Sunday, January 14, 2007

Wedding at Cana

The scripture at church this AM included the miracle of the water to wine at the wedding at Cana. Since I had happened to be discussing that miracle last night and its special significance to me, and the scripture showed up this AM, I feel led to say a few words.

For those not familiar with the specific text, here is a link. In a nutshell, it is the first miracle performed by Jesus. He is at a wedding with his mother, they run out of wine, she asks him to solve the problem. He is reticent, since it is "not yet time", but she tells the servants that he will take care of it, and he does. Does listening to your mother trump "your fathers plan" even when your father is God? It has to. Christ is FULLY both God and man -- "children obey your parents" in the family of God!

The resulting wine is seen as the "good wine" even though it is late in the evening and everyone had "drunk freely".

The first item of significance to me is that I was raised in a church that proudly called itself "Fundamentalist", and I will be returning to that term a number of times over the next few weeks I suspect. They had "somehow decided" that this "wine" was not alcoholic, because they apparently thought it would be good to extend their definition of being a "Christian" to include required abstinence from alcohol.

I find it VERY hard to imagine how anyone can read this text and not believe that this "wine" indeed contained alcohol. On the spiritual level alone, there is very little "miracle" in turning water into "grape juice"; children do that pretty much all the time with "Kool Aid". The creation of alcohol in the wine is a true miracle, not doable instantly by man even today, but rather one that takes the passage of time and fermentation on the sugars, especially to create "the good wine".

The meaning seems clear enough to me, but I'm not a student of Hebrew and Greek. I thought that this was a good post (other than spelling) on that front for those still doubting.

The miracle is special to me for the following reasons:

1). It gives us a very solid picture that Christ is "fully man and fully God"; he listens to his mother, he helps in a purely social situation that would just be embarrassing, not life-threatening to the people involved. He does something "simple", yet something that is completely beyond the ability of humans. It is "outside of material power". He does "the human thing" but in a way no human can do, AND even though he does it, he has no interest in "credit". It simply looks like the host came up with the good wine to the rest of the people at the party.

2). The question is always Christ. The scripture here is very clear, but it isn't "tidy". A miracle to save embarrassment and provide more wine when it sounds like people may have had plenty already? Much as when Mary the sister of Martha anoints Jesus head with expensive oil that could have been "spent on the poor", and in another case wipes his feet with her hair. Why include such "messy things" in the Bible? Because while Jesus comes to save us, he doesn't have to fit OUR mold of what WE think he should be. His is God, he is Truth. When we make him into the image that we want, we are in danger of missing the message. The Grace of Christ is a SCANDAL. Jesus is not what humans think that God "should be". To those who "live by the rules", Christ is simply shocking!

The essence of fundamentalism, in religion, science, or life seems to be a inability to deal with ambiguity and incomplete knowledge. The human urge for "closure" drives the fundamentalist to "create a model", and then "defend their ground", usually with name calling and judgement against those that don't agree with their model.

For religious fundamentalists, they call what they have "faith", but it is a faith in THEIR model, rather than "true knowledge". Often their position is defended with a lot of emotion and a lot of denigration of those who don't share their model. Something that may seem like a "small issue" ... eg, was it "wine or grape juice", or "was it 6 24 hour days of creation, or does it have to be that precise" become a major stumbling block, and a disagreement is a major breech.

So too for the scientific fundamentalist / atheist. An otherwise intelligent and successful scientist is questioned if they even so much as say something no "worse" than "God does not play dice" on the potential that they have "become weak" and lost the atheist dogma. The fundamentalist atheist materialist scientist can't allow such a statement to go unchallenged, they can't allow any thought that the universe can be other than randomly created to somehow seem to be validated by a person that they thought was a solid atheist.

Our basic models are all "faith based", since we have no proof that we even exist nor that reality is anything even remotely like what we perceive (witness movies like "The Matrix" or the Star Trek "holodeck". We all "live by faith", the issue is only if we have "faith in our perception of the material universe", or "faith in a transcendence beyond matter", we can't "prove" either viewpoint in the scientific sense.

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