Sunday, November 29, 2015

Don't focus on that empty glass

My niece got married last month. We were excited about the wedding since she got engaged six months prior. I have a sister who lives in Florida, one in Georgia, and I’m here in South Carolina, so I was thrilled to have an opportunity for our extended family to be together for such a happy occasion. I wish I could replay a video of the wedding for you and mute the sound so that you could soak in all the beauty of that picture perfect day.

The sights were everything you would expect from a traditional Southern wedding. Early in the day the bride and bridesmaids were dressed in monogrammed tunics for hair-styling and make-up application. I’m not sure why we Southern girls love a monogram, but we do. Baskets of hydrangeas were hung on the end of pews in the sanctuary of the First Baptist Church, which is located on a main street that runs through the center of her small hometown. The florist put the finishing touches on an entire garden of greenery at the altar. It was a vision of dreams come true for the sweet Georgia peach that is my niece.

The ceremony began and mothers were ushered in. Groomsmen filed in, all grinning. The bridesmaids proceded down the aisle one by one, all wearing lace dresses in the same plum color. The bride and her father took their time walking down the aisle. The minister said some things, the bride and groom kissed, then the wedding party exited in pairs down the center aisle. It was a happy, beautiful scene.

If I replayed the video, only this time with the volume up, it would not be what you would expect. It would still be visually gorgeous by all traditional Southern standards and expectations, but the soundtrack would be different. You wouldn’t hear a pipe organ play Wagner’s Lohengrin “Bridal Chorus.” Instead you would hear John Legend and Chris Tomlin songs on guitar. I don’t think I heard the minister say, “We are gathered here today in the sight of God…” I also don’t think I heard the bride or groom use the words “to be your wedded…”

The words of ceremony the minister chose where fresh. The vows the couple spoke to each other still expressed sentiments of love and commitment, but their words were different than ones I’m accustomed to hearing at weddings. I really had to pay attention to the words spoken and sung. Listening intently for content helped me feel like I was participating even though I wasn’t in the wedding party.

The following week, I settled back into my routine and began to prepare for my Bible study group when I realized that the scripture we were scheduled to cover was Chapter 2 of the gospel of John. It’s the story of Jesus at a wedding celebration. How appropriate, I thought, as I was still in a bit of a wedding mindset from the previous weekend.

As the story goes, Jesus, his mother Mary, and his disciples were guests at a wedding in Cana. The host family ran out of wine. Mary simply states to Jesus that, “They have no wine.” She didn’t make any demands or ask him to do anything, she merely told him the problem. Then she pointed the servants to Jesus and told them, “Do whatever he tells you.” So, they filled jars with water, then Jesus turned it into fine wine. It was a miracle.

There were probably several other things higher on the wedding planner’s priority list than estimating wine consumption. One of the first priorities would have been the invitation list. Jesus was on it. He showed up. He always does when He’s invited.

Jesus could have made wine from water without the servants’ help, but he didn’t. He extended an invitation for their participation. Whatever they had been doing to serve the guests, they stopped doing it and paid attention to Jesus and his instructions. The results were miraculous.

Jesus’ presence can reprioritize a check list, a job description, and even the best laid plans. The new list might include: Don’t focus so much on the empty glass of wine, or even a full glass. Instead, pay attention to the source. Do whatever He says. You might find yourself participating in a miracle.

This was originally posted Sunday,November 29 2015 on the Press and Standard website: