And then you think "maybe not". Or, alternatively if you wriggle yourself into a certain sitting position and frown a lot you will have an idea so profound and so wise that it will blow your socks off.
The following article is not a result of either of those activities! Rather, I have been meaning to write about wine and discipleship for some time. Some of you may think that the connection between faith and alcohol is at best tenuous and at worst, frankly sacrilegious. In many ways you would be right. The usual way that we justify our second glass of wine on a Friday is that we say "Jesus turned water into wine" so therefore it must be ok.
For me, the connection between wine and my faith runs deeper than that. A wine tasting course taken a few years ago showed me that as you begin to understand about wine and how it is made, you see a similarity between the growing of vines and growth in our faith.
Were you aware that in some parts of the world, vines may be over 100 years old? They produce grapes of exceptional quality. Equally, I am sure that we can think of one or two people in our own church whose harvest is of a quality that shows a deep commitment to fruitfulness; the church should not frown on those who are older, but rather they should embrace their wisdom and seek their advice.
Over the next few weeks, I hope to give you some idea of how the wine-making process can be likened to our journey of faith.
Week one – How does your vineyard grow?
A gardener will tell you that if you want a plant to grow, you need to have good soil. It needs to be well drained, full of rich minerals and manure and be overlaid on the kind of rock that the plant likes. Where I live, we have a lot of limestone and certain plants love that. However some parts of England have chalk, which means that different kinds of plants can grow there.
For wine growers, where they plant their vines is of paramount importance; they need to be angled towards the sun so that they can get the grapes to ripen properly. The soil has to nourish the vine so that it can produce good grapes. Wine makers have a phrase called "terroir" ( I am not sure how to pronounce it.. but probably the more French sounding the better!! ) This refers to a combination of factors; soil, climate, oak barrel type and age that can give a wine a sense of place. Have you had a think about what makes up your terroir??
An experienced sommelier will be able to tell you what wine he or she is drinking and where it has been grown, just by tasting it. I think that the same is true for us. I am aware that in certain social situations, I betray my surroundings. I show what kind of soil I have been grown in. I am quick to reject at times, to save myself from rejection.
I prejudge people, because I think that people have already judged me. I have fed myself, at times with things that do not help me to grow. One thing I found interesting about wine growing is that in Europe, in vineyards around the region, there are some that do not allow vineyards to be watered. They have to rely on natural water.
I found this fascinating and thought about what it means in a spiritual sense. Does legalism prevent the water of the spirit from acting in our lives? Should we always be striving for spiritual growth at the rate of 60 knots or is there time for us to rest and simply "be"? We need to be planted in good soil, but more than that, we need to be particularly careful to nourish ourselves, so that we can be strong and mature vines, able to produce good fruit for the harvest.
I found it interesting also, to consider what happens when a vine is pruned. In John 15 verse 1 it says "I am the vine and my father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit. While every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful."
In wine-making or "viticulture" the vine is pruned for two reasons; to select the buds that will form shoots for the production of fruit in the coming harvest and to prepare the vine for fruiting in future harvests. I felt that we can compare that analogy to how Jesus works in us. God is interested in me and when he works on me, it is always with that in mind. There is purpose to God pressing in on us; it is never empty.
Jesus the gardener
I find that the image of Jesus being a gardener is a wonderful one. I know as my mum is a keen gardener; that the work is never done. There is always more beauty and more growth.
In being in a garden, one feels a little like being inside the beating heart of God. It is as though he is speaking out to us; this is how you are to me! And yet so much more also!
If God is a gardener it means uncomfortable but ultimately, incredible intimacy. Do you trust him?
(Some information in this article has been taken from the following book: Exploring the World of Wines and Spirits By Christopher Fielden in Association with the Wine & Spirit Education Trust With a foreword by Jancis Robinson)
Rosie Robinson resides in Manchester where, in between feeding herself coffee and bagels works for an international custodian bank, called BNY Mellon. She attends a lively church called Audacious, enjoys reading, running and watching films and is currently on a trek with Jesus; discovering slowly but surely, all that life has to offer. And she has decided that she has the coolest big sister on the planet! (fellow young writer Amanda living in New Zealand).
Rosie Robinson's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/rosie-robinson.html