I can’t believe this weather! It’s crazy, and a second Sunday in a row where we’ve had to cancel worship services at Fleming Road UCC. This after it being in the 40’s just yesterday.
I hope all are safe and able to have some “sabbath” rest today. Here’s my sermon that I was going to share with our church today. I love this story, you may hear it in another sermon down the road…
Old Testament Readings
Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,
your judgments are like the great deep;
you save humans and animals alike, O Lord.
How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
All people may take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house,
and you give them drink from the river of your delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light we see light.
O continue your steadfast love to those who know you,
and your salvation to the upright of heart!
New Testament Reading
The Wedding at Cana
2 On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” 6 Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7 Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8 He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it. 9 When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
When I think of great parties, I think of my wedding. We spent months planning. Debbie, and I had this vision of getting our friends and family from all sorts of different places where we lived and making it one big celebration. It was a GREAT night filled with meaning and lots of good conversations, dancing, and laughing. It was so great that one of my groomsmen, Jay Borck, decided that he didn’t want it to end.
At the end of our wedding reception, after a long night of dancing and simply having a great time, we did the traditional thing of getting into our car that had been decorated by the groomsmen and others…they did a phenomenal job with all sorts of sayings on the car, the tin cans hanging from the back, streamers, etc. They had also filled the car up with balloons…so many in fact that we couldn’t get in until we had cleared some of them out of the front seats. Debbie and I got in, started to drive down the long road leading up the clubhouse where we had our reception. As we were driving along we were talking about what a great night it was when from the back of the car we heard this loud unintelligible yell. I looked in the rear view mirror and there was Jay popping out of the balloons…he kissed us both on the cheeks and then, suddenly before I could react, he opened the door, jumped out of the car and rolled onto the bank…then I saw him jump up and run back towards the clubhouse while being cheered on by others in our wedding party! It was a crazy night!
I love the gospel story of the Wedding at Cana because it is about family, community, and something new. Jesus is at a wedding, enjoying himself with his friends and family, the disciples and his mom approach him with a problem. The wedding has run out of wine…which is a huge “faux pas” in those days and an immense embarrassment. Jesus’ mom wants Jesus to do something about it. Jesus responds by saying “woman”, which may sound odd to us today, but the actual word translated is more of a term with a tone of respect and intimacy. Jesus, who by this time is 30 years old, then says something like “oh Mom are you serious?” (in a very loving way I’m sure!). Mary, Jesus’ mother sees something in her son that is special, she knows he is able to do something about this. Jesus, then does something amazing. Jesus takes ordinary water, water used to clean dirty feet (you see, in that part of the world it was pretty dusty and when you went into someone’s house, you cleaned your feet and hands pretty good), and turned into wine…what’s more, he turned it into the best wine that anyone at that party had ever tasted!
At that point, people had been drinking a lot, for days even. Usually, the best wine came out first, then after folks had a lot to drink, they’d bring out the cheap stuff. But, the master of ceremonies just tasted, what was to him, the best wine and remarked about the generosity of the bridegroom.
Why did Jesus change the water to wine? To show that there is something new going on in the world. In a world that is crazy and where we often feel like ordinary water, or maybe even dirty toe jam water, as we walk through life and get dirty and grimey, there is hope. When we meet Jesus, he can take the ordinary or dirty water of our lives and turn it into the best wine ever tasted! Jesus is saying in this story that he is something special, and, as we’ve talked about the past couple of weeks, Jesus is God in the flesh, he is the “visible image of the invisible God” at it says in Colossians. Jesus is also saying that everyone is special in this story. You see, I think that the family in this wedding party might have out of wine because they didn’t have a whole lot of money or did not plan for such a large party, who knows?!
When Jesus turned the water into wine, he turned SIX whole jars, HUGE jars into wine…more wine than they could have drunk. Jesus not only transformed the water into wine and wants to transform our lives, Jesus blessed the whole wedding party beyond measure and wants to show you some amazing blessings and adventures in life. One thing about Jesus, he is extravagant in his pursuit and love for us and for the community. These were friends, family, members of Jesus’ family and neighbors. The author of John is making a statement by having Jesus’ first public miracle happen at a wedding, a gathering of relationships. God is interested in overwhelming us with God’s love in practical and unforeseen ways…and this God is interested in blessing all of us together. God’s good news, God’s presence isn’t for just a few, it’s for everyone.
This passage has also been said to give witness to the passing of the old law based on rules, regulations, and works to the new demonstration of God’s presence with humanity. One of grace, personal love, and on God’s works on our behalf not our own.
Just like Jesus wants us to experience the blessing of friendship with God and others in order to live lives into something better…new wine. God wants us to have a change of heart of on our religion, how we live our faith, our very lives.
In our faith, in our way of not just showing up at church, but being church, we so often settle for the way things have always been. We want to know what to expect and to control things. We want a predictable faith, a predictable religion, a predictable God. In so doing, we often make decisions and act upon those decisions that do not honor others, God, or even ourselves…leaving us feeling like grimey, dirty, used up foot washing toe jam water. It’s a religion that does us no good. And that’s a religion that we simply don’t need….and many people have come to the same conclusion and walk away from their faith.
Yet, we then come to something unpredictable, like a wedding, or a funeral, or an action that someone does for us, and we see God’s goodness breaking in.
In that goodness, God takes our religion, our very selves, and turns it into something beautiful. We are overwhelmed with God’s presence and extravagant love.
The last thing about this turning of water into wine. Jesus fills 6 barrels. That’s a lot of wine. Jesus didn’t want folks to feel like they didn’t have enough. He also didn’t want them to simply seal up those barrels and not share…he poured them out for the entire wedding party! In those days, weddings were for the whole community and they lasted for days!
Steadfast, ever loving, ever faithful, intense loyalty to community.
Word most often used to describe God’s character in the Old Testament or Torah.
Friends, Jesus wants to remind us that we are loved and are called to love ourselves, others, and God with extravagance…our psalmist today uses the word “steadfast love”, in Hebrew it is “hesed”, everloving, fatihful and loyal…God wants to pour out the good wine of God’s faithful to us, in us, God’s love for us, God’s religion or binding to us, to all in our neighborhoods and lives…and, in so doing, we’ll find ourselves experiencing the life of the greatest party we could ever imagine!