Clay Jugs

Clay Jugs

Sometimes I find it instructive to step into a story from the Gospels and imagine it in detail.  Leaving behind my own world, I enter the ancient space of the narrative and take a look around.  What do I see and hear?  How does it smell?  Who are the people and other creatures present, and what are they up to?  What is the setting?  Finally, where do I find myself in the story today?

In the story of the Wedding at Cana, I imagine that we are in a courtyard filled with tables.  Jesus and lots of his relatives and friends are there, spread throughout the gathering.  At the head table are a young man and woman dressed in their best clothes.  Their eyes are dreamy and joyful, but they look a little dazed, too.  Kids and dogs are running around.  People are dancing and eating, telling stories and singing.  The party is just getting underway.

Jesus’ mother is chatting with the bride’s mother up at the head table.  Suddenly there’s a little stir as the wine steward comes up to them.  He’s agitated and unhappy.  The bride’s mother becomes unhappy, too.  Jesus’ mother pats her on the shoulder and makes her way over to her son.

And where am I in the story? With surprise I find that I am one of the water jars.  I envision myself as a hollow vessel, slightly cool.  I have been sitting in a shadowy room since early in the morning when one of the servants carried me over her shoulder to the well.  There I was filled with cold water.  I wrapped myself around it, protective of the bounty.  There was nothing I could do to keep it from warming up a bit as the day went on, but I am happy that it is still cool.

I am happy and ready when the door opens and the servants come in.  Strangely they don’t immediately lift me up.  A stranger is with them.  There is a quiet commotion as he pauses next to each of the other water jugs.  Suddenly he puts his hand on my brim, and I feel a sharp jolt of power.  My contents have changed!  It is now wine that fills me, seeping into my sides and bottom a bit, as wine will.  I am shocked and dismayed.  Will this make me unfit to be a water jar from now on?

Soon I am carried out into the sunlight, where I am poured and poured, again and again, bringing happiness and wonder to all whom I serve.  I am deeply satisfied and full of joy myself.  Regardless of what happens next, it is this moment for which I was born.

How is what we do, what we are good at, a mere lead-up to our real purpose in the eyes of God?  How do we let go of what we believe ourselves to be in order to become the vessel that Christ needs us to be?  What is the wine that fills your soul today?

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