October 23, 2020

One more viticulture reflection to close out this week. One of the things I’ve thought about often is our tendency to keep up with the Joneses as a benchmark of comparison with others, in this case one’s neighbors. If we keep up, the premise is that we are not inferior in some way. It applies equally to such much of our culture. It is easy for congregations to do the same thing. In every congregation that I’ve been associated with as a member or pastor. One congregation has a growing membership of younger people and incorporates a live band, incredible AV and lightening systems, projected words, music and images. Other congregations feel the temptation and pressure to do that same thing, thinking that it will result in growing memberships and an influx of youth. 

While living in Hawaii I took a class about world religions. One of our assignments was to visit at least three worshipping communities of faiths outside of Christianity. So one day, I went to the local Latter-Day Saints’ Stake (their meeting house) with a friend.  I was impressed with the friendliness of the people. Following worship, I was invited to join a newcomers’ class, and their testimonies about prayer were powerful. I was also impressed that it was the only church I attended in Hawaii where all the men were in white dress shirts and ties. Given the weather in Hawaii, most men attending churches in Hawaii wore aloha shirts. I was also impressed that there were separate classes for men and women, boys and girls and each class had material that was produced to be used throughout the world for each particular age and gender. It served several purposes that I could discern. It made for a common understanding of the faith; it made for easy teaching (no making up crafts and lessons to create on the fly); and it created a sense of the universality of the faith.  Like Coke, it looked and tasted the same everywhere.

But both keeping up with the Joneses and creating systems in which every congregation does the same thing around the world, neglects the lesson of terroir (pronounced ter-wahr), that each particular environment produces a unique flavor and aroma. The unique flavor and aroma of each wine due to its terroir creates an appreciation of each year, each season, each micro-climate. Perhaps that is a lesson for us to consider, apply in our lives, and in our congregations.

I write this on what would be my grandmother’s 124th birthday. Grams was a card-carrying member of the Women’s Temperance Union. I wonder what she’d say about my reflections on wine and vineyards.

Thanks, Gram, for loving me nevertheless ~ Anne

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