DRAWING WATER FROM THE WELL

“For with you is the well of life, and in your light, we see light”. (Psalm 36:9)

Several things about the narrative of Jesus turning water into wine at a wedding are remarkable. Jesus’ mother and Jesus ‘disciples were invited to this wedding. And, it appears that the feast has been going on for quite some time, because they run out of wine, not such a good thing to do at a wedding reception, at least not according to Mary, the mother of Jesus who convinces Jesus to perform his first miracle in Cana of Galilee. And, as we heard the Gospel read this morning, Mary tells the servers to do whatever her son tells them to do. So, Jesus reluctantly tells the servants to fill up six big stone water-pots to the brim with water. He then tells them to draw some out and take it to the head steward. (John 2:1-11)

These 6 water pots were used for rites or customs of purification, the washing of hands, feet and tableware. Each stone water pot contained 2 or 3 “firkin” of water. One Jewish ‘firkin’ is @ 9 gallons, so each pot contained between 18 to 27 gallons, for a total of 100 to 150 gallons of wine, which in weight would be close to a ton. That’s a lot of wine for a party. And, that’s after all the other wine for the feast was depleted. Before we make an assumption that there were a lot of heavily intoxicated people we need to consider the context of this passage.

It is true that when the servers brought the new wine to the head Steward he told the bridegroom: “The customary thing is to give out the best wine at the beginning of the feast, and then when people are drunk to give out the less expensive wine. However, you have brought out the best wine now”. The Marriage Feast (or what we would call a reception) lasted seven days, and then whatever was left over, including the wine went to the bridegroom’s family. If you notice in the passage that after Jesus told the servers to fill-up the water pots to the brim with water, he then told them to pour out some and take it to the head steward. It’s possible that the water became wine as it was poured from the water-pot, so that each poured container became wine as it was needed. However, the miracle happened, the disciples thought it was pretty cool, and I’m sure it left the bridegroom completely freaked out.

Another thing I notice is how this story is in keeping with doing things differently than people are used to. Jesus makes statements like “the first will be last and the last will be first”. Remember the story Jesus tells about the man that hires workers for his fields in the morning for a certain guaranteed amount of money, and at different parts of the day and even at the end of the day more workers are hired for the same amount of pay as the workers that had worked throughout the entire day. It just seems reasonable that they should get paid less. But, they get the best part of the deal at the end of the day. It just doesn’t seem right, but Jesus uses these examples to teach us. (Matthew 20:1-15) “Here it is again, the Great Reversal: many of the first ending up last, and the last first.” (Matthew 20:16 MSG)

On Maundy Thursday we recall the last supper and when Jesus took a towel and begin to wash his disciple’s feet. Peter was quite upset. He said to Jesus: “No you are not going to wash my feet. That’s what we have servants for”. Jesus responded, “I have to in order for you to be clean”, (a reference to one of the purification rites that water is used for mentioned in the marriage story in Cana of Galilee) (John 13:1-17) Here again Jesus is instructing his disciples that the first will be last and the last first. “The Son of Man did not come to be serve, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many”. (Mark 10:45)

Jesus saved the good wine until last. Remember the parable about that Jesus told about old and new wineskins. He said that you cannot put new wine into old wineskins, because the old wineskins would burst. You must put new wine into new wineskins. (Luke 5:36-39) In our first reading this morning from 1 Corinthians we read that there are different gifts, but the same Spirit, varieties of ways we get involved in serving our God, each other and those outside of the church, but we all serve the same God. And we are involved in many different activities, but it is the same Spirit that activates all of them in everyone. (1 Corinthians 12:1-11)

Another symbol for the Spirit in the Bible is New Wine. On our journey toward the New Jerusalem, or the Heavenly City, also referred to as Paradise or Heaven, and on our journey in the church and in our united mission in the world, we are called out together, but we are also called individually. We are the church. We are united by the same Spirit, but we all have different parts to play in the church and in ministry. In our individual roles we all have “charismas” or “grace gifts” and things to do that are different from one another. None of us are the same. And, the new wine that is poured into these “charismas” keeps coming, every day.

Each day we can crawl out of bed and say along with the psalmist: “This is a new day. We will be glad and rejoice in it. This is the day that the Lord has made” (Psalm 118:24) This journey and the New Wine for the journey just keeps getting better and better. The Chief Steward said to the bridegroom at the wedding in Cana, “Most people serve the best wine in the beginning, and then the cheaper wine comes out later”. But in our walk with Christ the good wine keeps coming and it always keeps getting better. Our walk with God matures, just as good wine matures with age, even so as we grow older and mature, we gain, wisdom, knowledge and understanding.“And, no one who has ever tasted fine aged wine prefers unaged wine.” (Luke 5:39, MSG)

May we learn from our teacher, the one who turns the water into wine.

“For with you is the well of life, and in your light, we see light”. (Psalm 36:9)

Amen

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