And when somebody gets married. All kinds of stuff. They have the TV shows, say yes to the dress, where the bride likes the dress but momma doesn’t, or sister just can’t get with the program. We have those wedding planner shows where the planner gets the venue for a classic car wedding, a Christmas wedding. I had some friends who had a cousin get married on Halloween. They all dressed up like zombies or Frankenstein and stuff for the reception where everybody lined up and they did Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” for the dance.
Weddings and marriages have changed since Jesus’ day. I think I said this one time before. In Jesus’ day you did not choose someone yo loved to marry. Niether choice nor love had anything to do with it. Your parents chose for you, because you were thirteen or fourteen years old and probably not so good at choosing for yourself. Your parents would they chose someone who could form a beneficial family alliance, someone with whom you could have children, which would probably start right away, and hopefully someone who would treat you with respect. No losers and jerks. Don’t date losers and jerks.
Nowadays, things are different. We have, and use contraceptives more effectively than ever. People are getting married later, if at all. Most people live together these days before they get married. Same sex marriage is now legal in the United States.
Marriage is changing. There are things we like about that and things we don’t like about that. Whatever we may like or not like, it’s important to talk about in the church, and to grapple with, even though it can be uncomfortable and controversial, because we proclaim a Christ who loves a changing, uncomfortable, controversial world, and in order to proclaim a Christ who loves in a changing, uncomfortable and controversial world, we have to love in an changing, uncomfortable and controversial world too.
Here are a couple of things that have not changed about marriage. First, a wedding is a celebration of life. Of God’s preposterously, ridiculously, mind-bogglingly abundant life. Second, a marriage at its best, and I know we are not all always at our best, a marriage at its best is an example of what God is like. One of our most ancient ways of describing heaven is to call it the marriage feast which has no end. You ever been to a marriage feast? How about the party after the marriage feast? Let’s think about that for a moment. Heaven is like that, except it never ends.
Marriage. So cleaning up the kitchen of an evening, together after work, talking about what happened that day. The day seems deeper. Raking the leaves outside, don’t have to say anything at all. The air is crisper, more full of life because she or he is there. That’s what God is like.
Whether we are married or not, whether we want to be married or not, God is there. God listens to our doings and makes our days deeper. God makes the air sweeter, richer, like wine.
Some things do not change.
In the Gospel lesson for today, Jesus and his disciples go to a wedding at Cana, about nine miles from his home town in Nazareth. His Mom is there. Suddenly, disaster strikes. They have run out of wine. Here in a village culture, this is precisely the sort of thing people will be talking about for the next fifty years. “Jack and Francine, aren’t they the folks where the wine ran out at their wedding?” disaster.
So Jesus mom sidles up to him. She says “Psst. They’ve run out of wine. And Jesus is not some magician to wave his magic want to make things all better. We all pretty much know that. He says “Woman, lady, what is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” The time for the great miracle, the crucifixion and resurrection has not yet come.”
So Jesus basically says “No.” But you know, when your mom asks you to do something. Notice what Mary does not say. She doesn’t say “Don’t worry, Jesus will bet some more wine, maybe a gallon box or two to hold everyone till sundown.” No, Mary says “Do whatever he tells you to.”
When we pray, we put ourselves in the hands of God. We ask God to work through our hands. Whatever we may ask, we try to do whatever Jesus tells us to do.
He says fill up these jars with water. Six jars of twenty or thirty gallons. That’s between a hundred and twenty and a hundred and eighty gallons of water. Turns it all into rich, sweet, potent, wine.
Here is something that doesn’t change. Sometimes we will run out of wine. We will run into rough patches in our marriages, where things don’t seem quite so sweet for a while. We will run into rough patches in our lives, where everything reels dry and shallow and without purpose, not deep. You pray for God to help, for Jesus to change things and God seems to say “no.” Jesus seems to say “Not yet.”
Well here’s a question: what is one thing Jesus wants you to do. What is the one healthiest thing you can do right now? What is the one thing you can do to love yourself and others today? “Just do whatever he tells you to do.”
Nine times out of ten, it will make things better. And not just for us. Not just for our enjoyment. Nine times out of ten, God takes what we do and makes it into preposterously, ridiculously abundant, sweet, rich wine.
“Jesus did this, the first of his signs, at Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.”
Keep your eyes open for the sign, for the ridiculously, preposterously abundant rich, sweet wine. It does not just wait for us at the marriage feast which has no end. It breaks into this moment, this day. That breaking in, that presence of God’s glory, close as breath. That will never change.