Thursday, January 15, 2009

Richer Wine and Marriage

A friend and former colleague used to work in London, and said that he had to convey the truth of Christianity to those whose lives, they felt, were going quite nicely. He called it a "Theology of Claret" (which means a nice red wine, a Bordeaux).

There were two parts to this, matching the aims of Gospel preaching: "to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable."

The task of bringing to mind the goodness of God is one aspect, that life lived with Him is different than life without Him. It will include sorrow and persecution (that's a promise from Jesus), but it is also life that "may richer, fuller be" as the hymn goes.

The other task is to tackle what I must this weekend, which is the preaching of the Law of God such that it brings conviction of the hidden sin to those who are outwardly moral, even or especially those within the Church visible.

But as to the first, that Jesus stated his purpose was to bring life, and life to the full, I turn once again to Richard Wilbur, who gave this toast as his son's wedding:

St. John tells how, at Cana's wedding feast,
The water-pots poured wine in such amount
That by his sober count
There were a hundred gallons at the least.

It made no earthly sense, unless to show
How whatsoever love elects to bless
Brims to a sweet excess
That can without depletion overflow.

Which is to say that what love sees is true;
That this world's fullness is not made but found.
Life hungers to abound
And pour its plenty out for such as you.

Now, if your loves will lend an ear to mine,
I toast you both, good son and dear new daughter.
May you not lack for water,
And may that water smack of Cana's wine.

Do Christians seem to possess joy, or go around with faces downcast?

I think that heaven relates to both of these aspects, because it will be a great banquet, the joy of the ultimate wedding feast. It will also be the place where (as Daughter Number Two will sing lustily) "sickness, sorrow, pain and death are felt and feared no more".


T4s said...

Tim Keller's very good about the parable of the two sons (also known as the parable of the prodigal son).

Clifford Swartz said...

Yes -- it's really good stuff, his sermons (now in book form, right?) on the parable. So helpful in exposing where I want to justify myself rather than stand only on the gift of free grace.

I think an amazing insight on that was mentioned to me by my mother, who heard an Arab Christian speak of his interpretation of the passage, that the father ran out to the son to protect him from being killed by the other people in the town, as a result of the shame he brought on the family. In which case the father's love also includes protecting the sinner from the judgement of others. Amazing. Not sure if that's intended in the original parable or not, but I figure that this person's cultural reading is probably closer to the original situation than mine!

Hope school is going okay -- any plans for the outreach in March in FL?