A sermon on the worst wedding ever
I’m thinking, if the oil represents the Holy Spirit, the virgins with more than enough oil had connection to the Bridegroom (Christ) in the Kingdom of God. The ones who didn’t, couldn’t access relationship in the Kingdom with Christ. Today we should be called the Church of the Holy Spirit. Jesus isn’t here bodily on earth anymore…He sent the Spirit to guide us, in His place.
Thank you, thank you, thank you. The sermon I heard, yesterday, in the neighborhood church, rubbed every nerve in my being in unpleasant ways. The interpretation too often preached just does not reflect the extravagant welcome, generosity, and sharing that girds my understanding of the Jesus I try to better know. [And, seriously? Ten virgins; one groom? And the five are just selfish and the groom is just rude? Great fodder for the Left Behind series but that just gets me squirming, too.]
One more, thank you!!
Thank you, Diana! I too often skip over this one because the explanation I have heard over so many years just doesn’t hold up for me. You’ve given me a lot to discern. Bless you.
Awesome Diana! I might "borrow" that sermon sometime <3
Wow, this was amazing, such a fresh, multifaceted take on an old, flat story
Just like Jesus, turning the world upside down.
Thank you for sharing this. You might enjoy this article I wrote and was published at "Fiends Journal" a few years ago reconsidering the parable about the wedding at Cana.
What a party that was! John and Rebekah were a great couple. Everyone who knew them thought the world of them, and thought they were just so right for each other. They had friends everywhere they went. So when the news came that they were finally getting married, and throwing a big feast, it was only natural that so many of us wanted to be there, even those who had to come a long way to get to Cana. There were people there I hadn’t seen in years, and so many I had never met before it was a little overwhelming at first, but that sure changed by the end of the day!
I later heard from Rebekah’s sister that the newlyweds were a little overwhelmed by the crowd, too. When people started arriving from everywhere they started getting worried about the arrangements: would there be enough tents, enough dishes, and of course, what about the food - would there be enough to feed all these people? We saw they looked nervous, but thought it was just the expected wedding-day jitters. Of course, it turned out that the wine made the day famous, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
The wedding itself went off perfectly. The young couple looked radiant, the ceremony had all its rich tradition, and the crowd beamed. Then began the party, and boy did we all party. There was music, good friends, food, and, it seemed, lots of wine. It was a young crowd, and as one who was young back then can attest, we probably drank more wine than we should have, but we were celebrating and happy. No-one got out of hand or anything, this was a traditional wedding, after all!
So there we were; some dancing, some standing around in groups talking. I was talking with Joseph about how things were going in Nazareth, since I had not been there since I had to deliver some figs years earlier. That’s how it happened that I was right there to hear the beginning of it, the great miracle of that day. Mary, Joseph’s wife, came up shaking her head. She reported she had just heard some of the other women talking about how the couple had run out of wine. Mary had been caught up in the drama like some of the others, saying things like “How could they have let this happen? Surely they had to figure so many people would come! What poor planning!”
That’s when Jesus, their son, spoke up. I’d hardly noticed him before; up until then he’d always seemed like a quiet sort of guy. He was clearly upset. I think he later regretted speaking so harshly to his mother, but after all he was young, and had had some wine, too. I don’t remember his exact words, but it was something like “Woman, why should I care whether or not there is wine? We are here to celebrate this wonderful marriage and all these wonderful friends and family. We’re not here because of the wine!” His mom agreed, but knew the couple and their parents were going to be so embarrassed, mortified that they had made this vast mistake, on the biggest day of their lives and in front of all their family and friends. Mary begged Jesus to try to do something, to help tell the others. That’s when he had the idea. You could just see it in his face. I mean, he always had a sense of humor, and by his smile you could just tell he’d come up with something.
He called over a waiter. “I have an idea,” he said. “I want you to fill all those empty wine jars over there with water, then bring some and meet me by the head waiter. We are going to make sure the newlyweds’ day is not ruined by lack of wine.”
As the waiter went away with a puzzled look to do as Jesus asked, Jesus went to find the head waiter, who was over trying to get a chance to talk to the groom to tell him of this catastrophe. Jesus and the head waiter talked a while, then both smiled. Then the first waiter came up with a ladle of the water from the newly full jars, and gave it to the head waiter to drink. The head waiter smiled broadly and said, “Most people serve the best wine first, you saved it for last!”
Word spread around the room quickly, and people caught on right away. “We can’t let John and Rebekah know, this is their day and our gift to them!” We all stood around drinking the “wine,” commenting on what a great vintage it must be, how the bouquet was exquisite, and so forth. Someone came up with a couple of bottles of real wine the waiters used for the bride and groom and their family to drink when their glasses ran dry. It was so much fun to be a part of this. It was the best wine: the wine of camaraderie. We may not have known each other at the beginning of the feast, but now we were all in cahoots together in this great plan. If the couple was nearby we’d sip and then wink at each other. And we really pulled it off. John and Rebekah didn’t learn about it until much later, when we could all laugh about it, though I think their parents figured it out during the party.
It could have been such an embarrassing moment for the family, it could have marred John and Rebekah’s wedding memories forever, but instead Jesus managed to change everything with just a little twist, a little challenge to our assumptions. He ended up doing a lot of that in his lifetime. Here he took a bad situation, and transformed it. He reminded us what we already knew, in this case that the celebration was about something bigger than all of us. He made us work together for something beyond ourselves, and we were all richer and happier people because we did. He didn’t just talk about it, he found ways to show us that love, community, and a higher purpose can lead to something really beautiful.
Though I am old now, I can never forget that day. The community of friends we formed that day still persists. I have friends in Jerusalem, and even Tyre, that I met that day. John and Rebekah have had a full life, and have many grandchildren. People still talk of that wonderful wedding day. Why, just last week one of my grandsons came home from the Cana market wearing a shirt he got there. In the new style, someone had painted a slogan across the front. His said “When life gives you water, make wine!”
I believe that long after John and Rebekah, and I and my Sarah, and all our friends are forgotten, people will still speak of that day Jesus worked a miracle. When he taught us how with love, creativity, and the help of our friends we can turn water into wine.
This is a really interesting take, Diana! It doesn't land for me, though I appreciate the prompt to reconsider and think about wisdom-- your words made me think a bit about Martha and Mary, but there is so much assumed to make any of these stories complete.