One of the best parts of the human experience is the marvel of good food. The rich variety of experiences possible with food and beverage, in my view, goes far beyond what can be accounted by evolutionary pressures to survive. The same applies for the visual and musical arts. Next time you are enjoying a perfect strawberry, a crisp apple right off the tree or perhaps the garlic-basil-infused eggplant in my baked pasta specialty, ponder the improbability of achieving such experiences through random mutations helping one caveman spread his genes more successfully than the guy in the cave next door.
The first recorded miracle of Jesus was a food miracle (1 John 2). Well, a beverage miracle, turning water into wine and adding to the success of a wedding feast that was important to His family.
I’ll mention two lessons of the many one can draw from this event. Lesson one is that we should not be derisive about the small miracles of God. Ever hear this? “I’m sick of hearing testimonies about how God helped some lady find her car keys. How can God be concerned about finding keys when thousands are dying every day in war, in natural disasters, and in cancer wards?” And yet the Master of heaven and earth, the greatest Healer of all, the One who would heal the blind and the lame, began His ministry with what many would mock as a “trivial” miracle. Big, bad things like death are going to happen to all of us eventually, but along this brief mortal journey let us welcome God’s tender mercies in whatever form He occasionally greets us with, whether it’s a miraculous answer to faithful prayer in finding something lost (while at the same time our cancer or heart disease continues its course), the miraculous joy of a bowl of fresh strawberries served by a kind friend when we are feeling down, or something huge like the rescue of a child who was lost. Big or small, be grateful for all.
Lesson two is that Jesus didn’t just increase the quantity of wine available at the feast. He increased the quality. The governor of the feast was surprised when he tasted the newly provided wine, wondering why the best had been saved for last, contrary to custom. The wine Jesus made was truly excellent. Ah, the miracle of excellent food and drink, able to lift spirits, strengthen the body, and show love and kindness to others. Maybe we would do well to strive to up the quality of what we serve. In an era of mass produced food and plenty of junk on the shelves, it’s not always easy, but it can be done.
Getting closer to good food can help us better appreciate the marvels of the Creation–even if it has to be alcohol-free food for now under the LDS Word of Wisdom. Such a shame? No, just be patient. With the enhanced palette of the resurrected body, we’ll have plenty of opportunities later on to explore the full range of unimaginably good food and beverages of all kind. For now, the abstinence from wine, tailored to the pressures of the modern era, gives us a chance to show our willingness to sacrifice, and is part of how we can “present [our] bodies a living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1).