Saturday, October 20, 2007

Chuck vs. Crapon: a lesson in sacrifice

The Anglican House Blessing service (like just about everything Anglican) involves communion, and part of the liturgy of communion involves an offering. For the House Blessing service, that offering is bread and wine provided by the person whose house is to be blessed.

I had three bottles of wine on my shelf:
  • a Charles Shaw “Two-Buck Chuck” from Trader Joe’s (good),
  • a Cabernet Sauvignon that had been a gift from my mom when I moved here (better),
  • and a CĂ´tes du Rhone bottle of Les Crapon from France that my parents gave me a-year-and-a-half-ago (unfortunately right before I moved into a dry household) that I’ve been saving for something special (best).
Naturally, I assumed I would break out the Two-Buck Chuck.

Fortunately for the sake of the lesson, one of the regular blogs I check, a fellow who is blogging through the Bible, happened to reach the part in Samuel where David refuses to offer to the Lord anything that cost him nothing. Though technically Chuck was the only bottle I had actually paid for, the reminder of sacrifice was fairly striking. Without much deliberation, it became pretty clear to me that the special occasion for which I had been saving the fine bottle of French wine had come. I would not withhold my best for the ceremony in which we asked God’s presence in my new home.

What I had perhaps been thinking about when I assumed I would offer God my bottle of Chuck is this: for the service that involved a grand total of three people, we would only consecrate one glass. The rest of the bottle I could cork, put on the shelf, and use for cooking whenever the need arose.

But when I corked the Crapon after the service, I knew it would be a terrible waste to use my best bottle of wine as a cooking wine. I also knew that the quality of the wine would dramatically lessen as time wore on. Furthermore, I knew it very unlikely that I would have anyone over for dinner in the small span of time between now and when the wine would lose its tastiness.

In the end, these acknowledgements led to my decision yesterday evening, between reading 16 scholarly articles about Spenser’s Amoretti and plowing through Byron’s Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, to enjoy a glass of Crapon with my Ramon noodles.

The point of the story is this: sacrificing the best to God does not mean losing the best; sometimes it actually forces one to enjoy the best. Rather than hording the bottle and saving it for the most opportune time, I shared a few sips with a priest and a friend, and had another glass in a mundane study-break. This, I suppose, is why the same God who insists that “If I were hungry I would not tell you” because “every beat of the forest is mine” still demands the best of the flock: when we offer our best, we are partaking in it with him, and thus in an offering of (for example) our finest wine we are actually offering “a sacrifice of thanksgiving” that we enjoy in the presence of the God who gave it to us.

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