expressions of church.

It may help to think of church as a container. The most precious thing it can contain is the life of Christ amongst his people. If we see it as merely containing people we will have made a social club. If we see it as containing Christ we will see that he is building a part of his church, his bride to be. Church should be a place where Jesus is at the centre, his Spirit is active amongst the people, the Living Water is flowing through and out, there is growing hope and joy and peace and above all love, and there is a sense of purpose and excitement and of the presence of the King.

The structures and mechanisms of organic church are like bottles or wineskins, the abundant and bubbling life within is the new wine. The bottles are church in the world, the wine they contain is church in Heaven.

What I am not saying - It's important to be clear about two things. The fruit of the Spirit is more fundamental than the gifts; in other words character trumps activity. We are not expecting an experience of Holy Spirit power alone, but for that power mediated by gentleness, self control, peace, kindness, and above all joy and love. And secondly we are not suggesting that an outpouring of spiritual power and freedom will be confined to just organic church, we are convinced that Father longs to see all his people using every gift he has made available.

In some ways we are second guessing what Father will do. The only things we can see clearly are those things that have already happened. And we can surely expect him to surprise us and exceed the bounds of our imagination. HalleluYah!

And finally - Pages under the Organic Wine tab are not like other articles on this blog. Most articles, once posted, are unlikely to change. But the Organic Wine posts will change as often as necessary to keep the contents (and especially the links) up to date.

28 October 2011

THOUGHT - Of wine and wineskins

In the 1970s and 80s we talked a lot about new wine and the older and newer wineskins we might use to hold it. Perhaps it's time to revisit this topic to see how it might apply to church today, particularly organic church.

A traditional goatskin water containerI'm sure we're all familiar with these words of Yahshua, 'Nobody pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.' (Mark 2:22)

The idea here is that new wine is actively fermenting and is full of fizz, it's literally alive with active yeast. Old wine is inactive, even dead; fermentation is finished. Wineskins were made of goatskin and when new were supple and stretchy, old ones were stiff, brittle and cracked.

New, fizzy, active wine will stretch a new wineskin but burst an old one. We felt Jesus was saying that the New Covenant could not be contained in the old wineskin of Judaism but needed a new, more flexible one, the church.

In the 70s we thought that old wine and old wineskins also represented staid denominations with their stuffy, inflexible liturgy and rigid forms of structured management. The new wine represented the fresh, vigorous outpouring of spiritual gifts and if these were released within the traditional church there would be an explosion.

The answer would surely be new forms of meeting at home without leadership structures and inflexible service patterns.

Well, maybe. But it didn't work out quite as we expected.

The new house churches ran into difficulties as leaders were recognised and given authority. Sometimes the spiritual outpouring faded away, but sometimes it continued unabated. And outrageously, even the denominations began encouraging the use of spiritual gifts, sometimes in special meetings or even in their normal Sunday services.

It seems the Holy Spirit was no respecter of our ideas about wineskins!

Perhaps the wineskins are not so much about organisations and structures as they are about the hearts of the people within those organisations and structures. That makes far more sense, Jesus is interested in people, not organisations. We bring people to him and he builds them into the structure as he chooses. We are living stones. Did you ever hear of stones deciding how to build a house?

More on wineskins in a future post...

Meanwhile, can you suggest things we could do as we meet to encourage the flow of new, fizzing, spiritual wine?

08 October 2010

Eaton Ford (day) - New skins for new wine

Paul and I met at his home and enjoyed a great mix of talking, thought and prayer for friends and family, and Bible study. We're picking up in Mark's gospel where we left off back in the spring.

We read Mark 2:13-22, here are some of the main things we thought about together.

A man carrying a wineskinThere seems to be evidence here that Yahshua didn't plan what he did in quite the way we might do. It seems much more likely that he was just responding to his Father's guidance on a moment by moment basis. He went out for a walk by the lake and people gathered there, so he started teaching them. Then, still walking along, he spotted Levi at work. He called him to follow - and Levi did. He must have left the tax booth with the money and equipment - and just walked away!

Levi clearly invited him for dinner that evening, and Jesus went!

Doesn't he call us to live the same way, not planning but listening? He wants us to say what he says, and do what he does. He wants us to pay attention to him and then live his life in the world day after day. He wants to live inside us so that our words will be his words and our actions his actions. He wants the world to know him by seeing and hearing us! That is awesome!

The Pharisees asked Yahshua's disciples, 'Why does he eat with people who do wrong?' They thought that living according to rules would make them righteous and acceptable to the Almighty. But Jesus tells them that he came for sinners, not for the righteous.

The fast referred to would have been a religious festival and the righteous were certainly expected to adhere to it. It would have been like Ramadan for the Muslims, failing to take part would show contempt for the accepted religion. In that case, why were Yahshua's followers not taking part?

His answer must have been perplexing. He refers to himself as the bridegroom. Perhaps they wondered if he was going to get married!

Verses 21 and 22 are fascinating. Yahshua mentions an old garment and old wineskins. Surely he's referring to the rules of the Pharisees, the idea of fasting because it's customary, the need to avoid eating with sinners. These old patterns of behaviour will be utterly ruined and broken by the new thing that Jesus is ushering in! He's turning the world upside down.

The old rules no longer apply. For example, it's no longer enough to use a ritually cleaned cup to avoid defiling yourself; from now on the words that come out of a person's mouth will determine whether they are holy or profane.

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