Dear Friends in Christ, grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Having officiated at over 200 weddings at Lake of the Isles in the past 11 years, I can share one word of truth every bride and groom: There is no such thing as a “perfect” wedding—you’ll never be able to control every single aspect of how the day unfolds, including your parents’ emotions, the tone of the best man’s speech, the preparation of the food, the snarky attitude of the servers and the behavior of your second cousin once removed. Even the most organized and well-coordinated events encounter a few bumps in the road. Which is why the story of the Wedding at Cana has such a wonderful, universal appeal.
The drama in Cana when the urgent mother of Jesus, Mary announced to her son, “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.” No more wine at a wedding would have sent shock waves through the banqueting hall. After all, good Rabbis had always taught, “Where there is no wine, there is no joy.” It was a terrible thing to happen in a culture where hospitality was treasured. The wedding festivities often went on for a week, and the miscalculation of wine would have been viewed as a bad omen for the new couple and an embarrassment to their families.
Scripture doesn’t say why Mary felt that this was her personal concern, but she completely ignored Jesus’ reluctance and told the servants to do whatever he said. It was hard to know what she expected of Jesus, probably not a miracle. After all the evangelist St. John ends this story with the note that this was first of Jesus’ miracle. The servants in Cana must have thought that Jesus’ instruction was odd, after all, water was never served as an alternative to wine-especially at a wedding. Frankly, only in recent times has water been fit for general human consumption. Water in the ancient world was often dismissed for its smell and taste. Still the servant did as Jesus told them and filled the huge clay jars with water. To make matters worse, some poor servant had to take some of this water to the master of the banquet in a cup to drink. The steward they feared would cringe at best, and spit it back in servant’s face at his worst. It was a futile insane act, surely? But that’s not how the story unfolded.
The steward was surprised, not simply because he didn’t know where the wine came from, though the servants knew, but he was surprised by its quality and that it had been saved for last. He turned to the bridegroom and said, “Every one serves the good wine first; and when guests have drunk freely, then the poor wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.”
My friends, the wedding was not perfect. There was drama and anxious hand wringing, but St. John would reveal to us that when the grace of God comes to those in need, there is not just an adequate supply but an abundance. Jesus turned 6 stone jars of ordinary water into 120 bottles of wine. It was a reminder that there is no human or physical need that can exhaust the amazing and joyful grace of God.
So what should we conclude from the miracle at the wedding in Cana? Is it merely the story of Jesus coming to save the day? Or is it something more? Let me share with three convictions for those who welcome Jesus as a guest into the marriage and into their homes.
First of all, the story of the Wedding of Cana teaches us that God loves and continuously blesses his imperfect children. The human family is important to God and so is marriage. God want to be involved in your life, in your love and in your marriage, to help make it- not perfect- but joyous. That is at the heart of the story of the Wedding at Cana. He is there as the unseen guest who is prepared to do what needs to be done. God knows that there will be unfulfilled dreams in marriage. There will be moments when couples will disappoint each other, but let me assure you, God will not disappoint you. Tragically, people often complain that God is absent when the disasters of life enter in. My friends, Jesus cannot change your life if you do not let him in. This is my simple counsel for couples preparing for their life together, and it is true for you as well, from the very beginning welcome Christ as a guest into your life and into you home.
The story of the wedding at Cana also reminds us of a second truth, that love, especially in marriage, is work. Young couples preparing for marriage often live with romantic myths of love and life. Once you find the perfect person, everything will work out. That is almost as flawed as the notion of a perfect wedding. A. Peterson writes, “Most people live life and get married believing a myth – that marriage is a beautiful box full of all the things that they have longed for – companionship, sexual fulfillment, intimacy, friendship. The truth is that marriage like life, at the start is an empty box. You must put something in before you can take anything out. People have to work to infuse love into their marriages. A couple must learn the art and form and habit of giving, loving, serving, praising – keeping the box full.” Disappointment occurs when the husband and wife discover that neither has been putting anything in. The math is simple; if you take out more than you put in, the box will become empty. Before the moments occur, it is important to remember that you must be like the servants. You must work by filling the empty jars to the brim now.
Whenever Jesus enters into a person’s life he can turn the imperfect perfect. It is a deep, spiritual truth to begin love and marriage. Jesus has the ability to transform ordinary things into extra ordinary things. If he can change water into wine, he can change lives that are incomplete into lives that are whole. Yes, in Jesus’ transforming hands he can take broken lives and strained marriages into a healthy, life-giving relationships again. But work will be needed.
And that leads to the final truth, with Christ as the unseen guest in love and marriage, and with hard work, the best is always yet to come. Without the presence of Jesus in our lives they are often stale, flat and uninteresting. But with Jesus, life becomes colorful, sparkling and exciting. He can transform ordinary love into something wonderful and divine. For if Jesus can turn earthen jars and ordinary water into the finest wine, what can he do with your life which is even more precious in his sight?
My friends, God is performing miracles every day, but don’t be surprised if you don’t see his mysterious hand. The bride and groom themselves were unaware of the miracle performed to make their wedding perfect. Even now, God is bringing a message of hope and love to desperate and broken lives. That is his promise for love, and life and marriage. And with Jesus, the best is always yet to come. Amen.
May the peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen