Behind the Scenes

Friday, January 17, 2014 – Week of 1 Epiphany, Year Two

[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:

Psalms 119:1-24 (morning) // 12, 13, 14 (evening)

Genesis 4:1-16

Hebrews 2:11-18

John 1:(29-34)35-42

This morning’s gospel is full of people who have no idea what is going on. Most of these people are guests at a wedding reception, unaware that the wine has run out. The other confused characters are a stunned steward and a baffled bridegroom. The steward can’t believe that the new wine is so much better than the wine that was served first, and the bridegroom doesn’t have an explanation for where this superior wine came from.

If you’ve ever eaten at a restaurant or attended a party, perhaps you too were oblivious to all of the stress and scarcity behind the scenes. But if you’ve ever worked at a restaurant or hosted a party, perhaps you were all too conscious of the chaos involved in offering others an experience of abundance. Today’s gospel reading peels back the curtain of our world to reveal what keeps it running, and what makes our joy and sustenance possible whenever we find them.

Behind the scenes of this smoothly-running wedding feast we find the intervention of Mary, the indulgence of Jesus, and the service of others. Only a conspiracy of Mary, Jesus, and the servants could save this party. Mary tells Jesus that their hosts’ wine supply is depleted, and she is persuasive enough to get her son to act. Jesus resists at first, but then he expends his miraculous energy transforming water into wine for the sake of a few revelers.

The servants are in on the plan. They fill six jars to the brim with water, and they bring a portion to the chief stewards. The gospel tells us that the steward didn’t know where the wine came from, “though the servants who had drawn the water knew.” The servants had seen Mary spur her son to action. The servants had done what Jesus asked them to do. And when they saw the steward take a sip and heard him speak with the bridegroom, the servants knew the source of the extravagant generosity and the bewildering grace.

So much can happen through the intervention of Mary, the indulgence of Jesus, and the service of others. How can we thank the people behind the scenes and help them all to keep the party going today?

Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and as director of the Ark Fellows, an Episcopal Service Corps program sponsored by St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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