This sermon was preached earlier this year by our curate, Jo. She has kindly allowed us to share it here
Sermon 2nd Sunday of Epiphany year 3 – Jesus turns water into wine, John 2:
(Have a sign to be held by a member of the congregation that points to Jesus.)
Signs are important in the gospel of John. This gospel is slightly different to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke in how it is arranged. Rather than starting either in Bethlehem or at Jesus’ baptism, John begins with talking about Jesus as the Word of God there at the dawn of creation. John then goes onto talk of signs and stories pointing to WHO Jesus is rather than the more what-he-did chronological approach of the other gospels.
Turning the water into wine in the wedding at Cana is the first of these signs.
Now I would like you to picture the scene. You got all dressed up came here, perhaps travelled a few days, you have spent a few months organising what will happen, you have had the wedding everyone has had the first glass of wine and is at the mildly merry stage, when the barman comes and taps you on the shoulder… there’s no more wine.
What do you do? Arrgh! I suspect the organisers had a bit of a panic at that point, and I am pretty sure it would be the same today – although at least we could pop to Aldi.
Jesus had joined his mother there, perhaps it was a family friend or someone they knew from the village. It doesn’t seem like she was organising it. Perhaps she just heard a rumour or maybe the organiser came to her. When she speaks to Jesus she doesn’t say sort it out, rather she just comments to him. He doesn’t seem too bothered, now we can take this in a few ways, either he is just saying, why are you worrying about that, its not our problem, or maybe he is saying, why are you worrying about that it is easily sorted.
Either way Mary must have had an inkling he would do something, because she warns the waiters to do as he asks. Something I think is interesting about this is that very few people seem to know that a miracle has occurred, there were the servants, Mary, Jesus and I suspect a somewhat bemused organiser wondering what on earth had happened, and probably the bridegroom wondering who would pay for it all!
Jesus wasn’t there it happened, which must have been between the jars being filled and the chief steward, the master of ceremonies testing it. And there was a lot. 20 -30 gallons is 90 – 136 litres of water, so the jars would have been enormous, I might have even fitted inside! It’s a lot of water or wine.
Something I think in this tale it is useful to learn from is the faith of Mary. Mary who had know Jesus grow up, who had watched him become head of the household after the death of his father, who perhaps realised his time was coming as he began to gather a small bunch of followers. Mary whom we rarely talk about or hear of, but who is there in the background watching, wondering what will happen. Its easy to read this story with hindsight and think of course a miracle will occur, and Jesus will do something, but he hadn’t done anything before then, he’d had an amazing start to life, got lost in the temple but otherwise things were pretty normal until now.
And I reckon all the time Mary was watching, waiting, wondering when God would fulfil the promise that her son would be used in an extraordinary way, and trusting in Jesus that one day, the promises which had been spoken about to her by the angel would start to take effect. The question for each of today is how much can we trust Jesus ourselves, do we like Mary look for the times when he might work in our own lives?
One of the key parts of this story is the extravagance, the abundance with which God blesses the wedding and the couple, a good party is held and the celebrations can continue. This is one of the themes of John’s gospel. Later he tells stories of how Jesus has come to bring life in abundance. When God blesses the wine, this isn’t a small taster or enough to go around, it is extravagant, far more than could ever be needed, like the magic porridge pot of Grimmsfairy tales. I suspect many more people were blessed by that wedding than would ever have been normally, and I suspect that God delighted in blessing people.
As we read in our psalm today: ‘They shall feast on the abundance of your house, and you have given them a drink from the river of your delights.’ Next time you are tempted to think of God as being a bit grumpy or mean and unapproachable, I would encourage you to stop, and remember the wedding at Cana.
Remember a wedding celebration blessed so extravagantly, remember Mary faithfully trusting Jesus, without any reason to expect anything, and remember that God delights in blessing people, wildly, extravagantly, and look at the sign pointing to Jesus saying, stop, look – who is this really?