Almost two years ago, we welcomed our second daughter, Cana into the world. We have gotten countless questions about the choice of her name and we find ourselves telling the story about the wedding in Cana over and over again. Sometimes the repetition is annoying. But mostly, retelling the story is a gift in itself. You see, the story of Jesus’ first miracle is a story of great joy. There is the setting of a wedding – one already filled with merriment and delight. There is the wonder of a miracle – the amazing ability of Jesus to convert water into wine. And there is the shock of abundance – not just the enormous amount of wine that Jesus produces, but also the best wine of the evening. There are certainly questions in the story: What is happening between Jesus and Mary? Is this kind of miracle an exercise in indulgence? Why does Jesus choose this as his first miracle? But the questions usually fade in comparison to the joy. Jesus chooses an occasion of joy to bring forth a miracle of abundance and pleasure. I cannot help but smile every time I read the story.
Attending a wedding this weekend, hearing the story of Cana in Sunday’s lectionary, and thinking about our own daughter Cana, I cannot help but be left with a sense of gratitude for the gift of abundant joy given to us by Jesus in his first miracle. There are parts of Jesus’ story that are neither joyful nor abundant. But this first miracle gives us a taste – a literal and delightful taste – of the abundance of God’s love and kingdom. I really cannot seem to wipe the smile off my face when I think of any of the three of those reminders of Jesus’ abundance and grace.
Perhaps that is why I am so saddened by the continued discord in the Anglican Communion about gay marriage. In my country, the occasion of the legalization and blessing of gay marriage in the Episcopal Church has been a source of great joy for my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, as well as their allies. That, coupled with the ordination of gay and lesbian clergy, has left many in our church feeling a deep connection to the joy and abundance that Christ brings. And yet, that joy is bringing great sadness to a large portion of the Anglican Communion. Here we are at the earthly banquet, and instead of a joyful occasion of abundance, we are at a different feast – one where family drama and strife is overshadowing the joy of some of our members.
The irony of the wedding of Cana being appointed for the same Sunday that the Episcopal Church is grappling with the Anglican Communion Primates’ decision to suspend the full participation of the Episcopal Church in the life and work of the Anglican Communion is not lost on me. But maybe that is the truth of every wedding – the constant tension between heavenly grace and abundance and human sinfulness and frailty. Behind every dreamy wedding is some glossed over (or sometimes very obvious) family drama. But even in the midst of family tension, there are usually moments of grace – glimpses of the abundance Jesus wants to shower upon us. That is what I am grasping onto this week: in the midst of pain, and facing the ambiguity of these next years in the Anglican Communion, God will keep breaking through with abundance, joy, and miracle. Though I do not know all the answers to the biblical or the ecclesiastical story, I am grateful for the gift of Cana.