From Beaded Bubbles to Bubble-Busters And Back Again

The news that Taittinger has bought land in Kent with the intention of growing English sparkling wine must have brought a lift to many hearts this morning. Benedictines and champagne are, of course, old friends (think Dom Pérignon); so it is nice to know that there will be a few more bubbles winking at the brim of English glasses — perhaps even, on occasion, monastic glasses —  in a few years’ time. Before anyone decides to tap out a disapproving comment, please remember that Christ was a wine-bibber, as today’s gospel makes plain (Matthew 11. 16–19), and it strikes me as ludicrous to want to be holier than He.

But the bubble-busters are out in force this morning, too. Overweight middle-aged women like me are the latest target of well-intentioned attempts to improve our health and happiness by encouraging us to stay slim and trim. If only! I’m not sure, however, that a sugar tax will help us shed our excess poundage. Many of us in Britain live in the midst of abundance, and the problem is not so much one of ignorance about what is good for us as sheer lack of won’t power. We are increasingly kept alive by drugs that affect our metabolism, which compounds (pun intended) our problem. Now, however, we must feel gulilty, too; and guilt is one of the least useful emotions.

Today’s passage from Isaiah (Is. 48. 17–19) is full of regret. If only we had listened, if only we had done what was right. But though there is sadness there and a sense of wasted opportunities, there is no guilt. Our redeemer is the Holy One of Israel: he is our teacher and leader, the Suffering Servant who has borne all our iniquities. Jesus in the gospel does not condemn us for our fickleness, though he is very alert to the contradictions we express. We couldn’t take John’s austerities, but we don’t approve of Jesus’ party-going habit, either. We are bubbly one moment, bubble-busters the next. Maybe the challenge for today is to think more deeply about our own conduct. Does it stand up to the test of integrity? Are we truly following Christ, or our own version of him?


4 thoughts on “From Beaded Bubbles to Bubble-Busters And Back Again”

  1. I too heard the news about Champagne making in Kent – even though I am teetotal, I don’t worry over much about those who enjoy wine or even beer – like anything given to us through God’s creation it isn’t the consumption that’s the issue, it’s the over consumption which can lead to problems for in both health and socially. This development will mean local jobs for people in an area, which suffers deprivation and a lack of housing and resources to allow young people to stay close where they were raised.

    I listen too, read often, those who know better than we do ourselves how we treat our bodies. Sugar tax is a little extreme when the issue could be resolved by ensuring the reduction of the sugar content of the things we eat and drink by simple regulation under the Food Safety Act. But people will exercise choice, no matter what ‘Nanny’ tells them, until they find out or themselves the consequences for their health. I do find some of the stuff patronising – I have to take five different tablets a day for various ailments, the most serious of which is diabetes. I’m not overweight, it’s genetic. My Grandmother, Father died from complications caused by diabetes. Both of my siblings were diagnosed in their forties as diabetic – I hope that I managed to keep it at bay until my mid-sixties by a reasonable lifestyle, before succumbing. It’s managed through diet and moderate exercise, mainly playing table tennis in our parish hall.

    I’m content that I’m doing what I can to conserve my health, ably aided by my GP and Diabetic Nurse – and lifestyle choice. Moderation in everything.

  2. Thank you, Sister. Once again you encapsulate and interpret every profound nuance of the Gospel!I hadn’t,t heart about Taittinger, but it doesn’t,t surprise me. My son is a wine merchant (Corney and Barrow) and he is carefully watching English wines, sparkling in particular.we shall be opening some this weekend when both our children are home for my birthday.
    God bless you and your fellow sister and your canine compatriot! X

  3. Nice alliteration in the title, Sister.

    I am usually the designated driver on evenings out which doesn’t alarm me too much. I don’t mind if others enjoy wine or beer but have learned that over-indulgence can be dangerous for health (and relationships). Sometimes I tend to eat a bit more chocolate than I should – then do some additional walking to make up for it!

    I like reading Isaiah at any time: a challenging poet/prophet who called out hypocrisy and compromise.

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