Summary: Second Sunday after Epiphany
Second Sunday after Epiphany January 14, 2001
John 2:1-11, 1 Cor. 12:1-11 Trinity Lutheran Church
“The Best for Next”
Dear Friends in Christ, Grace and Peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
For me, January is kind of an “in-between” time. The busy-ness of Advent and Christmas is now past, and the hectic pace of Lent and Easter is yet a ways off. For most of us, January is kind of a “back to the grind of winter” month, and the promise of summer seems an impossibly long ways away. So, I always try to put a little summer in my January. No, I don’t head down to Florida or Arizona (an act of sheer mutiny and desertion for true Minnesotans!) Nope. I help plan weddings.
This next week I will spend some of my time meeting with couples who are planning weddings for this coming summer. Actually, it’s not so much “wedding” planning that I do with these folks, but “marriage” planning, if such a thing as sharing one’s life totally with another can ever be planned. Trying to plan a marriage is like trying to plan a six-year-old’s birthday party. Anything can happen, and usually does! But we try to talk about it, anyway.
A pastor by the name of G.H. Gerberding wrote a book about 90 years ago entitled “The Lutheran Pastor,” in which he seeks to give advice to would-be clergy. On the subject of marriage he says, “We have two remnants of Eden left to us. One is a sacred seventh day, fraught with rest and refreshment for body and soul. The other is marriage, with its Christian home. These are relics of paradise. The beauty and blessing of Eden ought to be allied with matrimony. But, in our fallen world, it is only too often the opposite of this. It has been truly and forcibly said that the bonds of matrimony may be the golden cords to draw us to heaven or the iron chains to drag us to hell. What momentous issues hang on the choosing and accepting of a life-companion. It is the making or the marring of peace and blessedness for the life that now is, and often also for that which is to come. How carefully this plant from the garden of Eden should be fostered and guarded.” Indeed.
So, we meet... I and these wedding would-be’s... and we talk about marriage stuff. If, after our time together discussing communication, conflict resolution, money, sex, children, work expectations and inlaws, they haven’t been scared out of it, then we talk about the wedding itself. This little purgatory with me is only the beginning of the price they pay!
Did you know that the average wedding reception in this country costs about $7000, and the average spent on an engagement ring is about $3000? That’s ten grand right off the bat! Add in the invitations, a photographer, flowers, dresses and tuxes, gifts for the wedding party, etc., and pretty soon you’ve got a small fortune invested in this thing!
I guess this is just a long way of saying that, from the pre-marital work with me all the way down to writing the checks for the party, a wedding is no small thing! And it shouldn’t be. It’s one of the all-too-few moments in life that are purely celebrative... a party for the best of reasons.... the love of two people.
In nearly every culture around the world, a wedding is an incredibly big deal. In fact, it seems that the poorer the community in terms of monetary resources, the bigger deal it is! Maybe that’s because parties become pretty scarce when life is hard. That was certainly the case in Jesus’ day.
A wedding in first century Palestine was no small occasion. The festivities usually lasted for more than one day. The wedding ceremony itself was conducted in the evening, after a big meal. After the ceremony the young couple were carried to their new home. By that time it would be dark, and they were carried through the streets by the light of flaming torches and with a canopy over their heads. They were usually taken by as long a road as possible so that everyone could have the opportunity to see them and wish them well. And they didn’t go away on a honeymoon! They got to stay at home and be waited on hand-and- foot for a whole week by their families and neighbors! In a culture that was really very poor and the work very hard, this week for these newlyweds was no doubt one of life’s best and most memorable occasions!
This was the kind of occasion that Jesus and his mother attended in Cana, shortly after Jesus’ baptism by John. We don’t often think of Jesus as simply a friend or a relative or another name on a guest list, but that’s how we meet him in this story. He wasn’t there to preach, or teach, or recruit disciples. He was there to party with the rest of his community, along with his mom and some friends.