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Saturday, October 08, 2011

Blessing of the Beer

Today I have been invited to pray and ask a blessing on a new brewery in town. Bad Bear Brewing is now located in the same building as Sleeping Bear Winery in Parma.

Today is their grand opening with 6 beers on tap, 2 ciders, food, live music, and what is sure to be a grand celebration.

There is an old Catholic prayer I have become fond of . . .

“Bless, O Lord, this creature beer, which thou hast deigned to produce from the fat of grain: that it may be a salutary remedy to the human race, and grant through the invocation of thy holy name; that, whoever shall drink it, may gain health in body and peace in soul. Through Christ our Lord.”

The phrase that grabs my attention is “that it may be a salutary remedy to the human race.” Something that is salutary promotes health, peace, healing, wholesomeness. This is from the same root word where the word “salute” comes from. Salute literally means “peace.”

In the military, a salute is given when the hand that is usually used to fire a weapon is raised to the brow as a sign of respect. As best we can tell, this action came about in the age of chivalry when knights would approach one another and raise their visor to expose their face and look someone in the eye as a gesture of peace while their left hand held the reigns of a horse and their right hand was far away from their sword.

It is the same concept when raising a glass of beer, wine, and spirits. Today, when we toast properly, we do the same. We hold our glass high, bless someone else, look them in the eye and pronounce peace.

It’s become customary for me and my friends to exaggerate looking into each others’ eyes when toasting. Big open eyes. Raised brows. We always laugh at this point and the exaggeration reminds us of the blessings God has given us. We promote peace over a brew. We tell stories of redemption. We enjoy God and each other.

Beer is a blessing when treated with respect. The process and the labor that goes in to making a fine beer is fascinating to me. It’s a shame that beer is sometimes about an end result of drunkenness. But, for me and my house, it is no more about drunkenness than a swim in Lake Michigan is about drowning.

So today, we will celebrate with friends, count our blessings and enjoy the fruits of labor while we pronounce peace upon one another and thank God for abundant life in Jesus.

Further reading. In case you were wondering . . .

One thing we often hear from recovering alcoholics is they appreciate Westwinds’ stance and our ability to use our influence to give people a good example of what it looks like to enjoy alcohol responsibly—to enjoy without abuse—to celebrate without sin. Perhaps this is one of the reasons Jesus turned water to wine as his first miracle. He turned perception on its head.

Some might argue it was “grape juice” or weak wine but make no mistake, in John 2 we read a clear story of the “kind” of wine he supplied. “ . . . the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, "Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now." (John 2:9,10)

All Bible believing Christians agree that drunkenness is a sin. At Westwinds, we ask that everyone act according to their conscience when it comes to alcohol consumption. Because of past sin, some who have had problems with alcohol may need to abstain for fear of stumbling into old sinful habits.

For those who enjoy alcohol with biblical moderation, we recommend using discernment when providing hospitality for others who may have conscience or addiction issues. Westwinds does not sell alcohol on the premises. We do occasionally use real wine as an option during the celebration of communion. Westwinds’ staff is permitted to enjoy alcohol within the biblical guidelines.

It’s been said, “Wine is agriculture's finest artistic achievement.” We celebrate the artistry of making fine wines and alcohol. Westwinds even made it's own wine a couple of years ago--a 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon. We sold the wine and raised nearly $8,000.00 for arts programs in Jackson. However, it is not our goal to get people to start drinking. If you drink, do so responsibly, in good conscience, under the direction of The Spirit (as always).

Westwinds is in relationship with many recovering alcoholics and even supports/hosts multiple meetings throughout the week in connection with AA. Our official stance on alcohol has been crafted with the blessing and support of the leaders of those groups.

We look forward to the day when our Lord and Savior will prepare for us a redeemed feast with wine:

"On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken. It will be said on that day, "Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation." - Isaiah 25:6-9

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