John 2: 1-12
The miracle of Jesus changing water into wine at the wedding at Cana is a story that I’m sure we all know. It’s such a well known story that even people who can’t remember much else about the gospel story remember that Jesus turned water into wine.
And the author, John, himself tells us that this is the first of the ‘signs’ that reveal Jesus’ glory to his disciples.
As we move on from Christmas and towards Lent & Easter, we are invited by this story to reflect on who Jesus is, and what he has been born to be and to do for the world.
It certainly seems that Jesus wanted the people at the wedding to celebrate – 6 stone jars of 20-30 gallons each totals 120-180 gallons of wine – somewhere around a thousand bottles of wine!
That’s quite a celebration – given that they’ve already drunk their way through whatever had been provided by the bridegroom.
Jesus shows his disciples his extraordinary God-given ability: who else can change water into wine?
But he also demonstrates his generosity - there is so much wine!
And Jesus also displays his grace: God’s free gift of unearned love.
The water is there for religious purification, for special washing – it is there so that people can try to get themselves right with God. But Jesus – who is God come to be with us – turns an ordinary thing for a human ritual into an extraordinary sign that God is at work. It is God’s power, not human effort, that makes the difference in this story
As I thought about those stone jars I realised that if they could hold 20-30 gallons they must be at least the size of a person.
I started wondering - if that’s what difference that power and generosity and grace of Jesus can make to a jar of water, what difference might that power generosity and grace might make to a person?
In other words. What does this story tell us not only about who Jesus is but about what Jesus can do for us?
In a way, John’s gospel already give us that answer – with the next two stories he tells – of the change Jesus brings to Nicodemus and the change he brings to the woman at the well. Both encounter new life in Jesus.
In fact the woman at the well is so changed that the Eastern orthodox church commemorate her as a saint – Saint Photina, which means ‘luminous one’.
Tradition has it that she takes the message of Jesus to all around her so completely that she becomes light for her community.
So what about us?
I’m aware that here you are very involved - with your friends here at St Nicholas – in the lighthouse café.
I’m sure the tea and coffee and cake are excellent – but I’m also sure that what people also find here is a sign of the new life that come in Jesus.
God’s grace is able to change the ‘water’ of the human hospitality you offer into the ‘wine’ of finding something of God’s love, grace, joy and peace in this place.
Perhaps God’s grace in Jesus can mean that as well as running a lighthouse café you can together be a lighthouse – be light for the people around you.
I also see from St Nicholas’ website that an appointment has now been made for a new rector here (although no name has yet been released).
Here too is an opportunity to see what the transformative grace of Jesus can do in the new relationships which will need to be formed.
Can you invite the grace of God to come into your two churches to change any weak, watery relationships into glorious, vigorous wine?
The story of the wedding at Cana shows us something about Jesus’ power, generosity & grace, and it shows us what Jesus can do for us.
I also think that it shows us something of what we are called to do as we follow Jesus.
Jesus responds to a need, very starkly expressed by his mother ‘they have no wine’. There is a danger that the celebrations are all going to grind to a halt. The party needs wine if it is to continue – and Jesus generously provides that wine.
Jesus responds to the need he sees around him.
As followers of Jesus, what are the needs of the people around us to which we need to respond as readily as Jesus does?
The lighthouse café is one way in which you are already trying to hear the needs around and respond to them with generosity and grace.
What else does your community need?
Just this week I visited a very small church – Flavel Church in Dartmouth. It is named after John Flavel, a non-conformist preacher of the 17th century, at a time when such preachers were threatened with imprisonment. Flavel declared that ‘he wished to see every house in Dartmouth a house of prayer’.
One of the members there this week was telling me that even now there is a need for people in Dartmouth to see that worship is a time to meet God, not just an empty ritual.
For Dartmouth there is a need for the water of some people’s low expectations of worship to become the wine of an experience of meeting the living God.
I hope that as the grace of God in Jesus continues to touch each of you here you will become even more aware of the needs of the world around, and ready to be a source of change, generosity and grace,
In Jesus’ name