Bad wine and good grace
“How to poison your Pastor”

- by Malc Seaman -

...more True Stories...

Before I became a Christian in 1985 one of my hobbies was making wine (and drinking it.) After I became a Christian, I wondered if some might feel this was inappropriate - so I stopped making wine ;-)

During the years leading up to 1985 we lived in a modern detached house way out in the sticks, in Southminster - rural Essex. Wine making was an enjoyable and sociable hobby at that time for me. The family came with me when I went fruit picking and when I spent time in the kitchen preparing the fruit or whatever part of the process I was at – the family were there with me too. We had three small children who loved to sit on the breakfast bar that separated the kitchen from the dining room and watch (and help) their daddy mixing water, fruit and sugar and filling large jars or decanting the finished mixture into clean empty bottles, adding a cork and a home-made label to complete the product - Malc's home made wine.

I tried most fruits in an attempt to produce good white, red or rose wines. The Reds were the most difficult to get right and the Whites were OK (although not very exciting) but the Rosé – oh, the Rosé. I used soft summer fruits for my Rosé – rasberries, loganberries, strawberries. And though I say it myself – the Rosé was superb!

So as I became more experienced and my skills improved I experimented with other fruits to achieve other wines.

Rhubarb! I had not tried rhubarb - and apparently, it could produce a sparkling wine – almost a champagne-like delight. So, rhubarb it would be.

Although the basic recipe was similar to other wines I had made the 'must' * was a little volatile and whereas previous recipes had yielded 6 bottles – with the amount that was lost in the process I finished with just two bottles. Ah, well. I would put them away and see how they turned out later.

You'll recall I became a Christian about this time and we were attending a small pentecostal church in a town just a few miles from where we lived. We had not been attending that little church very long when the pastor and his wife invited the whole family for Sunday lunch.

We were delighted to be invited and I thought as a token of my appreciation (or maybe it was just a throw over from my days before I was a Christian) I decided we should take a small gift with us and I thought of the Rhubarb wine – he shall have one of those, I thought.

So that Sunday we enjoyed a pleasant lunch at the pastor's house and he seemed really pleased when I handed him a bottle of my own home made wine.

“I'll save that for a special occasion.” He said.

We worshipped regularly at that little church for about a year before we moved house to another area and started to attend another church closer to our new home.

I can't remember exactly when I decided to open the second bottle of rhubarb wine. It was probably some while after we had changed churches.
I retrieved the bottle from my garage where it had been stored, blew the dust off the bottle and headed for the corkscrew.

POP! The cork almost flew out of my hands, as I released it from the neck of the bottle. Well - it certainly behaved like a sparkling wine!
In eager anticipation (first taste of a new recipe – always a tense moment) I poured out the first glass of vintage, Malc's Sparkling Rhubarb. It looked clear and very inviting!
I placed the glass to my lips and savoured the first sip......
BLAH! And then spat it straight out! YUK!
It was vinegar - or the closest thing to it! To describe the taste as disgusting and vile, was at the least an understatement. Quite easily it was the most horrible wine you could possibly imagine and down the sink it went!

And then I remembered my poor ex-pastor. Ex-pastor because we were not at that church any more, not because he was dead (although this stuff was easily quite capable of achieving that result!)
Not once, after he and his family had been so gracious in inviting us all over for lunch, did that man ever approach me – not once did he ever “thank” me for trying to poison him!
If ever I experienced real grace in a man, that was it. Real Christian love in action!

I don't make wine any more. It's actually much cheaper (and far more straightforward) to buy at the supermarket.

And if the pastor at our present church ever invites me and my family to lunch – it will be a supermarket shelf that I reach for a bottle from - not the dark corners of my garage.
I like my pastor.

Grace - undeserved favour. My pastor excercised grace to me in not reproaching me. He is just a picture of the greatest grace of all - the undeserved favour that God has bestowed upon us.

My favourite definition of grace is:
Receiving what we don't deserve - and not receiving what we do deserve.




* the semi-liquid produced by pressing the fruit prior to fermenting