It was likely the bride’s big day. I imagine that she was wishing her mother was alive to share this moment. Perhaps Mary was the surrogate mother, maybe the favourite aunt and as such she assumed the responsibilities of ‘mother of the bride’. The festivities were clearly important for her. In this assumed role, the servants came to her with the embarrassing news. “The wine is running out” they whispered in her ear. She is not indifferent. She has a personal investment in this special day. Her heart goes out to the dear bride whose ‘perfect day’ is on the verge of ignominy. Someone must save this situation!
She recalls the angelic birth announcement “A saviour has been born…” If this ruin was to be avoided and the mortifying situation redeemed, there was only one to turn to. She apprises her Son, the Son of God, inviting him to step into this moment. His reply seems less than enthusiastic but if humiliation is to be avoided she knows she must take a risk.
To the nervous servants she orders, as one having authority, “do whatever he tells you!” Pots which had held gallons of water which had been emptied in the ceremonial washing of the great crowd of revellers, stood by. “Fill them up with water and serve the guests!” Perhaps they look to Mary and she nods. They do so and disaster is avoided.
This was the first of the miraculous signs! Mary played an important role. She was moved to compassion and took a risk. These were not supernatural, Jesus performs the supernatural! Her actions though were unnatural. She sets for us an example in contrast to the panic of the servants she turns in compassion and calmness to Jesus
The above imaginings are the result of an exercise we did at the ‘Guest House’ service at the church we attend. We were invited to imagine ourselves into the story of the Cana Wedding Feast. For several this might be a new practice but I have been doing this for a number of years. I mentioned last week that I love to preach and I developed a preacher’s bad habit. I began to read all scripture as a text to be preached! This mono view of the Bible stifled my ability to ‘hear’ God’s unique ‘voice’ to me. I tried using different translations but it did not help until I began the discipline of using a sanctified imagination. I want to be clear that I know the details I add are not canon. I simply ask God by his Spirit to guide my imaginings.
Mary may not have been filling in the role of ‘mother of the bride’ but that added colour helps me enter into the picture. My picturing that colourful detail does not change anything substantial in the tale but it allows me to see her compassion and the risk that she takes. At the end of the exercise I can search my own heart for a lack of compassion or fearfulness. I can confess these. I can pray for more love and readiness to risk. Over the years this method has become more and more natural to me. This discipline has been most helpful to me and perhaps it can be for you.