John is the fourth gospel, significantly different than the other three (Matthew, Mark and Luke – often called the Synoptic Gospels). In John the first words out of Jesus’ mouth is the existential question, “What are you looking for?” His first miraculous action is to transform a mundane, and socially awkward situation into a never-to-be-forgotten party. It’s a sign…but of what? John structures his story-telling around seven signs, or miracles, which tease out the theological themes of Jesus as the revelation of God.
Today’s scripture is the first of the seven signs, the only one of which is unique to John, not occurring in any of the other gospel tellings. It occurs in the context of Mary telling the wedding waiters (and us as the reader of the gospel today) to “Do whatever Jesus tells you.” When that happens, belief is found, and the glory of God made known.
What happens when our life doesn’t turn out like we want and hope, no matter how much we’ve planned? What happens to us when we’re running on empty? Where do we find the presence of the Holy Divine…in the extraordinary and sacred, or in the habitual and mundane? Who is it that can first and best sense the movement of God? This miraculous sign of Jesus transforming a poorly planned party, which should have been perfect as what was required was well known, into something else. What seems ordinary is transformed by an impossible to expect abundance. Where those at the party see scarcity, failure, and trouble, Jesus brings abundance, hopeful light, a new beginning.
I often find that my carefully laid plans, and best intentions come up short. Where I expect to see God, or to witness God’s action, I don’t. Where I often feel like there isn’t enough…time, resources, or help….where I feel like I’m not enough….Jesus turns things upside down, changing my perceived darkness by a shining light which cannot be overcome.
Questions for the practice of Examen & Contemplation
- What shimmers for you in this passage?
- What word, phrase or image touches your life today?
- Of what is this story a sign? What do you see when you look at the story, wrestling with it on a literal, symbolic, narrative and emotional level?
- How does this story inform and shape your own story of following Jesus?
- What questions does this story breathe into you, and leave you with…about God?, about yourself?, about life?
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