(click above to play “You R Loved” by Victoria Williams)

I heard this funky song recently on public radio; something about it deeply resonates with me. Especially these lyrics:

Still some can’t swim
Jesus walked on the water
He turned the water into wine
He went down to the drunkards
To tell them everything is fine
You are loved
You are loved
You are really loved

I like the parallel of the walking on water and water into wine events of Jesus’ life. There is a connection I hadn’t considered before. Both accounts can be found in John’s gospel, each not a mere miracle, rather a sign regarding Jesus. There’s a lot one could say about these events, such as what it means that Jesus gives the good wine.

What captures me however is the simple message: Jesus can walk on water + Jesus can turn water into wine → Jesus can walk on wine. That is, Jesus has power over stormy waters + Water & wine are all the same when it comes to his abilities → Jesus has power over “stormy wine”.
The connection is that all the immense powers over nature Jesus seemed to possess through doing things such as walking on rough waters, calming storms, and changing the chemical nature of water into alcohol can seem like far-off, irrelevant showy abilities; however, they come close, they hit us where it counts.

Victoria Williams seems to say people are drowning in drunkenness, and Jesus not only has power over drunkenness, but he also goes down among the people to love them. He goes down to the drunkards to tell them everything is fine; they are loved. There is more to that picture than what Williams explicitly expresses. He doesn’t just go to drunk people, saying, “You are loved. Well, now I gotta go–see ya!” while taking no action.

No he has power over the wine that has power over them. He helps, he heals, he frees, but all along the way he loves.

I feel like this is a little convoluted and difficult to express, but I find in these lyrics something important for ministry in our culture. Jesus has power over real issues in people’s lives; we need to deal with real issues in people’s lives. The dirty, mucky, often hidden stuff that people can’t control for such things control them. Jesus has power over these real issues, and if we don’t bring them up in a real way (not just in a cute, superficial sermon bullet point), we aren’t helping people experience freedom.

Also, the main message in these lyrics isn’t : “He went down to the drunkards/To tell them everything is bad/You are messed up/You are messed up/You are really messed up”. He communicates love, and such love as his transforms. It’s not like he enabled anyone; it’s just that he used love somehow rather than finger-pointing to transform others.

Well it’s not a solid point, but I think we have to deal with real issues in such a loving way that people both feel the freedom of safety to share about shameful parts of themselves and experience the freedom of transformation as Jesus heals them wholly.

What I wonder is how we foster a community of openness about the down-and-dirty parts of our lives, how we experience healing transformation together, how we look at real life hardships such as drunkenness without becoming finger-pointing hypocritical religious bigots, how we communicate that people are really loved, and how we participate as Jesus and his love heal people.

I mean, how, like Jesus, do we go down to the drunkards?