Being Enough: John 2:1-11
The failure of hospitality that Jesus encounters while he and his mother are guests at a wedding jumps out every time I read the passage from John for this coming Sunday. I have always found it fascinating that this miracle of wine, which occurs only in John’s gospel, is the first of John’s seven signs. It seems to be rather a small miracle, performed off the main stage in a tiny backwoods town in a tiny backwoods region to which no one, at the time, gave much thought.
Hospitality back then was a bigger deal than it is nowadays. The notions of hospitality in the culture of first century Palestine often required people to take strangers into their own homes, and to give those same strangers whatever they requested, even if doing so might meant that the host would do without.
Indeed, the only people who learn that a miracle has taken place were Jesus, his mother Mary, a handful of servants – whose arms probably ached from toting perhaps huge vessels of water – and some of Jesus’ new disciples. The wedding hosts apparently did not know, despite the fact that had the wine run out, cultural shame would have befallen them After all, wine was a symbol of the blessing of God, of the abundance of God’s gifts, not to mention that wine was safer to drink than water.
Here is where our gospel speaks to us about. We live in a time in which cries of “There’s not enough!” pervade nearly every moment of our lives. We live in a consumer society, one that only functions when people are led to believe that the way to happiness is through how much they can accumulate. “He who dies with the most toys, wins” say the bumper stickers. And people toil away, so that they can spend, so that will not feel an emptiness inside.
But it goes deeper. Society tells us that we, by ourselves, are “not enough.” Not skinny enough. Not smart enough. Not tech-savvy enough. Not pretty enough. Not young enough. Not old enough. Not talented enough. Not rich enough.
That un-enoughness extends outward. We are told that there is not enough to go around. We have to ruthlessly, zealously guard what little we have, because the scarcity mindset that runs our culture has convinced us that there is never enough.
Isn’t that where the miracle is? Jesus enters with us in our struggles just like he showed up at that small town wedding, assuring us that, yes, there IS enough. Every time we gather around God’s table, every time we share what we have with others and don’t worry about running out for ourselves, we participate in the abundant life and love of God, where there is always enough, and more besides. Where the best stuff is just as available at the end as it was in the beginning.
Just as Jesus turns water into wine, Jesus works within ordinary people, like you and me, because he knows we have the potential to be transformed by his gospel into the good stuff- the best- by God’s transforming love and call to each of us. We are enough—and Jesus chooses us to work his miracles in the world today. That’s more than enough.
Leslie Scoopmire is a writer, musician, and a priest in the Diocese of Missouri. She is rector of St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Ellisville, MO. She posts prayers, meditations, and sermons at her blog Abiding In Hope, and collects spiritual writings and images at Poems, Psalms, and Prayers.