2019-01-20/Community Lutheran/Rev. Joseph Vought
When I read the Gospel for today of Jesus first miracle at Cana turning water into wine, I remembered the wedding of Mark and Leigh. They were JMU students, part of our Campus Ministry in my former parish. They attended worship every Sunday and started dating in their Jr. Year. In their Sr. Year they became engaged and asked me to do the wedding. So after 6 sessions of Pre-Marital Counseling talking about their similarities and differences, vocational goals, family and children, how to disagree and forgive as well as religion, finally we read through the Service of Marriage together. I invited them to select scripture readings, vows and make other decisions about the ceremony. I was delighted when they asked for Holy Communion. I suggested instead of just watching other people commune, they might be the ones to help serve to the congregation. They agreed.
On the day of the wedding, after the homily and the vows, I celebrated Eucharist and after communing Leigh and Mark, they took their places, each with a pouring chalice ready to serve the congregation. As I gave the Body of Christ to each communicant, Leigh and Mark were on either side of me, pouring wine into each person’s cup. But then Leigh became emotional. She did her best to pour into each cup and not spill a drop on the people but she couldn’t stop shaking and the wine was dripping. She steeled her nerves to keep on serving, smiling and loving every minute of it. By the end of it all, her white gown had a bright wide river of red/purple wine down the middle. And she didn’t care at all. When Leigh and Mark kissed they could not have been happier, they took it all in stride.
There was another minor miracle. When Leigh and Mark walked into the reception, Leigh’s wedding dress was white as snow. She had used a “Tide Stick” and it all came out. Debra exclaimed, “My gosh, we should have filmed a commercial right there for “Tide Sticks!” But more than anything the love of God had drawn Mark and Leigh together in their marriage. Surrounded and loved by family and friends, what could shake their joy and happiness? It wasn’t about them, they were happy to serve. It was one of the most beautiful memorable weddings in which I presided.
Today Jesus goes to a wedding with his disciples as one of the invited guests. Jesus enjoyed wine and parties, and most of his best parables were about great feasts. When the wine gave out, Jesus gives directions, water is poured, ladled out and taken to the head-waiter. The waiter can’t believe the bouquet, the aroma and the sparkle, this drink from God. Celebration!
The One who came from God as a baby in a manger, is worshiped by Three Kings of the Gentiles, who was baptized and declared God’s Son as the Light of Heaven danced on the Jordan River: Jesus, the Word of God who became Human, does his first miracle at a wedding with wine because God is married to his people. The spotlight is no longer on the couple but now God’s Epiphany light is focused on Jesus. It is the wedding of Heaven and Earth, God marries Humanity in Jesus. It is what Isaiah foretold, “The Lord delights in you and your land shall be married. For as a young man marries a woman and rejoices over a bride, so shall your God rejoice over you. (Is. 62)
Jesus is the One who keeps the party going even when other people don’t have a clue. But Jesus’ disciples know and they believe. It is the Power and Mystery of the Word made Flesh, of One who lives with us, gives up His Life that there may be new life. My God, those two JMU kids Mark and Leigh knew it wasn’t about them, it was Jesus in their marriage, helping them to love and serve. Jesus is married to us in our Baptism of dying and rising with Him so that we may be faithful disciples, listening to His Word and ready to serve. This Spirit of Jesus is celebrated in every marriage when we give ourselves to something bigger than ourselves. It is lived in every congregation where Jesus calls us to become more than we ever could be on our own.
So let us learn to bow and bend, to love one another. For Christ is with us in all that we do. How can we not live, love, serve and give our lives away as good gifts for others? How can we be more at ease and remember it’s not always about us, that we bear the light, we carry the love of Jesus to serve others? God has wedded himself to his people! Let the wine flow, let there be singing and dancing in the aisles. This is the Good News for our life together, for our ministry and this community we are called to serve.
Let’s keep welcoming all people, building up this church, sharing the light and love of Jesus. And may the Peace of God that passes all understanding keep our hearts and minds on Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.