Dear Friends in Christ, grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
In Hollywood, a good comedy always ends in marriage—and I would add that a good marriage should always be full of comedy. Whether you are the bride or groom, a best man or maid of honor, or simply the sort of friend or relative who can’t resist the chance to speak your heart and mind, the greatest gift you can bring to any wedding is a bit of comic relief. Here are a few examples.
Did you hear about the two spiders who just got engaged? I hear they met on the web. Did you hear about the bald man who married his comb? He promised, “I’ll never part with it!” Ladies and gentlemen, it’s been a very emotional day. Even the cake is in tiers. It’s been ten years since the invisible man married the invisible woman. Their kids are nothing to look at either. Do you know why the King of Hearts married the Queen of Hearts? They were perfectly suited to each other. So why it so important to laugh at a wedding? Because inevitably something will always go wrong.
Having performed over 150 wedding here at Lake of the Isles over the past 10 years, I have experienced first-hand the most common challenges. 1, Someone will be ill. If nothing else, Covid has taught us, that weddings still can go on even without the full wedding guest list. 2. A few people will be late – and this generally means the wedding party. I once had a bus travel to the wrong hotel to pick up the groom’s family making them a half an hour late for the wedding. The bride’s family was not pleased. 3. You will forget something at home. As long as it isn’t your marriage license, it probably won’t be something you absolutely need. 4. Something or someone will mess up a few photos. The birds may not love seeing you and your partner on their lawn. 5. Expect the unexpected. The most dramatic and memorable event for me was the bride who fainted before I even pronounced them husband and wife. 6.. Children will cause a bit of a ruckus. If young kids will be in attendance at your wedding, you’re going to hear some whining, crying, and loud laughter throughout your event. 7. Guests will bicker at one another – or perhaps even you. Some family members and friends may take the opportunity to air their grievances with one another at the wedding. One time they did it right outside my office door before the wedding even began. 8. You may receive the wrong décor, food, etc. Even if you end up with the wrong shape of wedding cake or roses instead of peonies, remember, you’re still going to be married to the love of your life at the end of the day
Yes, something always seems to go wrong at a wedding. In our reading this morning from St. John’s gospel something went wrong even at a wedding where Jesus was in attendance. Presumably, nothing went wrong with the wedding service, but it did at the reception afterward. They ran out of wine. And that was a terrible thing to happen at a Jewish wedding in the first century. It would have been viewed as a bad omen for the new couple. It would have been terribly embarrassing to the families involved in hosting. The wedding festivities often went on for a week in their tradition, and running out of wine, the ancient world’s very symbol of joy, would have been remembered by their guests and their families for the rest of the bride and groom’s married life- just as much as a not enough wedding cake being served or forgetting to send out thank you notes is remembered today.
Scripture doesn’t tell us why the wine ran out. We’re not told that they didn’t plan far enough ahead, or that they underestimated. It could be that more guests came to celebrate the marriage than they expected, or perhaps that it was better wine than they were accustomed to, or that the celebration was even merrier than anticipated. We simply read that the wine ran out.
And isn’t that exactly how disappointment often enters our lives, like the challenges of the wedding day. It is simply unexpected, and there is no provision that will hinder its coming. We plan and trust that life will be fair, and that it will unfold as intended. But disasters come just the same demanding more than our own strength. We don’t expect that sickness will impact our lives, or that a layoff at work will cause the roof over our heads to tumble. No one expected that the wine would run dry, but it did. And its implications and innuendos were quickly evident.
So in the story, Mary turned to Jesus and told him that they were running out of wine and that he should do something about it. Jesus responded to his mother that it was not his time or place to do anything. But nonetheless, Mary instructed the servants to do whatever Jesus said. He then told them to fill the stone jars with water. This was no simple task. Each one of the six jars held 20-30 gallons of water, and 180 gallons of water was a heavy, time-consuming task. But the servants did as they were told. God used their patience and their labor to do an amazing thing. And then when their heavy task was done, Jesus told them to take some of the contents of the jars to the chief steward. The steward, questioningly, and obligingly tasted the wine and was stunned. How could the groom and his family have overlooked such a fine wine, after all, everybody always served the good wine first?
Surprisingly, the Wedding at Cana truly is the most un-miraculous of miracle stories. Jesus doesn’t stand over the water jars making a grand show of transforming the water into wine. Jesus doesn’t draw attention to himself in any way. In fact, the only people that even know this miracle has happened were the servants that carried all that water, and presumably Jesus’ disciples. Most of the people at the wedding didn’t even realize a miracle had happened. They just went on eating and drinking. A miracle had occurred, disaster avoided, and majority of the guests at the wedding were all the merrier, but completely unaware. Frankly not much has changed in the world. Many people still fail to see the miracles in life.
My friends, God is performing miracles every day, but don’t be surprised if you can’t see God’s mysterious hand. The bride and groom themselves were unaware of the miracle Jesus performed. He used nothing more than water and hard work to do save an unredeemable and embarrassing situation. That is our hope when challenges arise in our lives as well. Jesus is active in our patience and labor even if we are unaware.
A family was driving home after church one Sunday when the father asked his young son what he had learned about in Sunday School. The boy replied that they had learned the story about Jesus turning water into wine at a wedding. And the father said that was nice that the boy had heard a new story, but he pushed him a little further and he asked him what he had learned from the story, not just what the story was about. The little boy thought for a minute before answering his father, and then he said simply, “Well, I learned that if you’re going to have a wedding, you need to make sure Jesus is there!”
It’s an important consideration for brides and grooms as they prepare for their wedding day. “If you’re going to do anything, you need to make sure Jesus is there.” Something inevitably goes wrong at a wedding. It is just as true for life. We don’t anticipate the hardships and challenges that come our way. So look instead at the comedy and joy of your wedding day and the life you have new started . And if you’re attentive to what’s going on, you might just see a miracle. For when Christ is present in your love, in your life, and in your marriage, the best he brings is never far away. Amen.
May the peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen