“But what about the wine?” I finally asked. “Before I left you were talking about the best wine ever.”
Saint John smiled at me.
“Why are you so interested?” he finally said. “It’s not like you are an expert.”
I shook my head. The truth is, I’ve never had a glass of wine. Growing up, it was one of those things that the “true” followers of Jesus would never do. Just like dancing and movies and smoking and playing face cards. It wasn’t like we had conversations about these things. We just didn’t do them. And I went to a college where these were prohibited. Other people struggled with the rules. For me, it was just normal life.
“It’s curious,” John said. “I’ve had the best wine ever served, the best wine never grown. And I’m expecting the best wine ever at the end of all things. And I lift a cup regularly in memory and in anticipation. I was served by Jesus and I remember Jesus. And you have never had wine for what you were taught were religious reasons.” John laughed. “You even make wedding toasts with coffee.”
I looked down.
“Look at me,” John said. “It’s okay. You weren’t wrong. But you were missing a couple of important points. First, the wine wasn’t the main point, the relationships were. Jesus and his mother, his mother and the family, all of us with our friends having a great time. Jesus was part of the community.”
“So laughing in community matters? More than I think?”
John smiled. “Of course it does. Why is end of all things, and the beginning of the next thing a wedding feast?”
“So what’s the second point.”
“Take a look in your cup,” he said.
I took the lid off my cup, expecting a miracle of some sort. It was still coffee.
“Of course it’s coffee. I’m not making you change your convictions. Just like there is no rule that you must abstain, there’s no rule you must partake. Don’t confuse liberty with relationship. But whichever you do, enjoy it. Jesus did great work even in small works, like wine at the end of a wedding.”
John walked away. And I sipped the coffee.
It was different than the Christmas blend I had purchased earlier. This was the best coffee I’ve ever tasted. I lifted my cup to John’s departing back.
“To the Groom,” I said.