Letter to parishioners, 13 January 2022

Thursday, 13 January 2022

Dear Friends in Christ,

This week’s gospel (John 2:1-11) tells us of Jesus’ first sign, the turning of water into wine at the wedding in Cana of Galilee. This is a moment in the gospel narrative with which we are all familiar, but how often do we pause to consider what meaning it might have for us in our daily lives? Many flippant comments are made about this miraculous transformation of plain water into the finest wine. Unfortunately, all of those remarks belittle the true impact of this first display of Jesus’ power to transform the ordinary into the extra-ordinary!

A first century Jewish wedding was a very different affair to those one-day jamborees at which we now throw vast amounts of money. As is suggested in our modern wedding service, the joining of husband and wife in Holy Matrimony is an event which has an impact on the whole community. In Jesus’ time this was marked by every wedding being a week-long event which was open to everyone in the village. Furthermore, it was the bridegroom’s responsibility to provide the food and drink for the many guests who would attend. To run out of wine at any point in the proceedings would have marked out the newly-weds, and their families, for criticism and disgrace. It is in this context that Jesus, along with his mother, found themselves seeking to rescue the social faux pas of having no wine.

Of course, the problem is first spotted by Mary, and not Jesus. It is in Mary’s response to the problem that there lies an important lesson for us. Mary’s first reaction was to take the problem to Jesus. In doing this she was showing us how we should react as we are confronted with the ups and downs of daily life. Every day brings a plethora of problems. Thankfully, many are small and comparatively inconsequential, but some are more serious, more dramatic and potentially life-changing. Like many others we pride ourselves on our ability to solve the problems which pop up in our lives. But … have you ever considered that there might be a better strategy? As problem after problem plagues our lives, we should be offering them to Jesus, and then giving him the time and space to provide the answer that will restore our sense of balance and peace.

In the account of the Wedding at Cana in Galilee, Jesus sees the problem and solves it in an unexpectedly dramatic way. Jesus’ response is not that of sending his disciples to purchase some wine that will deal with the immediate emergency. Instead, he turns 180 gallons of water into the finest of wines. By laying the problem at Jesus’ feet, Mary allowed him to respond with an abundance of generosity and love that must have exceeded even her expectations.

The lives we live are constantly dogged with challenges and problems. The message contained in this week’s reading from John’s gospel urges us to lay those challenges and problems before Jesus, and then to allow Jesus’ love for us to provide the answers that elude us, even if those answers shock us, or even frighten us. Human beings are guilty of thinking that they have all the answers. Jesus’ response to those who trust in him prove that they do not. Let us pray that we might learn the message of Jesus’ first sign in Cana of Galilee. Let us pray that, when confronted with the changes and chances of daily existence, we might turn to Jesus first. Then, let us pray that we might trust that Jesus knows better than us, and that our prayers will be answered as he transforms us from the ‘ordinary’ into the ‘extra-ordinary’.

With every blessing to you all,

Revd Stephen