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20-01-2019 Epiphany 2 – Water into wine?

‘Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.’ 5 His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’

John 2:4-5

But you have kept the good wine until now.’

John 2:10

Something incredible happens in the story of the wedding at Cana in Galilee.

My son who has studied engineering and science for the past 5 years would probably say, Dad, I will tell you what happened, Jesus served up water and they were either too drunk to tell or to polite to complain. He may add, you can’t take water, H2O and turn it into the complex Carbohydrate of alcohol without adding the grapes and allowing time for fermentation. And of course, if you hold up a bottle of fine wine the various scientists would tell us all sorts of details to do with what makes fine wine. The agricultural scientist may explain why the Barossa Valley is ideally situated for wine growing. The chemist and the physicist may help us to understand why we use the bottles we do for wine and the advantage of different types of fermentation and bottling processes. The psychologist will tell us why the label and the music in the shop lead us to believe it is fine wine. The neurologist may explain the inhibitors in the brain that are switched off when we drink alcohol. But even with all that information we may know deep down, “no, something more happened in Cana in Galilee”.

If we are open to the various layers of reading the Scriptures, we will know intuitively that there is more. Anyone who has sat at a table raising a glass to celebrate a wedding, or Christmas, or a birthday already knows that some can raise a glass of water or soft drink or wine, the drink is unimportant. The laughter around the table, the glow in the young couples faces, or the gift giving before the Christmas dinner are all ingredients in that glass of wine. The moment is full of meaning for the family and friends gathered. And in years to come the stories of how the young couple met, or the games the children played with the boxes that presents came in, or later memories of other feasts become ingredients of that glass of wine. The proposed toast calling for glasses to be raised is rich with past, present and future.

At the wedding in Cana, people began to see Jesus for what and who he was. Somehow like the story of the Magi visiting in Matthew’s Gospel there is an epiphany moment. Jesus’ presence was the ingredient in the wine at Cana. He would be remembered as being present, and the events that came much latter became ingredients in the wine at the wedding.

Jesus had said to Mary; my hour has not yet come. He wasn’t suggesting they should wait till 6 pm that night to get more wine. It is not chronological time Jesus is talking about.

David Lose invites us to pay attention to the time: 

But there is another kind of time at play, as well, a royal kind of time, where all that is predictable fades and what emerges in its place is sheer possibility. This is God’s time, and it punctures through the ordinary canvas and clock of our lives at unexpected intervals to reveal a glimpse of the divine. So, when Jesus speaks of his “hour” he isn’t speaking of a time and date on his calendar, he’s talking about the time when God will reveal his glory through his cross, resurrection, and ascension, the time when God will be accessible to all, once and for all.

It’s the third day of the wedding, John says, wanting to grab our attention. And in response, careful readers throughout history have asked, “Wait a minute? Did you just say it was the third day? As in ‘after the third day he was raised from the dead?” That’s right. Because whenever there is need and Jesus is on the scene, resurrection and abundance are right around the corner.


Now to help us explore that God time we need to be honest about our day to day time. I wonder if our familiarity with wine changes our appreciation. If you drink wine four or five nights a week or every evening it too like the water becomes ordinary. If we go shopping every other month and buy ourselves a new shirt or a new pair of shoes even those things become ordinary. If we have cupboards, wardrobes and tool sheds so full our family opt for one present per person at Christmas because no one actually needs anything, even Christmas can become ordinary. So, what are the ingredients that can turn the ordinary into something special may be even divine?

Fasting seems to be trendy these days – it’s power is greater than just health and dieting.

Ironically one way to is when we choose God time is by choosing to go without. One of the beauties of Lent and Advent is the invitation to fast. If we choose to go without wine and chocolate, or to go without meat, we may find the feast at Easter or Christmas becomes very special. Of course, it may be that we are expecting the delights of wine and chocolate and meat to explode in our mouths. We may discover instead that our lives were just as full and even delightful without these things. Many people who have given up sugar in their tea or coffee discover they don’t need sugar. Others who as a family give up watching TV discover that there is more fun in playing games together after dinner.  Going without may heighten the appreciation or make us realise that the imagined wonder is not needed in the wonders of daily life.

Another ingredient that changes ordinary into special is thankfulness. I am not sure how many families still continue to practice of grace before meals. Perhaps if we got into the habit of trotting out the same grace each meal it would be easy to drop it off the schedule. May be if we invite one or two people at the meal table who or what they want to give thanks for our family grace might take on new meaning. My son told me recently that he had listened to a pod cast where a man who loved coffee decided he would say thank you to all involved in making his coffee. It was easy to go to the barista and express thanks and to the person who cleaned the table and then to the folk behind the counter. But he kept going. It wasn’t long before he had thanked a thousand people for making his coffee. The woman who sprayed for vermin in the warehouse said she had never been thanked before. If we slow down enough at mealtimes and other times to thank the people and may be even the animals involved in our meal for their contribution. In that context give thanks to God for all the many blessings. Doing so may sharpen the meaning of grace for us.

A J Jacobs travelled the world to thank all those involved in making his coffee

Now there is another important way we can change the ordinary into the divine and that is by becoming aware of the presence of Christ. I was going to say, by simply becoming aware of Christ presence. In some ways it is simple especially for those who have spent a life time being attuned to Christ presence. But as my example of the engineering and science student breaking everything down to something that can be measured, it is possible to look without seeing, to listen without hearing. Epiphany is by definition the opening of our sense to Christ in our midst.

We can indeed start that by beginning to appreciate some of the science explaining our wonderful glass of wine. We can go further by noticing and giving thanks for the laughter of children playing and the happy couple aglow with love. If we slow down even more, and wonder, where is God in all this? Then we give thanks for the presence of Christ in the warmth of the family gathered, we will be conscious of God’s provision for us in the abundance of food, as we celebrate the presence of Christ in the absence of violence and warfare we will also hold those caught up in violent chaos in our prayers. Slowing down to this depth we begin to see the fingerprint of God the creator in the Chemistry and the Physics, we see the incarnate God in the people around us and we marvel at the joy and laughter of the Holy Spirit making cardboard spaceships with the Children.


So, as we hear again the story of the water turned to wine at Cana in Galilee lets enter into conversation with the scoffers and doubting Thomas’. Let’s see with them the things they see and invite them to see with us the wonders we see. Let’s choose at times to go without. Let’s make a special point of giving thanks. Make grace a special part of each meal. Last but not least look for Jesus at the meal table. The drinking ordinary glass of water will become a moment of divine grace.





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