An Invitation to Taste Joy

November 13, 2016

In her new book, The Spirituality of Wine, Dr. Gisela Kreglinger, a German theologian raised on a vineyard, invites us to experience a fuller, deeper life that includes joy and feasting.

“Wine has the potential for profound beauty and can help stir our hearts toward Heaven.”

This message of her book resonates with InSpero’s desire to bring hope and hints of heaven to Birmingham through a creativity community pouring out beautiful gifts on the city.

This unique book challenges us to examine ourselves. Gisela asks, “How can we recover the meaning of this sense of joy and joyful feasting and its place in Christian spirituality? And does wine have a role in helping the church recover this great sense of joy?”

Through a thoughtful historical and biblical perspective, she invites us to see wine as one of God’s good gifts to help us slow down and re-engage our senses. She addresses the concerns of those Christians who feel caution, conflict, or guilt discussing wine. There is a well-researched chapter on substance abuse that probes the roots of addiction and isolation and encourages the moderate and communal benefits of wine.

She also reflects our individualistic, complex culture. “Exhaustion, anxiety, fear, and loneliness have become specters with which many of us are all too familiar, and joy seems hard to come by.” This utilitarian approach “celebrates human progress rather than honoring and embracing God’s sustaining and redeeming presence. Creation groans under this terrible burden, which eclipses the love, mercy, and sustaining care of God.”

Dr. Gisela Kreglinger photo @Pat604Johnson

Gisela uses illustrations from movies, such as Babette’s Feast, as well as Scripture, for those pragmatic Christians uncomfortable with what they may consider a life of indulgence. In this movie, Babette, an exiled chef, becomes a servant to two kind older women who are part of a dying and divided sect that believed in self-denial and seriousness. The movie shows the transformation of this small community as Babette creates for them a lavish meal with the best of wines spending all of her resources.

“The Christians of this community finally realize that the Christian journey is not about enduring life on earth until they escape to heaven. Babette’s sacrificial feast teaches them that the Christian life is about welcoming and embracing heaven as it comes down to earth—paradise restored.” She continues, “Somehow the Church has forgotten the importance of joy for Christian spirituality, and has forgotten how to embrace and cultivate it. The Hebrew/Christian tradition has traditionally understood feasting as a way to embrace and practice a life of gratitude and joyful celebration before the face of God.”

“Savoring wine teaches us to be more fully present to ourselves and the world around us. It also teaches us that we are part of a greater community which includes the sun, the rain, the soil, the vines, the labor of the vintner, and all who participate in bringing the wine to us. It reminds us that this world is a beautiful and mysterious place that we must not take for granted.  It is a gift to treasure, celebrate, and care for. At its best, a well-crafted wine teaches us to be grateful.”

We have savored Gisela’s book and look forward to her visit to Birmingham on Thursday, November 17, at 7:30 p.m. at the Clubhouse on Highland. where she invites us to “drink beauty” through a wine tasting and presentation. A discussion and book signing follows the wine tasting and books will be available for purchase. Link here for tickets. We recommend that you order tickets quickly as seating is limited.

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