Today’s reading: John 2:1-12

OpeningGod, you’re telling a beautiful story, and we are privileged to be characters in it.
The world you created is a stage, and we revel in the beauty of the set and the lights
The life you’ve given us is a party, and it is huge and varied and just right for each of us
The book you’ve given us is exquisite, and we thank you for our ability to read and understand multitudes

ReflectionVerse nine of this passage includes an interesting parenthetical statement: “though the servants who had drawn the water knew…” This is contrasted with the master of the feast, who drank the wine that Jesus made with no idea that it used to be mere water. When I read this story and try to envision the events in my head, I wonder why the author’s decision to include the servants’ point of view is given as a casual aside. To me, it’s a fact of supreme importance that the servants knew what was going on behind the scenes.

These are workers who were just told to serve well water to their chief steward at an important social event. It seems logical to me that they might think Jesus was out of his mind, or wonder if this ridiculous task would be the last they’d ever do as servants.

What they were actually thinking, we will never know. But they were the ones who saw the miracle happen. They were the ones, I might even argue, for whom the miracle was performed. The steward and the bridegroom had no idea; Jesus’ modus operandi was not to perform tricks in front of the socially superior to amaze and win their hearts, souls, and influence. Verse eleven claims that Jesus’ miracle at Cana was the first sign that “revealed his glory” and caused his disciples to believe in him. I’m not interested in the disciples here, though. The servants knew the whole story; did they then believe?

In your life, you probably serve, and you probably are served by others. When those that you serve get what they desire, gain recognition (their “good wine”), do you ever think, “Well, if only they knew!” If only they knew what was going on behind the scenes; if only they knew what strings needed to be pulled, what stone jars needed to be filled, what miracles needed to happen. But they have long been seen as unimportant in this story.

You are important. You know what’s happening; do you then believe?

And do you recognize in those who serve you just how much they know from working behind the scenes? Someone is cleaning up after you. Someone is making your food. Someone did you a favor without your gratitude in return. Someone paved the way for your success. What “good wine” in your life is the result of a miracle you have never noticed? Who might have noticed it? And what is the rest of the story?

ClosingA “progressive” person, to me, is someone who has nurtured the art or gift of listening, in particular listening to the stories of servants and others who stand on the margins. Keeping our eyes and ears open is the only way to grow and stretch the boundaries we naturally prefer to put around ourselves and our ideas. Take some time today to look and listen beyond this set and the actors in it: what’s going on behind the scenes?

Created by: Andrew Cheng
About the author: Andrew is a graduate student in Linguistics at UC Berkeley. He enjoys writing things that are not his dissertation.

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Image by: Ian Pham