Do you have a wedding story? A story of something that went wrong at your wedding or the wedding of a friend? It seems as though there is always something that goes wrong at weddings. At my brother’s wedding, everything was perfect until the pastor told my brother he could kiss the bride, and those two who had never kissed in public had a kiss that squeaked so loud that everyone started laughing. As a pastor I could tell stories of cakes being destroyed the day of the wedding, or wedding licenses being forgotten, of the shortest wedding I ever led in the pouring rain on the 18th hole of a golf course. Something always goes wrong at weddings.
And in the case of the wedding in our gospel story, it is no different. Everything had been going to plan…it was a beautiful ceremony. Such a nice couple…a great party. But wait. There is no more wine! To run out of wine at a party now days would be a bummer, but we can run down to Happy Harry’s and solve that problem pretty quickly. But in the days of Jesus, weddings were week-long festivals. The week would be spent celebrating the new life of the married couple. Often the whole town was invited, and it took major planning to make the event run smoothly. To run out of wine was a huge deal...wine wasn’t just a nice beverage to have on hand, but it was a sign of the harvest, a sign of God’s abundance, a sign of joy and gladness and hospitality. So when they run out of wine, they run out of blessing. The wine has run out before the wedding is over and it is a catastrophe.
We know, after this week, what it feels like to run full force into catastrophe. We know, after this week what it feels like to feel like we have run out of blessing. For those of you not from the community, we have spent our week grieving the loss of 10 year old Mason who died in a snow mobile accident. It has been a hard week to deal with…a week filled with pain and questions and challenge. A week where many have wondered where God was at. If God was present, and where on earth God was when all this happened.
And yet…wait. Let’s look back at our gospel lesson. They have run out of blessing and run into this catastrophe, but the story doesn’t stop there.
The people are looking around, wondering how they are going to fix the problems they are facing. They are questioning each other on how they possibly could have planned so poorly that they have run out of wine on the 3rd day of the week-long ceremony. No one knows what to do…except Mary.
Mary the mother of Jesus, points out the problem to him. “They have no wine” she says, and Jesus answers her pretty harshly “woman, what concern is that to you and me? My hour has not yet come.” Most of us wouldn’t even fathom speaking like that to our mothers. But Mary doesn’t get upset. She doesn’t get angry. She just turns to the servants and says “do whatever he tells you.”
And then, in the midst of this crazy scene, where the bride and groom must be worrying that this is all people will remember, Jesus asks for stone jars to be filled with water. And not just a small stone jar…these jars, which stand about 5 feet tall, and hold 20-30 gallons are big jars. And the servants fill them with water…and Jesus tells them to draw some out and take it to the steward, or the host of the party…and they did. And the host is amazed, not knowing what happened, but amazed that the best wine of the wedding comes out now.
Jesus takes the catastrophe and overcomes it, and he not only overcomes it, but he gives the wedding party more than they expect. More than they need. Jesus takes the empty wine skins and gives those present more than enough wine to make it through the rest of the wedding celebration.
So what about us? What does this story have to do with us this week? As we sit here tired, worn out, emotionally exhausted from the questions and the pain that come from sitting in the midst of this catastrophic week?
I don’t know why Mason had to die, or why our loved ones face tough health diagnoses or why some people struggle to make ends meet even though they are working as hard as they can. But I do know that God is at work all around us.
I don’t know why our community had to bury someone so young, but I do know that in the midst of the hurt and the pain and the questions that God brought some beautiful things.
This week kids that gathered to support each other and tie blankets. Teachers gathered to give hugs to the kids and let them know they are not alone. Older students helped younger ones. Younger students supported older ones, and at the funeral, everyone gathered, imagining the day when they would be reunited with Mason again.
Because here’s the thing. We aren’t always going to understand the world we are in, or why things happen when they do. We are going to have moments that feel like pure catastrophe while we wait for God to act, wait to see Him at work around us, and wonder where he is in the midst of it.
Though we may sometimes forget it, we can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is still at work. God is alive and active in the world, and God has much better things in store for us than we can possibly imagine. We can know that nothing, not even weeks like this one can separate us from God’s love.
It may have been a week of darkness and pain, but the light of Christ will shine. And is shining. Here in our midst. Thanks be to God. Amen.