Purity, Plenty, Party

A Christian Perspective

Purity, Plenty, Party
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Reverend Dr. Morar Murray-Hayes

Reverend Dr. Morar Murray-Hayes

The Reverend Dr. Morar Murray-Hayes is the Minister of Maple Grove United Church, and is a member of the Interfaith Councill of Halton. A chatty extrovert with a conversational preaching style, a multi-tasker who is a “multi-worrier” when it comes to caring about people’s problems, and a leader who treasures teaming with the lay people in her church, Morar says that at Maple Grove she has experienced “a deeper level of ministry than I thought possible.” Anyone who has personally received Morar’s deeply compassionate caring and wise counsel will testify to what an inspirational, healing and encouraging ministry it is.

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Jesus has grown up, been an unusual child – who has on more than one occasion challenged his mother’s patience. He takes off just when he was old enough to make a difference in the livelihood of the family. He shows up for the weekend with twelve of his new friends, a pretty rough lot. Mary is resigned to entertaining them, but preoccupied with plans for a wedding. She is aunt to the groom, so she reluctantly drags along this crew to the wedding – that way she won’t have to feed them at home.

Perhaps their presence is enough to cause a wine shortage. At any rate, just as the party is getting going, the wine runs out. Mary notices and tells Jesus to do something about it. He says to Mary that all of this is none of his business and that he has other plans about revealing himself. His time has not come.
Mary pretty much ignores that — some ancient authorities read, “his mother gave him ‘the look’” (no not really), but she does assume that Jesus is going to be a good son and listen to his mother — and he does. John 2.1-11

Now, the folks who are experts on what society was like in those days make it really clear that running out of wine at a wedding was not a minor social inconvenience. It was not like, “Well, the wine’s gone, so we have to switch to scotch.” Instead, this was a major breach of hospitality; it was a disgrace and it would be devastating for the couple. Everywhere they went, for the rest of their married life, they would be known as that couple who ran out of wine. The strain on their life together would be enormous. (After all, there wasn’t that much to talk about in Cana of Galilee.)

Jesus has to decide what to do. He has to decide whether to change his timetable — whether to wait before making himself known, as he had planned, or to act right then, for that need. Jesus acts, the wedding is saved, and the bride and groom are given a new chance.

What do we learn about Jesus?
1. He comes to purify a tainted world.
2. He brought plenty to a world of scarcity.
3. A relationship with Christ is like a party.

Purity
Where did the water came from? The gospel says that the water came from six huge stone jars, each holding about twenty gallons. The water was used for the Jewish rites of purification. The idea is that when you went to worship you dabbed some water on yourself as a sign that you wanted to be spiritually clean before you approached God.

One can imagine that Jesus sees himself as a means of cleansing a world in need of cleansing.

Plenty
The rabbis said that a cup of this water could purify a hundred people. There was so much water there, it could have purified the whole nation. Jesus has come to cleanse the whole world. Jesus brought plenty to a world of scarcity.

Party
And it all starts at a party!

The story of the wedding at Cana reminds us that being a Christian is really supposed to be great fun, and that all of this is a sign of what our relationship with Christ is like – a party!

A party that celebrates Christ’s relationship with us, a party at which the best comes last:
Jesus is present at the end of the story when the best wine is served

What is the good news of Jesus about? John’s answer: It’s about a wedding banquet at which the wine never runs out, and where the best is saved for last.

And the best wine of that party will be the last – that is – “eternal life”.

With the presence of Christ in our lives, we are purified, offered plenty to live life — even eternal life — as a party.

Where Jesus is, the party is great!

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