Water and Wine

Faith From the Margins to the Web Bible Study

2nd Sunday after the Epiphany, Year C:

Opening Prayer:

Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ is the light of the world: Grant that your people, illumined by your Word and Sacraments, may shine with the radiance of Christ’s glory, that he may be known, worshipped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

John 2:1-11

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.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it. When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.” Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

Faith from the Margins to the Web Bible Study Group

This week, we continue our exploration into the ways that the Gospel lessons of the Sundays after the Epiphany reveal to us something about the nature and person of Jesus.

Jamillah read the Gospel lesson of Jesus’ first miracle at the Wedding at Cana aloud to the group.

“Well, this passage tells us that Jesus obeyed his mother!” said Beth, which created some some good natured laughter among the group.

Jamillah said, “Well, he’s still showing examples of how he is not inferior, how he is showing people examples of how he is human, not some holy God who demands attention.

“A normal and regular person” said David, “Jesus is trying to show us that he is like us, that he needs to help give us a lesson that just like us, he is human with a family and he has challenges and he has to decide who to listen to.  Yeah, that’s what I’m getting: challenges.  Trying to decide who to listen to is a challenge that we all have.”

“In the Gospels, this is the first miracle of Jesus” I added, “and it’s always stood out to me that the first miracle was at a very human event, a wedding…something that crosses cultures and brings us joy.”

“And he didn’t stand up on stage and do it” said Beth, “he just did it quietly.”

“Isn’t it from a human standpoint that he made the water turn into wine?” asked Jamillah.  “When I think about that, it was like Jesus who was a human knew, ‘I need to do something from a human standpoint’ and to show people a sign that is something they can see, which was the wine.”

“And that water and that wine, it goes back even to Moses” said David.  “You know, remember that story where Moses strikes the rock because the people, they demanded for him to give them water.  And he begs God, and gets angry and strikes the rock and then all that water flows.  Now, it’s water into wine.”

The group began to talk about this, and wondered about water and wine and the symbolism, in the Old and the New Testaments.  As a newly ordained Deacon, I couldn’t help but share with the group about what this Gospel lesson brings up for me:

“You know, I know that many of you have different churches you go to on Sunday and that customs might be different from place to place.  But here, when I serve as a deacon, one of my jobs is to set the table for communion.  And when I’m doing that, I prepare, as you would when you have guests.  Holy communion is a holy meal.  The way we have a tradition of serving that meal in the Episcopal Church is to use a common cup.  So, when I am setting the table and I pour the wine into that cup, we always add a little bit of water.  That’s a symbolic action, not a magic trick.  It reminds us that in this holy meal, there is all this symbolism around the bread and the wine.  But, this is one of the stories that I think about when I’m setting the table, and the way that Jesus was also preparing that holy feast for the wedding guests but giving us a symbol, too, of that wine which becomes for us the blood of Christ.”

“Thank you for that!” said Dale.  “I didn’t know any of that and it gives me a whole different perspective!”

Jesus: obedient to requests made in love, understanding our human joys and longings, preparer of the gift of love for all humanity.

img_4718

Photo of stained glass window of the Wedding at Cana from St. Mark’s, Berkeley CA