Today's reflection comes from Rev Stella Hayton


I woke up to a louder than usual sound of breaking glass the other day – the recycling lorry had stopped just outside, and it sounded like a bumper crop of bottles was being harvested. As it happens our Christmas celebrations always mean an increase in bottles at our house – I drink red wine, while John prefers white, although we compromised and shared rosé at New Year, which brought us up to 3 – and our wedding anniversary at Epiphany added a small bottle of bubbles. 

 While I’m not sure about the Biblical connection with anniversaries, the connection of wine with wedding celebrations goes back (at least) to the wedding in Cana (John 2: 1 - 12). According to my commentary that involved 180 gallons, or more than 1,000 bottles, which probably represents the production of a small vineyard. 

 Of course, the story wasn’t about God wanting to put wine producers out of business, and it didn’t involve bottles either, but the abundance of God’s grace, seen in Jesus, and the imagery of vines and vineyards pops up throughout the Bible: Israel as a vineyard, Jesus as the vine, God as the gardener, followers of Jesus as the branches being trimmed to bear fruit. It gives us an image of connectedness, the relationship of God and his people. It’s not bad as an image of marriage too – partnership and mutual flourishing. 

 It’s one of the riches of Methodism that the covenant service (on Zoom a couples of weeks ago), gives us the opportunity to renew our commitment as Christians. It also encourages us, like a wedding anniversary, to share memories and to remember the gifts the past year has brought, the resources available through God’s grace and abundance, each year a mark of progress in our journey together, our journey with God. 

 During the pandemic we’ve sometimes been hearing about the negative impact of alcohol on behaviour, leading to the decision to close pubs, and put limits on restaurants serving alcohol except at the lower levels of lockdown, but perhaps we should celebrate that the wine of the kingdom is different, it brings life instead. 

 Even in these sometimes difficult days there is much to celebrate … the sense of hope brought by the roll-out of the vaccine, the dedication of key workers, the generosity of people giving devices to help children learn at home, the friendships rekindled through phone calls and internet connections. And we have other gifts to celebrate too - gifts for the world, gifts for us: love, peace, hope, perseverance, Jesus walking the way beside us and the Holy Spirit encouraging us and bringing us joy. 

 So “iechyd da,” everyone – “Cheers”!

 

Lord Jesus Christ, you were a whole person; complete and fulfilled. Your word was your action, and your actions matched your words. 

 At the turning of the year, we commit ourselves to marry word and deed, and thus to follow you. 

 At the turning of the year, we commit ourselves to serve the living God and care for all his people, and thus to follow you. Amen.