Last week in the sermon at SUMC we had the makings of a dialogical sermon in which the community was asked for a number of responses to a number of questions. As we heard from the community there were a few things that struck me and while you can hear the sermon on the Saginaw UMC website, there is one thing that I would mention about the wedding in Cana story that came into my head as the conversation was going on.
Jesus does not preform a miracle by turning the water into wine. A miracle is rather easy to get bogged down in. Either we are caught up in the mechanics of the miracle: I read a debate about this story in which one side argued that the wine Jesus made was not sitting long enough to ferment and so while Jesus may have made wine, it was non-alcoholic! OR we use science to dismiss the supernatural aspects of the story and we miss the point all together.
The water to wine is not a miracle because miracles are also centered on the miracle worker. When someone today preforms a "miracle" (from the miracle on ice to the miracle on 34th street) then it is that person who preforms the miracle who gets all the credit. The miracle stops with the miracle worker.
But if the water to wine story is not a miracle, then what is it? Look no farther than what the story says - it is a sign.
And by definition, a sign is something which points to something beyond itself.
So what is the sign of water to wine pointing us to? I submit the gospel writer leaves little guess work. Take a look at just a few of the connections to the wedding to another episode in the story:
- Jesus' mother appears only at the wedding feast and and at the crucifiction.
- There are stone jars and a stone tomb.
- The wedding happens on the 7th day of the John's story, inaugurating a new creation.
- The wine (a connection to Christ's blood) is what replaces water that removes sin.
- The sign takes place during a wedding, a place in which a new a "new covenant" is established between two people.
Well, if the story is a miracle, then we cannot participate in the miracle. It is something that is locked in the past for us to debate and get bogged in the wrong conversation.
A sign is something we can participate in. You and I can be a sign maker.