‘Do whatever he tells you’

On the third Sunday of Epiphany our gospel reading is an account of the wedding in Cana. Mary, the mother of Jesus, as well as Jesus and his disciples, were present at the wedding…as were a number of other guests, yet the wine had run out. The wedding is centre stage for Jesus’ first miracle. I am always struck by the relationship between Mary and Jesus. Mary tells Jesus that they have no wine, and yet he says, “woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour is not yet come.”

Despite this comment, Mary still directs the servants to do whatever Jesus tells them…what are we not told? Jesus seems to be saying to his Mother that he cannot do anything about the lack of wine, and yet the next detail shows Mary directing the stewards. I often find myself imagining what the tone of Jesus’ rejection sounded like, and how Mary responded to him. There surely must have been some sort of a playful rebuke of him not being able to do anything about the lack of wine?

“Fill the jars with water.”

My heart is truly warmed as I prayerfully wonder at the dynamic between Jesus and his Mother. Yet, this is just one example of where God the Son acted, showed himself to be immanent, or present with us. This week, the inauguration of President Biden and Vice President Harris was an occasion of celebration and joy – not least a celebration of womanhood – and yet it felt that there was something of an overshadow from the US Capitol attack, and all that that represented. In addition to that, the news of continued challenges around vaccine efficacy, increased hospital admissions of those with COVID-19, those facing real trauma from working within these times leads to questions of ‘Where is God in all of this?’

The Bible speaks of a Creator God who is transcendent, and yet the gospels show us God incarnate who ‘moved in’ and became immanent…was that just for a time? As I write, in the background I am listening to a podcast where +Michael Curry reminds us that we do not struggle alone…”You struggle with God.” I am also reminded of Raynor Winn’s books The Wild Silence which I am reading at the moment. Whilst she does not identify as a Christian, Raynor Winn is writing about her personal struggles which resonate with such times as these. Described as “a luminous story of hope triumphing over despair” there is a beautiful theme of a thin place weaving through her writing, as well as her own yearning to return to that thin place. As I have read this book, which was released in September last year amidst pandemic life, I have felt my heart open up and lay itself bare in front of me, reflecting back to me the pain of these days that I have seen or heard about, but not quite allowed myself to process. I have given way to lamenting, amidst grasping to the glimmers of hope which gently breeze in on the wind.

Pearls of Sunlight

It is important to remind ourselves that the God of abundance, who turned water into wine, is ultimately alongside us as we struggle, as our hearts break for those we love who suffer. It has been equally helpful for me to allow my heart the space to feel that pain, to weep and wail and to allow that deep lament to sit alongside hope and resilience. Sometimes we just need to give way to the emotion…trusting that:

“When day comes we step out of the shade, aflame and unafraid. The new dawn blooms as we free it. For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it, if only we’re brave enough to be it.”

Amanda Gorman – Inauguration poem

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