Brian Hiortdahl, West Hills, CA

Warm-up Question

Who is your hero?

Hero at the Wedding

Just after getting married on the beach, newlywed groom Zac Edwards was alerted to a swimmer in danger drifting out to sea.  The former lifeguard and member of the Coast Guard interrupted the wedding photos to save a life:

Discussion Questions

  •  When was the last time you were in an emergency situation?  What happened?
  • What things are important enough to interrupt a wedding celebration?
  • What one story from your life do you think you will tell your grandkids?  Why?

Second Sunday after Epiphany

Isaiah 62:1-5

1 Corinthians 12:1-11

John 2:1-11

(Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings for Year C at Lectionary Readings

For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.

Gospel Reflection

Jesus wasn’t the groom at the wedding in Cana, and he didn’t technically save a life, but he was a hero.  In biblical times, running out of wine at a wedding was an emergency.  Wine was more common and safer to drink than water.  Wine was a symbol of joy.  Wine was also an expected gift from friends, who would provide it in advance of the week long wedding celebration.  To run out of wine at a wedding would bring enormous shame to the families involved.  It would be an indication that they did not have enough friends.  It would harm their social standing in the village beyond repair.  Jesus rescued a dire situation.

As usual with the gospel of John, however, there is also much more to the story.  John calls this episode “the first of his signs,” meaning the miracle points beyond itself to something more.  Clues are dropped throughout the story.  “The third day” not only reflects the Jewish custom of being married on Tuesday (because the third day of creation is doubly blessed by God calling something good—see Genesis 1:9-13), it also points to the resurrection.  Dialogue with his mother about his “hour” anticipates his crucifixion.  It seems likely that the wine is meant to allude to Holy Communion; the only other time empty containers are “filled” in John’s gospel it is with an abundance of bread after the feeding of the multitude.  And the quality of the wine from Jesus exceeds what anyone else provides, a theme which will recur throughout the gospel.

This story will become important background for the night immediately before the “hour” when Jesus saves flailing humanity with his self-giving heroics on the cross.  He quotes Song of Songs to his disciples:  “Rise, let us be on our way.”  It is what the groom says to his bride, inviting her to the vineyard.  He then says, “I am the vine” on his way to urging his disciples to “bear fruit” and “love one another as I have loved you.”  The point of everything he says is symbolized by the abundant wine:  “I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.”  The “sign” at Cana points to the gift of abundant life saved with love and overflowing with top-notch joy.

Discussion Questions

  • How does the newlywed Edwards couple remind you of Jesus and his love?
  • When and where in your life has Jesus transformed trouble into joy?
  • Does weekly worship feel like a wedding reception?  Why or why not?
  • Who has loved you, and inspired you to love others?

Activity Suggestions

  • Sponsor and organize a First Aid/CPR training at your church.
  • Write thank you notes to first responders or other local heroes in your community.
  • Initiate or support the Souper Bowl of Caring™ or another resource drive (food, clothing, toiletries, etc.) to help those who do not have enough.
  • Throw a party.  Bring enough soda!

Closing Prayer

Son of Mary and Son of God, come into our lives and turn our water into wine, our worries into wonders, our emergencies into blessings, our love into action, our scarcity into abundance, our stories into signs of your goodness, and our struggles into joy.  Amen.