The arrogance of many of my fellow Christians in believing that we are the only way to salvation is protected by a deep ignorance of the other religions. Stories about Jesus in the Christian scriptures are a combination of many versions of earlier savior stories. The purpose of such stories were never to produce belief in historical miracles. They were efforts to understand what it means to be human in the cosmos.

I do not belief that faith is ever weakened by being honest, and the honest fact is that many of the stories attributed to Jesus predate Christianity, often by hundreds if not thousands of years.

This week we will begin a sermon series on “The Christs before Jesus” as a way of enriching and universalizing our understanding of who Jesus was, and who we are today. Our first Christ was named Dionysus. We will look at the wedding at Cana where Jesus turned water into wine. Then we will turn to an earlier version of the story from the religion of Dionysus where wine gushed forth from a stream at a wedding.

Early Christians would have heard the story of Jesus turning water into wine completely different because they knew the scriptural story was retelling the story of Dionysus in a radical new way. They would hear the story not as an historical narrative about a magic trick, but as a sacred poem revealing a vital truth about our lives today.