Forty years ago, in my early years as a new Christian, I found myself in a Christian tradition that preached the virtues of avoiding drinking alcohol in any form—wine, beer and certainly strong spirits. The usual reasons were given: the dangers of addiction, the desire to avoid tempting those among us who may have had a leaning towards addiction, and such.
Today, I find myself an Anglican priest who is honored to occasionally preside over the Lord’s Table in which we use real wine (alongside offering a non-alcoholic option for those who wish it).
I share all that because my recent reading of Gisela Kreglinger’s new book The Soul of Wine was a source of encouragement and wisdom for me. For example, she mentions that up until the nineteenth century all Christian traditions served wine in the Lord’s Supper. My early experience of a little grape juice at the Lord’s Table is a more recent innovation.
Kreglinger does a beautiful job unpacking the implications of Jesus’ first recorded miracle in the gospel of John: the turning of water to wine at the wedding in Cana.
She points out that Jesus takes initiative to create what would be between 640 and 960 bottles of wine in that miraculous event. It was wine that the sommelier on duty recognized as one of the best he’d ever tasted. Jesus cared about good wine for this wedding celebration.
Wine is a gift from God. Like any gift, it can be abused. But abuse does not preclude grateful use of these gifts. I found great help along these lines in the stories she tells, the insights she shares and the guidance she offers in receiving this God-given gift.
I highly recommend this book. It was a great pleasure to read it over my Christmas holiday.