January 14 – Epiphany 2

Isaiah 62:1-5
Psalm 36:5-10
1 Cor 12:1-11
John 2:1-11

In preparing for today’s sermon, I could not help but remember the weddings for which I was a photographer. I love weddings, but you could not pay me enough to shoot another one! There is always so much anxiety, stress, frustration, tension on that day —and the bride is a little nervous as well!

I did have the privilege of directing the wedding of two dear friends of mine back in May. Both are seminary students and they were married at the Chapel on the seminary campus. They really wanted the service to be more worship and less wedding. I will say that this wedding was a wonderful experience. The focus was on worship and the marriage as a way of worship. James, the groom, said,
“I don’t want everyone to be thinking about us—I want them to be thinking about God! We’re there in the chapel because of Jesus. We could get married anywhere—but we are here—in this specific place for a reason.”

Nicole, his bride said, “our wedding should be about Christ. They can look at my pretty dress at the reception!” There were, of course, plenty of struggles on the day of the wedding—flowers not quite right, scuffed shoes on the young bridesmaids, etc, but in the end, they were right—it really WAS about God—it really WAS a worship service.

Just like a wedding with all its details, there’s plenty of things in which to get lost in our Gospel lesson for today. So much to think about and consider. Jesus is at a wedding. It’s on the third day. In those days, weddings were long, sometimes lasting up to a week. Just think about the bill for that! They run out of wine. His mother tells him what to do, tensions are running high! He calls her “woman”—which seems disrespectful, but actually isn’t. There are those purification jars that the guests are to wash their hands in, but they are mysteriously empty (probably someone from the caterers forgot to fill them!) And, worst of all, did I mention that they ran out of wine!! …….How embarrassing!

And here, at the end—at the very end—almost an afterthought in a way—and perhaps the most important part of the scripture—it says, “Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee,
and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.”

The first of his signs —his miracles. What does a sign do? It points to something else. A street sign’s entire purpose for existence is to show you the street. A billboard’s job is to get you to think about something being advertised. Nether the street sign nor the billboard sign are there for you to think
about the poles and structures and letters and paint that make up what they are—those things are all important in their own way, but their purpose is to point you in a direction or help you see something else. In the end, it does not matter HOW the water became wine. What matters is that Jesus made it so.

The ultimate objective of this story is to point to God—it is a sign.

Jesus says to us—to his disciples—to everyone: Look!! let me tell you about the God I know.

The God I know can do ANYTHING—even turn water to wine. The God I know gives abundantly—not just a little, but full, to the brim, with generosity. The God I know does not skimp on you—he gives you the very finest.

I wonder what the bride and groom would have said. Now there is no reason in the scripture to say that they ever even knew the wine had come from water or that a miracle had occurred, but I often like to think about if one of the people in a bible story could tell me about God, what would they say?
Maybe, for them, it was one of those days that happens to all of us—God shows up and helps us
and we don’t even realize it.

So who is the God you know? And how do we tell people about him? We tell by what we create
—with fabric and thread, hooks and needles and yarn, banners with messages of God’s active presence
—quilts and prayershawls and hats for premature babies—showing God’s warmth wrapped around his children, young and old.

Music from organs and trumpets, flutes and trombones, clarinets and violins, voices lifted together loudly and softly—all chanting that Christ is the lord of all!

Words spoken from altar, pulpit and lectern. From class room and fellowship hall. Words spoken over the water poured into the font—saying God Loves You No Matter What!

Hands giving out hot food or bringing bags of groceries, hands building or rebuilding or repairing,
hands holding other hands cold with sorrow and loss, showing that God does not forsake you.

Ears listening and hearts hearing in caring conversations, at the dinner table and in the car proving that God is real, God is reliable and, God is with you NOW!

It has been said that Jesus gladdened the wedding at Cana with his first miracle—changing water to wine and alleviating the sorrows and worries of this family and changing them to joy. This is the God we know—the Christ who transforms us, our sorrows and worries, who works in us, this family of the Body of Christ, the miracle of God’s grace and love.

Amen

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