Saturday, January 16, 2016

Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016

John 2:1-9a

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 he did not know where it had come from … .

Earth crammed with heaven

I like this story. I think it should be read to customers in the wine aisles at Binny's.

It must have been some party. Jesus comes to a wedding and makes 180 gallons of wine; that’s 900 bottles of wine for you and me, which is just enough to supply a first century Jewish wedding, most of which lasted about a week.

I recall my first visit to Namibia in southern Africa. I got to my host’s home the day he returned 200 miles from a wedding. He drove there; others walked or hitched rides. “How was it?” I asked.

“Wonderful,” he answered. “It was a six cow wedding.”

“Six cows?” Yes, he said. “That’s how many it took to feed the guests for more than a week.”

I have never been to a six cow wedding, but I have been to some wonderful wedding celebrations.
Weddings are times for joy to breathe, for feet to dance and for hearts to put away their fears. Two people are joined as one, and we gather to celebrate the love that brings people together. We let go of our worries, drink and dance, and feel the joy that comes from knowing that life goes on and the future still holds hope.

Jesus shows up to do more than give his blessing to marriage. Marriage is a sign of what he is, a sign that opens our eyes to the world that is always more than it appears to be.

Jesus is the sign of the marriage of heaven with earth. In Jesus the heart of God is married, united with human flesh. Heaven and earth, God and creation are not two, not separated, but are inseparably joined.

God can no longer be thought of as just ‘out there,’ and heaven is no longer something ‘after this.’ God is here and the stuff of heaven is present in the messiness of our lives and experiences.

The poet Elizabeth Barret Browning captures this well:
“Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God,
But only he who sees takes off his shoes … .

This opens our eyes to see that the world is the hiding place and the revelation of God. God comes disguised as our life. And if we take off our running shoes and look at it for a while, we may see that even hard times and difficult moments are shot through with beauty and grace, love and hope. And wherever there is love and hope, grace and beauty, Christ is real and present.

“I am with you always,” Jesus says, and he means exactly this … always, in the best and worst of it.

The life of any one of us is messier than those looking on can imagine. But our lives, however messy and mixed-up, are laced with the grace of friendship, the laughter of shared moments and beauty that lift us beyond the troubles of any given moment.

Earth is crammed with heaven. The Holy Presence fills common everyday moments. God can find us anywhere at any time and make us glad to be alive through the colors of a sunset or the smile of a friend.

I sit looking out the window and a patch of blue appears amid the gray of a January sky, and I am filled with the wonder of light, the beauty of a single moment that is afire with God.

Pr. David L. Miller

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