A Note From Rev. Michelle Junkin
I have always had a fondness for the story of Jesus turning water into wine. As a Seminary student, I learned that this story is from the very early beginning of Jesus' ministry. Jesus was not yet known by the masses nor surrounded by the crowds. He had not begun teaching and he had no miracles listed on his resume. As the story unfolds, we see that it is Mary, Jesus’ mother, who encourages him to respond to the need at hand. The Rev. Kathryn M. Matthews stated it this way, “And yet Jesus does indeed respond to the need at hand, with an act of ‘ordinary,’ earthy compassion for the hosts who are in a terrible predicament. Jesus' response, however, is anything but ordinary.” In this anything but ordinary act, Jesus launches his ministry and begins to reveal something about God’s abundance and that abundance is steadfast. It is always there. We will soon see it in how Jesus welcomes the outcast with the abundance of God’s love. We will soon hear about it when the baskets overflow with leftovers of bread and fish when Jesus feeds the multitude.
In this first miracle that Jesus performs, he takes the water set aside for religious purification and turns it into the best wine. In this first miracle of turning water into wine, we encounter Christ Jesus, our Lord at work in the world. One Scholar, Weems, summarized encountering Jesus this way, “not only in mountain-top experiences, but also ‘in the simple day-to-day activities of drawing water from wells, preparing food, tending sheep, and trying to figure out what to do when the wine runs out at a wedding celebration.” (New Proclamation Year C 2000-2001)
It is a reminder that God is at work when we least expect it. God can still surprise us. God fills the cup with good wine and serves it first while encouraging us all to celebrate life abundant and to be a blessing others. If we reflect on the abundance that God has filled our church to the brim with, what blessing can we share with others in our community? What water can be turned into wine within our own congregational life? Are we ready to be transformed by Christ to go forth and be a blessing to others and share God’s abundance with those in our community?
Sören Kierkegaard once said, "Christ turned water into wine, but the church has succeeded in doing something even more difficult: it has turned wine into water?" I think that quote is worth reflecting upon. How will we be stewards of what God has given us? Will we be a church that takes the jars given to us and use God’s abundance, love one another, live in unity and peace, working together—infused with Christ’s Spirit—to seek the good of all?
The wine we can offer the world is to be for each other ministers of God’s grace. In doing so, like the six jars of water set aside for religious purification, the church can become something unexpected and surprising…it becomes a place where God’s promises overflow into tangible acts of Christ’s compassion that lead to a new life as we live together in grace and unity as God intended. Indeed, how wonderful and miraculous! Thanks be to God.
In God’s Love,
Rev. Michelle Junkin
Sr. Associate Pastor of Congregational Life