The 13th Sunday after Pentecost: 7 September 2014.
I shared two stories with people. The Old Testament reading was Exodus 12:1-14. The story of the Passover, a story of liberation. The Gospel was about factions in the church, and the need for reconciliation. I asked a young woman to tell this story:
The Wine that turned into Water
One day the chief elder of the village called all the elders together because he wanted to give a feast for all the people. “I shall provide the meal,” he said, “but I would like to all to bring a jar of your best wine.” The elders agreed. They looked forward to the feast. But when the time drew near the eleven elders began to think of the wine they needed to provide.
One of the younger elders discussed the matter with his wife. He was not keen to waste his good wine on the poor peasants of the village. Together they came up with an idea. Instead of taking a jar of his best wine, he would simply bring a jar filled with water. When the chief elder called for the wine he would pour his jar of water in the cask that would be filled with the best wine that the other elders had brought. No one would notice that the wine had been missed with some water.
The night arrived. The people were enjoying the festivities and the food. Then the chief elder called for the wine to be brought forward. Each elder came forward and poured his wine into the great cask. The young elder came forward and poured his jar of wine into the cask. Then the wine was poured into the cups of all the guests.
The toast to the King was raised. When they tasted the wine, they spat it out. It was pure water. All the other elders were equally as stingy. They too had poured water into the cask. All the elders were greatly embarrassed in front the people of their village and the chief elder stormed out in anger.
An Old Tale
I think it’s message is clear.
The other story was about two farmers in the American Midwest. They had had long years together and shared so much of their lives and struggles with each other. Their children left home, and their spouses died. Good friends until one day one of Old Joe’s calf was found on the other farm and his neighbour claimed it as his own. They reached great depths of anger in their argument with each other, refused to speak to the other, went home and shut their doors on their friendship.
One day there was a knock at Old Joe’s door. A young carpenter stood there with his bags and tools. He was looking for a job and wanted to help. He looked pleasant enough and old Joe offered him work.
“See that farm over there,” said Old Joe. “My neighbour lives there and he has built a great creek around his farm and filled it with water, so I can’t get across to his side. I would like you to build a fence on my side so that I don’t ever have to look at his face and his farm again. There is lots of timber in the back and you can start in the morning.”
The next morning Old Joe went across town in his wagon to get supplies for the farm. He would be away the whole day. The carpenter set about his task cutting and sawing.
When Old Joe returned much later he almost fell off his waggon with amazement. The young carpenter had built a very beautiful bridge with a firm rail, instead of a fence. And just then his neighbour came across it with outreached hands ready to restore the friendship, and to return the calf. Both agreed it was a wonderful thing the young carpenter had done in restring their friendship.
They offered him work but he said he was off to some other places to build bridges.
Easy to reflect on this message and to find bridges in our lives that need to be built.