Thursday, August 4, 2011

There was a wedding...

Hans Christian Andersen wrote in The Puppet-Show Man, “The whole world is a series of miracles, but we're so used to them we call them ordinary things.” Sometimes that is how scripture is read. The miracles have become so commonplace that any sense of wonder, excitement, and joy has disappeared.

I was struck by this thought while talking with a few teens about the seven miracles found in the Gospel according to John. By the way, the resurrection of Christ, although miraculous is not included in those seven miracles. When I investigated why the resurrection was not included, I was told that theologians do not count it as one of the seven. Go figure.

So we have a gospel where we count the miracles, stand when it is read, and have become dull to the wonder of the stories—the miracles. I wanted to try and recapture some of that joyful excitement and wonder for myself, so I retold the first miracle contained in John to myself and would like to share it with you. I have been told that to enjoy fiction a reader needs to suspend reality.  In order to enjoy this retelling I invite you to suspend memory. Pretend you have never heard this story before  and immerse yourself in it anew.

There was in a little town in the back country of Galilee, a wedding. The ceremony went off without a hitch, for which Hazaliel, the wedding coordinator was thankful. Now the reception was in full swing. The happy couple was happy. The guests were happy. And Hazaliel was happy.

The mood in the kitchen was not so happy. There was no more wine. This was not just an inconvenience; it was catastrophic. There were furtive whispers, “I am not gonna tell Haz, you tell him.” “No way, he is gonna pop like an over ripe fig.” Servants scurried, whispered, and cast accusing glances at one another. In the midst of this, a woman walked in. The servants thought to themselves, “This woman is no help. We need a man. Someone who can take charge; someone who can go buy more wine!” She heard the muffled whispers, she saw the looks, she knew they thought she was just in the way. But, she knew something they didn’t.

She slipped quietly from the kitchen and returned a few moments later with her son. Twelve of his friends tagged along. She cleared her throat and in a stage whisper spoke to her son, “They have run out of wine.”

Every eye turned to look at the pair. The servants began to hope that perhaps this strong young man was a vintner, someone who makes wine and could get them out of the pickle they were in.

The man scratched his head and looked at the woman. “Ma, this isn’t our concern, this is their party, they can cry if they want to, but it isn’t time for me to do my thing yet.”

She looked at him, with that look. You know the look. The look only a mother can give her son, the look that says, “I know all about you and you better do something about this because I am your MOTHER!”

The son knew that look too. The servants in the room watched his expression change. They knew that finally someone was going to do something. A man, someone who could do something, someone with authority.  

“Fill those jugs with water.” He directed. Everyone looked at him blankly for a moment. They were jars for ceremonial cleansing. They were to hold water for people to clean the dirt from their bodies. They were…bathtubs.

One of the servants started to bring in water. He thought to himself, “This guy is a lunatic, but at least when Haz finds out we are out of wine and hears what is going on he will yell at him and his mother, and not us.”

Another joined carrying water thinking to himself, “Oh this is rich, I wonder what kind of shenanigans this guy is up to.”

When the jars were full, the man told the servants to dip some up and take it to Haz for approval. The servants just stared. Gawked. Until finally, one of them worked up the courage to take a sample of the bathwater to the coordinator.

Everyone crowded in the doorway, watching with great, gleeful anticipation at the wrath that poor servant would incur when Haz tasted the bathwater. They held their breaths and watched him taste it. Then they watched him as he hurried to the groom. They overheard his excited words. “The best wine I ever tasted.”

Wait…What? “Best wine?”
They ran back into the kitchen and dipped some up. It was the best wine they had ever tasted and in the corner stood the woman, a scarf over her face as she suppressed her laughter.

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