Can the best wine be kept for last, as it was during the wedding feast at Cana? is it possible for youthful champagne fizz and spark to mellow into the finest wine of all? I didn’t used to think so.

Tender, fresh picked fruit, full and abundant, often gives way to slim pickings and sour grapes of wrath. Too many storms render future wine unpalatable.

Too much pressing and crushing bruises fruit beyond repair. Too little attention paid to scorching heat of fiery days shrivels grapes without covering and shade.

And yet, a harvest is still salvageable. A poor season (or decades) of spoilt fruit, cannot prevent a miracle intervention from God in our marriage. There is reason to rejoice. Bitterness can be overcome. We can taste the memory of those early years in the richness of maturity.

Love may have been held back but when enhanced by Holy Spirit it can break through all barriers. Our relationships can flourish again and produce wonderful wine over time, even when the barrels look scarred and dry, cracked and lined.

Because the darkness deep within our souls, concealed from our eyes, is where God does His best work: in the turmoil of our emotions, in the aching brokenness of our hearts, in resistant attitudes and hard shells.

There is no carapace we erect that God cannot crack. He penetrates earth. He penetrated the very gates of hell for us. His power is unlimited. His grace is superabundant and freely given, available to all.

All it takes to ignite a fresh fire of love in our hearts is a willingness to work with God, to cooperate with His hand on our lives, see the need we have and let Him shine Holy Light on our circumstances, minds and hearts.

That’s just a beginning, of course. It opens doors for God to work. It paves the way for lasting change to happen, for miracles to take place and for relationships to be restored. Though we will have a fight on our hands. Victory is rarely wrought without a struggle.

“Don’t run from the struggles of marriage. Embrace them. Grow in them. Draw nearer to God because of them. Through them you will reflect more of the spirit of Jesus Christ. And thank God that he has placed you in a situation where your spirit can be perfected” ~ ‘Sacred Marriage, 132-33’ in ‘Simply Sacred: Daily Readings’ by Gary L.Thomas

When we remember how Jesus was crushed and pressed for our transgressions, and realise the pressing we experience is like grapes beginning to become fine wine, then our crushing doesn’t feel as constraining as before.

We can learn to savour a sip or two when we pause to reflect on what God is doing in and through us during the crushing process.

The Word incarnate moves in our minds and hearts, sanctifying and loosening us to love with greater freedom than before. We are made for relationship with God and one another but only see it in its fullness in Christ.

In union and communion with God we can taste the wine of our own soul union and communion with one another, enhanced by gratitude, blessed in the taking, breaking and sharing of life’s daily bread together.

As we celebrate Holy communion, may we have the wonder of our union with Christ and one another on our mind. May we allow the sweet wine of God’s grace to mix freely in all our relationships, our loving and giving, graced by Jesus’ incarnation with us.

**this is the month for love and romance and it’s also Marriage Week in the UK from February 7th-14th. You can find helpful pointers for strengthening your marriage here**