Saturday 16 January 2010

Transforming the ordinary Epiphany 2

This week I was sitting in AandE of a local hospital. An elderly couple were sitting waiting. He was reading a scholarly book but holding his wifes hand and lovingly stroking her. His love for his seriously handicapped wife transformed the situation and pointed to an ethic beyond the ordinary.

Cana is known as the place where, according to the Johns Gospel, Jesus performed his first miracle, the turning of a large quantity of water into wine at a wedding feast when the wine provided by the bridegroom had run out. None of the other gospels record this event, but in John's gospel it has symbolic importance: it is the first of the seven miraculous "signs" by Jesus around which the gospel is structured.

The story has had considerable importance in the development of Christian ethics, since the facts that Jesus was invited to a wedding, attended and used his divine power to save the celebrations from disaster, are taken as evidence of his approval for marriage and earthly celebrations, in contrast to the more austere views of Paul as found, for example, in 1 Corinthians 7. It has also been used as an argument against Christian teetotalism..

Cana of Galilee is not mentioned in any other book of the Bible, nor in any other contemporary source. There has been much speculation about where Cana might have been. Tradition dating back to the 8th century identifies Cana with the modern village of Kafar Kanna, about 7 km northeast of Nazareth, Israel. However more recent scholars have suggested alternatives, including the ruined village of Kenet-el-Jalil (also known as Khirbet Kana), about 9 km further north, and Ain Kana nearer to Nazareth. While the village of Qana, now in southern Lebanon, is said to be an unlikely candidate for the location, many Lebanese Christians believe Qana to be the correct site.

Jesus has taken an ordinary cultural situation, a wedding and transformed it for God. Isnt that what we are to do too as followers of Jesus? Take the ordinary every day and transform to reflect the divine, to draw people to God and to a humility in our walk on this earth under the canopy of the heavens.



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