First United Methodist Church
Plymouth, Indiana

The New Exhilaration

Plymouth First United Methodist Church
Rev. Dr. Byron W. Kaiser
January 16, 2022
“The New Exhilaration”
John 2:1-11

When Jesus intrudes into our world, things happen.  Our time is miraculously transformed into God’s time, the eternal breaks into the temporal, and the glory of God breaks forth into our world.

Jesus gets invited to a wedding. 

Think of the scripture reading something like this, “Three days after this there was a wedding in Old Tip Town of Marshall County.”

Cana was remote.   Three hundred years later Constantine the Great’s mother, Saint Helena, wanted people to experience Cana and celebrate Jesus’ first miracle.  The problem was the location of Cana.  Being so remote, no one would travel the extra miles to the site.  So, Saint Helena had a new Cana built close to the pilgrim path.  Mothers.  What they won’t do for their sons. Back to Scripture.

“Three days after this there was a wedding in Old Tip Town and Jesus’ mother was there.”

Pray with me. 

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful.

And kindle in them the fire of your love.

Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created.

And you will renew the face of the earth.


by the light of the Holy Spirit

you have taught the hearts of your faithful.

In the same Spirit

help us to relish what is right

and always rejoice in your consolation.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.


Imagine the scene of a Palestinian wedding.  The rejoicing and socializing were not so different then our customs here.  Just longer.  The celebration was for the entire week.  All the town would be invited and the out-of-town guests of the families.  Rabbis taught that the only acceptable reason to stop studying the Torah, was to attend a wedding.  To elevate the wedding even more, the bride and groom were announced as royalty for the week.  To share in the joy of a wedding equaled was to be in heaven.

The guests arrive.  They come to the house.  Typical home is u-shaped with a wall closing the opening of ‘U’.  As a guest enters from the street through the wooden gate, they look to the left and to the right and see the small rooms for storing good and sleeping guests.  Directly in front of them sets the main house with the outdoor cooking areas in front and sitting halls for bad weather days behind.  Mosaic stone paths and courts, gardens, fountains, and trees cover the interior to cool the traveler and shade the celebration. 

Here is a made-up image.  There is nothing Biblical about what I see.  Yet, it is consistent with the Gospel writers’ image of Jesus latter in the Gospel.  What if Jesus sits at the gate of the house just inside the door to help the serving girls wash the travelers’ feet. 

All the guests arrive.  The initial ceremony concludes.  The first evening of feasting finishes.  The second evening finishes.  All is well.  The celebration continues into the middle days of the week.   Notice that John the Author writes that on “third day.”  This is code for “God is doing something big!”

Have you ever been to a wedding where the mother of the bride is so distraught over a mishap that her sister takes over as manager of the festivities to solve the problem?  No, I have not attended one like that either. 

Perhaps more people showed up to the wedding then what sent an RSVP.  May be Jesus arrived with disciples that had not been accounted for in the making of food arrangements.  We do not know what happened.  We do know that as the Rabbi’s teach that to share in the joy of a wedding is to be in heaven, they also teach that there is no joy without wine!  I’m sure this is a rabbinical joke, not to be taken literally.  But no wine means no heaven! Running out of wine creates a biblical crisis.  An empty punch bowl creates mass hysteria.  Life comes to a standstill for the newly married.  You know I am exaggerating for effect, right?

John Madden died recently.  One of the things I loved about John Madden is that he made a fabulous announcing career out of stating the obvious.  “The Bears would have won if they scored more points.”  Here is Mary’s John Madden moment.   She comes to Jesus and says, “They have no wine.” 

As Jesus pops the last piece of matzo bread with a little roasted lamb into his mouth and brushes the crumbs from his hands, he turns to his mom and says, “what do you want me to do about it?” 

I can’t image that this all-curious son of an all-knowing father did not know about levels of wine running low at this wedding.  In my own narrative, I think that Jesus says to friends, “I wondered how long it was going to take for her to find out and ask me to do something.”

I imagine in tow behind Mary stand the servers.  She turns on her heels shaking her head and whispers to them without eye contact to do whatever he says knowing that her son may be a little unconventional at times. 

I imagine Jesus sets off with the servers to see what they can use for the additional wine.  They end up at the synagogue.  Outside six ceremonial jars sit.  Each contain 20-30 gallons of water for hand and foot washing on the Sabbath.  Jesus ordered that six jars be filled to the brim with water and a ladle of the “water” set before the wedding coordinator/ wine steward.  One gallon of water weighs 8.34 lbs.  20 gallon is 166 pounds.  A hefty crew moved these jars.  We now have 120 to 180 gallons of the best wine the steward has ever tasted.  That amount of wine will surely make Old Tip Town stand up and dance. 

Shortage creates opportunity for Jesus’ super abundance.  Yet, look deeper for the God meaning.  Jesus does not supply wine.  Jesus is the wine.  The water is everything that is a substitute for the real deal.  Water, in this story, is everything by which we think we can live, and which yet fails us when put to the test. 

Jesus tells us in this story that this is not his hour.  “Hour” for Jesus means great suffering, and terrible pain.  His hour has not come.  John the author tells us that this took place not so that the guests or the family or the bride and groom may see his glory, but that those he just recruited as disciple may see his glory.  It’s a less glorious “glory” moment.  It’s pulling the veil of this world aside just a smidgen to show the disciples what comes. 

Likewise, when you leave this Sunday’s celebration, there will be less glorious moments for you on your faith journey.  Yet, how can you not be different for having been present today.  You are different now then you were when you came into the building this morning.  God has lifted the veil just a smidgen so you can see what is to come.

Anytime Jesus shows up, whether it is at an ordinary wedding at Cana, or in our ordinary church, or tomorrow on an ordinary Monday morning; anytime Jesus shows up, things transform.  Glory shines.  In the light of such glory, despair turns to hope, doubt turns to belief, death into life, and water into wine!  It’s a miracle.