For a while now the Sundays will be counted as the ones coming after Epiphany. Lent and Easter come early this year, so it will be a short counted down of Sundays. It does seem like the church year is hurrying itself along. That will make the stretch of ordinary time (Between the end of the season of Easter and the beginning of Advent 2016) last quite a while. It does seem to rush and fold upon itself; Advent and Christmas, then Lent and Easter; the spring and summer days of Ordinary Time and then back into Lent. You get the sense the that planning of the church year is a never ending task, and it is very true. So let us take these days before we plunge into Lent as a meaningful time to meditate on the scripture passages as they are presented to us.
We start this week with looking at one of the first events in Jesus’ ministry – the wedding at Cana. It was the third day, according to the gospel of John, after Jesus had been baptized.
“On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” (John 2:1-5)
I just HAVE TO break in here and share a new perspective. Imagine the scene this way; Jesus’ mother is concerned about the groom and the groom’s family – the disgrace of running out of wine and they way people will talk about it. She wants to help but is not sure how. So she decides to “nag” Jesus into doing something miraculous. Jesus, feeling affection for his mother, is really willing to help but feels that he can’t let it look like she is ordering him around. Jesus’ mother knows he is going to help out, but just needs a little “push” to do it. It is a classic scene of a Jewish mother and son – a glimpse into Jesus’ real relationship with his mother, one of love and tenderness. It has nothing to do with Jesus as the Divine Son of God, and everything to do with Jesus who is grounded in being human and in human relationship.
“Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it. 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 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.” Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.” (Verses 5 – 11)
Is this not a lovely vignette! That Jesus first public act of a miracle was for the benefit of not a major illness or catastrophe or death. But making a celebration of life even more wonderful. Bringing joy to his mother and celebrating life and the living of it. This is a Jesus who loves and embraces humanity. A Jesus that was sent to us, God’s people, in the midst of our need to make our lives better.
As a young person growing up in the Mennonite faith, that fact that it was WINE – alcohol! – was downplayed. It was not the type of wine that is REALLY intoxicating it was said. But the words of the wine steward belie that fact. Now in my older adult years I can appreciate that Jesus was attuned to the needs of the people around him. And met them (and meets them still) where their needs are. That is important to me as I find myself relying more and more on God’s strength to get me through the days. Jesus, and God, are concerned about my needs and where I find myself using up my strength and reserves.
I do not know where your needy places are, beloved reader. But I hope and pray that our Lord God and Jesus Christ fill your needs and your reserves! Selah