A few years ago, my then three-year-old son asked me to play ball with him. I had spent the entire day doing heavy yard work and was completely exhausted to the point of my arms trembling. I simply was not physically able to play with him at that moment. I tried to explain my exhaustion to him by saying, “Son, daddy is just out of juice. I can‘t go anymore.” He seemed to understand, and disappeared about his own business while I found a place to sit and catch my breath. A few minutes later, he comes out of the house with an over-filled glass of something. Handing it to me…he said, “Here‘s more juice daddy! Now you‘re not out anymore!” It was funny, just playing with him made my weariness go away.
In the Gospel of John (2:1-10), Jesus is attending a wedding banquet that prematurely runs out of wine. The Jewish rabbis of the day had a saying, “Without wine there is no joy.” At this wedding…the joy had just run out. Mary, the mother of Jesus, is also at the wedding, and knows that running out of wine before you run out of guest is a huge social embarrassment and problem for the new family. Attempting to give the couple a good start, she approaches her son, and insists that he do something. It‘s at this wedding that Jesus performs his first recorded miracle when he turns the water in six huge ceremonial cleansing jars into wine and restores the potential for joy.
Sooner or later we all face moments when the ―wine runs out‖ in our lives. There are times when we feel overwhelmed because the joy is gone. There are also times when we seem to just endure life without anymore juice. This passage reminds us that strength and joy are gifts of God, often given through fellowship with God and others. Each time we don‘t reach out to God for companionship and help, we isolate ourselves from ―the juice‖ we need to be filled with joy. Life can be wearisome alone, but connecting with God in worship fills our vessels with joy and keeps us from running out of juice.