Ocean Springs, Mississippi

The Really Good Stuff

Sermon on John 2:1-11

So, it’s a little fitting that we hear this story of the wedding at Cana because this weekend, Jessica and I marked our tenth wedding anniversary. Ten years. And I though a lot about what we were doing on those weeks and days leading up to the big day.

We were freshly back in the country from two years in the Peace Corps. Jessica was gainfully employed like the day we moved back—because is a special education teacher. I however was not, because it was the winter of 2008-2009, and if you remember anything about that time, let’s just say there weren’t many job prospects for many people, to say nothing of someone with a Bachelor’s degree in History.

So she had a full time job and I did not. And so that meant that I had plenty of time to do wedding planning. Which I’ll have you know, and Jessica will back me up here, I am much better at than she is.

Still, every time I’d visit the various vendors, I’d say, “Yeah we’re going with that color flower or that flavor cake.”

And inevitably, the vendor would arch his eyebrow and sniff a little, “Sir, don’t you think we should wait for the bride to decide?”

To which I would reply, “But my good man, the bride has authorized me to make this very weighty decision and I can assure you that the bride does not care.”

I got quite the crash course on wedding planning ten years ago. And look, anybody who’s ever tried to plan a wedding knows that there are so many details, so many little things to worry and fuss over. And for whatever reason, that pressure is really high.

I would not have wanted to be in the head steward’s shoes that wedding day in Cana. Not ordering enough wine. I mean, come on—it’s like amateur hour over there. In this day in age, such a wedding planner would have been fired on the spot.

They’re living in a culture where lavish hospitality is valued, not in the context of abundance, but in the context of scarcity. The people of Cana were a forgotten people, living on the margins under an oppressive empire. So when someone threw a party, it was a really big deal. The act of hospitality, of celebration, involved a great deal of sacrifice and honor. So you can imagine what must have been on the hosts’ minds as the wine jugs ran dry.

And you can almost sense the panic as it set in. It may have not been so apparent to everyone at first, but there must have been some growing whispers in the crowd: “Better drink that one slow…there’s no more where that came from.” “Last time we come here for a party…”

So perhaps it was out of concern and compassion that the mother of Jesus came to him to say, “They have no more wine left.”

But, as this story reminds us, there are moments in time—even in the midst of great celebration—that we too face scarcity. I think we as a congregation look ahead to a new budget year, a new Council year, we think a little bit about how things have gone this year and where we might go next year. And it’s easy to be a bit like that steward, sitting there counting the wine jugs that are left, getting a little nervous, wondering “Hmmm…do we have enough to make it?”

So its fitting to that we at this time hear the story of the celebration at Cana. It’s a reminder that God’s generosity, God’s blessings, God’s love do not run out, God provides more than we can ever ask for, more than we can possibly imagine.

In Cana, at the moment when all seemed lost, Jesus’ mother doesn’t know quite what to do, but she goes to her son anyway. And, for a while it is unclear how Jesus will respond, if he’s going to do anything at all. But she has faith in him, she trusts him. “Do whatever he says,” she tells the staff.

And Jesus provides. Now we get into some details about the amount of water that Jesus has transformed. It’s an almost absurd amount. I ran the numbers, and it would be about 720 bottles of wine. Can you imagine that? And we’re not talking about any Yellow Tail or three-buck Chuck. No we’re talking about the top of the caterer’s list—the stuff that you’ve always wanted to try, but can never quite justify ordering. The truly good stuff.

Jesus’ work at Cana was a sign, a sign of just how generously, just how abundantly, God provides. The writer of John tells us that Jesus, the Word, has been part of the fabric of creation since its genesis, and out of love for the world, this Word became flesh, to walk and breath and eat and drink and suffer and celebrate among us—to offer a sign of God’s glory and God’s generosity towards us. And this act of turning water into wine, this is the first of Jesus’ public signs— a kickoff, a beginning, an inaugural sign.

So, I wonder, what are some of the signs we are seeing of God’s abundance within us and among us. I don’t know about you, but I think God is up to something here at Christus Victor. I’ve felt that way for a couple months. The new faces that we’ve been seeing, the conversations I’ve had with our Council and our members, the way I feel coming in week to week and standing before you with a renewed energy.

And so even as we enter this time of thinking about the nuts and bolts of our ministry, and knowing that, yeah I wish we had just a few more bottles of wine—I wish that number was just a little bit higher. I can’t help but wonder if we may be like those at the wedding feast, on the cusp of seeing God’s own abundance—whatever form that may take.

But you know, no matter what—in times of plenty and want, sickness and health—again and again we return to our life together, and come to this table, feast on bread and drink the best wine of all. And we will again remember the promises that God has made to all of us: that God loves us more than we can possibly ask–abundant and unending love.