Summary: First in a series dealing with weddings in the bible, this sermon looks at Jesus attending a wedding and his first miraculous sign of turning water into wine.
A June Wedding:
The Best Guest Yet
June is the month of matrimonial bliss for brides everywhere. Open the Sunday “Living” section of the newspaper and you encounter the many faces of blissful brides adorned in their nuptial best accompanying the announcement of their recent marriage. June is the most popular month of the year for weddings. I suppose with school out, generally great weather, and loved ones able to schedule vacations, most brides just figure June is the best month to get married. So in honor of June brides everywhere, may I be so bold as to offer “A June Wedding” to our congregation as an opportunity to reflect on some of the passages of the Bible that include weddings or wedding imagery.
I have had the opportunity over the last fifteen years to officiate numerous weddings. I’ve seen a lot of stressed out brides, and I’ve even seen a few drunk grooms. I have seen a few irate mothers, and few put out mothers-in law, and yes, I’ve also seen a few clueless fathers. The important thing for fathers to remember—just write the check. I have seen a lot of sweet, touching moments, and I’ve seen more than a few humorous moments. But I don’t think there have been any more humorous than the pastor who had been counseling with a couple he was to be marry. During the wedding rehearsal, the groom pulled the pastor aside, handed him a neatly folded $100 bill, and said, “Look, I’ll give you this $100 if you’ll change the wedding vows. When you get to me and the part where I’m to promise to ‘love, honor and obey’ I’d appreciate it if you’d just leave that part out.”
The next day arrived and the wedding proceeded in course until the pastor got to the part of the groom’s vows. The pastor looked at the young man and said, “Will you promise to bow down before her, obey her every command and wish, serve her breakfast in bed every morning of your life and swear eternally before God and your lovely wife that you will not ever even look at another woman, as long as you both shall
The young groom’s eyes grew wide, he gulped hard, leaned in to the pastor and said, “What happened? I thought we had a deal.”
The pastor reached into his pocket, retrieved the $100, handed it back to the groom, pointed to the bride, and said, “She made me a better offer.”
I performed a wedding yesterday for my youngest brother. Most brides stress out for one reason—they want everything to be just perfect. They want the flowers perfect. They want the bridesmaids dresses to be perfect. The want the groom to be perfect. They want the music to perfect. And, honestly, a lot of work and not a little money goes into making the perfect wedding. You can imagine the disappointment when something goes wrong. Jesus and his disciples were the guests at just such a wedding as his earthly ministry began. As it turned out, Jesus was more than just another guest, though. He was the best guest yet.
In first century Jewish culture (and to a large extent still today), weddings were important events, not just in the life of the families involved, but for the community. It was so because the wedding provides not only the joining together of two families to create a new one, but in the Jewish mind provided the imagery for messianic celebration and joy. Whenever a Jew reflected on what the arrival of Messiah would be like, they thought about banquets, and the wedding banquet was the foremost model that came to mind. No, weddings were not the one day affairs we have now with the bride and groom whisked away for their honeymoon. Weddings were week-long affairs for family members and close friends of the bride and groom. The loving couple spent the entire week surrounded by family and friends celebrating the marriage. And the host, traditionally the groom’s family, had to be hospitable. It was Jewish tradition. You fathers who have paid for your daughter’s to get married—you know what it cost for that two hour Saturday afternoon affair. Think what a week-long celebration would end up costing, and count your lucky stars.
So imagine the embarrassment of the host family when they commit the great social faux pas of running out of wine. We’re talking major embarrassment here. They would be the source of gossip at the grocery store and coffee shop, and can you imagine the horror when the beaming new bride showed up at the beauty salon. How those women can gossip! This would not be quite the modern equivalent of either the bride or groom not showing up for the wedding, but it would be close, for hospitality was a center piece of Jewish culture in the first century. Not only that, but wine was a symbol of joy, and if they couple had no wine, that meant there was no joy in their marriage.