Beginning in September 2018, our parish, Blessed Sacrament in Midland, Michigan endeavored to create new pathways for discipleship and thus become “a church on the move.” It is a multi-path approach with opportunities that range from a 12 week Bible study using story and song and faith sharing to drop in 6 week small groups in a number of locations on a number of different days to a laidback on line book club. We are also encouraging parish family members to take pictures of how they experience the presence of God during Advent to be used on our brand new website and on several social media platforms. We are seeing that people who haven’t previously been engaged in opportunities or haven’t for quite some time are finding ways to connect with one another and reconnect with their faith. There is one opportunity, however, that I want to share with you in a little more detail and we call it, “Theology by the Glass.”
On Wednesday, November 14, we had our very first Theology by the Glass gathering at a local winery on Main Street in downtown. I’m sure that many of you have heard of “Pub Theology,” but since our local brewery didn’t have a space conducive to small group sharing, we made arrangements with our little winery called Grape Beginnings to gather on the second Wednesday of each month at 7:30. The name of the establishment seems so fitting since we hoped that this gathering would be a GREAT BEGINNING! And it really was! Twenty-three of us came together to share what we are thankful for and how we experience the presence of God in our daily lives. We ranged in age from 24 to 80. We were married, widowed, single; Catholic and non-Catholic friends. Cody, our youngest member had just moved to town three weeks ago and Pete our senior member has been a parishioner for over 50 years!! And as we got to know each other over our glasses of wine there were several amazing things that happened.
First of all we were so WOWED that Cody was brave enough to show up, and as the Spirit would have it, 6 members of our ecumenical young adult group were also in attendance! Their group meets on Thursday evenings and so they were able to introduce themselves and give him a personal invitation to join them the very next night. Welcome to the family Cody!!! Also, there were two women there who had been on the same Christ Renews His Parish team in 1996, but who hadn’t seen each other in years! They reconnected with hugs and laughs and caught up on how their families were doing. Welcome back to the family Lori and Lynn!! We had also just received word that Ruth, a junior in high school and a very active member of our youth programs, had been diagnosed with cancer at the Mayo Clinic that day. As her church family, we prayed for her right there in the middle of the winery. It was beautiful. Thank you God for our parish family! There were four women who were there who have kids between high school and young adult ages who came separately but spent a good 20 minutes at the end of the evening just getting to know each other better and sharing parenting stories. One of the women shared how one of her sons who is a sophomore in high school had gotten on her last nerve that evening and she said, “Jack, I’ve got to go. I need a little God and wine.” She made us all laugh with that and we considered renaming the evenings God and Wine J Thank you God for wine! If only one of those things had happened that evening it would have been a total win, but it was really more than I could have dreamed of it to be, but isn’t that the way of God… more than our imagining.
The owners of the establishment, Chris and Brent, were so welcoming. It was wonderful to be able to support this local business as they don’t get twenty-three patrons on a Friday evening let alone on a Wednesday night. Next month we will gather to share about our favorite Advent and Christmas traditions. For a list of all the Theology by the Glass dates, check out the Facebook event page.Who knows who or how many will show up that week, maybe 10, maybe 40! But no matter who is there, just like Jesus turned water into wine, we will again turn wine into witness.
Peace and Joy,