Summary: The sermon is a reflection to a European audience on John 2:1-11. The sermon makes a contrast between the emptiness of the contemporary world and the fullness of the presence of Jesus.

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St. Margaret’s Church

Moshi, Tanzania


Readings: 1Kings 17: 8-16 & John 2:1-11

Emptiness Of The Potterworld

One of my New Year resolutions was to read Harry Potter - Book 1. I am proud to say that iit didn’t take me too long to put the resolution into action. I have immensely enjoyed reading Harry Potter & Philosopher’s Stone. I impatiently wait for the movie version to arrive in our part of the world.

What led me into this “Pottermania”? I was intrigued by the reports in the press, including the 5 page write-up in Time (Nov 5, 2001), similar write-ups in The Tablet and other email news deliveries.

I kept wondering what was all this fuss about? No doubt, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, is no mere fiction. It is literature. Still, why so much excitement? From the making of a $125 million movie to the commercial tactics of Harry Potter toothbrushes? Over 100 million copies of the books have been sold; and Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire, fourth in the series, published in 2000, holds the record as the fastest selling book in history. Even a certain Anglican Pastor, Francis Bridger has written a spiritual reflection on the story in his A Charmed Life: the Spirituality of Potterworld. Now you see the fuss?

Harry Potter -Book 1 is a story of a “Cinderella-type of a boy” who has magical powers. He is taken to Hogwarts to be taught the art of magic and witchcraft…from potion making to flying on broomsticks. In Hogwarts, Harry Potter not only discovers his own history but becomes a hero defending the Philosopher’s Stone from the evil Lord Voldemort.

Despite some beautiful aspects in Harry Potter, looked from a cynical point of view, it is not much different from the Famous Five, Secret Seven or Hardy Boys. Yet the series is a sensation and J.K.Rowling is now an international celebrity. Yes, the story is the usual conflict between good and evil. But the difference is that Potterworld is a world of the mysterious. A world of owls and dragons, spells and portions, magic and witchcraft. It is the world of the spiritual of another kind! Similar phenomena if it were to be described by Africans we would call it primitive and uncivilized!

Coming from the East, having lived in Africa for ten years, and being a teacher of Philosophy of Religion, to me the fuss over the Potterworld is a symptom of the spiritual emptiness of the Western world.

It is an emptiness that only Christ can fill.

The Abundance Of Cana

Even in Cana initially there was an emptiness. “They had no wine.” The low-grade wine provided for the feast was all spent-up. And the feast had become an embarrassment.

There were also six stone water jars, standing there empty. We are told that these jars were those used for the ablutions that were customary among the Jews.

By this, evangelist John seems to tell us that the Jews of Jesus’ time too experienced an emptiness, much like the people of the potterworld! Their emptiness is symbolically represented by the empty water jars. Their laws, customs and rituals didn’t satisfy them. That is why, they didn’t bother anymore about the ablutions. The six mighty jars for such a small home stood empty.

And they had no wine. In the Bible, wine represents love, happiness and celebration. For the ancients, a feast without wine turned immediately into a funeral: no songs, no dances, nor cheer.

To this emptiness Jesus brings in an abundance. “Fill the jars with water”, he says. And they filled them to the brim. To the brim! In the presence of Jesus there is no emptiness. Only abundance. Jesus now orders them to draw out of this abundance. There is plenty now. And what a wine. There is happiness now. There is celebration.

John concludes the narration with the words, This was the first of Jesus’ signs. It was at Cana in Galilee. In the gospel of John Jesus performs seven miracles, which are called signs. Jesus reveals himself through these signs, and still we need faith to recognize that here is the Messiah!

The miracles are the signs of the abundance of the presence of the messiah. There is no scarcity as Jesus is there. There is no emptiness in the Kingdom of God. In other words, only Jesus can truly remove the emptiness of the Potterworld.

We all need a filling

I think sometime or other we all experience an emptiness in our lives, and in our selves. We keep trying to fill our jars with different types of wines… And these attempts leave us more empty than before. We need to recognize this emptiness and let Jesus fill this emptiness and we can be sure He is going to fill it to the brim.

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