Monday, May 18, 2015

Reflection for the Week - May 18

Stories, Signs, and so many paths to explore

The story teller in the gospel of John understands the turning of water into wine at the wedding of Cana as the first of Jesus’ signs (semeion) and we will focus more intently on this signing. Remarkable acts throughout this whole narrative are always signs. Notably, the most frequent word in the New Testament connected to these types of acts is power, however, it is never used in this recounting. For our narrator, such events are for the purpose of pointing—they are sign-posts that direct the viewer towards an authentication of something beyond the mere events themselves. In a sense, signs in the story strike at the heart of imagination. To “see” the meaning of a sign is to be able to imagine it and its implications.

The wedding at Cana also points readers to the signing scenario of turning water into wine. Jesus, so to speak, is signing in. In this first sign he gives his signature to the proceedings, but what’s in a signature? To sign is an act of commitment. It’s easier to break our word than to retract our signature. Signature is, as it were, often verified by an official who confirms that “yes, this is her/him” that is committing to this or that. Jesus’ signature—his signing into the world that is—offers light to humanity, which is groping around in darkness. Shockingly, the quality of the wine due to “signing” baffles the steward, who knows nothing of what has taken place behind the scene. What is clear to him is that this is not the traditional wedding procedure. He is thoroughly perplexed by the way things unfold. Serving the “good” wine last is a reversal of all the old ways of doing things, as Jesus signing in changes not only the water into wine, but the world. His signature is verified and attested to by the testimony of John who declares that the signature/sign is that of Jesus the Messiah. Imagine the good wine, a new world, and life, all “signing ins” by Jesus.