John 2: 1-12
On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “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.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it. When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.” Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him. After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother, his brothers, and his disciples; and they remained there a few days.
Isn’t it interesting that John begins the journey of Jesus’ ministry at a PARTY? Yes, John is probably using this story to make a point about transformations – water into wine, old covenant into new covenant – but the setting is a wedding celebration, which in his culture would probably last 7 days. Now that’s a PARTY!
Weddings are one of the most joyous occasions we humans know. We gather with friends and family to celebrate new beginnings, the promise of wonderful things to come. Shouldn’t every Sunday worship also be a joyous celebration of new beginnings and wonderful things to come?
I realize that Lent is traditionally a time of sacrifice and thoughtful introspection. But if we want to reach folks who do not know our Lord, a hang-dog, dour demeanor is NOT going to cut it. One of our former pastors always said that loving Jesus puts a “kick in our step.” People should see a special joy in us that only Christ can give – a joy that comes not from circumstances or events but from the Holy Spirit.
The apostle Paul listed joy as a fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22. And Nehemiah proclaimed that “the joy of the Lord is my strength”. During this Lenten journey, I challenge you to find ways to spread joy – smile at the stranger pumping gas next to you, speak kindly to the Walmart checker, call or drop a note to someone you know who needs a friend, commit a random act of kindness. Let the joy of the Lord shine through you. We know that winter is here but spring is coming; we know that Lent is here but Easter is coming; and it is our commission, our privilege, to share that joyful news with our neighbors.
Dear Lord, we thank you for the joy that fills our hearts when we think of your love and care for us. We ask that you give us a holy boldness to spread that joy to others around us so that they too can know your love. This we ask in the precious name of Jesus. Amen.
Rhonda Joy Whitaker is IGRC Lay Leader and member of Grace UMC, Neoga