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Water and wine

August 16, 2018

A question a number of folks have asked me recently is "why do you add water to the wine before Communion?" This is something you've probably seen the priest or deacon do before the Eucharistic Prayer begins. There are several different explanations for that practice - one is historical, one is scriptural, and one is theological.  Hey, we're Christian...we like things in threes. Historically, the wine that was drunk in ancient Greece was thick, gritty, and strong, so the Greeks always watered it down.  The Romans were obsessed with the ancient Greeks, so they adopted that practice too. That means back in the earliest days of the church when the celebration of the Eucharist was in the context of a full meal, they would have watered down the wine because that was the common practice. On the scriptural front, the crucifixion scene in the gospel of John includes a moment where a Roman centurion pierced Jesus in the side with his spear.  When he does so, John 19:34 says "at once blood and water came out" of Jesus' side.  So when we celebrate Communion, we mix wine with water to symbolize the blood and water that flowed from Jesus. On the theological front, a doctrine developed around this practice.  The idea is that the wine symbolizes the divinity of Christ and the water symbolizes his humanity.  When you mix the water and the wine together, there is no way to fully separate them again. And in Jesus, humanity and divinity are mixed together in such a way that that it is impossible to fully separate humanity from God again. One act, three different explanations: one that ties us to our ancestors in faith, one that ties us to the Word of God, and one that ties us more deeply and intimately to God's self.  I wonder which explanation resonates with you the most?

See you Sunday,


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