Sunday 20th January 2019
3rd Sunday of Epiphany
Isaiah Chapter 62 v 1 – 5
1 Corinthians Chapter 12 v 1 – 11
John Chapter 2 v 1 – 11

Maggie Cogan - Reader

We all love a wedding. A joyous and happy occasion and in our Gospel reading today we find Jesus and his disciples along with His mother Mary at a wedding. More than likely everybody who was anybody in the town was there. Now weddings were a little different then than they are now, this wedding would have lasted all week and the host would have been expected to supply everything needed for the festivities. Hospitality was of the utmost importance and running out of wine at a wedding would have been the ultimate no-no. But somehow the wine ran dry and the party was about to be over… or so it seemed.
So we see that when the wine ran out Mary went to Jesus with the problem, and it may sound like he was a little disrespectful but calling her “woman” was actually a term of endearment but nonetheless he asked what it had to do with them. Rightfully it wasn’t His problem that the wine had run out--- in actuality it was the problem of the host, but Mary was putting her faith in Him that the problem would be solved.
Now I’m not sure if Mary knew that Jesus was going to perform a miracle or if she thought He might go out and have some more wine delivered. I do know this----- she had faith that He would do whatever was needed. The first miracle of Jesus that is recorded isn’t even known by many, just the servants and the disciples knew, but it allowed them to believe and have faith in the greater things that were to come.
So the servants did as Jesus asked and filled these big pots to the brim and He simply told them to draw some out and take it to the head waiter. Nothing special, no magic words or waving His hands, just fill them up and draw some out. The head steward was astounded at the taste and quality of the wine and commended the host on saving the best for last. How generous that he would serve the best wine at the end. Normally the party would start out with a Dom Perignon and end with a Tesco cheapy.
Jesus gave them the good stuff, some of the best wine that they had ever tasted. Would you expect anything less from the True Vine? Jesus took ordinary water and turned it into extraordinary wine. He made something good out of nothing.
“They have no wine.”
With those words Mary speaks a truth about our lives, a truth that at some point we all experience. There comes a day when the wine gives out. The glass is empty. The party is over. On that day life seems empty and dry. There is no vibrancy or vitality. Nothing is growing or fermenting within us. Our world is colourless and tasteless. The bouquet of life is absent and we are living less than fully alive.
Mary’s words hold before us some serious questions and wonderings. Where has the wine of our life given out? What relationships have run dry? What parts of us remain empty?
Each one of us could tell a story about the day the wine gave out. It might be about the death of a loved one or the loss of a friendship or marriage. Some will speak about their search for love and acceptance. Some will describe their thirst for meaning and significance. Others will tell of their guilt, disappointments, or regrets. Many of the stories will be about fear of what is or what might be. Stories of failure and self-doubt abound. Some will describe a longing and desire for something they cannot name or describe. The storyline of unanswered prayer, doubts, or questions is known by most. They are not all stories from the past, however. Some of us are living those stories today.
Behind each of our stories is the hope and desire for a wedding of our life. We come to the wedding at Cana not simply as guests and spectators, but as participants, as a bride or groom, seeking union, intimacy, and wholeness.
Despite our best efforts, good intentions, and hard work, however, it seems that the wine of our life is always giving out. No matter how often we refill it our glass remains empty. There is never enough wine. As the day wears on we become increasingly aware that we cannot replenish the wine from our own resources.
That day seems like a disaster, an embarrassment, a failure. That must have been what it was like for the bride and groom at the wedding in Cana. “They have no wine,” Mary tells Jesus. That is not a condemnation or judgment but simply an observation, a diagnosis.
This is not about the wine but about the people. It is a statement about the human condition. It is about you and me as much as it is about the wedding in Cana of Galilee. It is, if you will pardon the pun, a spiritual condition. It is about our inner life, our way of being, more than the circumstances outside us.
Too often we live with the illusion of our own self-sufficiency. That illusion is shattered on the day the wine runs out and the jars of our life stand empty and dry. That day confronts us with a new truth as old as creation itself. We are the recipients and not the creators of our life. We were never intended nor expected to live by the sufficiency of our own resources. Christ is the true vintner and chief steward of our lives.
Regardless of how it feels or what we think about it, the day the wine runs out is the beginning of a miracle. Christ does not simply refill our glasses. He transforms our lives, turning water into wine. It is, after all, the third day, the day of resurrection and new life. That which was colourless is now vibrant red. That which had no taste now tingles the tongue. That which had no fragrance now has a full bouquet. That which had no life is now fermenting, active, and alive.
On the third day our lives are filled to the brim with the good wine; intoxicating us with the life of God, inebriating us with the blood of Christ, and leaving us under the influence of the Holy Spirit. That’s the miracle at Cana and it has never ceased happening. Every moment of every day Christ pours himself into the empty jars of our life. He is the good wine; extravagant, abundant, endless.
Every time that good wine is poured our lives are changed and transformed. We are brought “out of error into truth, out of sin into righteousness, out of death into life.”
We have all experienced moments when death is turned into life, sorrow into joy, and despair into hope. We have seen that happen in the lives of others. We have been surprised by fear that was transformed into courage and seen people do things they never thought possible. We have watched empty lives be filled back up. I’m sure we have know of broken marriages that became vibrant and life-giving.
Those and a thousand others like them are the miracles of Cana. Those are moments Christ’s glory is revealed and we are illumined, shining with the radiance of his glory. His glory becomes ours, two lives one glory.
“They have no wine,” Mary said. But they will. The miracle always begins when the wine gives out
We all need the new wine that Jesus gives but the problem is we can’t pour new wine into old wineskins so before we can be filled with the good stuff we need to become new and when we become a new creature then we can be filled to the brim with New Wine. When we reach the bottom of the barrel so to speak and are out of wine we need to call on Jesus and let Him fill us He can take the ordinary and make something extraordinary out of it, but we have got to trust Him, we have got to ask Him. We need to be touched by the master’s hand.
I want to read you a poem by Myra Brooks Welch called “The Touch of the Master’s hand”
'Twas battered and scarred, and the auctioneer thought it scarcely worth his while
To waste much time on the old violin, But held it up with a smile:
"What am I bidden, good folks," he cried, "Who'll start the bidding for me?"
"A pound, a pound"; then, "Two!" "Only two? Two pounds, and who'll make it three?
Three pounds, once; three pounds, twice; Going for three----" But no,
From the room, far back, a grey-haired man Came forward and picked up the bow;
Then, wiping the dust from the old violin, and tightening the loose strings,
He played a melody pure and sweet as a carolling angel sings.
The music ceased, and the auctioneer, with a voice that was quiet and low,
Said: "What am I bid for the old violin?" And he held it up with the bow.
"A thousand pounds, and who'll make it two? Two thousand! And who'll make it three?
Three thousand, once, three thousand, twice, and going, and gone," said he.
The people cheered, but some of them cried, “We do not quite understand what changed its worth." Swift came the reply: "The touch of a master's hand."
And many a man with life out of tune, and battered and scarred with sin,
is auctioned cheap to the thoughtless crowd, much like the old violin.
A "mess of pottage," a glass of wine; a game--and he travels on –
He is "going" once, and "going" twice, He’s "going" and almost "gone."
But the Master comes, and the foolish crowd never can quite understand
The worth of a soul and the change that's wrought by the touch of the Master's hand.
Jesus touches a wedding and lifts it not just with the miracle but also with His presence, He took something ordinary and made it extraordinary. He takes a fisherman named Peter and transforms Him into a great leader and speaker. He took an ordinary young man named Billy Graham and turned him into an extraordinary evangelist, He took a young, frail frightened girl named Teresa and transformed her into the extraordinary woman we know as Mother Teresa.
All we have to do is call on Him and be touched by the Masters hand and we will see that He takes something plain and ordinary and makes it extraordinary. If Jesus can turn the water into wine He can certainly turn the sinner into a saint. Illuminating all the dark places of our hearts