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500 BOTTLES OF WINE
January 16, 2004
 
Friday's eMo is always a meditation on the texts which will be heard in many churches on the upcoming Sunday. As with all the eMos, preachers and teachers are welcome to borrow, with the usual attribution. No further permission is necessary.

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Sometimes people are a little disappointed in the wedding at Cana: shouldn't Jesus' first miracle have been about something more serious than catering a wedding reception? It sounds like Jesus may have thought so, too: "O woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come."

But ours is an incarnational faith -- Jesus came into a world that was full of pain, it is true, but sometimes the world He came into is just annoying, and this was one of those times. He really was human. He went to parties and drank wine. His mom nagged him a little and he snapped at her.

There were six jars and each held twenty or thirty gallons of water. That's 120-180 gallons of wine he made that day, something like 500 modern bottles. That's a lot of wine. The only people who weren't delighted, I imagine, were the servants who had to go back to the well and fetch 180 more gallons of water for the washing up.

Weddings have to be perfect. People have to pore over catalogues to find the perfect "Bill and Suzy" matchbooks, wonder why they need "enclosure envelopes" for their invitations, feel the first stirrings of dislike begin at the mother-in-law's slowness in choosing the fabric for her dress. People who don't know much about entertaining are easy targets for people who sell weddings, and they relieve them of multiple thousands of dollars, not a dollar of which can guarantee that anything that happens on the great day will be tasteful. Looking cheap can be very expensive.

The Church requires a minimum of three hours premarital counseling by the priest who will perform the ceremony. The stated purpose of this is to ascertain whether or not the couple should indeed get married, whether they have any idea what they're doing, whether there are horrid secrets that, if known, would probably have the effect of calling the whole thing off. Usually there aren't, and you spend the counseling time talking about their relationship and their future, their hopes, their values, the way they handle disagreement, and above all, encouraging them not to get so sucked into the wedding that the marriage takes a back seat. Get plenty of rest, you say, and be sure you get plenty of time just together, alone, without all the wedding stuff. This is your wedding, you say a dozen times, not your mom's. Do what you think best. Trust each other. Trust yourself. See the forest, as well as the trees.

The wedding won't be perfect. Something will be amiss. Maybe something big, maybe not. Maybe you'll run out of wine. Maybe something else. The wedding will be just like life: beautiful, unique, flawed. It is the flaw about which you will joke in the years to come. If the wedding day is to be joyful, it will be because you have decided to embrace the flaw, to encompass it, not to allow it to stand alone and draw attention to itself for the rest of your life.

This is as good a way as any to begin a new life. There will be other flaws to embrace and encompass, other things that seek to dominate your spirit and distract you from being present to the beauty of each day. The married and the single alike have them, and everybody must learn to embrace and encompass them. Otherwise they will be all you see, and you'll miss the wonder.
Copyright © 2018 Barbara Crafton
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