And he didn’t officiate this wedding in Cana.
But nearly every week, a young minister asks a question on RevGalBlogPals about weddings—usually a protocol question, like what to wear, how to do the necessary parts, the correct robe. Stuff like that.
Because you know, protocol is important in weddings.
We worry about the order of the seating, about what liturgical color to wear, about how we say the vows, how (or whether) to light the Unity Light, and even how to announce the couple. Shall we say, “By the power vested in my by (insert state here), I now pronounce you?”
Yes, protocol is important.
Would it have been as important in the first century? That’s what I wonder when I read this Sunday’s text… what am I missing because I don’t know the protocol?
Over at WorkingPreacher, Robert Hoch indicates that the protocol piece we’re missing is that weddings guests were instructed to BYOB (Bring Your Own Bottle). Hoch indicates that the disciples failed to bring wine because they were poor, too poor to head to the local ABC (Alcoholic Beverage Control) store to bring their own. Because they didn’t bring enough wine for all the disciples, the wedding ran short.
Running out of wine was a breach of protocol.
And so the family would have had to deal with that breach. Would the consequence have been shame? Ridicule? Would it be an omen for the newly married couple? Would the family have been looked down upon because of their poverty?
So often in ministry, I think our churches are like the wedding in Cana, and our congregants feel like we’ve run out of wine. They’re embarrassed that our budgets are smaller, they’re afraid of ridicule because seats are empty. They’re comparing our churches to the other weddings they’ve attended. And it feels like they don’t measure up.
But you know, if Jesus shows up at the wedding, everything is going to be fine.
I received an email this week that said, “You have enough time, energy and resources to do everything God wants you to do this year.”* And for me, when I read that, it was like Jesus showed up to remind me that I can leave the wine up to him. And so can the people in our churches.
We have enough time, energy and resources to do everything God wants us to do this year. And all the wine we need to celebrate God’s presence among us.
Where will you go with this Sunday’s passage?
Some other ideas:
- Jesus says, “My hour has not yet come,” and yet his mother is insistent. I wonder, how do you understand calling? And what role do others play in your understanding of calling? Can a community discern better than we can ourselves (or even in addition to our discernment)?
- Scholars have long measured John by the “signs” that Jesus performs. Why would Jesus choose this sign to be his first? What message is there in it?
- What is your relationship to alcohol, and how does that get worked out in your congregation and denomination? Is it taboo? Is it encouraged? You know, as in “Where there are four, there’s a fifth?” When have you talked about alcohol consumption and addiction from the pulpit?
- The mother of Jesus seems to push Jesus into performing this miracle. Or is that just the way it reads to me? What do you think? Is Mary edging her son forward, anticipating that which God has in front of Jesus? How do you believe she knew what Jesus could do? And does it seem rebellious when Jesus responds? Try as I might, I cannot rid myself of my presuppositions of this relationship with Mary… Can you?
Blessings as you prepare this week.
Rev. Lia Scholl is not-that-kind-of-Baptist preacher and pastor in Winston-Salem, North Carolina (U.S.) and is the author of I Heart Sex Workers (Chalice Press, 2013).
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