gospel lesson is commonly recognized as the first of Jesus’ public miracles.
It was by this miracle that people sat up and took notice, and it was with this
miracle that Jesus really began his ministry. Personally, my initial
reaction to this is, what a waste of a miracle.
I mean, really! So the guests drank all the
available wine at a wedding. Big deal. Would it have killed them to switch to
water? If they were going through the wine so quickly maybe they should
have switched to a non-alcoholic beverage! Was it so important that the
guests be able to keep imbibing? If Jesus is going to perform his first
public miracle, shouldn’t it be to provide food for starving people, or healing
for someone terminally ill? Why waste such a momentous event on something
so mundane and unimportant?
I realize my personal bias is showing.
But for me, wine is something that will cause no good and all bad if I bring it
back into my life. So I have trouble using it as a symbol of grace, which
is how this story is often interpreted, because that symbol so completely
excludes me and others like me. What good is grace if I can’t partake of
But that’s the thing about symbols. They’re
risky. Any symbol you want to use, you can find someone for whom that symbol is
offensive, and the message is lost. This text also has a wedding, which is
often understood as a symbol of celebration, commitment, devotion, and love.
Tell that to anyone who’s been through a messy divorce, and see how much joy
they get out of the wedding imagery. The kingdom of heaven is like a
wedding banquet? I remember doing the seating chart at my wedding
banquet, and I remember having to make sure that this person was seated nowhere
near this person, or else world war three would break out. And I had to do that
with multiple people, and I only had a few tables to work with. I hope
the kingdom of heaven’s not going to be like that! . . .
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