Transformation

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I worked at a winery for two years while I was in college, the largest winery in Virginia.  They grew their own vineyards, harvested their own grapes, and crushed them to make their own juice.  It’s amazing just how much work goes into making this:


(Image courtesy of wine-bohemia.info)


Into this:


(Image courtesy of gilygily.com)


Try starting with this:


(Image courtesy of onewhiteface.com)


When you consider that Jesus started with vessels of water, ordinary water, and ended up producing some of the best wine a chief steward, a wine professional if you will, had tasted, then you realize how miraculous it was (John 2:1-10).  I saw first hand how it took years to make a descent wine, hardly the best the winery had to offer.  It took dozens and dozens of people to do it.  There were those who worked in viticulture (growing grapes), those who worked the harvest and crush, the winemaker and his assistant who perfected the raw wine, and then those who worked in bottling.  Not to mention the administrative staff.  Jesus just sat there, told the servants to pour water into six stone jars and pour it back out again.  Perfect wine, and, according to scripture, it revealed his glory (John 2:11).

The Holy Spirit has been continuing this transformation for centuries.  God takes human earthly vessels and pours both water and Holy Spirit over them.  Then they reveal the glory of God.  When was the last time you thought of your baptism in those terms?  God pours God’s self out for you, on you, and then you should reveal how glorious God is, a testimony to God’s grace, power, and love.  Baptism is a lot like making a good wine.  It takes time for the grapes to grow and mature, until they are ripe.  Then they begin the process of becoming great wine; they are gathered and crushed so that they become part of something bigger.  The juice from a single grape is hardly much, but when it is added to all the other grapes, barrels and barrels of juice can be obtained.  It is carefully watched over by the expert eye of the winemaker who is trained and shows a happy talent for it.  The juice is aged, bottled, and then aged some more.  Over time the very composition of the juice changes.  It takes on qualities that are deep and distinctive.  No longer a sweet, sugary juice; the wine over time has been perfected.  When the corks is removed from the bottle, it reveals all the hard labor, effort, and great care that went into its creation.

Whether one is baptized as an infant or an adult, they spend years growing, learning, and discovering God and kingdom of heaven.  So many people go into perfecting us.  Our parents, our family, our pastors, Sunday School teachers, church members, endless numbers of people shape us, guide us, and interact with us.  The whole time God is watching us and over us.  God is moving us toward God’s will for us in our lives, revealing paths and opportunities, until we at last discover and accept our place in God’s kingdom.  Then it is as if someone opened the dark barrel in which we had been living and we see the world in a whole new way.  When you find and take your rightful place in the world, life tastes so satisfying.  Like that perfect glass of wine.  This is what Christ wants for us, what the Holy Spirit is trying to do.  God is not trying to give the world cheap wine.  God is trying to make the best wine and serve it to the world now, when it needs it most.  We have the reason to celebrate in the salvation of Jesus Christ.  Now we just have to take our rightful place in the transformation.  For this the world thirsts.

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