words are not enough but they are all I have - and some photos
Friday, 18 January 2013
Time, gentle man?
John 2:1-11 - Marriage Feast of Cana
There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee. The mother of Jesus was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited. When they ran out of wine, since the wine provided for the wedding was all finished, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ Jesus said ‘Woman, why turn to me? My hour has not come yet.’ His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ There were six stone water jars standing there, meant for the ablutions that are customary among the Jews: each could hold twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, ‘Fill the jars with water’, and they filled them to the brim. ‘Draw some out now’ he told them ‘and take it to the steward.’ They did this; the steward tasted the water, and it had turned into wine. Having no idea where it came from – only the servants who had drawn the water knew – the steward called the bridegroom and said; ‘People generally serve the best wine first, and keep the cheaper sort till the guests have had plenty to drink; but you have kept the best wine till now.’
This was the first of the signs given by Jesus: it was given at Cana in Galilee. He let his glory be seen, and his disciples believed in him.
Sometimes words are just not enough; I would love to have been there when Jesus ‘rebuked’ his mother: the body language, the exchanged glances. Mary’s head held high as she goes over and speaks to the servants gesturing back to her son ‘ Do as he tells you’. Then Jesus’ raised eyebrows and tiny shake of the head and the ‘sigh’ because ‘it’s his mum’. If there was ever any evidence that this was a real, human, mother and son relationship then this tiny unspoken ‘pause’ is it.
We are three or more days into this wedding party and, obviously, a good time is already being had by all. To some people, at least, the lack of wine was being blamed on the indulgence of Jesus and his friends. Perhaps, the stage whispers and pointed fingers had been noted by Mary and she decides to act; even though culturally, it was not proper for a woman (even a mother) to approach the men in public.
You could also argue, that this is not the most appropriate of times for Jesus to be making his debut.
Or maybe it was? Maybe, Mary, knowing exactly who her son was, saw this as precisely the place for his first public miracle; a place outside the Temple; outside the Law; with the everyday people, with communities celebrating relationship.
If you are going to be different – you may as well start now. If you are going to be where people need you – it might as well be here.
For the simplest of reasons - that there need never be the thought ‘why would God be bothered with my problems?' Why would God be refilling wine jars at the end of a wedding feast? Because Jesus sees our life as a wedding feast. Because Jesus wants our lives to be fulfilling. And, maybe, because he can. Mary acts as the precursor for all the others who call out to Jesus; who demand attention and healing; who shout after him; who touch his clothing and anoint his body. The people who will take themselves to Jesus knowing who they are and who he is; people who will argue with him and challenge him.
And Jesus will allow himself to lose; to be persuaded; to be talked into and out of decisions – in public, by the lower classes, the outcasts and the women; to be criticised by those around him, including his own disciples.
Not a thing a Rabbi would allow – certainly not something God would allow – you would think.
Seems we have a different kind of God.
And this same scenario tells us much about needful prayer; maybe especially where Mary is involved. Because so often when we pray we can think it is Mary doing the work.
We may share our human problems with Mary, but Mary is not going to sort it out for us – she may listen sympathetically – but then she will gesture to her Son and say ‘Do whatever he tells you.’