|the Holy Bible: image by David Ball|
I have always thought many religious folk don't know much about their own religion or about the beliefs of others. They are quite in the dark, but won't admit it.
As a boy I had a close friend who was a Christian Missionary Alliance member. At times, I would attend religious functions with him. I think his parents wanted to save me.
Once we went to a big festive meeting in the largest auditorium in town. The night was designed for kids. First, we saw a movie, an Australian film with a Christian theme. Next, we heard a young speaker, just out his teens, confess that before he found Christ he had consumed beer. Now, thanks to having found salvation, no alcohol ever touched his lips. A Christian takes joy in honouring God and to honour God a Christian does not drink.
As the night ended, we were told that the organizers wanted to take a simple hand count. Everyone was asked to bow their heads and those who didn't consider themselves saved, according to stuff they had heard over the course of the night, were asked to raise a hand. I raised my hand. I saw nothing wrong with drinking a beer or enjoying a glass of wine. Hey, in my Anglican church, those taking communion actually touched their lips to wine right there at church.
It seemed that no sooner did my hand go up than I was asked by a sidesperson to come with them. I wanted to resist but resistance was futile. It would make a fuss and folk would look up and see that I was a sinner. I quietly got up and left with the Brylcreemed young man in the well pressed suit, white shirt and narrow tie.
I found myself with a few dozen other kids and teens at the front of the auditorium. The preacher on stage told everyone to raise their heads and see the sinners, those who by their own admission were in need of salvation.
He pointed at us and bellowed. Oh-so-embarrassed little girls trapped in the gaze of hundreds of damning eye cried and sobbed loudly. We sinners were humiliated. When were were marched out of sight into little discussions groups, we were all relieved.
I was asked why I had raised my hand. I told the group that I saw nothing wrong with drinking wine and by the standards of the night I as a sinner. In my defence I said that even Jesus turned water into wine when supplies ran low.
The discussion group leader quietly corrected me. "Son," he said, "Jesus turned water into grape juice, not wine. It takes time to make wine, wine must ferment. Jesus, our Lord and Saviour, miraculously turned water in grape juice. It was a miracle done by the Son of God."
"What's a miracle," I asked.
"Son, a miracle is when something good happens that is impossible."
"And Jesus could do miracles?"
"Yes son, Jesus could do miracles. He is the Son of God."
"So, Jesus could do the impossible?"
"Yes son, He could. He is our Lord Almighty"
"So, why couldn't He have turned water into wine just like the bible said He did?"
And that a night I saw a miracle. The fellow leading our discussion group was speechless. He didn't have an answer.
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