“Water into Wine?” – Rev. Tony Romaine
The Rev. Dr, Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “But the end is reconciliation; the end is redemption; the end is the creation of the beloved community. It is this type of spirit and this type of love that can transform opposers into friends. It is this type of understanding goodwill that will transform the deep gloom of the old age into the exuberant gladness of the new age. It is this love which will bring about miracles in the hearts of men.” (from “Facing the Challenge of a New Age,” 1956)
When we think about all the miracles that Jesus performed, we always remember the turning of water into wine as the first we hear about in our Gospels. But if we are honest, if we were to list the most substantial miracles that Jesus performed, we probably would not put this one very high at the top; well except for those wine lovers amongst us perhaps! But this miracle is about so much more than we sometimes give it credit for; this miracle moves Jesus beyond reluctance and disdain, to action; this miracle moves our world from a place of water that was being prepared for a ritual, water that needed to be purified by the hands of men, and transforms us into the blessed wine that connects us with our salvation through our God whose grace is so much more than we could ever imagine. This miracle shows us that Jesus came to remind us of the very miracle that exists in all our hearts; the miracle of love.
And miracles in the heart of humanity is exactly what this world needs right now, isn’t it?! The fact that our world right now is more divided than ever, more divisive than ever, more focused on what extremes I can set up in order to be extreme from you and what you can bury your flag upon in order to supplant mine, belies the necessity that our world right now needs; the miracle that lies within the heart of not just every man, but every human being that was put there at their creation. The miracle this world needs right now is the very thing that Jesus was, is, and ever will be, and that is love.
Yes, the end is reconciliation and redemption, a reconciliation that begins with you and me and every one of God’s children in this world. A reconciliation that says that I may not agree with what you represent or believe or vote for or unite as, and you may not agree with me in the very same manner; and yet, there is something inside each of us that unites us in a deeper and stronger way than anything of this world can drive apart; what unites us is the very thing that will reconcile us, the very miracle which Jesus performed and we need now more than ever, the miracle of the love God has for us that was given for everyone, everything, all of creation, every tree in the forest, every fish in the ocean, every cloud in the sky, blacks, whites, republicans, democrats, citizens, immigrants, refugees, those who are settled, and those who are homeless; the wealthy, rich, poor, married, single, childless, widowed, and the list can go on and on and on.
Yes, the end is reconciliation, which is not a synonym for agreement, but a step toward a beloved community where people do not just live in echo chambers that repeat what we want to hear. A beloved community where opposites can live in reconciled love; where those who are diametrically opposed can still see the value and worth and dignity of the human being that sits across from them, across the internet from them, across the world from them; that all can see the worth each of us brings to the common discourse and humanity that was and is and always will be the redemptive purpose of the very miracle that was Jesus Christ; that God so loved all of creation and everything God created as to sacrifice everything and send us the wine of salvation to transform and save.
Water into Wine!
And just as the Rev Dr. states, it is this love that we cannot possibly see in the present gloom of our age that will transform our world and clear the scales from our eyes and the pain from our backs, the weariness from our days and the toil on our souls; it is this very transformative love which came through the shared humanity we have in Christ that allows us to view a humanity in each and every one of God’s beloved children that will take our world from one where we are waiting with baited breath for the next World War, for the next famine, for the next virus, for the next tragedy; to a world that has been transformed through shared community, through shared bread and cup, through shared experience and life, through shared economy and equality, through a shared love that builds a beloved community in which we live into the transformation began that day in Cana at the first miracle; a community that has been redeemed through the grace that comes only through Christ our Savior and has been reconciled because we want to be, because we strive to be, because we long to live in a world where each one of us can feel valued and loved, where each of us can drink of the wine that was offered through that table sacrifice millennia ago, where each of us who hold the sins of our past and the weight of this world can be freed through the miracle of God’s heart shared with all the world.
And just as Jesus was reluctant to perform this miracle, just as Jesus responds in contempt to a request for his time to come and for his mission to begin, we sit here today and are reluctant too, aren’t we?! We are reluctant to hear this message and prophecy that we are to act and live into the call that God has placed on our hearts and the gifts that God has blessed us with. Perhaps our reluctance comes from a fear that we might not do the right thing or say the right thing, perhaps our reluctance comes from the comfort in our status or place of privilege, perhaps our reluctance comes from misplaced hate and disgust for others, perhaps our reluctance comes from not knowing what our gift even is, or perhaps the reluctance comes from not truly feeling that we could ever be worthy of being gifted something from God.
Well, whatever it may be, whatever may be holding us back, whatever is separating us from taking that first step into the unknown of reconciliation, of action, of welcoming others, of loving as God loved us, of truly changing this world of water into the redemptive wine and beloved community that God longs for; whatever it may be hear me when I tell you that it is nothing compared to the gift itself that God has sent you and I and the gift that this world will receive when you act upon that call, that voice, that Spirit; the mission and gifts God is longing for you to use have already been sent and are just awaiting you to transform the world.
Indeed, whatever is preventing us from living into beloved community is nothing compared to what will truly happen when we take the first steps in changing our world, when we take the first action here in Little Falls to make this city a better place, when we use our gifts to make Morrison County a beacon of God’s love, when we live into the call God has placed on our heart to transform MN into an example to our nation of what reconciliation and love can look like, when we take the very fabric of our being and transform the United States into the example of beloved community for the world.
You see and feel this don’t you?! Can you not feel the Spirit in this place right now begging you to just accept and walk in that love that God has called forth into our world those many years ago when Jesus walked with us transforming the water in our lives into the blessed wine that is not reserved for the best guests or the wealthiest patrons or only available in the beginning, but a wine that is for all people and all times.
And in case you need this metaphor stretched to its limits, the greatest part of this miracle that goes overlooked all too often is that you and I are the literal water that Jesus transformed into wine for our world to consume, for our world to be refreshed with, for our world to find God’s love in; that in and through the transformation you and I have already received thanks be to Christ is what God is longing for us to live into and share with our weary, gloomy world.
And when we do, this age which is bogged down with the dirty water of despair, death, division, and divide will be transformed by the light that shines through the wine of sacrifice; the very miracle that lives within our hearts, the gladness and goodwill that God sent to redeem us; the love and centeredness of God’s love at our core…That is the redemption people need to hear, that is what will bring us to reconcile whatever is between us, that is what will blaze with goodwill and gladness, and that love will be the lived miracle of the hearts of humanity that will finally transform our world from a place of brokenness, fracture, and displacement into God’s beloved community.
A miracle indeed, turning water into wine! Amen!
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