John is the only Gospeller of this story, which makes some grey-brained scholars very skeptical about its basis in historical fact. That may be so, but let’s for pity’s sake, not p**p the party!! This story of wine-filled happiness, abundance and blessing is trying to tell us religious folk something we’re long overdue to hear.
Wine makes many appearances in Scripture, almost always as a potent symbol of God’s covenant faithfulness AND, God’s determination that life be graced with abundance and joy.
I had occasion a few years ago to walk with a vinter through his ripening crop. The ground was baked hot and hard, and was filled with small rocks. The wizened, gnarly plants crawled bare stemmed out of the ground up a trellis of rusting wire. If you look at the lower two to three feet of a vine trellis, you’d be convinced that nothing much would come of such a spindly, scrawly start. But at shoulder height it all changes. Leaves larger than my palm exploded from the vine, rich and green, veined and succulent… no wonder the Greeks learned to make dolmades with them, they look and are tasty! In among those luscious leaves is the jewel in the vine, hefty purple pearls bunched in clusters, each one an explosion of sugar sweet tart juiciness.
No wonder this amazing fruit, that can squeeze water from the rock of dusty, arid, rocky clay, or sandy loam and turn it into gold or purple juice, has become the symbol bar none of the way God blesses this world. The vine doesn’t need succulent perfection to make its fruit, and neither does God need perfection from us in order to shower is with blessing, and more to the point, turn us into wine for the world!
Leaving aside, with respect, the temperance heritage of our UCC ancestors of the Methodist persuasion for just a moment, if wine is permissible in your household, pour yourself a glass with dinner tonight. Savour its bouquet, taste, and remember,…. this is what grace tastes like, what blessing looks like. Be blessed and enjoy!