Timing Is Everything
They say it’s really all about timing…
Like when Ben Foster walked into the office, he knew something was up. There was a message on his desk that the boss wanted to see him as soon as he arrived.
The boss didn’t look very happy when Ben reported to his office. He said nothing — just pointed at the newspaper on his desk. It was opened to the sports page, and there was a picture of a smiling Ben Foster, holding up the trophy for winning the local golf tournament the day before.
“How could this be Ben?” asked the boss. “You called in sick yesterday!”
“I know,” Ben responded. “I was really surprised to win the tournament too, sir. Imagine what my score could have been if I hadn’t been sick!”
Last Sunday we said that the Gospels shared some common sources and some Gospels tell the same story in different ways. John makes no mention of the birth of Jesus. He begins with a rather mystical explanation of who Jesus was. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” John speaks of word, dabar, in Greek—referring to the nature of Jesus and his place in relationship to God.
John then jumps to the Baptism of Jesus and he presents this story in a little differently than did Mark, which we read last Sunday.
From there John moves to Jesus calling his first disciples.
And then John moves on to today’s story, the wedding in Cana. (By the way, this story is only found in the John Gospel. Its never mentioned in the other Gospels.)
It is clearly a family affair for we are told his mother is also there. Then comes the bad timing. The wine runs out and what is a wedding without a little wine? Strangely his mother turns to him with an expectation to do something about it.
“They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.”
And like any dear mother she ignores him and says to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
John is setting up this story so this act of turning water into wine becomes the first of the acts of Jesus that portrays him to his contemporaries, as one capable of holding his own with the prophets of old.
For John, this is a case of timing.
Jesus is shown, through this act, to be out of the ordinary, the One to watch, the Word made flesh. John portrays Jesus as both human and prophet and in line with the expectations of the Messiah.
One the one hand you have that very human exchange between him and his mother that most of us have had with our mothers; “John, do something.” “No Mom, not now…”
On the other hand, the miraculous. The water becomes wine.
So, now John has established Jesus as in a special relationship to God from the beginning of time, he has been “ordained” into the ministry before him through his baptism, he has called his first disciples, and he has established the bona fides of Jesus as more than just another, ordinary person.
The rest of the Gospel is focused on Jesus as the long-expected Messiah.
Two things come to mind in this story. a] God’s presence in the most mundane parts of our lives, in this case a wedding reception, and b] God’s abundance. The wine was not just adequate, we are told by John, it was superior to what had been served before.
Presence and abundance.
How would this story inform our own lives today?
The first and foremost is the establishment of Jesus’ credentials. Jesus was a historical figure with extraordinary abilities to reflect the Light of God into the lives of those who suffered, endured hardships and felt excluded. Jesus was God’s love personified. To follow him leads us to a meaningful life.
Example: Jesus, the Christ, was both a historical and a mythical figure. We learn from these stories that he was both human and Godly. His humanity reminds us of ourselves. His Godliness reminds us of who we are and what we are called to be.
Secondly, this story teaches us that God is present in even the mundane parts of our lives. God is present in our enjoyment of something as simple as a wedding party and deep as our salvation from a meaninglessness life.
Example: It is easy to have a near ecstatic experience of God’s presence in such over the top moments such as the birth of a grandchild, the successful ending to a challenging endeavor, and any of those moments when we are moved to know we are fortunate beyond measure. But why wait for only these huge moments that stand out to us when we can live in awe of life all the time, taking great delight in the mundane events too—the wagging of your dog’s tail when you get home after being away, the hug of a friend—the kindness of a stranger, a valued friendship, a beautiful sunrise, the first snow. To be able to recognize the goodness of God in the mundane helps us to put the things that drag us down, that wound us, that limit us, in perspective. God’s love is ever present in our lives. We are never alone.
Thirdly, in Jesus, God demonstrates God’s gift of abundance in our lives if only we have “eyes to see and ears to hear”. The rest of the guests are oblivious to what had taken place. They missed the fact of the origin of the new, superior wine. If only they had eyes to see.
If we are able to reevaluate our lives we will always see signs of great blessings. We just need to be able to see this with a renewed vision.
Example: When last have you and I really sat down and taken stock of how wonderful a life we have, despite all the negatives we might be experiencing? When last have we realized the gifts of life, the ability to love and be loved, the joy of music, the happiness we find in relationships, the beauty of a flower? It appears that much of the malaise we suffer from comes from our inability to appreciate what we have.
This story announced Jesus as the long-expected one but through the Jesus-story, God reminds us that God’s love is constant, everywhere, all the time.
May we have eyes to see and ears to hear so that our gratitude and our joy may grow every day. This is God’s moment for us, Its God’s perfect timing. Amen.