May 9, 2016
Okay, so a grammar question. Ellen tells me that “yinz” is plural. And she is the English Literature major from a prestigious college while my ejumication background is less stellar so she ought to know. (And by the way if you’re not from the Pittsburgh area you may have NO IDEA what I’m talking about.) So if “yinz” IS indeed plural… well… what’s the singular form of that word? I have not slept for the past two nights contemplating this earth shattering dilemma. Any help yinz can provide would be most appreciated.
Well, enough of the really important stuff… on to more mundane things.
I, like most pastors, do this thing we call “premarital counseling.” Most of us have a system we have developed over the years that incorporates some sort of inventory or questionnaire, biblical principles and basic information regarding marriage. Honestly, I doubt the value of it, but we feel compelled to do it anyway. Last I heard there were studies done that indicate we are, for the most part, wasting our time, but we march on.
Since most of the weddings I perform involve young people in their 20’s and on occasion in their 30’s, they all suffer from the same condition, i.e., “naiveté,” or “we know it all-ness.” I should add that this condition does not just apply to engaged couples. Sadly however since too many young folks today are already “playing house” before their wedding they think they know what marriage is like…. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ad infinitum…. whoa… almost swallowed my tongue.
I recall many conversations with my father about his time in WW2. There were several occasions when his ship was under attack by Japanese airplanes and on at least one occasion they were hit by a kamikaze plane. Debris was strewn about the ship and at least one (maybe more) of his shipmates were killed and numerous others injured. I asked him on several occasions what he was feeling when under attack and in particular was he afraid? He said that he was so busy doing his job that he was not aware of “fear.” He did say however that he felt “fear” after battles were over; contemplating what had happened and what could have happened. Imagine for a moment me saying, “Yeah, I hear you. I can identify.” SERIOUSLY?! How naïve and arrogant would that have been? It is well documented… I was in the Navy for 4 years. I spent 10 minutes on a ship. (Yeah, you read that right… 10 MINUTES.) I was not in a war or anyplace near a war. There is no possible way I can understand, feel, experience, know, appreciate or have any clue what my father and those like him went through. Nor would I claim to.
Now if you are reading carefully you might… just might… think I am comparing marriage to war. Um… nope. I am saying however, that marriage is SO IMPORTANT AND COMPLICATED that to think you have any idea of the fullness of what is about to happen is just silly and as said before “naïve.” Imagine for a moment going on an around-the-world trip for the first time. You would likely pack what you think you will need. You might try to prepare for unforeseen eventualities. You might even take a practice trip from Pittsburgh to Cleveland thinking that it will help prepare you for going to dreadful places. You know what? You will not know, nor will you be prepared for all circumstances. Period! The short of it is this: Until you are there and immersed… you can’t “get it.” I remember my first varsity wrestling match. My coach knew I was nervous and he said to me, “Are you ready?” I looked at him and said, “As ready as I will ever be.” He quickly corrected me: “No, you will be more ready every time.”
Let me very sensitively say something which might sound like a contradiction to what I just mentioned. Imagine again your trip around the world. Your plane leaves Pittsburgh with great fanfare and anticipation. You get half way across the country and you have to bail out as the plane develops problems. It goes down in flames. You go back to Pittsburgh to plan again. Are you more prepared the next time? To some degree. You might know about the problems that caused the first crash, but you still have no idea what lies beyond half way across the country. I speak of those who sadly have experienced failed marriages, but think the second or third time around will be better or different because of their previous experience. Need I say more about this sadness?
Young people… go into marriage with excitement for sure. But also approach it with some degree of fear and trembling because what you are about to do falls into the realm of the unknown for you. Sadly, I am asking people to act and behave “older and more maturely” than most of them are. I WAS THE SAME WAY! I KNOW WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT! Only through the grace of God and an amazing woman am I still married.
Are you aware that Jesus’ first recorded miracle occurred at a wedding? The incident is recorded in John 2.
Jesus Changes Water Into Wine
On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, 2 and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”
4 “Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”
5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
6 Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.
7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.
8 Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”
They did so, 9 and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside 10 and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”
11 What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
12 After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother and brothers and his disciples. There they stayed for a few days.
There are many things that can and have been said about this text. Certainly the words 4 “Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.” are intriguing along with, “5His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’” Much has been written and speculated on about those two verses.
But I also like the notion that Jesus’ “coming out party” was at a wedding. It was not at the temple or in a synagogue. And it wasn’t on a hillside or in a boat speaking to the crowds on the shore. It was at a wedding. What do you make of that? I like to think it has something to say about marriages and how they are important/critical in our culture and in our lives. Think about it… Jesus performs a miracle to ensure the success of the day.
If you know someone who is soon to be married… tell them you love them, will support them and hopefully you are happy for them. But warn them! They are entering uncharted waters. Work hard, be ready for the unexpected. There are blissful times… and rocky roads ahead.