The Wedding at Cana
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.
~ John 2:1-11 (NRSV)
Friends, today we heard the story of the very first miracle that Jesus performed, that of turning water into wine. Have you ever thought about the fact that the first miracle that Jesus performed didn’t happen in the Temple? It didn’t happen at a pivotal moment in history, or to save people from a natural disaster or a moment of destruction. Jesus didn’t call a crowd of people around and say, “Hey everyone, check this out!” On the contrary, Jesus didn’t even seem to want to do it. But after the urging of his mother Mary, he finally agreed. Jesus called no attention to what he was doing. Actually, we never hear that he even took credit for what happened. He used the most simple, ordinary, everyday thing—water—and made it into wonderful wine, taking something ordinary and making it extraordinary! That first miracle, my friends, set the scene for a ministry and a message that would teach others about the abundance of God’s love and the sacredness that is found in the simplest of things.
Think about it: water, something that we all experience every single day. Whether we are washing our hands or getting a drink, brushing our teeth or taking a shower, listening to the gentle rain or watching geese gently floating on a lake, water is something so simple, and yet Jesus over and over again makes it into something so much more!
Friends, let’s think about the very first chapter of the Bible for just a minute. Does anyone know what it is? Yes, Genesis! In the first chapter of Genesis, we hear about the story of Creation, and by the sixth verse of the Bible, after separating the light from the darkness, we hear about water. From the book of Genesis all the way through the book of Revelations, water is talked about seven hundred and twenty-two times! That should tell us that there is something pretty special about it!
We just used water for something important here in Oldtown today—to baptize little Teagan! And as I have said before, when we baptize here in Oldtown, the water that we use comes straight from the tap. There is nothing special about it. That is until we pour it into our baptismal font and gather together as a church family to bless it, asking the Holy Spirit to be present with us. At that point, what was once ordinary becomes extraordinary, and what was once simple becomes sacred.
Friends, I sometimes wonder: did Jesus use these simple, everyday items so that we would have constant reminders of our faith? So that we can remember our baptism each time we take a shower or walk out in the rain? So that we understand that, through God’s grace, we are forgiven and washed clean just like when we wash our hands or when we do the dishes after we eat?
Folks, so many times we want to make our faith into something more complicated than it needs to be. In our prayers, we worry about using big, fancy words and phrases, and we worry about not knowing enough about the Bible. But the message of the gospel today tells us exactly what is important, and it is nothing extravagant or expensive. It is all about celebrating as a community, as the people did at the wedding at Cana, and as we’ve done this morning welcoming Teagan into the family of God. It’s about loving and caring for one another and appreciating the simple things in life.
Friends, we had a wedding here at the church yesterday, and it was one of those weddings that warms my heart. The bride was one our coffeehouse crew when she was in high school, and she had actually helped serve at a few of our church suppers. She was one of those kids always trying to find her place in the world. She always had a different haircut and a different hair color. She had different piercings over the years and a few tattoos, and though she was kind of a loner, she felt at home here. She and her family never attended worship in Oldtown, but because she was a friend of my daughter’s, we would talk quite a bit, and she always knew that this was a safe place and that she would always be welcome here.
Last year, I heard through my daughter that she had gotten engaged, and before I knew it, I got the call asking if I would consider officiating her wedding. I told her that I would be honored, and I asked her where the wedding was going to be, assuming that it would be elsewhere. “Well, I was hoping that it would be in Oldtown if that’s okay,” she said. “Absolutely!” I replied as I fought back my tears.
Now I have to tell you that I actually only met with the couple twice as they prepared for their wedding. They were one of the lowest-stress, easy-to-work-with couples that I have ever experienced. All they wanted was to be surrounded by family and friends as they began their journey as a married couple. There was no stress about the dress. The mother of the bride pulled together a few simple bouquets for the girls to carry. A string trio made up of friends played as the bride walked down the aisle. And the couple shared a list of the simple things that they loved about each other. They wrote their own vows, and the only thing that they insisted on was ringing the bell together after the service to share their good news with the world. Flowers, friends, simple words, the ringing of a bell, and lots and lots of love—all ordinary things that became extraordinary, simple things that absolutely become sacred.
So, brothers and sisters in Christ, as you go out into your busy week ahead, pay attention to and appreciate the simple things in life, like water, words, a smile, a hug, or a gathering of friends. Remember that God works in mysterious ways, but they don’t have to be fancy or expensive or extravagant. Remember that God’s love is abundant and that every day God makes the ordinary extraordinary and the simple sacred. You just need to open the eyes of your heart to see it.
My friends, my prayer for all of you this week is that you truly experience the grace of God in your lives, and that you have the courage to look at the world through the eyes of faith to truly see the extraordinary in the ordinary and the sacred in the simple.
My friends may it be so. Thanks be to God. Amen!