Tuesday, January 09, 2007

To Preach on the Best Wine 

No, that is not to say that one should consume excellent, even miraculous, wine before preaching, but rather to say that I am scheduled to preach this weekend on the text about Jesus' first miracle: the transformation of water into wine at the wedding feast in Cana.

I've long since known, as have those who have known me, that I am a storyteller. Consequently, I have a very strong narrative view of Holy Scripture and my preaching generally takes on a narrative character. In his book, The End of Words, Richard Lischer has this to say about narrative preaching and storytelling, "I am convinced that one of the reasons the church continues to thrive in the South is that southerners have not lost the capacity to tell or hear a good story. I have friends who are constitutionally incapable of speaking in any mode other than narrative. If you ask them for the time, they will tell how they acquired the watch. To any factual question they can only reply, 'That reminds me of a story.'" (You may find a link to his book on my sidebar at the left under the heading, "What I'm Reading")

Yep. I'd say that about pegs me. So, not to disappoint, when I read the passage about the wedding feast at Cana, it reminds me of a story. I will share the story here, because there is no way it will be able to make its way into my sermon for Sunday.

The occasion was high school homecoming (1997 I believe) and we had finished the dance and were celebrating at the after party my group always threw. Compared to the kind of partying other classmates of mine at the time did, we were pretty mild. Indeed, homecoming and prom parties were the only time in high school that I remember alcohol being present at our gatherings. Nick would always show up with either some Boone's Farm or some Jack Daniels. There would be some gross beer of some cheap variety and other such libations. We always made sure that those who would be imbibing turned their keys in to the host and would not get them back until the morning. On this particular night we were at my friend Jesse's place, which had the delightful feature of an outdoor spa. Once the Boone's Farm had run out, I was enticed by my peers to attempt a similar miracle to that one at Cana by trying to turn the spa water into more wine. I failed. But I did give it a go. Then Nick asked his infamous question, "Ryan, can you bless the wine in my stomach so I don't have to go to church tomorrow?" I think I attempted that as well, but I didn't know what he was so concerned about - Nick rarely went to church anyway.

Now, the reason (well, one of them) that story will not make it into the Sunday sermon is because I have decided to combine the Gospel lection with the celebration of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose national holiday occurs on Monday. I think I'll take a tack that will lead me to compare the preaching of King from the Lincoln Memorial, in which he said that they had marched on Washington to cash a check, to the miracle of Jesus turning water into wine. In essence, the men and women of color of our country had been given tap water when they had been promised the finest wine, which is their full right as much as it is white men and women.

And I think I'll manage to work in a story or two, just not the one cited above.

In preparation for the sermon, I watched Dr. King's famous speech on a You Tube video and I think that if it's been a while since you've heard it or seen it, or if you've never heard it or seen it, now is as fine a time as any to renew your knowledge of his prophetic call to all of us.



interesting way of merging the 2 subjects...

By Blogger MomP, at 9:54 AM  

FWIW, that was 1999, the year I went with you. I believe I still have pictures of it, in fact. Somewhere.

By Blogger Lacy, at 6:33 PM  

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