I wonder why Jesus and the disciples were invited to the wedding feast in the first place. A mismatched, itinerant bunch is sure to draw attention, eat a lot and drink a lot, too. I wonder if they behaved themselves in front of Jesus’ mother. I wonder about the wine served, and the backup wine the steward seemingly expects to be on hand. I wonder if the host was woefully unprepared or if the guests had consumed much more than anticipated. I wonder if Jesus was overcome with tipsy anxiety thinking Mary was already talking about his death. “My hour has not yet come,” is an odd response to “the wine has run out.” I wonder what the servants thought of blindly doing whatever Jesus told them. I wonder if Mary’s encouragement eased their concern or heightened their apprehension. I wonder how Jesus did. How he turned water into wine. I wonder what all the guests thought when they had the first sip of that good wine.
I wonder how long everyone waited. Certainly longer than the minute or two it takes for Saint John to proclaim the story. Maybe half an hour. Maybe a few hours. Maybe most of the night. Maybe a few days, given the typical length of
wedding festivities in ancient and modern Palestine — far longer than America’s less decorous tradition of a 20 minute church service, an hour-long dinner, followed by two hours of dancing. Just long enough to make guests feel travel time was worth it, but short enough to keep the bar bill down.
My guess is it took more, rather than less time for this festive occasion to unfold, for water to be turned to wine. Like so much in life. Renewal takes time. Healing takes time. Transformation takes time. Which means it’s not so much about time, as it is about response to time. Time as we wait. Wait for a new heaven and a new earth. Wait for wholeness. Wait for righteousness. Wait for peace. (2 Peter 3:13)
We all respond to time, to waiting in our own way. Some grow impatient. Others anxious. Some cope with that anxiety by planning ahead. Others by taking a long time to do anything. Some people just give up. Or grow angry, bitter, demanding. Most of us living in North America wonder why we have to wait for anything at all. We set up fiscal cliffs. And debt extensions. We work more and play less.
Eat faster food. Slug through exercise. Pass time frivolously, or idly. Sleep through the rest.
All the while synchronizing the atomic clocks with our clocks. With watches on our wrists. Smart phones in our pockets. Computers on our desks. Tablet screens in our hands. Time stamps on paper mail; and voicemail, and email and Facebook newsfeeds — all telling us we have more piling up. All robbing us of the very thing we all have: Time. Which God gave us to enjoy. But which we’ve twisted and turned and tarnished.
This is the only hour a week I am relatively certain my iPhone won’t bing with yet another email. If time is reduced to this, becomes an adversary, it’s high time we start on a different way. As a community. As a society. As a people. As God’s people.
I have no idea how long everyone waited for Jesus to turn water to wine. For flat drink to bubble with life like newly carbonated water. For empty to turn to plenty. I don’t know how long the guests at the wedding feast waited. But they certainly waited a lot more patiently,
a lot more wholly, a lot more humanly than any of us. The host. The steward. The disciples. Jesus. The guests. All of them, and Mary who simply takes notice; with no anxiety, but with a certain confidence: “do what he tells you.” All are otherwise immersed in what is going on around them. Talking. Eating. Drinking. Dancing. Immersed in the goodness of time.
And then, the goodness, in the fullness of time comes the water turned to wine. And one by one. Steward to host. Host to guests at the wedding feast. Everyone tastes of this drink provided by Jesus. And rejoices.
For what was old has been made new. What was empty runs over. What was, has become something more. Delightful Festive.
O, it takes time for the old to be made new. Three hours and then “it is finished.” Six days and a long, happy rest on the seventh. Time to turn water to wine. Time such as this is good. Is holy. Is life-giving. Is a gift from God. Stretched out across time and space. Set before us on a table. In a meal. At a banquet.
Consider this time a foretaste of the great feast in the time to come.
Stay a little while longer. Linger here. Let this these holy things feed you. Change you. Change the way you live. The way you study. The way you do business. The way you work. And the way you play.
And watch God’s gift grow more and more and more. For if you, then all of us. And our society. The world. One feast at a time. The poverty of the old creation yields to the abundance of the new. Enough for all to share. Enough for all to rejoice. Enough for life eternal. Water turned to wine. Six jars. Plenty for now. And, plenty for then. Plenty of time in which the whole world is being made new.