Tumbling in the Sand
The texts for Sunday, January 17, 2015 (2nd Sunday after Epiphany): Isaiah 62:1-5; Psalm 36:5-10; 1 Corinthians 12:1-11; and John 2:1-11
So, let’s see …
six stone water jars — not overly standard in size (they were hand-hewn from rock!)
but the text says they are around 20 to 30 gallons a piece —
and average of 25 gallons —
that’s six times 25 —
150 gallons — give or take.
150 gallons of wine.
That’s a lot of wine!
The abundance of this unplanned, reluctant miracle is staggering
It is a great reminder of the abundance of God
the way that God takes what is barren
— desolate to use Isaiah’s words
— empty to use the images of the vessels—
and makes great things —
more than we can imagine.
It’s a great reminder, these vessels brimming with miraculous wine,
that God’s favorite material to work with is nothing —
that when we run out,
God might will have something even better in store.
This is one of my favorite miracles of Jesus
Partly for the ever-so-typical mother-son interaction of a proud Mary
and an embarrassed Jesus
which, John tries to fancy up to make Jesus look a bit more like God, I suppose
But, you can almost imagine the exchange today
“Oh, Jesus! You can do something about this!”
“But Mom! My friends!…”
But mostly I love this miracle because of the promise of abundance that it reveals—
that God pours out abundance to sustain the community,
to provide joy,
to help the party go on so that all are fed and full and satisfied.
And even more:
so that love —
the love of a married couple
the love of the community gathered together
the love of family and friends —
might be grown.
It really is quite a miracle — more than 150 gallons of wine worth…
But, I think the most amazing thing of all in this story
is that almost no one noticed.
In fact, the only ones who see it
are the servants who filled these massive stone vessels with water
—and maybe a few disciples —
The bride and groom miss it.
The chief steward knows nothing.
The guests are happily unaware.
This amazing miracle is completely missed
by those for whom it was given.
Kind of typical, I imagine, of our own lives
where we miss God’s miraculous work
of sustaining us as we go
— that God’s glory is revealed in our lives —
and we don’t even notice.
It reminds me of a quote from Wendell Berry
that references this very miracle —
“Outdoors we are confronted everywhere with wonders; we see that the miraculous is not extraordinary but the common mode of existence. It is our daily bread. Whoever has considered the lilies of the field or the birds of the air and pondered the improbability of their existence in this warm world within the cold and empty stellar distances will hardly balk at the turning of water into wine — which was, after all, a very small miracle. We forget the greater and still continuing miracle by which water (with soil and sunlight) is turned into grapes.”
Our lives are full of the miraculous
It is our daily bread.
It is our daily drink.
But we become caught up in living — we get busy and we forget
the holy in the ordinary
—the presence of God in our everyday
Which is shy we gather here around the table and font —or bath— each week
and hear the promises of God
over bread and wine and water — over ordinary things —
so that we might see again.
That we might see a God who, even unseen and unnoticed
makes in our lives wine from water
life from death
and love from nothing at all.