Scripture for the second Sunday after Epiphany:
Isaiah 62.1–5; Psalm 36.5–10; 1 Corinthians 12.1–11; John 2.1–11 (Jesus turns water into wine at a wedding in Cana)
In a world full of Supermen, who mends a broken bicycle? Fans of Monty Python from nearly 50 years ago will know the answer!
Sometimes ordinary work and ordinary deeds become important – perhaps even ingredients in the recipe for a miracle. Consider the well-known miracle that Jesus performed at a wedding in Cana. We all know how it worked out: Jesus turned the water in purification jars into really good wine.
But, just for a moment, take a step back from the miracle and consider a pragmatic point. Where did the water come from? Someone had to fill the jars with a total of about 545 litres of water. And it didn’t come from turning a tap and using a hose. No, the servants, who were among very few witnesses to this miracle, had to carry the water to fill the jars. It’s a sobering reminder that for miracles to occur, quite often someone has to do some work.
Ever since the early days of the Church, the Christian community has recognised that for the work of the Church to be done, different people have different gifts, and these are meant to be shared for the common good. There can be joy in coming together to share our gifts for the common good, but it does mean letting go of some of our own personal pride and possessiveness about the role that we play as individuals.
To be an effective Church, we must work together as a community, and not belittle – never mind obstruct – the gifts of others. After all, someone has to mend the broken bicycles of the supermen! And sometimes, we have to be the ones who carry the water so that a miracle can occur.
There is one other aspect of this that is important: although we are told that the disciples believed in Jesus after the miracle, the other witnesses to the miracle were the servants – unlikely witnesses, rather like the shepherds at the birth of Jesus.
This miracle at a wedding in Cana combines several aspects of Jesus’ life and ministry: the unlikely witnesses, the need for others to participate … and abundance. There isn’t just enough wine – there are gallons and gallons of really good stuff!
We might consider that water is a life-giver, but wine is a joy-giver (in moderation, of course). Jesus takes the water of life and turns it into the wine of joy. When we take the gifts that are offered to us and share them collectively for the common good, then the water of our life together becomes joyful.