By David Brock, presiding evangelist
On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there…When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” …Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. …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. —John 2:1, 3, 7, 9–11 NRSV
Being the father of a daughter of marriageable age, I read about the wedding at Cana with a mixture of gratitude and anxiety. Grateful that her wedding ceremony likely will not last seven days as was the ancient custom. Not that her marriage would not be worthy of much time given to worship, music, and dancing. There would be plentiful food and drink!
But my anxiety rises at the thought of so much planning, so much coordination, and so much money. So much time trying to keep peace in a large family gathering!
John pinpoints the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry at this moment of joy and hope. The beginning of marriage and the beginning of ministry deserve to have us honor them. We distinguish them with prayers, speeches, symbolic acts, music, hymns, and songs of unfettered joy. This is the time of dreams and visions of what could be. Reflection of what is possible in the lives of two people joined in covenant. Celebration of what can happen when a disciple joins God in seeking a world of shalom.
This is not the day for us to make newlyweds aware of the struggle and sorrow that is surely ahead. This is not the day to tell them the unrelenting anvil of loss or pain will shape their love. This is the day—this is the week—of the banquet.
And this was not the day for Jesus to be aware his public ministry would involve conflict and anguish, even death. This was a day to celebrate the promises of God and to dream of a family growing in peace, unafraid. A day to see in the union of a young couple a hint of the relationship between the God of unconditional love and God’s people—God’s pride and joy.
Here at this celebration of life and love, John introduces us to Jesus: the first sacrament, the best-tasting wine, the bridegroom, the one who invites everyone to the banquet that is the kingdom of God.
Today is the day to give thanks and celebrate. Christ has “filled us to the brim” and invites all creation to accept this lavish gift.
Prayer for Peace
Celebrate with us, O God; we have much for which to thank you. We have discovered life and love in Jesus Christ. We have seen your shalom.
Spiritual Practice: Spiritual Hunger
Jesus discerned hungers of body and spirit, and he fed them through a physical, verbal, spiritual ministry of presence. In a time of listening prayer, ask God to help you discern physical or spiritual hungers of people in your congregation, community, and global family. Invite the Spirit to move you to one hospitable act that “feeds” someone’s hunger today.
Today, God, I will not think of the possible sorrow of tomorrow. I will take joy in the sacramental traditions inspired by Jesus Christ.