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Sunday message: Abundance at a wedding

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Third Sunday of Epiphany – January 20, 2019

Scripture readings: 

Isaiah 62:1-5, Psalm 36:5-10, John 2:1-11

I’m pretty sure most everyone in this sanctuary has been at a wedding sometime in their life. One bonus in being a minister is that I get to share in a lot of weddings. Weddings are joyous and happy times. In 2017, in Winnipeg, our son got married to the love of his life. The first thing that struck me was the abundance at the wedding. At first I felt a tinge apprehension about such generous abundance, and an open bar, until it dawned upon me again that weddings are the one place where hospitality abounds. Generosity is what it’s all about. 

The wedding at Cana, where Jesus changed water into wine, was no exception. This whole sign of abundant wine was an expression of God’s abundance.

It is remarkable that Jesus’ first sign according the gospel of John, happens at a wedding. Weddings of are the place where life starts. They are the beginnings of joy, potentially of children, of life overflowing. God gave the act of marrying to humans so that two human beings could find fulfillment in one another. Finding one’s soulmate of commitment, be it same-sex or opposite-sex, is the beginning of reaching a place of contentment. 

In our human condition we do manage to reach our limits, limits in contentment, limits in supplies. At Cana Jesus’ mother Mary informed Him “they’re just about out of wine.”

Then the water pots returned and it was discovered that it wasn’t water, but wine, the best wine. The steward tasted it and his whole face lit up. It wasn’t water anymore. It was wine. What’s more, not just a common, garden-variety wine either. With eyes as big as saucers, the steward said: “Everybody I know begins with their finest wines and after the guests have had their fill brings in the cheap stuff. But you’ve saved the best till now!”

This is a story of much deeper meanings than are on the surface. What if we read it on a metaphoric level and not merely on a story level? Every gesture, every detail seems to suggest a meaning beyond the obvious. You may remember how the scriptures so often describe in metaphors of God’s relationship with God’s people as a relationship of God being the groom and us as believers being the bride.

Yes, Jesus was at the wedding. He came to share life with people. He entered into their daily lives. He wept at their funerals and rejoiced with them at their weddings. He was perfectly at home at a wedding feast. He wasn’t a stiff or stuffy spoilsport. He enjoyed sharing in the happy occasions. He would enjoy a cup of wine.

He went that day, not to perform a miracle, but simply to be with friends. We all need friends who share with us in life’s sorrows and joys. Jesus needed their friendship and they needed a friend like Jesus. Jesus put great emphasis upon friendship. He ministered to his friends and was ministered to by them.

Let’s get back to that crucial line…“Jesus’ mother told him, “They’re just about out of wine.” Sometimes the wine runs out for all of us. We face shortages in life—a shortage of courage, of wisdom, of strength, or of faith.

Earlier on in this gospel we hear, according to The Message translation: “We all live off Jesus’ generous bounty, gift after gift after gift (grace upon grace, as the NRSV puts it). We got the basics from Moses, and then this exuberant giving and receiving, this endless knowing and understanding—all this came through Jesus, the Messiah.”

No wonder we hear specifically this first sign that Jesus did at this wedding that took place at Cana! This is where we get a glimpse of what grace upon grace tastes like. It tastes like the best wine, more than you could possibly want or drink, when you least expect it. It is a sign of promise, because the best is saved for last. It certainly is over-the-top abundance, six jars, roughly anything between 70 and 120 litres in volume, filled to the brim. A modern day research of wine barrel capacity would yield that this much gets close to a thousand bottles of wine. 

Likewise, no need on earth can exhaust the grace of God. There is superabundance in the grace of Jesus Christ. Grace always does way more than expected.

Friends, believe it or not, the best truly is yet to come. Let’s remove our limiting thinking and open up our expectations. Let’s have some forward-thinking optimism. 

This year is Dayspring’s jubilee anniversary, 50 years old, a year for joy and celebration. Yes, the best is yet to come. We can let loose all we can to experience a wonderful time of exuberance as well as reconnecting with some friends from days gone by. 

When we cast our vision for what we can do, let us trust the goodness and grace of God to do those things that we would expect the least. It is not made, done or imagined by humans, because if it were, there would be many limitations. We would run out of ideas and out of vigour. 

Jesus is the source of abundance because He is the Son of God who made the universe. Above all, Jesus is God in human flesh, God become real in our every day world, as we live it.

What an appropriate place to find abundance! To find abundance at a wedding is to get a taste of grace upon grace — more than we can ever expect.

 

Copyright 2019 – Heinrich Grosskopf, Minister of Dayspring Presbyterian Church

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