john davies
notes from a small curate



    The human person fully alive

    Holy Trinity Parish Communion 26/01/03

    John 2.1-11

    Begin by reading 'The Cana of Galilee Case' from Wild Goose Worship Group, Present on Earth.

    It's only natural. That we try to make sense of Jesus' miracles. Most of his miracles show Jesus to be a wonderful healer, a raiser-from-the-dead, a restorer of sight to the blind, a saviour of the poor.

    But this miracle is different. It defies that sort of explanation.

    The net result of the miracle at the wedding at Cana in Galilee is that, from nowhere, Jesus conjured one hundred and eighty gallons of the very best wine. If you do the maths - that's a lot of bottles. Enough to ensure that a party already in full swing would keep on swinging until everyone was comatose.

    Here Jesus the healer is the causer of hangovers.

    Here Jesus the restorer of sight to the blind is party to mass blind drunkenness.

    Here Jesus the saviour of the poor is the man who ensured that the grandest party in town would become even more extravagant, with no extra cost to the wealthy family hosting it.

    How do we explain that?

    In the sketch, Moshe Ben McGuinness says that the miracle happened:
      Just to remind us
      of how a very ordinary person
      took some very ordinary drink
      among very ordinary people
      and enabled them all to be happy.
    This is a joyful event, and a very funny story.

    It puts a generous Jesus at the centre of everyone's dream wedding party.

    It has all the elements of classic comedy in it.

    It shows us Jesus the miraclemaker, the one we insist on calling King of Kings, Lord of Lords, being bossed about by his little old mother.

    And it subverts the social order as all good comedy does. The master caterer hasn't got a clue where the new wine has come from; the bridegroom who hired him has even less idea.

    And as they squabble about it we can picture the servants, who've been involved in the whole episode from start to finish, standing in the wings giggling about their employers' embarrassment.

    It's funny, it's lovely, it's a story which reminds us that Jesus came to give us life in all its fullness.

    The gospel writer John says that Jesus used this miracle to reveal his glory.

    And Irenaeus in the second century proclaimed that, "The glory of God is the human person fully alive."

    The miracle means that Jesus wants to give us life in all its fullness; Jesus wants us to be fully alive, to be happy, in the ordinary things of life.

    We easily accept that Jesus wants us to be serious, spiritual, moral beings. But less easily, that he wants to fill up our glasses with the best quality wine. That he wants our lives with him to be joyful and fulfilling.

    Now we may flinch at that. We're not in the habit of expecting God to be a party animal. We may not like the idea that Jesus not only spent his time with revellers, but positively encouraged their enjoyment. We may feel unworthy to be party-goers at Jesus's invitation. But we're not.

    This story asks us to put our inhibitions behind us, to accept Jesus's outrageous and unconditional love for us; it invites us to hold out our arms to let God swing us out on the dancefloor of abundant life.
      "The glory of God is the human person fully alive."
    I'll drink to that. Will you join me?