Church of England Diocese of Leeds Gilling

A SERMON from Rev Antony for 3rd Sunday of Epiphany 24th January 2021

The Third Sunday of Epiphany. Year B

Reading John 2:1-11

I believe that in our gospel reading today Mary speaks a truth that is relevant to each one of us at different points of our life. We have all had those days when life seems to have lost its vigor.

As we stay at home in this lockdown situation, as a result of Covid-19, and reflect on the numbers of people being admitted to hospital and the many deaths that have occurred across the world. I am sure there have been points when we have felt low or lonely. The life that we have known is different. Will it be the same again?

There comes a day when the wine gives out. The glass is empty. The party is over. On that day life seems empty and dry. There is no vibrancy or vitality. Nothing is growing or fermenting within us. Our world is colorless and tasteless. The bouquet of life is absent and we are living and yet we don’t feel fully alive, locked away in our homes with the absence of friends and family.

We await an injection made of some concoction that may give a little hope for something better, but is that enough?

Mary’s words hold before us some serious questions. Where has the wine of our life given out? What relationships have run dry? What parts of us remain empty?

Each one of us could tell a story about the day the wine gave out for us. It might be about the death of a loved one or the loss of a friendship or marriage. Some will speak about their search for love and acceptance. Some will describe their thirst for meaning and significance. Others will tell of their guilt, disappointments, or regrets. Many of the stories will be about fear, loneliness or regret. Stories of failure and self-doubt.

People in this situation describe a longing and desire for something they cannot name or describe. The storyline of unanswered prayer, doubts, or questions about faith abound and in reality, these feelings are known by most of us.

They are not all stories from the past however. Some of us are living those stories today.

Behind each of our stories is the hope and desire for something better and so today we come to the wedding at Cana, not simply as guests and spectators, but as participants.

Despite our best efforts, good intentions, and hard work, however, it seems that the wine of our life is always giving out. No matter how often we refill it our glass remains empty. There is never enough. As the day wears on we become increasingly aware that we cannot replenish the wine of our life from our own resources.

That day seems like a disaster, an embarrassment, a failure. That must have been what it was like for the bride and groom at the wedding in Cana. “They have no wine,” Mary tells Jesus. That is not a condemnation or judgment but simply an observation, a diagnosis.

This is not about the wine but about the people. It is a statement about the human condition. It is about you and me as much as it is about the wedding in Cana of Galilee. It is a spiritual condition. It is about our inner life, our way of being, more than the circumstances around us.

The injection may come but only Jesus brings life in its fulness.

Too often we live with the illusion of our own self-sufficiency. That illusion is shattered on the day the wine runs out or the injection does not come and the jars of our life stand empty and dry. That day confronts us with a new truth as old as creation itself.

We are the recipients of life given by God and not the creators of our life itself. We were never intended nor expected to live by the sufficiency of our own resources. Christ is the true vine the steward and provider of our lives. It is through Christ that we are replenished and new life and hope is injected into us.

Regardless of how it feels or what we think about it, the day the wine runs out is the beginning of a miracle. Christ does not simply refill our glasses. He transforms our lives, turning water into wine. It is, after all, the third day, the day of resurrection and new life. That which was colorless is now vibrant red. That which had no taste now tingles on the tongue. That which had no fragrance now has a full bouquet. That which had no life is now fermenting, active, and alive.

On the third day our lives are filled to the brim with the good wine; intoxicating us with the life of God, with the blood of Christ, and leaving us under the influence of the Holy Spirit. That’s the miracle at Cana and it has never ceased happening. Every moment of every day Christ pours himself into the empty jars of our life. He is the good wine; the extravagant, the abundant, the endless.

Every time that good wine is poured our lives are changed and transformed. We are brought “out of error into truth, out of sin into righteousness, out of death into life”

Have you tasted the good wine, have you experienced the miracle at Cana in your life and seen it in the lives of others?

Have you experienced moments when death is turned into life, when sorrow is turned into joy? Have you experienced the moment when hope in Christ changes everything?

I have seen that happen in peoples lives, I have also been surprised by fear that was transformed into courage and seen people do things they never thought possible. I have watched empty lives be filled through Jesus.

I know of broken marriages that became vibrant and life-giving. I have worked with prisoners who now live in the community serving the needs of others and asking for forgiveness. unfortunately, we only hear of those whose lives remain empty.

These examples of people and a thousand others like them, these are the miracles of Cana, they are people who are examples of Christ’s glory as he turns their water into wine. These are the people who serve the needs of others in our hospitals in our homes and across the world.

When that happens, His glory becomes our Glory, and our lives are changed.

“They have no wine,” said Mary. But they will.

The miracle always begins when the wine gives out. Amen.