Sunday, January 20, 2013
What concern is that to you or to me?
John 2: 1-11, NT 93 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. Sermon It’s a very particular relationship that mothers and their children have; there’s a depth that isn’t always obvious, but you can tell by the way mothers and their children communicate that this relationship often runs deeper than any other. “You look tiered Cathy,” my grandmother would say to my mother, and while, upon hearing this statement I might have gone upstairs to take a nap, every single time I ever heard my grandmother say “you look tiered Cathy” to my mother, my mother would always turn around and go upstairs to put on more make-up. You might say mothers are tactful, but their children hear them loud and clear. “So that’s what you’re going to wear.” It’s not a command to go and change your outfit, but it is. If a mother says to a daughter: “I’ve never seen anyone cook rice that way,” it might sound sort of like a compliment but I assure you it is not. Or the one that always works on me: “I know how busy you are.” As soon as I hear those words I can anticipate the level of guilt trip that’s coming next so most of the time I just say, “We’ll come, we’ll come” before I even know what I’m agreeing my family to attend. Of course it doesn’t always work. This week a young mother in Hobby Lobby told her daughter, “Now sit quietly on this bench while I check out,” and I assume that is exactly what she meant, but the fire alarm still ended up being pulled. However, when Mary says to Jesus, “They have no wine” I am confident he knew just what she meant for him to do. It’s a statement; not a request, not a question, not a suggestion, not even clearly having anything to do with Jesus, but this son knows exactly what his mother means when she says, “They have no more wine” because sons know their mothers and mothers know their sons. The servants on the other hand – they understood what Mary was saying to Jesus about as well as you husbands can understand it when your wife storms out of the room because her mother just asked if there was going to be room for a house-keeper in next year’s budget. Jesus and Mary are communicating the way mothers and their children communicate – they hear each other just fine, but everyone else is left in the dark as to what exactly is going on and what happens next makes it only more mysterious. “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. These servants may have thought they knew what was about to happen. The wine is gone, the guests have had plenty, so before someone does something that they’re going to regret this Jewish mother has convinced her son to sober these people up, give them a nice cold dip in the purification jars before they go home. That’s what these jars were for – we’ve heard the story so often that we forget that gigantic stone jars were used for anything else besides turning water into wine, but when Jesus calls for the stone water jars used for the Jewish rites of purification the servants would have assumed that Christ was going to get everybody washed off and right with God, make them all once again ritually pure after a night of eating and drinking. “They have no more wine,” the savants hear Mary say to her son, and what I am sure they thought she was saying was, “before they find any more to drink, see if you can’t baptize a few of them.” But, once the jars are full and ready for their intended purpose of making people ritually clean, just when we expect Jesus to go on with the purification ritual – clean the party goers, call them to repent of their drunkenness then baptize them, what happens instead is - what was once water becomes wine – and the party goes on, and the reputation of the bride and her groom are saved. In the gospel of John Jesus shows us who he is by being an instrumental part of something I had always assumed he wasn’t much in favor of – it makes more sense that he would be about supplying the Bibles at the Bible study and the prayer list for the prayer meeting – not the wine at the wedding feast. The wine runs out and Jesus asks the important question: “what concern is that to you and to me?” and you have to wonder – what concern is wine to Jesus? But his concerns, to some degree or another are your concerns, and that is something that is often hard to believe. That he would care about a bridegroom so much as to save him from the embarrassment of running out of wine. That he would care so much about his mother, as to do what she asks even when he doesn’t want to. This love is shocking – but it is only the beginning, for he will love you so much as to give his life to convince you that you are precious in his sight. Our first scripture lesson for this morning came from the Bible’s great book of love poetry. Many times great figures in the church have wondered whether or not this book was truly appropriate for the Bible, whether or not the Song of Solomon was fitting of scripture. Over time the explanation for its inclusion became: the Song of Solomon is love poetry, and captured here in the love between two people madly in love, we see the love that Christ has for his church. “Set me as a seal upon your heart,” a young man says to his love, but hear Christ saying it to you: “set me as a seal upon your arm, for love is as strong as death, passion fierce as the grave.” This poem fits him – and his love for you is not only as strong as death – after three days he rose again from the grace to prove that his love for you is even stronger. In this first miracle from the Gospel of John – see him for who he is and what exactly it is that he came to do – to be with you, wherever you are; to care for you and to take seriously your worries, your fears, your hopes and your dreams. “What concern is that to you and to me?” In this question is every voice that lacks concern, fails to comfort, and can’t understand. But as the water turns to wine – there is God’s empathy – there is the creator of the universe making your struggles his own. Thanks be to God. Amen.