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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Today’s Scripture Reading | John 2:1–11

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. (NRSV)

Picture the scene: a wedding celebration in the Galilean town of Cana, splendid and crowded and alive with the Jewish nuptial traditions of the time. Next, picture the people who bear witness to this miracle, each seeing the actions playing out in a different way. Their reactions can be a metaphor for our own faith experiences today.

We might strive to be like Mary, whose faith is sure and who trusts in the miraculous outcome even before it happens. After all, without Mary’s insistence, Jesus might not have transformed the water into wine. She helped bring the miracle about, as did the servants, though they, while following instructions, must have questioned these moments: “This woman is telling us to do what? This man is asking us to pour water into these pots, because why?” Have you ever gone through the motions of helping someone in need and then, after the fact, experienced that sense of grace reminding you what service is all about? So it may have been with the servants, who must have realized eventually that they, too, had a hand in this miracle.

Then there is the master of the feast, who knows nothing of the wine’s origins but who proclaims it good. Are there days when we resemble him, passing judgment and praising outcomes while unaware of the grace that brings goodness into being? And finally there are the banquet guests, naïve to any divine intervention but enjoying the fruits of that vine. Not everyone who is present for a miracle will necessarily see it. But if we keep our hearts and minds open and bear witness to the grace that permeates life, maybe we can help welcome new miracles into the world.

Heavenly Lord, help us avoid entertaining both angels and miracles unaware. Keep us mindful of the miracles alive in your creation. Amen.

Written by Sarah Forbes Orwig, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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