When I was in grade school, I remember one of my Sunday School teachers telling our class that the wine mentioned in the Bible was in fact non-alcoholic grape juice. This wasn’t too surprising to me, as I had seen my grandfather prepare communion before — using Welch’s grape juice. I observed this later on, too — as I had already assisted several times in serving communion at a different congregation.
I was curious, though. Recalling stories where I was told that drunkards go to hell and the like, I was perplexed as to how one could become intoxicated from simple grape juice. Using this thought process to set up the question, I posed the following to my Sunday School teacher: ”So you are saying that, in his first miracle, Jesus turned water into Welch’s grape juice?”
“Of course,” she responded. “Jesus would have never been at a wedding where everyone got drunk.”
I tried to get her to clarify the issue, but she clamped down the discussion the way most of the other grownups at church did: “Because the Bible says so!”
Not willing to lose this easily, I went to the library the first opportunity I had in order to learn more about the topic. I was well armed with a lot of research the following Sunday morning.
“Mrs. [teacher's last name], how long ago was Jesus born?” I asked, although I already knew the answer.
She smiled and informed me that he was born around 2,000 years ago and explained that this is how the Lord gave us the calendar. I knew about prehistorical as well as Julian and Gregorian calendars by then but let that matter drop as I still had last week’s issue to resolve.
I asked, “Do you know what happened in 1869, then?”
She looked at me in a perplexed manner and asked me to provide a bit more detail.
“Thomas Bramwell Welch started the Welch’s company,” I responded.
About half of the class snickered while the other half had blank looks upon their faces.
Turning water into grape juice is no great feat. Pass me a Kool-Aid packet and I can do it in a matter of seconds. I was probably even faster at it back then. Turning H2O into C2H6O is certainly far more impressive.
The people in Hartselle who wish to continue the ban on alcohol sales remind me so very much of that Sunday School teacher. They perseverate about how the crime rate will go up if we are able to purchase a bottle of wine at Kroger. They mindlessly drone on about how business will suffer if we are able to pick up a six-pack at the gas station. When confronted with unassailable logic, they look flustered as they mumble the equivalent of “because the Bible says so.”
They don’t seem bright enough to realize that by declaring that wine and Welch’s grape juice the same they are in fact denying the miracle factor of turning water into wine.
The kids I remember snickering in that Sunday School class are the same sort of people who will be voting “yes” to alcohol sales in Hartselle in November. The kids with the blank looks upon their faces make up the opposition.