I did a Trades of Hope party last week, at a winery here in Southern Oregon. Our region has vineyards popping up everywhere lately and we have been put on the map as a top place to grow and make wine, and more specifically Pinot Noir.
In fact, WineMaker Magazine stated “Oregon has become the hottest location in the New World for Pinot Noir. Several French winegrowers have purchased land in Oregon; they are planting Pinot and making the wine there. As the vines have matured and Oregon’s vintners have honed their techniques, their Pinot Noir wines have earned international acclaim.”
After the party, my Mom and I went into the tasting room and chatted with the owner and vintner (or winemaker) himself to hear his story. I admit, I don’t know much about wine, but after talking for a while with this winemaker, the process fascinated me and my mind began to draw so many parallels between wine making and us and our Maker.
Pinot noir is described again in WineMaker Magazine like this "When talking to winemakers about Pinot Noir, the conversation quickly becomes a love-hate thing. Pinot Noir does that to people; it makes them emotional. The grape is difficult to grow and the wine is even tougher to make. But when it is good, it is memorable."
It’s a tough and cantankerous sort and requires gently handling and a persistent farmer. The fruit has thin skin and is prone to disease and rot.
The vintner of this winery talked about how each of his vines is hand tied. That is partly why Pinot is more expensive. Hand tying is gentle and thoughtful and involves much labor. He wakes at dawn and doesn't rest until after dark. A labor of love he described.
I thought of those who follow Christ, of me.
I thought about how we have this skilled farmer who tends to us. Ever so gently, he guides us through our days. We are a blessed people to have someone who knows us. Who really knows what we need. He knows us better than we know ourselves and handles us with such grace and mercy that is undeserving.
He is not a flippant farmer who is inattentive to our needs. He carefully watches over his vineyard, his plants and is ever present. His hands are ever on our lives, and He cares for each one of us individually.
I thought of how when God’s people are living as we are called to live…like Jesus, we are memorable. When we set aside our agenda and we take Christ at his word and live for him and him alone, people cannot help but look and see and ask to know more.
Unfortunately more often than not, we place our agendas and our desires before the Jesusscripture talks about. We have modernized and Americanized the Bible so that it fits within what we desire. We have made it about doctrine and pre-destination and programs instead of about serving the least of these.
We have made it about “ministries” and classes and studies , feeding ourselves instead of feeding others. We've protested and drawn lines and been so loud about what we are againstthat sometimes people don’t know what we are for.
We've stopped loving and serving and giving and we've been taking and taking and taking. And that has made people second guess us, and leave us with a bitter taste in their mouths.
We are either capturing people’s attention for the sake of HIM or we are not. We are either memorable or we are discarded. We are either loved or hated.
Unlike the fruit that grows in the ground at a vineyard, we have a choice.
We have this Maker. He tends to us and is a part of our daily lives and we can allow Him to make us into something that causes people to be drawn to Him, or we can go through this life and be a bitter taste in the mouths of people.
The wine that ends up in the bottle is a reflection of its maker. If you drink and it tastes awful, you are less likely to purchase wine from that label again. You will assume every wine he makes is poor quality. There are people out there who have left a bitter taste in someone’s mouth. They have done something in the name of Christ that is no reflection of who He is. We have been selfish, we've gossiped and hurt and wounded people, and because we claim to follow Him they want nothing to do with Him. They have written God and all his people off.
Am I a true reflection of who God is? When people encounter me, am I causing them to want to know more of this mercy, this grace this love that is unconditional? This captivating Christ who beckons me to give up everything for Him, do they see that?
Will I leave an impression on people that cause them to seek out where I came from………