Second Sunday after Epiphany / January 20, 2013 / Resurrection Lutheran Church / ELCA
Text: John 2: 1 – 11 / Message by Rev. Carol Kniseley / Title: The Proof…is in the Pudding!
Have you ever noticed how “firsts” tend to always stick out in people’s minds? The first time a baby walks…..the first word a baby speaks…..the first time to ride a bicycle without the training wheels attached…..the first kiss of a married couple once they are pronounced “husband and wife”…..all worth noting and writing down in the baby book. Apparently there’s a “first time” for everything in this life….and that would ring true for our Lord as well. With this miracle of turning water into wine, Jesus begins to step out on his own….and his relationship with every single person he has known up until then….has begun to change.
Case in point: Jesus’ relationship with his Mom (whom, by the way, John never does mention by name) suddenly becomes a bit “testy” when they are both invited to a wedding…and half way through the celebration the worst of all possible scenarios takes place. According to Jesus’ mother (and this is a direct quote): “They have no wine.” Now I know that for some of us…that would be a down right catastrophe in the making. And yet for others, we find ourselves scratching our heads and wondering out loud: “So what’s the big deal?” Either way, it was a big deal in Jesus’ day, and here’s why.
Weddings were known to go on for as long as a week…and if this is only day three…it is NOT a good thing to discover that the WINE IS NO MORE. Mary does what Mary has been doing ever since Joseph presumably passed away. She turns to Jesus, and in her own polite motherly way intimates that he should do something. But instead of saying anything more directly to her son…she simply leans over to the servants and says in a rather defiant voice, making sure that Jesus CAN HEAR EVERY WORD: “Do whatever he tells you.” Now I ask you, what’s…a son…to do?
The details are what’s most telling in John’s Gospel…where everything is NOT as it seems on face value…and the explicit invitation to every single one of us is to simply “look closer”. In other words: “Come…..taste…..and see for yourselves that the Lord is good.” Notice that we are no longer talking about changing ordinary tap water into tasty wine. What about turning ordinary lives into ‘anything but’ (i.e. the way God sees you and me)? Or transposing our daily routines into daily ‘rituals’ designed not to serve ourselves…but instead to serve God? And given the dull, routine chores that we all sometimes have to do…could we not change our perspective and view “God’s work as taking place…while using our hands?” The proof, so they say, is in the pudding.
When Jesus enters the picture…it’s as if God has entered the building as well. And according to Christian author Max Lucado, NOTHING REMAINS THE SAME. The status quo automatically shifts in God’s favor…every …single…time. What was once accepted as being “normal”…has been “recalculated” into a “new” norm. It is there that God begins renewing his relationship with each one of us.
According to our friend, Max, God always comes to us….and starts with us right where we are. But the reality is, God refuses to leave us there. God wants us…TO BE… just like Jesus as recorded in today’s Gospel. For starters, just being attentive to God’s will…and not our own…as Jesus displayed in handling the issue of God’s timing versus setting our own agenda. God won out….as Jesus’ mom knew God would.
Leading us to believe that if we go into “life” with our eyes wide open….expecting to be met with “surprises”, “serendipities”, even “epiphanies” of all sorts…then life can’t help but be changed for the better. To those ‘with eyes to see’, we can begin living in the Kingdom of God at this very moment. All because, according to John’s Gospel, when Jesus was born (another first, by the way)…THE WORD BECAME FLESH. God had entered our world in a way that had never been seen before. His sheer presence alone changed everything in sight. And when he spoke…even something as recognizable and universally depended upon as “water”…was suddenly transformed.
And just like that, God’s presence had become real and palpable….no longer mere words spoken into thin air….but REAL water transformed into REAL wine. Leading us to surmise that God, on purpose, had found a way for us to actually “taste….and see….that the Lord is good.”
We can say what we want about what happened on that fateful day. Jesus relationship with his mom had changed from his being her obedient son….to her believing like a real disciple. But there were others there as well. Some had been watching with expectant eyes for Jesus to give them some kind of indisputable “sign”….and according to the Gospel writer, John,….He did not disappoint them then. Nor does he disappoint us today. Whereas some “did see” and were led to believe, others never saw a thing….and their lives never skipped a beat.
If the proof really is in the pudding, as some folks like say, then the wine on that day must have been from somewhere out of this world. It was as if someone had struck a match while standing in a very dark corner of the world. It was the very first miracle performed by Jesus. No hands….only words. Words that when spoken…became the first sign….the first spark….that set the world ablaze. And now you know the rest of the story….as found only in the Gospel of John.
Amen! (which means….I believe!)