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Whine or Wine?

The Gospel lesson for Sunday is Jesus’ first miracle, which took place at a wedding feast in the village of Cana in Galilee. We passed through Cana on our recent visit to Israel. Well, we passed through the small town they point out to tourists. No one knows the actual location from 2,000 years ago, but the place labeled as Cana has several wine shops, despite the fact that the Muslims who make up the majority of the population don’t drink.

Interestingly, it is believed that faithful Muslims will get to drink wine in the afterlife if they are among those who are blessed and chosen. You sometimes might think that this is what Christians believe. Oh, it isn’t that we save alcohol for heaven, but we live as though God wants to bless us and be with us only after we die.

That is why I love that Jesus began his ministry at a party, a feast, the celebration of a wedding, and he didn’t preach or read scripture or teach them how to rear their children in order to be holy. Jesus turned 120-180 gallons of water into wine. That is what I am going to preach about Sunday, so I have to be careful not to say too much here.

One thing that occurred to me that I am not going to have time to talk about is the fact that this miracle happens at the prompting of Mary, Jesus’ mother. In John’s Gospel she is mentioned only here, at the first miracle, and at the end, standing by the cross. As I thought about her interceding on behalf of the guests and asking Jesus to fix the problem, I considered the theory that the wedding hosts had run short of wine because Jesus showed up with 12 unexpected disciples. People are bad about RSVPing still today, and 12 grown men certainly can put a dent in your wine planning!

According to Christian tradition, Mary got pregnant with Jesus before she and Joseph were married. There is nothing in scripture or the tradition of the church to indicate that they ever got around to having a wedding. Perhaps Mary took responsibility for this couple’s special event as a way of making up for that. I don’t know.

I do know that all of us have a choice: whine about what life doesn’t give us or make wine out of an opportunity to help life give others what they need. When we do that we often are the ones who receive the miracle … or at least a glass or two of it.


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Rev. Michael Piazza

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