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Sunday, 14 January 2018

January 14, 2018

Water into Wine - Epiphany 2

Water into Wine – Epiphany 2

January 14, 2018

John 2:1-11


In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,

 earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;

 snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,

 in the bleak midwinter, long ago.


That’s a Christmas hymn, but it certainly applies to this time in January as well.  Fifteen out of twenty-four hours of our days are filled with darkness.  We rejoice when the thermometer reaches 32 degrees.  The pure white snow turns easily into dirty gray snow and the dirt is spread everywhere.


It’s not surprising that there is a category of mental illness just for this time of year.  It’s called mid-winter depression.  Are you familiar with it?  Have you experienced it?  I have!


So what can you do to battle mid-winter depression . . . and depression in general? While there are no magic solutions, there are approaches that can help.  Here are a few that are recommended.

1.     Make your environment brighter – Bright lights, especially sunshine, can lift our moods.

2.     Eat smarter – While sweet treats can give us an energy burst, they can become depressants when the energy burst wears off. 

3.     Exercise – Even simple movement can change body chemistry.

4.     Turn on the tunes – Upbeat, cheerful music can lift spirits.

5.     Get outside – Going into the teeth of the enemy can help overcome the feeling of powerlessness.

6.     Help Someone ElseThinking about others and helping them can make us feel better about ourselves and life.


Jack Nicholson played the character Warren Schmidt in the movie, “About Schmidt”.  Warren Schmidt experienced the near collapse of his world.  His wife, with whom he had a somewhat frustrating relationship, died suddenly.  He found that no one missed him when he retired from his job. His daughter, his only child, was engaged to a man he hated. After a long and frustrating trip in an RV his wife had wanted and he didn’t, he returned home to an empty house. 


In a stack of mail he found a letter. It was from a nun who ran an orphanage in Tanzania.  Sometime earlier he had been moved to contribute to support an orphan and he had written letters to a little boy named Ndugu along with his contributions to his care.  The nun’s letter told about the little boy and his affection for Warren Schmidt.  It included a painting Ndugu had made.  Here’s the film clip:


In the letter from Ndugu, Warren Schmidt finds love, love that was made possible because he decided to help someone else.  And love can bring hope.


It seemed like the party was over in our Bible lesson today. The wine was gone.  The wine containers were all empty.  Jesus and his new disciples had been invited to the wedding. It took place in Cana, believed to have been a small town about 5 miles away from Nazareth.  Jesus was just beginning his ministry.  He didn’t seem to have planned to show his powers the way he did.


His mother insisted Jesus do something about the wine situation.  Resisting mildly at first, Jesus told servants to fill 6 large jars used to hold water for washing dishes and utensils.  They filled the jars with water, about 120 to 180 gallons worth.  The contents were brought to the steward of the wedding for his approval.  The wine was good, really good.  The party could continue!


What if the steward had had another idea?  What if he decided the wine was too good to waste on wedding guests?  What if he had decided to have it bottled and put into his wine cellar?  What if he had decided to sell the wine to connoisseurs and make a lot of money?  If the steward had thought about only himself, the wedding celebration would have ended.  And what if the steward had convinced Jesus to start up a wine business instead of the Messiah business?


The wedding banquet is an image for God’s kingdom and is used many times in the Bible. A wedding banquet was a chance to step outside the normal routine.  The wedding banquet was a chance to give into joy and celebration over duty and obligation.  The wedding banquet was a chance to celebrate the goodness of life. Because of Jesus, the wedding celebration at Cana could continue. Because of Jesus, we are and can be part of the kingdom celebration.


Because of Jesus, our celebration of life can take place now. We can step outside the normal routine and the duties and obligations of life anytime we want.  We can remember the love God has for us whenever we remember Jesus and we can celebrate.  He freed us from the darkness of sin, even at the cost of his suffering and death.  He freed us from the finality of the grave by rising from the dead and giving us the promise we will be raised, too.  He fills us with the promise of God’s love and, with the promise of love, there is always hope, peace and even joy on the horizon.


If you’re struggling with mid-winter depression, hang in there. It may be a while, but spring will come.


And when our lives seem empty, remember the wedding at Cana and how Jesus turned empty jars into joy and celebration.  No matter how dark it may seem, God promises a future filled with light and life.


And remember tip number 6.  If we really want to fight depression, help someone else, especially by sharing the love of God that can help others see the light of hope on the horizon.  AMEN