His Lips Drink Water but His Heart Drinks Wine
Words for the Baptism of Christ – 10 January 2021 – A cyber sermon from the Vicarage
Text: When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine’. (John 2v3)
God give you peace my Sisters and Brothers.
The more irreverent amongst my vicar friends, when reading the tale of the Miracle at Cana of Galilee, gleefully point out that the only recorded words of the Virgin Mary to her Son are, ‘They have no wine,’ and then go on to suggest that if the event happened in modern day Britain she would be sought out to take a part in the TV reality show ‘The Only Way is Essex.’
But that is to read far too much into a chance remark about a greater Sign. John’s Gospel requires careful handling. Rather than be a first-hand biography of Jesus, as the Synoptic Gospels set out to be (though each has its own emphasis and purpose), John takes more of a long look at things. If Matthew, Mark and Luke are the daily tabloids of the faith, John is Time or Newsweek. Not so much looking only at the events of the life of Christ but also looking deeper for their meaning.
Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him. (John 2v11)
Turning Watering into Wine is not just about helping out a Bride and Groom
Turning Water into Wine is not just about Jesus being able to command the creation to obey the will of the Creator.
Turning Water into Wine is not for the Bride and Groom, nor to please his mother Mary.
Turning Water into Wine is so that the Disciples, and you and I, may come to believe in him.
Again and again John calls us to look beyond the surface of the Sign (the miracle) and asks us to respond by living lives of Light, Life and Love – Lux Vita Caritas – the three crowning messages of Christ to which all Christians are called to bear witness.
But why start with wine? Surely something more definite, more dramatic would have the message of preacher from Nazareth broadcast and greater numbers come to believe in Him?
Why is it important that John begins the life of Christ, remember there is no Nativity Story per se in the Gospel and the Baptism of Jesus simply puts the cousins in the correct order?
The Children of Israel were living in a time of spiritual drought.
They had seen first the Northern Kingdom of Israel and then the Southern Kingdom of Judah swept away into exile. They had returned and started again but it was not the same, despite the prophecies and hard work of Nehemiah and Ezra. Having not learnt their lesson they fall into slavery again but this time in their own homeland. Amos and Hosea proclaim their spiritual bankruptcy and because of it they are pushed down under the heel of first the Greek and then the Roman Empire. They are now at home but they may as well still be hanging up their harps on the Willows by the rivers of Babylon. Once more they find themselves living in the Land of Promise but this time without freedom.
What has happened to the people who inherited the Land ‘Flowing with Milk and Honey’? The land that was so rich in produce that it took two men to carry one bunch of grapes is now feeding the tables of others and the Children of Israel are subjugated, lost and in need of a Messiah.
To a people who have lost hope.
To a people who have nothing about which to celebrate
To a people who have been stripped of their dignity and freedom
A prophet comes and turns the washing up water of their despair into a rich vintage of hope!
This is no ordinary story about a passing miracle that entertains an already drunk party of wedding goers. This is the tale of despair vanquished and hope reborn. Here at Cana of Galilee God incarnate renews the promise to be with those who are with God and shows it by pouring out the rich wine of redemption which will be sealed in his own blood on the cross of Calvary.
This is why it is called Good News and this is why his disciples believed in him.
But what of us?
We find ourselves in a time when not only will there be no wine at the Wedding Feast, but there will also be no Feast, and for many not even a Wedding!
If we are not careful, if we do not look for the meaning of these Signs of Christ, we too will find ourselves without hope and without faith.
In the midst of our darkness a mother whispers to her child, ‘They have no wine’, and the Christ works a sign which calls us to believe anew. A sign proclaiming ‘Follow me’ to a place overflowing with Light, Life and Love. The water turned wine is not about drink (after all it is but a ‘sign’) but about us and how we are called to be the best of vintages. For it is in the darkness that light shines, from rejection that love prospers, and out of death that life is born again.
To drink at this wedding feast is to look beyond the dishwater circumstances of the day, remember the promises of the One Who Loves us Best, and throw in our lot with the Carpenter from Nazareth who teaches us that it is only as we learn to give our lives away that we save them. Believing Him and following Him means we become people whose lips may drink water but whose heart overflows with the wine served at the Wedding Banquet of the Lamb
[This blog ‘His Lips Drink Water’ is copyright © Andrew Dotchin 2021 and may be reproduced without charge on condition that the source is acknowledged]