The Wedding at CanaJohn 2:1-11 (NRSV)
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.” 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.
I am a strong believer that the work of the church is not something that can be 100% planned. Real ministry, many times, happens in the moment. And it doesn’t just happen at church. It happens at the grocery store, and at the bank, at the ball field, and anywhere and everywhere else. It can happen whenever people talk with one another. Folks, it happens when aren’t afraid to leave the door open to what may be, and it usually happens when we least expect it.
Unexpected moments happen in our lives all the time, don’t they? Now sometimes, those unexpected moments are good, like a surprise party or a random act of kindness, a special announcement of an engagement or a new baby. And sometimes, unexpected moments are not so good, caused by shock and injury, by disaster and loss. But it is in all of those unexpected moments that we often experience the sacred and we find ourselves standing on holy ground. Whether it is celebrating someone’s joy with them, listening to their concerns, or holding them in their grief, that unexpected moment, mixed with love of neighbor, creates sacred and holy ground.
In the Bible, Jesus uses unexpected moments all the time to step in and teach others. There is a story about Jesus and his mother Mary attending a wedding. Now at the time of the story, Jesus is just beginning his ministry, so, he is trying to stay somewhat behind the scenes even though he knows that people are looking for help.
I wonder, have you ever done that? Have you ever been in a situation where someone really needed help, but you just didn’t want to get involved? Perhaps you were tired or didn’t have the time, or just figured that someone else would take care of it.
Well, at this wedding, I can imagine that the last thing that Jesus probably wants to do is bring attention to himself, but then Mary his mother offers his help. What if Jesus wasn’t ready? What if Jesus just wanted to relax and enjoy himself? What if people started asking him questions that he was not ready to answer? But Jesus’ mother Mary said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
My friends, that day, Jesus did something very important. That day, in Cana of Galilee, Jesus set the scene for his ministry. Because the act of turning water into wine wasn’t about miracles or magic or the art of surprise. No, Jesus turning the water into wine was a way of turning scarcity into abundance!
It was a way of teaching people not to worry about what they didn’t have, but to celebrate what they did have! Did you hear that? It was a way of teaching people not to worry about what they didn’t have, but to celebrate what they did have! And that is something that we as human beings–and especially as the church–do not do as much as we should.
I always find it ironic that Jesus’ first miracle happened at a wedding–a celebration among family and friends! It doesn’t start at a big megachurch. It doesn’t start through well-established programs. It doesn’t even start with an organized, structured plan. Jesus’ ministry begins because of an unexpected moment within an intimate, personal setting–a gathering of family and friends! With the story of the Wedding at Cana, Jesus reinforces the importance of community, and shows us that God is at work even–and perhaps especially–in the daily, intimate places of our human lives!
But I think the most important part is that Jesus does not perform the miracle alone. He doesn’t simply wave a magic wand or put his hands on the jugs of water saying a prayer. No! Jesus said to the servant, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. He then says to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” You see, Jesus invites others to help and to be a part of the fix. Jesus never makes the announcement, “Hey, look what I have done. Now come follow me!”
The truth is my friends, ministry almost always happens because of relationships. It doesn’t happen in a book or on paper, in plans, or even in the structure and organization of a church. It happens among people.
Now, the story of the wedding at Cana certainly is a wonderful story, but what does it say to us today? Does it say that we should always bring a great bottle of wine when we attend a wedding in case they run out? NO! Does it say, we should learn to perform miracles to help people out of embarrassing situations? NO!
I think what Jesus is trying to tell us this week is that community is important. Our neighbors are important, whoever our neighbors might be, and when a neighbor is hurting, for whatever reason, we are called to reach out and help them. We pray for them and hold them in their time of grief, not because we are great or because we are in control or because that’s part of our plan, but because we are community, because we are brothers and sisters in the human family!
So, friends, in the week ahead, look for God in the unexpected moments in your life because that is where you will most likely find yourself standing on holy ground.