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2/4/24 Sermon

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Psalm 45:6-15  Wilda C. Gafney translation

Your God-given throne is everlasting; a scepter of integrity is your royal scepter. You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness more than your companions. Myrrh and aloes and cassia scent all your garments; from ivory palaces stringed instruments bring you joy. Royal daughters are your treasures; the consort stands at your right hand in gold of Ophir. Hear daughter, consider and incline your ear; forget your people and the house of your [mother and] father. Daughter of Tyre, with gifts shall they seek your favor, the wealthiest of the people. With all kinds of wealth is the princess ensconced; her garments are woven with gold. In embroidery is she led to the king; behind her the maidens, her companions, follow. They are brought with joy and gladness into the palace of the king. 

John 2:1-12 – New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition

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 me and to you? My hour has not yet come.”  His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”  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 person in charge of the banquet.” So they took it.  When the person in charge tasted the water that had become wine and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), that person 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.

After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother, his brothers, and his disciples, and they remained there a few days.

We’ve all seen the sign somewhere – maybe in our own home – “Wine is proof that God wants us to be happy.” Okay, I’m from Wisconsin, so I am familiar with the sign that says “Beer is proof…” You get the idea. I totally agree that God wants us to be happy. 

We can understand this water into wine scripture as a metaphor for turning scarce resources into plentiful resources. Ours is a God of abundance and this first miracle or “sign” as they are called in John’s Gospel, is familiar to all. This morning our gospel passage is about God’s extravagant love, and how God shows that love through an abundance of resources. 

There is always a common thread or threads that weave our readings together. This morning one of those threads is marriage. Psalm 45 uses marriage as a metaphor to remind us that we are meant to be in unity with God first, and with all of God’s people second. The psalm is painting a picture of our best selves, who we want to be and who we want our leaders to be, living in loving relationship with one another. God’s abundant love shows up in our psalm as well as in our gospel. 

The Gospel of John this morning situates us within a wedding celebration. Weddings are joyful occasions and tradition was that these elaborate events lasted seven days. We can all conjure up memories of our own or others celebrations, bringing smiles to our lips and warmth to our hearts. Sometimes it is the ceremony that is particularly moving, sometimes it is the words spoken as glasses are raised to toast the newly married couple, sometimes it is the music and dancing that goes on late into the night. All of it combines to bring joy not just to the two being wed, but also to their families and friends. It is a shared experience, one that weds a wide circle of individuals one to another. 

I think we all agree that Jesus was human. And divine. It is in this shared experience of our humanity which speaks so strongly in these verses depicting the Wedding at Cana. 

When his mother tells him that the host family is running out of wine at the weeklong wedding party, Jesus responds, “What concern is that to you and to me?” To further strengthen his defense, he quickly follows with, “My hour has not yet come.” Essentially, he tells his mother that the host family’s problem is not his problem. We can relate, right? A very human response when faced with the sometimes overwhelming needs of others. 

In this parable it is Jesus’ mother who knows better than to separate the needs of one from the needs of all. She recognizes all of the human dynamics at play. Perhaps in the blink of an eye she sees herself in the place of the hosts, who will feel humiliated at their failure to provide for their guests. Perhaps she sees herself in the place of the servants, panicking as the wine supply runs low, fearing that they may be blamed or punished for a situation out of their control. 

Jesus’ mother knows in her heart that this situation can and should be remedied. And she knows that her son is capable of stepping in to help. 

We all live with this tension in life… every day… always… between what we are called to do and what we actually do. Sometimes we get it right. Sometimes we fall short. 

We should all be so fortunate when in conflict resolution situations to have someone like Jesus’ mother coaching us! Let’s examine her words. She makes two statements regarding the situation she is observing. First to Jesus she says, “They have no wine.” Hearing his response (not my problem; not ready) she instructs the servants to “Do whatever he tells you.” Skillfully, she leaves the door open for him to change his mind and allows for 100% autonomy in what, when, or how he intervenes. 

I have known of this parable for decades. The focus is typically on Jesus. He has the starring role but this week I have been thinking of his mother (who is notably never named in John’s gospel) as the winner of the Best Supporting Actress award. Without her it all falls apart.  

This Wedding at Cana parable illustrates how God intends for us all to serve as we are able. This one “sign” or miracle of turning water into wine took an entire cast of characters. When the credits roll at the end of the film our cast of characters include Jesus, his mother, the servants, the wine stewards, the host family, the wedding party and guests. All have a place in the narrative.  All are important. All receive equally the abundant gift of God’s love.

What are my key takeaways this morning? 

  1. Sometimes we are the one that notices the need. Sometimes we are the one that remedies the need. Both roles are vital to making this world a better place.

  2. We may never feel 100% ready. Get started anyway. Help those that need help. My hour has not yet come is found multiple times in the Gospel of John. And multiple times Jesus then goes ahead and takes action. We must do the same. 

  3. Often others see our gifts with a clarity that we lack. Be open to the prompts of the Holy Spirit through those moving in our midst. 

  4. Themes of urgency, grace, abundance, delight, and wonder are woven throughout our two scriptures this morning. The hour has come for us to offer our God-given gifts wherever and whenever there is need. 


Rev. TJ Mack – February 4, 2024

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