Every Sunday I get to see something that most of you who read this posting do not. It’s the faces of all the people in our congregation as they receive the bread and wine of Holy Communion in our weekly celebration of the Lord’s Supper. Some smile (as if at a party!) as they encounter Jesus again in this special meal. It’s like the joy expressed by many of you last Christmas Eve when you sang “Go Tell It on the Mountain” and clapped during the Distribution, celebrating that Jesus first was born as a tiny baby but now dwells with us in, with, and under ordinary bread and wine! Some of you quietly cry or tear up as you eat the bread and drink the wine of the Lord’s Supper. I don’t always know what is going through your minds, but I imagine (or am privileged to know) that you are grieving something or someone…often, a loved one who is no longer standing alongside you as he/she once did. The gift of Jesus’ body and blood in the Sacrament connects you mysteriously not only with your community here but also with the communion of saints around the world and with beloved saints of God who have gone home to heaven before you. Whether tears, smiles…or even just ordinary expressions..the words of a recent newcomer to our church ring true about the proclamation of Jesus’ death and resurrection in Holy Communion at Trinity: “I can tell there is really something special happening when you all do Holy Communion.” That something special, of course, is God’s recreating of real community among us. It is community with God and with one another, by the power of the Holy Spirit, who works through ordinary words…ordinary bread and wine.
This week’s reading (you can find it here) details Jesus’ attending a wedding and turning water into wine at Cana. It is a beautiful, unexpected event…unexpected because many people think of all things related to God as having to do with overly serious, somber happenings. The wedding at Cana is a reminder that God is present at our celebrations and parties, too. It isn’t JUST the wine of course, but wine where Jesus and Jesus’ Words are present, abundant, delicious wine converted from the water of purification that Jesus uses to reveal his glory. It’s no accident that producing this wine occurs not only in connection with an unnamed husband and wife joined together in holy matrimony, but a new community (Jesus’ disciples and earthly family) named together at the opening and close of this passage.
Jesus, at his crucifixion, drank a different sort of wine, sour wine (19:28-30), in fulfillment of God’s Word. Jesus’ thirsting and drinking sour wine on the cross aligned him with the suffering psalmist (Psalm 69) and with all today who cry out to God for real community. If there is any reproach for the brokenness of human relationships…any tears to shed because of family dysfunction…any pain to be felt due to the ache of loneliness…Jesus has been there. Jesus has undergone it. Yet, Jesus’ death would the means for Jesus to draw all people to himself. The events of that horrible day would one day be on “Good Friday” because they would end on a “third day,” Easter Sunday! And so Jesus who wanted his disciples to know that the sour wine of broken community wasn’t the End, would also promise: “I am the Vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Jesus’ Word in association with ordinary wine still gathers people together. It still bears fruit. It still recreates real community.
Who would ever think that the wine that first flowed at Cana could get as far as Lexington Park? Let’s drink up! The crucified and risen Jesus is here. He’s the Life of the party, and we’re all invited. Let’s do what we can to get the invitation out to others, too.