New York Times chief art critic Michael Kimmelman reminds us that art provides us with clues about how to live our lives more fully.
The inspired scribes of the books of the Bible were of course artists in their own right, employing the vivid imagery of the vineyard as instruction for the entire gamut of life – birth, sickness, health, vocation, romance, hope, despair, damnation, death, and resurrection.
Christ uses the imagery of new wineskins to describe the uniqueness of the Gospel that can’t be confined to old forms. He uses the metaphor of the vine to describe the relationship between himself and us, “I am the vine, you are the branches.”
Song of Solomon sensually links wine and vineyards to courtship and marriage. “Let us go early to the vineyards to see if the vines have budded, there I will give you my love.” Words very similar to the ones my wife recently spoke when she learned I had a speaking engagement in Napa.
The Psalmist imagined that a cup of wine signified God’s wrath, “You have given us wine that makes us stagger.” In contrast, Isaiah 25 described the future banquet of salvation for us to look forward to, “a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine, well refined.”
And of course there is the wine of the Lord’s Supper, the holy event of highest significance for the Christian Church. Shortly thereafter, Jesus, nailed to the cross, is given a sponge soaked with cheap common wine after crying out in agony, “I thirst”.
There is an old German saying, “Drink wine and you will sleep well. Sleep and you will not sin. Avoid sin and you will be saved. Ergo, drink wine and be saved.” Admittedly the theology is a little suspect. Still, I find something uniquely comforting and symbolic, spiritually, about the role wine plays in my own life.
Increasingly my life’s journey is marked by an appreciation for a gracious God to worship and serve, family and friends to love, old prophets to learn from and new people to care for.