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January 17, 2016, 12:00 AM

Church at Home

Abundant Life

by Sandy Bach

"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.'” (John 2:1-3 NRSV)

Weddings are important events.  Bridal couples spend months preparing for the big event and they want everything to go well.  Yes, sometimes we find someone who goes overboard on the demand for perfection.  Yet, weddings are an event for setting the bar high for a memorable celebration.

In ancient days, the bride and groom would prepare for months, as well.  Their time was spent putting together enough food and wine for a seven-day celebration.  No honeymoon for them; they had guests in the groom's home for a week!  Hospitality is everything in that part of the world.  To run out of wine is to lose face,

So the mother of Jesus (the gospel of John never mentions her by  name) turns to Jesus and comments, "They're out of wine."  In the middle of the celebration they run out of wine.  Disaster.  The wedding is ruined.  Will the groom ever live up to it?

But there's more.  This is the Gospel of John, a book packed to the brim with symbolism.  In the Jewish scripture wine is a symbol of grace and joy and abundance.  The wedding hosts have run out of grace.

Jesus is reluctant to reveal his glory, but he does, anyway.  This begins his ministry and he does it without a lot of fireworks.  He tells the servants to take the 6 stone water jugs and fill them to the brim with water.  Then he has them draw out a sample for the wine steward to taste.  The wine is the best ever.  The equivalent of cases and cases and cases of the best Cabernet Sauvignon that money can buy.

Jesus supplies grace and joy and wholeness in overly abundant amounts and hardly anyone knows who's responsible for it.  The bridegroom gets all the credit.

How have you celebrated in such a fashion?  When has "Cana Grace" taken up your life and transformed it to joy and celebration and wholeness?  I see it when our congregation comes together for a potluck.  The metaphorical wine runs free with laughter.  Members and friends catch up on the news and share pictures of their grandchildren taken on their smart phones.  Cana Grace takes place when friends gather in the backyard for a bar-b-que and laugh and talk well into the night.  Cana Grace occurs when any group of people get together to enjoy each others' company and Jesus shows up.

Yet, sometimes we run out of wine.  We run out of joy and grace.  Families torn apart by illness or other circumstances run out wine.  People living in homes with leaky roofs and iffy electricity eventually run out of wine.  Where is God's extravagance in these moments?  Where is the Mother of Jesus nudging God, "They have no wine"?

When is it time for us to nudge God?  When do we feel God nudging us?

"Jesus, they have no wine."

"Yes, child.  I have the wine.  I need your hands and feet to distribute it."

"Jesus, I'm not sure I'm enough.  In fact, I'm sure I'm not enough."

"You're right.  You're not enough. But with me all things are possible.  Here's the wine.  Go now and distribute Cana Grace."

All glory and honor be to God.


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