Surprised by Joy!

John 2:1-11 & Psalm 30

A husband and wife are in a hospital room.  They have been married a long time.  He is laying on the hospital bed, IV’s and monitors hooked up to him.  She is looking lovingly into his eyes.  

He looks up at her and says, “Honey, remember that car accident years ago?  It took me months to recover.  You were with me through that.

“And, do you remember the time I was working on the roof and fell off?  We didn’t know whether I’d be paralyzed or not.

“You were with me when I lost my job.

“When we lost our home, you were with me then too.

“And, now, here we are again…I think you’re bad luck!”

Most of us know a little bit about “bad luck.”  Folk of my generation might be familiar with the old show called “Hee Haw.”  One of their theme songs was “Gloom, Despair and Agony on Me.”  

Gloom, despair and agony on me

Deep dark depression

Obsessive misery

If it weren’t for bad luck

I’d have no luck at all

Gloom, despair and agony on me.

Life does not always go the way we would expect or want it to go.  The reading from John 2 about the wedding feast addresses that.  Sometimes the wine runs out.  When it is most important, and we are most dependent on it.  

Wedding feasts in Jesus’ day were week-long celebrations with a lot of food and a lot of wine.  They were happy celebrations where family and friends—the entire community would gather together and celebrate relationships and life.  To have the wine run out was like a bad omen for the future of the marriage.  It was like picture language—metaphor—for the unexpected twists and turns in life that rob of us peace, contentment and joy.  

Bad luck.  

So…what do you do when the wine runs out?  When your source of joy dries up?

What is your source of joy?  What makes you dance on the table?

Psalm 30 also focuses on the hard times in life that rob us of joy.  King David wrote the words to this psalm as a sung prayer.  In it he reminisces about when disaster overwhelmed him.  He was staring death in the face and cries out to God.  

The psalm, typical of psalms of lament, states the problems the writer is facing, recognizes God’s help in the midst of the troubles, and then praises God for deliverance.

The point of this psalm, coupled with John 2’s story of the wine running out at a time when it was most needed is essential for us today.  

Bad times do not last.  Not from the perspective of eternity.  

“Weeping may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning.”  

Sometimes we live with the illusion that we are impervious to peril.  Safe from harm and pain.  Then something unplanned and unexpected happens and we realize just how vulnerable we are and “the wine runs out.”  We are overwhelmed with sadness, sorrow and misery.  

I wish that were not true.  I wish we could avoid pain and suffering.  But reality bites.  Pain and suffering are a real part of life.  

But…and this is an important but…pain and suffering do not have the final word.  God does.  

The wedding feast at Cana where Jesus turns the water into wine recorded in John 2 is the common text for this second Sunday in Epiphany.  Epiphany means manifestation, or revelation.  It is the season of growing light when we recognize Jesus’ coming to us in our brokenness and shattering our darkness with hope, and light and peace.  

Because of Jesus—His life, death and resurrection—we do have light and hope and peace in this crazy world of ours.  Pain, suffering and even death do not have the final word.  

God does.  Hope does.  Light does.  

The amazing thing about Jesus turning the water into wine is to contemplate—think about all the miracles that happen around us every single day.  Miracles that we have become accustomed to.  Miracles that we take for granted.  

It is just as much a miracle, is it not, for water, through a plant and soil to form grapes, that when they ferment after harvest make wine.  It is just as much a miracle for clouds to accumulate moisture and hold tons of it suspended in space and then drop it in the form of rain.  It is just as much a miracle for the chemicals and nutrients to be absorbed by the water, and through osmosis be taken up and assimilated into the forming fruit of the vine.  

Life is a miracle.  Life, even amidst the suffering, pain and death of life is a miracle.  And I think that life is worth it.  No matter the pain and loss and suffering.  

Little ways of God, reminding us and revealing God’s presence in us, with us, around us, and even through us.  Nehemiah 8:10, “the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

The God who came to us in human flesh in order to bring us forgiveness, life and peace continues to be God in the darkness as well as in the light.  The God on the mountain is also the God in the valley.  The God of the good times is also God in the bad.  

Because of God’s victory for us in Christ we can trade our sorrows for joy, cash in our pain for hope and life.  

In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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