An Epiphanytide reading
John 2: 9, 10
9When 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, 10‘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.’
This was surely a wedding feast that the steward would remember for ever, sometimes with a shudder sometimes with open mouth amazement. There was no wine. The Israelites loved a party and the wine had run out. Social suicide for the host. A severe dressing down for the steward. And then ,,, as if from nowhere … there was plenty. More than plenty. And good stuff too.
The season of Epiphany could be subtitled ‘Jesus is …’. We discover, amongst other things, in the visit of the wise men, that Jesus is the Saviour of the whole world. We discover, amongst other things, in the the account of his baptism, that Jesus is Son of God, making physical links for you and me between heaven and earth. We discover, amongst other things, in the calling of the first disciples, that Jesus is not irrelevant to our lives but calls us to follow him in a new direction. And on the Feast of Candlemass, the last day of the Christmas and Epiphany season, we discover Jesus is a suffering servant, and how far God is prepared to go to save his creation and the chilling connection between the crib and the cross.
In the Wedding at Cana, another common Epiphanytide story, we discover how Christ has the ability to make all things new, and transform the water of everyday life into the new wine of the Kingdom of God. Jesus is the one who gives us a new life. I’m sure the guests at the wedding didn’t wait to drink this top notch wine that appeared. I’m sure they had a great party! The new life Jesus offers is for today, not some distant point in the future.
Faced with anxiety or boredom over lockdown, possible illness of those we love from the virus, financial hardship from the economic downturn, and a wounded planet from misuse of God’s creation, there may be very few people who might say that life in January 2021 was a great party! The trick that begins the transformation of the distinctly stale water of life at the moment into something more life-giving is to allow Jesus to be who these wonderful stories say he is;. to put your hope for the salvation of creation in him and to follow the distinctly rocky, narrow road he is leading us on in faith, taking a swig from the new wine of Jesus, your Saviour being at your side, as you go. If you do that, looking back in 12 months time, you may be able to agree that he really has ‘kept the good wine until now’.
A prayer (the Collect for next Sunday). Try saying it aloud.
in Christ you make all things new:
transform the poverty of our nature by the riches of your grace,
and in the renewal of our lives
make known your heavenly glory;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen
I’m going to induge myself by offering one of my favourite hymns that talks about many of the Epiphany themes in the verses