Saturday, January 19, 2013


Ever been to a wedding? One where the gifts piled up? Years ago Jackie and Glenn got married; and there was a table in the reception hall just piled with wedding gifts. I wonder if that was what it was like for Jesus and the disciples, as they came into the celebration of the wedding at Cana.

They’d traveled a long road up from the Jordan valley, where John was baptizing, and John had baptized them – all of them, including Jesus. Then John pointed out Jesus to some of his disciples, who were standing around, and said, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” So naturally some of them went over to talk to him. And they stayed with him.

And then he said, “Follow me.” And off they went. When they got back home to Galilee, where some of them, including Jesus, were from, they found themselves invited to a wedding as guests.

What do you bring? Do you have a year if you forgot?

There they were – and the wine ran out.

In a desert town far from here there was a woman who was a legendary hostess. She had, as David Steele puts it, “the gift of throwing parties that combine food, decorations, music, and laughter to create an atmosphere of welcome, well-being, and love.” She had three daughters, and they learned this grace from her.

What is happening at the wedding party is that Jesus and his disciples are learning that grace too: from his mother. For there they were: at the beginning of his public ministry, she points out an immediate need – an opportunity, an invitation.

Jesus doesn’t say, “I don’t know how,” or “that’s not my job.” He does say, “Is that our concern? I’m not ready yet.”

He is not ready to be revealed for who he really is – not fully, not yet. But fullness is what is needed here. Abundance has an opening here. And his mother points it out to him.

She trusts him: “Do whatever he tells you,” she says.

Jesus begins to show he knows what it means to throw a party. Indeed, he shows what it means to bring new life, new laughter, new hope, new joy, when it seems like the party is over. “They have no wine.”

Over? The party is just beginning!

He takes what is there: six empty ritual jars, sitting there unused and ineffectual. “Fill them.”

What is drawn out of those once-empty stone jars is abundance, fullness, richness – a cup of blessing is brought to the chief steward. He knows what he tastes – it’s the good wine, at last.

All Israel has been waiting for this wine – for centuries.

This is where the party really starts to take off.

Each of us may find ourselves at a party with no wine, just some empty old stone jars left over from a ritual of the past that no longer works.

But into our lives if we welcome him comes the life of the party – the new life that fulfills life, beyond our hopes and dreams.

And each of us is called to bring something to the party (something we are given in the first place) – some steps in the dance, some gifts for the table, some action or word or service, that is our unique offering to the whole. Together we form, with what each of us is given to bring, a community of joy, love, life, and laughter.

All from the same source, those gifts come: and we find ourselves giving and appreciating gifts – and seeing them in each other – differently as we grow through life.

This is the community of Christ. This is the place where the fun really begins. Here life, love, and laughter take their place; here sorrows, doubts, shame, and darkness are banished at last.

“I am not yet ready,” Jesus says. He knew at that wedding-feast that the hour had not yet come, the hour when he would be glorified. For the hour of his glory would be the hour of the cross. There he would be fully revealed – for who he is. The splendor of his radiance, the glory of God, would shine through him. At that darkest of hours, God’s grace would be poured out for all.

Like the cup of salvation in the Psalms, the cup of wine at the Lord’s Supper, the cup of blessing that the Lord our Shepherd fills to overflowing. This wedding feast is the first celebration of the kingdom coming into our world.  A meal with Jesus at the head of the table is a foretaste of the heavenly banquet Isaiah prophesied, where everyone drinks their fill of aged wines strained clear.

(Isaiah 25:6–9)
On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples
   a feast of rich food, a feast of well-matured wines,
   of rich food filled with marrow, of well-matured wines strained clear.

And he will destroy on this mountain
   the shroud that is cast over all peoples,
   the sheet that is spread over all nations;
he will swallow up death for ever.
Then the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces,
   and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth,
   for the Lord has spoken.
It will be said on that day,
   Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, so that he might save us.
   This is the Lord for whom we have waited;
   let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.

The hour? Not yet: the best is yet to come.

In the meantime we raise a cup, a common cup of blessing, knowing his life, poured out for us, is the source of our life and our joy.

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