Vin extraordinaire

There’s a lot of spiritualisation goes on in church circles. I mean the sort of perspective that can turn a tragedy into an opportunity for grace, and suffering into a school of faith. There can be deep truth in these insights and they can be powerful forces for transformation in our lives and in the world. 

There are some downsides too, though. If we use them to frame someone else’s situation, for instance, they can sanctify the will not of God but oppressive human action, or force a spiritual shortcut on the hearer.

Or they can just leave us with the general idea that God is at best not much bothered about our happiness, or at worst deliberately making things difficult for us for our Greater Good. And yes, I know that there is some serious and sensible theology in there too. I can grapple with a divine will that does not only daringly call a creation into being knowing that for there to be good there will also be bad, and the freedom to choose one implies the freedom to choose the other too (we do something of the same when we have children…). But a divine will that deliberately designs suffering for us as a sort of spiritual boot camp is much harder for me to get hold of.
But my point from today’s reading from John’s Gospel, which set this train of thought going, is rather more basic. I’m happy when those I love are happy, and happy here includes good food and wine, good company and probably crackers, with no ulterior motive than that they are fun. Perhaps that’s the sign of the kingdom of heaven that we’re being shown.

John 2.1-12

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.’ His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ Now standing there were six stone water-jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, ‘Fill the jars with water.’ And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, ‘Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.’ So they took it. When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom and said to him, ‘Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.’ Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother, his brothers, and his disciples; and they remained there for a few days.