"Turning water into wine" is often a pub joke. How does
a Christian respond with a clear explanation?
Like many of the clergy, I have also met this problem in a pub.
I say, "Any more remarks like that, and I will turn what you
already have back into water." This usually produces muffled
giggles all round, and a glass of red from the barman.
A more serious statement by way of quick explanation is to
describe it as "the transformation of the individual from a worldly
way of life to one of heavenly realisation: the gift of eternal
life". Such an explanation can bring about an evening of deep
discussion - and goodbye to a quiet escape for a few moments'
respite in the pub.
The story, or pericope, as some might see it, of the
marriage at Cana, in John 2, is probably taken from a teaching
manual of the early Johannine community, and was placed at the
beginning of the Gospel to reveal the life and purpose of the
ministry of Jesus.
In the story, the jars of water for the cleaning of the utensils
are empty. The water - that is, the old teaching from the five
books of Moses - has run out, and as a result the old wine has come
to an end too. The living water - the new teaching that Jesus gives
- is to replace the old water and will fill the jars.
Jesus, as the living water, the divine presence and wisdom, is
then given to those called to the wedding. They accept it, and
become one both in themselves and with Jesus the Christ. Their
marriage takes place. They have become the new wine, and so have
The mother of Jesus has given birth to the whole new era, and
the mission of the Christ to enact it is so described.
(The Revd) Peter Dewey, Goring Heath,
Turning water into wine was a miracle, explained only by the
power of God. He also designed grapes and their chemistry so that
they would make wine, and so that people would discover that and
enjoy it. So he provided all the wine produced in the past and in
the present, and to be produced in the future.
(Canon) Jeanette Meadway, London E15
Christians know in their faith that Jesus turned water into wine
at the wedding of Cana (John 2), when his mother pleaded on behalf
of the family who had run out of supplies for their guests. But how
to tell that to the average pub-goer?
I suggest that we do it just as we do at church: tell the story
as appropriately as possible to whomever we are addressing, whether
the Mothers' Union, the Sunday congregation, the children during a
Messy Church activity, a couple at their wedding, or the bereaved
at a funeral. To the non-churchgoer, it will be as a
(The Revd) Kerstin Rohlfing-Hood,
How can God be Jesus's Father and Jesus be God's Son if
God and Jesus are the same person? [Answers, 25
In enquiring into the relations between the persons of the
Godhead in Trinity we are touching mystery. The exact relationship
between Father and Son (and, by extension, Holy Spirit) cannot be
reduced to formulae. As T. S. Eliot put it:
Crack and sometimes break,
under the burden,
Under the tension, slip, slide,
Decay with imprecision, will not
stay in place . . .
(The Revd) David Muskett, Haslemere,
Are there any published studies concerning changes to
the understanding of the diaconate, and/or the priesthood, and/or
the episcopate since women have been admitted to them?
E. J. P.
Address: Out of the Question, Church Times, 3rd floor, Invicta
House, 108-114 Golden Lane, London EC1Y 0TG.