The gospel of John, with its love of symbolism, gives us the third epiphany during this season of epiphanies. First revealed as Christ in the manger to distant royalty, then at the banks of the Jordan at his baptism, the scriptures for this Sunday recall Christ revealed at his inaugural miracle during the wedding at Cana.
Jesus arrives at the wedding in the company of his followers, and his mother is there as well. There is a shortage of wine, and after getting some encouragement from his mother, Jesus calls for the six empty stone jars used for holding water for the purification rituals to be filled with water. Once they are full, he asks the steward to draw some out and sample it, whereupon it is revealed to have become wine (and good wine at that).
Like the prelude to a musical, this early scene communicates powerfully that Jesus has come to replace empty rituals designed to keep the clean apart from the unclean with something infinity better, the joyful good news that before God all people are beloved!
What a good story for us to hear in the context of our own worship. What a good reminder that our gathering is meaningless unless it is paired with our sending. Our ritual calls us together to be nourished by word and sacrament, then sends us out to be ambassadors of joy – inviting everyone to the banquet.