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Sermon for Epiphany 3

Just as Jesus took water and turned it into the finest wine, as told in today’s gospel, so he can transform any situation – if we (like Mary) give him the opportunity to do so. And when we do give him that opportunity – well, what then?

In the writings of the Old Testament prophets Joel and Amos we find the same prophecy – when the Messiah comes there will be an abundance of wine.

In today’s gospel reading, the Messiah (Jesus) reveals his power by producing just that abundance of wine – the abundance that was predicted by Joel and Amos, roughly 8 centuries before the birth of Christ.

It all seems very straightforward, but is it really?

  • Jesus goes to a wedding
  • Mary spots that the wine is running out
  • Mary goes to her son and invites him to solve the problem
  • Jesus changes 180 gallons of water into 180 gallons of the finest wine.

But, what if we look beyond this succinct account of Jesus’ first sign? What if we take account of the fact that John calls it a ‘sign’ and not a miracle? Where is that sign pointing for us as we journey through the 21st century?

In the gospels Jesus offers us a message of consolation.

  • Jesus tells us to come to him;
  • he tells us to cast our cares on him;
  • to trust him;
  • to believe on him for our salvation.

In today’s reading from John’s gospel, we find Mary modelling all of that for us in her words and actions.

In today’s gospel reading we encounter the first example of Jesus taking the ordinary and the commonplace and then transforming it into something extra-ordinary, something special.

Just as Jesus took water and turned it into the finest wine, so he can transform any situation – if we (like Mary) give him the opportunity to do so.

And when we do give him that opportunity – well, what then?

Firstly, we must understand that Jesus does not always do thing in the ways that our limited imaginations might predict.

Did Mary really expect Jesus to respond to her request with 180 gallons of the finest of wines? Probably not!

But – rather than trying to give Jesus the solution to the problem – she merely brought her need and laid it before him.

Mary was confident that Jesus’ response to her cry for help would be the right one – no matter how unconventional it might turn out to be.

And here’s something else we need to bear in mind – Jesus is not afraid of ‘breaking the mould’ of man-made traditions.

He does not allow himself to be constrained by the age-old argument that we always do it this way!!!

Not only does Jesus respond in an unconventional and original way – he is also willing to trespass into the ‘unbelievable’!

When we invite Jesus into our time of need – darkness turns into light.

When Jesus lifts the burdens we carry from our shoulders – we know it, and we never forget it!

At the wedding in Cana, Jesus satisfied an earthly need – and … he fed the faith of his disciples.

When we know the reality of Jesus, our faith is strengthened, and we are given the gift of hope for tomorrow.

The message of this famous first sign lies in the transformation of the commonplace, the everyday and the ordinary into the extra-ordinary and the special.

In that transformation we see Jesus as ready and willing to respond to our very human cry in times of need.

We see Jesus ready and willing to repeat that miracle for each and every one of us – over and over again!

So – what is in your heart today?

Do as Mary did at that wedding in Cana of Galilee –

  • take it to the Lord who cares,  
  • take it to Jesus, our Lord and our Saviour
  • and – be prepared to be amazed –
  • time and time again!!!

Amen.