Sermon for the Second Sunday after the Epiphany 2007Jan 13th, 2007 | By Ian Poulton | Category: Sermons
“He thus revealed his glory and his disciples put their faith in him”John 2:11
There was a despondent mood at Innsbruck airport yesterday morning.People who put had put off the post-Christmas blues by going on holiday on 6th January, now faced post-Christmas and post-holiday blues.People who had been in a buoyant mood the previous week were strangely subdued.The mood wasn’t helped when the pilot announced during the flight that the landing at Dublin was going to be bumpy due to strong winds and turbulence.
For most of us, however, life returned to its usual January pattern last week. Dark mornings and evenings and cold days and lots of Christmas bills to be paid. Not much glory to be found on a Monday in January.
Probably, for most of us, there’s not much glory to be found in most of our lives. If someone came and asked us to tell them something really exciting that had happened to us recently, maybe we could think of something that happened at Christmas. Perhaps there is the odd exciting moment at other times, but generally life is fairly humdrum. The weeks come and the weeks go and there is not much to mark the passing of time.
Glory is a rare commodity. Even in the church there aren’t many times now when we can say that a moment was glorious. Perhaps being hard-headed old Protestants we were never much into flamboyant services and colourful liturgies, but I’m sure for most of us there would have at least been a sense that a church was a special place. In rural England we might never have gone near the place for most of the time, but when we did go inside the church it was with a reverential awe, with a sense that this place was about something we did not understand. With our school teacher with us there might not have been a sense of glory, but there was certainly a sense of fear.
Something has been lost. We have lost the sense of the different, we have lost the sense of the special. Life is humdrum because we have made it so. Our young people don’t have the faith we had because most of us don’t have the faith we once had.
This is nothing new. Look at this story of the wedding at Cana in Galilee. Here is a wedding, here is a very special day, a very sacred day, a day that no-one took lightly. Here is a day when Jewish families would have looked for a sense that something special was taking place. Yet the whole thing has become very humdrum.
The customs of the time have reduced the occasion to a gathering where people drink so much that they don’t even notice when poor wine is being served. For people who customarily drank wine with their meals not to notice bad wine must have meant a very large amount had been consumed. They were usually in such a stupor that they didn’t even notice what they were drinking.
Into this situation comes Jesus. Into this situation comes the presence of glory. The people at the wedding expected it to be an ordinary day. Hadn’t they all been at weddings before? There was no reason to suppose that this one was going to be any different.
Jesus and his disciples had been invited to the wedding, it must have been someone they knew well for all of them to have been invited. You don’t feed thirteen big country men unless you have to, they eat too much. Mary seems to be close to the family, she knows the wine has run out before any of the guests notices.
This wedding is not just an ordinary gathering, it’s an embarrassing one. There are all these people and there’s not even enough for them to drink. Can you imagine the groom’s comment to the bride if they had found out, ‘I told your mother not to invite so many”.
This wedding is mundaneness itself. Can you imagine the mutterings there would have been when people became aware that the drink had run out? There would have been no time at all before people began to make their excuses, “got to go now, must see to the cattle”, “got to go now, must get the children to bed”.
I remember freshers week when I started university, the Labour Club had a beer and cheese evening, the Federation of Conservative Students had a wine and cheese evening, both were well attended until the beer kegs were drained and the wine bottles were empty. Political interest then shifted to the students’ union bar. Human nature doesn’t change.
Into this ordinariness, into this mundaneness, into this situation of potential embarrassment, comes Jesus.
His mother comes to him and says, “They have no more wine”. Jesus’ reply is fascinating, “Why do you involve me? My time has not yet come”. It would seem that even Jesus himself thinks that this ordinary moment is not the time for God’s glory to be revealed. Surely an event as mundane as running out of drink at a party is not the occasion for divine intervention?
Mary is having none of it. “Do whatever he tells you”, she says. She knows that something dramatic is going to take place.
Jesus has a sense of humour. He could have used his powers to refill the wineskins, but he doesn’t. The water jars, the massive containers that the Jews used for their ceremonial washing, are filled with wine. “You want wine, you got it! 150 gallons at least”
The jars were a reminder of the old religion, the old rites and ceremonies, the old customs, the rituals that had once been filled with life and which pointed people to God. The old religion has now been riven by factions – the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the priests – and it has become corrupt, the high priest Caiaphas is a prime example of a man whose sole motivation is the retention of power and influence.
The disciples see what happens and they believe. Their old faith is refilled with something that is new and better.
Jesus comes into the situation and it’s transformed. Staleness, dullness, ordinariness, everything that is humdrum and mundane, disappear. This wedding party, this everyday occurrence, becomes a moment when God’s glory breaks through.
There is a temptation for us to say, “That’s all right for them. They lived in different times. They lived very different lives. They didn’t have to drive through Donnybrook. They didn’t have to pay the bills for Christmas. They didn’t have cold and wet January weather”. There is a temptation to feel that glory is something for another time and another place.
We have lost the sense that here we have something tremendous something that is far greater than all the annoyances and hassles we endure. If we are to hold onto our faith we need the feeling that what we believe is more important than anything else in the world.
If life is to make sense at all there must be more to it than the here and now. There’s glory to be found, if we’re prepared to look for it.
Jesus revealed his glory and his disciples put their faith in him. Put aside the dull and the humdrum and the mundane and the ordinary. Take the same risk as the disciples took.