Saturday, January 21, 2012

Water into wine

Homily for 8.00 Epiphany 3

This Epiphany season is full of wonders...
We are invited to marvel at them in the liturgy for the feast itself, and then in the weeks that follow they are unfolded to us, one by one.
The star over the stable – proclaiming Christ's presence to the Magi
The voice at his Baptism – proclaiming his identity as God's beloved Son
And now the demonstration – of his ability to transform the ordinary, the workaday, into something amazing, full of joyous celebration.
Wonders that show us, and all humanity, something of the truth of God with us...
A birth story, a baptism and now a wedding

I have to say that, as one who spends a fair bit of time involved in the fine details of wedding arrangements, I find them very nerve wracking affairs.
So much seems to ride on the success of the day, there is such a longing for “perfection”, that honestly it seems impossible that any mortal couple could ever live up to their own hopes and dreams – let alone those of the bride's mother.
It's bad enough if the clouds gather, or the florist fails – but I would really really hate to be too close if the wine ran out.

But, of course, this is exactly what happens.
A wonderful day of celebration transformed in a moment into a day of shame.
Family honour at risk.
Despite the best planning, the many attempts to ensure perfection, a roomfull of guests is faced with the exciting choice of water or water.
Human resources have failed.
But luckily that bride and groom whose names we'll never know had the good sense to invite Jesus to be part of their celebration – and in doing so, had, against all their expectations, brought God directly to their marriage feast.
So, when all they could offer was water – Jesus intervened and turned it into wine – and not just supermarket plonk but the finest vintage ever tasted.
How did it happen? I can't help with the mechanics of the miracle, and sadly I don't know how to replicate it, but at the most basic level it happened because someone had the sense to ask for help....a useful reminder for all of us. God is waiting, longing to bless us – but too often we try to struggle on, claiming our independence even as we fall flat on our faces again and again.
The God who in Jesus took the ordinary things of life and made them extraordinary is the same God who takes ordinary people – you, me and the lady down the road – and blesses us to be signs of God's kingdom.
We are utterly ordinary, each one of us....nothing to recommend us, nothing to make anyone take a second glance
and yet.........and yet, we can and will be transformed by God, if we can only find the courage to ask God to work with us.
The water that we bring is blessed and transformed into that we too can be a sacramental sign of God's presence – for that is what the church is called to be.
In a little while we will, together, celebrate another Sacrament, another sign of that transforming presence with us as we share bread and wine and receive with it God's true self...the essence of God's life and self-giving love given to us to share.
Truly, this is the season of wonders, as we continue to celebrate God with us, - in the simple things of everyday, - in men and women, water, bread and wine.

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