The Triune God, through community, is leading us into abundant life and love
Vicar Andrea Bonneville
Second Sunday after Epiphany, year C
Texts: 1 Corinthians 12: 1-11; John 2:1-11
Beloved in Christ, grace and peace to you in the name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
I must admit I am envious of the people in this week’s Gospel story. Together with both loved ones and strangers, celebrating a wedding without having to think about masks, social distancing, showing their vaccination cards, or locating a test. The weather is warm and the wine is flowing abundantly. It sounds pretty dreamy, if you ask me.
But even this celebration has a bit of a hiccup as the wine runs dry. Mary tells Jesus, “They have no wine” which to me sounds like a code for saying “we are experiencing unprecedented times”.
Jokes aside, running out of wine is a serious issue. Unlike modern day weddings, this wedding was likely to last a whole week and there was an expectation that wine would flow abundantly throughout the celebration.
But before I go any further with this metaphor, I just want to create a clear understanding of what we are talking about with wine. In this time period wine wasn’t necessarily a strong alcoholic drink. It was a slightly alcoholic drink filled with vitamins and minerals and it was safe and clean to drink unlike most of the water.
If the wine runs dry, the celebration was likely to end. And if it does, it leads to shame and embarrassment for the newlyweds, and also reflects negatively on the community who is supposed to be supporting them. It was after all custom for guests to bring food and drink to keep the celebration going.
Two years ago, I would have read this Gospel story and sort of dismissed it because it kind of seems insignificant in the larger narrative of Jesus’ healings, teachings, and signs throughout the Gospels.
But over the last two years, it has been reinforced time and time again of how important community is. We know the heartbreak of having to cancel or postpone time spent with people we love doing things that bring us joy and nourishment and love and support.
It feels like the wine has run dry and we are living in a time of scarcity again as we navigate canceled plans, empty grocery store shelves, limited hospital beds, and physical and emotional exhaustion. We know scarcity, whether it be scarcity of our basic needs, scarcity of resources, scarcity of energy, or joy, or hope. Yet, today in our Gospel story God’s unconditional love, grace, and mercy is revealed to us through providing abundance in the midst scarcity.
And so, if you came to worship today with your glass half empty (or half full for the optimists in the room), I have good news. God is here transforming our scarcity into an abundance of nourishment and hope.
Mary knew it. The disciples were starting to learn it. The newlyweds and wedding guests had no idea what was going on as they received nourishment, joy, and hope that with the amount of fine wine available the celebration was never going to end.
Jesus’ act of changing water into wine is a sign that with the triune God—abundant life, joy, and hope are here and now. Jesus even proclaims later in the Gospel that he has come so that we can have life, and have it abundantly (John 10:10).
Abundant life is more than portioning our energy and resources, more than checking off the boxes of our to-do lists, more than navigating division and fear. And is certainly more than hoarding resources and material things. Abundant life is about community.
Because abundance is not abundance unless we can share it with others. We may have abundant joy in our hearts, but our joy can’t be reflected if we do not have someone to share it with. Our meal may be the most delish looking feast, but the food is just going to spoil if we do not have a community to share it with. The abundance of gifts we have through the Holy Spirit are going to get rusty if we don’t use them by living lives of love and service.
Now there are varieties of gifts, Paul writes, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone.
God who created you, who knows you by name, who walks with you in the joys and sorrows in the grief and hope also calls you into abundant life and into abundant community. Where all are invited, where all are embraced, where all can taste the fine wine that is the nourishment of our abundant life together. So come to God’s table and be nourished, reflect God’s abundant grace and love for all to see.
We are being transformed with and through community and with and through God to share the abundant gift of God, who is our source of life.