I was listening to Radio 2 in the car this morning. The news reports had finished and Terry Wogan was commenting on the last item. Apparently Europe is producing more wine than people want to drink. Just like there are butter mountains and cheese mountains, there are also wine lakes! There is a surplus of produce. It seems that most Europeans are drinking less wine, and those that aren't - like the British, Irish and Swedes - are turning to Australia, or South Africa or South America for their wines. The government wants to pay wine makers to dig up some Europe's vineyards.
Terry commented that if only they could pipe the wine over to this country, fill the empty reservoirs, all that would be needed would be someone to turn the wine into water and we would all be happy!
My immediate thought was that many people would not get the reference. Terry’s comment was turning a biblical story on its head. Jesus turned water into wine at a wedding.
I can’t remember when I first realised that cultural references that I take for granted are not known anymore. I remember teaching a unit of work on Jesus parables. This was way back in the 1980s. I quite confidently asked the pupils to make a list of the parables Jesus taught. Two thirds of the pupils were from Indian families, and were Hindus or Sikhs, but surprisingly enough they were the ones that could do it! The rest of the class looked at me with blank faces. Parables? Jesus they knew about, but parables were a mystery.. After a lot of crowd manipulation, rephrasing and leading questions we managed to come up with the Good Samaritan! Someone may have suggested the Sower, and I think the Prodigal Son was levered out from deepest darkest memories!
I don’t think the word for this is “sad”. I think it is more serious than sadness! I was reading at the end of 2 Kings where Josiah’s priests, are given the instructions to collect money to repair the temple. When they start the renovations, they find hidden in a wall the Book of the Law – a record of God’s covenant. Josiah is appalled when he reads the book – appalled not just that they hadn’t been doing it, but they hadn’t even been aware that they were supposed to be doing it!
How do these things slip through our fingers? A friend and I were talking last week about the need to remember important things that God had said to us. For the Jews they did it tying boxes onto their foreheads or nailing little boxes onto their door-posts. The boxes contained a verse of scripture spoken by God.
What do we do to remember? The alternative to remembering is forgetting. What do we do to make sure that we don’t forget? I think part of it is simply talking about it. Isn’t that what witnessing is all about. There is a verse somewhere In Philomen (she says hesitantly) about sharing the gospel is good for us because it makes us more sure of exactly what it is that we believe. It strengthens our faith.
Joe and I are avid watchers of “Lost”. There have been one or two episodes where genuine Christian faith has formed a part of the story line with people praying and talking about their spirituality – not New Age mysticism, but the realities of believing in God when the world and reason say otherwise.