Second Sunday after the Epiphany 2016

Bible Text: John 2:1-11


It was supposed to be a party. We were all there, dressed up with big smiles and shiny shoes. There was good music, fine food, fine wine, and…our professors. We were students at a language school in California. We’d been in class for a few  months, and the faculty thought it would be a good idea to put us in a social situation and only permit us to speak in Spanish. So when I say it was a party, I mean it was a test…masquerading as a party.

One of my professors could tell I was nervous, and asked me what was wrong. When I told him I couldn’t find the words I was looking for, he nodded to show me he understood, poured me a glass of wine, and gently suggested the words I was looking for may be somewhere near the bottom. It worked, and pretty soon I was confidently speaking the language I’d been learning for months.

Pause: – Let it be clear that this can work with one glass of wine. More than that, and you risk inviting more problems than you started with.

The idea, of course, is that a glass of wine may put you at ease, and perhaps help you see some things you didn’t see before. Seeing things more clearly is what the Epiphany season is all about. More specifically, Epiphany is the season in which Jesus shows us, more and more, clearer and clearer, louder and louder, that He is the Christ, the Son of God! And that is the point of today’s text.

Quite often, this is referred to as Jesus’ first miracle. But that simply is not so. Jesus’ first miracle, at least His first miracle on earth, was Christmas. The One whom Solomon’s Temple could not contain was contained in the womb of a Palestinian teenager. Or as we say in the creed, “He was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, and was made Man.” That was Jesus first miracle.

Compared with that, and frankly, almost every other miracle in Scripture, changing water into wine seems a bit mundane. But St. John doesn’t call this a miracle; He calls it a “sign.” Signs give us information. Signs point us to something, or in this case someone. Changing water into wine is a sign that shows us who Jesus is, and it shows us what Jesus does. The point here is that Jesus is a real person involved in real problems. And that is anything but mundane.

The problem in Cana today is that the wine has run out; and that is not making for a very good party. The hosts did the best they could, but it wasn’t enough, and things have taken a turn for the worst. The groom will be shamed; the steward may be fired; and it looks as if the bride will be brought to tears.

This is what happens when you try to have a party without Jesus. This is what happens when you, in your own life, try to go it alone. Your own resources are not enough. You run out of wine, and pretty soon find yourself drinking the water from the jars that everyone’s been washing their hands in. That does not sound like much of a party. It sounds like a situation in need of a change.

When Jesus shows up, like He did on Christmas, like He does today, He comes to make a change. At Cana he made a dead party a living party. He changed unbelief into belief. He changed sadness to joy. And when the wine ran out, Jesus kept the party going. And thanks be to God, Jesus has come to make some Epiphany changes for us as well.

At one time you were children of wrath. But in your baptism, Jesus has changed you into a Child of God, into His own brothers and sisters. That is a big, beautiful, Gospel change.

On top of that He has enlightened you with His Word. Jesus, you might say, Epiphanies you. He lights you up, and moves you from darkness to light. That is a change.

Nevertheless, we live in a world that continues to press us. So for all of you, the days between Sunday can often be difficult, and straining, and sometimes even tragic. And in the last six months, I know that you as a community have experienced a great deal of loss. So for all of you, Jesus offers you one change more. It is a change that will change you.

When friends die, and community is shattered. When your faith is weak and you can’t even find the words to plead to your Father in Heaven, Jesus steps in and makes a change. He changes bread and wine into Body and Blood – His Body and His Blood, won on the cross. And when you drink from that cup, when you taste the New Wine, Jesus Himself, you will be changed as well.

In His Holy Eucharist, offered here every Lord’s Day, Jesus epiphanies you. He opens your eyes, and strengthens your faith. As He lays Himself on the manger of your tongue, He also puts new words on your lips.

So when you leave this place, each and every week, in your Baptism, in His Word, when you drink from the cup He has given you, you leave speaking a new language. You depart in peace, speaking peace to others. You depart in joy, and sharing that joy with the world. You depart blessed to be a blessing. You depart forgiven, free to forgive those who curse you. You leave here lit up, enlightened, and epiphanied, prepared to go light up a world in darkness.


About Pastor Hopkins