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The World and the Dance

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. (John 2:1)

Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. (John 2:2)

When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” (John 2:3)

And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” (John 2:4)

His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” (John 2:5)

Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. (John 2:6)

Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. (John 2:7)

He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it. (John 2:8)

When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom (John 2:9)

and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.” (John 2:10)

Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him. (John 2:11)

We’re working to liberate Jesus from religious category. B/C that how we marginalize him. – By putting him in a religious category. – We put him aside, call him a religious figure and bring him out whenever what we’re dealing with it a religious issue.

We must not do that. We have to invite Jesus into our real life.

This week:

The World and The Dance

We find Jesus : In the midst of human celebration.

If you’re serious about living your Christian faith, and hopefully many of you are. For many of you, that’s why you’re here. You don’t just follow God because you think that’s a smart box to check in life, so when you die, you’re all set with the guy up stairs. But rather, you’re serious about actually living your Christian faith.

2 ways to go about it:

1. Allow Jesus Christ to inform all of your life.

Look at every other thing in your life, no matter how sacred, through the lens of Christ.

The true light that enlightens every person comes into the world through Jesus Christ. (John 1:9)

Apart from Jesus, sense that we live in darkness.

Can’t read things right, we misunderstand things.

But w/Jesus, we begin to walk in the light.

2. Take all of your life and cram it into a religious category.

Try to make every part of your life “Religious”. This is the world of Christian nik-knacks. Everything has a scripture on it.

  • 1st way Allowing Jesus to inform all of your life. Produces: authentic followers of Jesus.
  • 2nd way Take all of your life – cram it – religious category. Produces: religious fanatics, world-denying separatists. Dangerous path that we don’t want to walk down.

Story of Jesus turning water into wine in Cana, is the very opposite of religious fanaticism and world-denying separatism. It’s Jesus doing something in real life.

The Story

Cana of Galilee (pic) few miles from Nazareth – Jesus is living and working in Nazareth. Just begun his ministry. Both very small villages, a few hundred people each.

Gonna be a wedding. A lot of people would know each other there. It’s small town living. Couple hours to walk, maybe less. Jesus was invited to the wedding.

Weddings were a big deal! Not just cake and some weird punch. Huge feast / Party. Goes all day, all night, maybe multiple. Jesus is invited. Assume they just knew him. Grew up here. His mom is there, and some of the disciples. They’re there for this wedding. This celebration.

It’s a little ceremony but then it’s this eternal party. People are together: dancing, Did Jesus dance? I like to this so. – I don’t think it was hip-hop or anything, probably something more jewish, but still. Immediately – over-pios, over-serious, don’t even like to think of that. Not serious enough. – They wish Jesus would have said “What are you doing?! Go home and study your bibles.”

But we get no sense of that in the story.

At some point, they run out of wine.

Could be a little embarrassing, maybe they didn’t buy enough. But not the end of the world. Let’s be honest. I wouldn’t have thought: “Oh my God. We have to have a miracle!” – “Eh. Ran out of wine. Darn. Have to drink water.”

  • When the Centurian’s servant is near death, we need a miracle.
  • When Jairus’s daughter is dead, we need a miracle.
  • When you’re in the storm on the sea of galilee, we need a miracle.
  • Run out wine, don’t need a miracle, unless you’re a wine-o.

Amazingly: this is the place where Jesus FIRST miracle!

Jesus’s mom had a little hunch. Women’s intuition. REAL. Bible specifically says this was his FIRST miracle, so it’s not like he’d done this before. It’s not like ‘Hey Jesus, we’re out of milk.’ – ‘No problem. Let there be milk.’ Moms know things. – It’s a mystery. Know it true.

  • She says to Jesus, hinting: “You know…They ran out of wine…”
  • Jesus, is a little sassy. TBH. – “Woman, what’s that got to do with me? My time has not yet come.”

Geez Jesus. Chill. Mary, doesn’t let it bother her. Says to the waiters “Whatever he says to do, do that.”

Jesus gets after it. Turns water into wine.

Stone pots there. – Not household pots. Religious items. – Jewish rites of purification. – BIG – 20-30 gallons each. And there were 6 of them.

Were for filling up the Mikveh’s (Mick-Vah’s) – baptistries. Where you baptize somebody. If you – go – Israel – see lots. (Pic)

These were not for everyday use, these were sacred items. – Religious items. – You’d fill them with Holy Water.

Jesus “Hmmm… Let’s fill those up with water.”

Says – waiter. – “Go give them to the wedding coordinator.”

“You sure?” “Yeah I’m sure.”

At some point, the water turns into wine.

Wedding coordinator “Wow! Man, I don’t know where you got this wine! Usually people bring out the best wine first, then bring out the cheap wine when no one can tell the diff, but you’ve brought out the best wine first. But not you. You’ve kept the best until last.” He doesn’t know there was a miracle.

Assumes someone found – wine. – 180 gallons.

I find this story of Jesus turning the water into wine as his first miracle kinda funny. But more than anything (and excuse my silly word): I find it absolutely delightful. Beautiful, b/c mysterious.

Some people have said that there’s some symbolism there.

Exile is over.

God had at one point divorced Israel, but now they’re this remarriage. – Celebrate.

Yeah that’s probably true. – Probably there. But even better: Take the story for what it is.

  • Jesus went – wedding,
  • Ran out of wine
  • Jesus took religious items
  • Used them – turn water – wine.

Just sit in that and let that help you understand Jesus.

We find Jesus here at a party (From the latin : Pateer – ‘To Share’ – We get the word partition from this.) That’s what a party is. We share our stuff. Food, drink, fellowship, happiness. We exit from our private lives, share. Sometimes it a wedding, sometimes football game, whatever. We find an excuse to get together and have a good time.

Gospel of John: Great book. Unique perspective. He’s not particularly concerned about chronology, technical stuff. He’s writing a very artistic gospel. Theological gospel.

Ex: Matthew, Mark, Luke – make it clear that Jesus cleanses the temple the day after palm Sunday, at the very end of his ministry. In fact, cleansing of the temple that puts Jesus on a collision course with the Pharisees. – Leads to his killing. But John, writing a different kind of book, He takes the cleansing of the temple and puts it right at the beginning.

Not that he thinks it’s first, he’s just giving us these snapshots of Jesus.

The construction of John is 7 signs, 7 miracles that teach us something about Jesus. This is the 1st one. John cool – b/c connects things – artist way.

This case: Connect the cleansing of the temple, with the wedding in galilee. Making a contrast.

In John 2 – Jesus makes 2 things.

SO: In John 2 – Jesus makes 2 things. Makes wine, and then he makes a whip.

  • Makes wine: encourage human celebration.
  • Makes whip: condemn religious exploitation.

There were people using religion: control, exploit, manipulate, and Jesus doesn’t like that. Interesting – people get this backwards.

Wish: Jesus had made a whip at the party. Dancing, drinking. “That’s enough!!! Go home – bibles!!!” Doesn’t.

Blesses human celebration and makes a whip to deal with religious exploitation. – Interesting.

Anyone read: Grapes of Wrath?

John Steinbeck – Great american novels.

Story of depression era migrant workers and the hardships they faced.

Centered around the ‘Joads’ – Tom Joad is the protaganist.

Migrant workers lived migrant camps. Don’t have much.

One thing they love: Saturday night dances. – Square dances.

But! There’s this group of world denying Pentecostals. “The Jesus Lovers.” – Won’t go to the dance. Hate the dance. Condemn the dance.

Brian Zahnd – Essay – The World and The Dance

“And in the distance the Jesus-lovers sat with hard condemning faces and watched the sin.”
–The Grapes of Wrath

This is how John Steinbeck depicts the world-denying Pentecostals in The Grapes of Wrath as self-righteous , self-appointed morality police who take perverse pleasure in condemning the Saturday night square dance in the California migrant camp. Steinbeck’s terse portrayal of the “Jesus-Lovers” is unflattering, but not an unfair invention of fiction. Unfortunately, such people do exist, and in their existence they horribly distort the good news of Jesus Christ.

Question: Do Steinbecks “Jesus-lovers” who sit in judgment of the Saturday night square dance with their hard condemning faces really love the Jesus whose first miracle was to turn water into wine and keep the dance going? Do they love THAT Jesus? Or have they invented another one.

Jesus seems to be pro-dance. That is, Jesus endorses and participates in the celebration of humanness.

But does joining the dance of humanness have dangers? In some ways, yes. At times the line between the Babylon condemned by God and the Cana blessed by God is hard to distinguish. But to live as a world-denying, angry, judgmental, separatist is such a betrayal of the logos, pathos and ethos of Jesus as not to be an option. We must join the dance. As those who believe that God loves the world and is saving the world in Christ we must joyfully belong to human society. We must join the dance. The Church must creatively participate in the arts, music, poetry, literature, film, theater, athletics, education, entertainment, law, governance, business, finance, commerce, conservation, medicine, journalism, labor, science, research, philosophy, theology, and all that is necessary to produce a healthy, flourishing human society.

We can’t sit with the pinched face world-deniers secretly hoping the worst will befall those who dare to truly enjoy life.

We cannot present the face of Christ to a broken world with an angry scowl.

An honest reading of the gospels makes it clear that the only sin that regularly aroused Jesus’s anger was the sin of self-righteous religiosity.

There is a world to be denied and rejected. It’s the world of idolitary and injustice. There’s also a world to be affirmed and celebrated. It’s the world of flourishing human society, so loved by God. The health of the church and the integrity is largely a matter of affirming the right version of the world and rejecting the wrong version.


The word : World : Cosmos (Greek) (Note: Short O sound on the 2nd one)

Used by John a lot. – Both positively and negatively.

There’s a world to love and a world to not love.

John says

“For God so loved the world. “Cosmos”


Do not love the world (Cosmos) or the things in the world. The love of the Father is not in those who love the world; (1 John 2:15)

for all that is in the world—the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches—comes not from the Father but from the world. (1 John 2:16)

And the world and its desire are passing away, but those who do the will of God live forever. (1 John 2:17)

Make up your mind John! You’re gonna have to accept the fact that he uses the same word and sometimes means different things by it.

  • There is a world to be embraced / loved / participated in.
  • There is a world to be rejected / denied.

Have to know the difference. Not always easy. We have to get it right. It’s super important.

We need to remember: the idea of human society is God’s idea. – That humans would live together, and celebrate, and love each other, and have culture, and have hapiness. – Come together, and dance and have fun. – God blesses that.

But there IS a world, that’s built on lust. Empire & exploitation. Power & oppression, & using people. Bible calls that babylon, and it’s to be rejected.

BUT if we ‘Eh the world. It’s the worst! Hate this place. Let’ go off on our own and do our own thing.” Complete betrayal of the Jesus who turns water into wine.

I find it incredible, significant, important : This was Jesus’s 1st miracle.

  • Not raising the dead,
  • Not healing the leper
  • Not something NECESSARY.

It’s not necessary to turn water into wine at a party where people already had plenty.

It’s not necessary, it’s excessive. But that’s what He does. Sets the tone for His ministry. Jesus is going to invite people into his celebration.

That will put Him on a collision course with the pinch-faced world-denying, legalistic, separatist Pharisees.

In fact, world Pharisee means: separatist. They bragged around being separate from the world.

Luke 7:31

Never understood – encounter w/ Jesus & Pharisees,

I’ve gone 32 years as a Christian and never understood this encounter with Jesus and the Pharisees, but now that I get it. I LOVE IT!

“To what then will I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like? (Luke 7:31)

They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not weep.’ (Luke 7:32)

For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon’; (Luke 7:33)

the Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ (Luke 7:34)

Nevertheless, wisdom is vindicated by all her children.” (Luke 7:35)

Think about kids playing. If kids are gonna play, they have to play along, use their imaginations. There’s these bad kids, won’t play along. – That’s the Pharisees.


“Kids – won’t play along. Wedding song – won’t dance. Funeral songs – won’t cry!”

Translation: You don’t play right. You’re boring. You just sit there with your arms folded.

That’s what world denying religion does. Makes you Boring. / Flat-faced.

Jesus “You can’t play with people like that.”

Here was their criticism:

  • They criticized John the baptist, (the weeper), lives in the desert, eats bugs. “He must have a demon.”
  • Jesus comes (the dancer), he’s eating a drinking with sinners. “He’s a glutton and a drunkard.”

Of course, Pharisees are wrong both times.

  • John the Baptist wasn’t demon possessed.
  • Jesus wasn’t a drunk.

What they did have was depth. Feeling. They could engage with humanity.

The Pharisees, they couldn’t. All alone, trying to be something OTHER than human.

They saw other humans: “I don’t want to be like that. I want to be something special.” They even prayed that way.

Remember the story “God thank you that I’m not like other people.” Couldn’t accept that God made him a human. Since he couldn’t be a part of humanity. He couldn’t be saved. Goes to his home ‘unjustified’.

If we’re going to be disciples of Jesus, we’re going to have to make an effort to take part in this world.


The appeal of separatism is that it’s simple. “You don’t do that, or that, or that, or that. And you don’t do that either. If it doubt, you don’t.” Simple. Problem is: It’s not Jesus. It’s not who He was.

Life is a mystery. Love is a dancer. Love dances. Love is not legalistic.

I’m not a good dancer. But I can tell you that dancing requires grace. Grace is one of those words that can mean a lot of different things. Certainly in church it means a whole lot of stuff. But also a traditional use: “He has a lot of grace.” “She’s so graceful.”

Jesus was a graceful dancer.

Not getting led astray by the world, and not being a separatist either. Nothing graceful about the pharisees. They were clumsy and heavy handed.

Jesus moves in and out among sinners, somehow is graceful enough that although he is welcoming and recieving of them, he’s never defined by them. He’s never ‘contaminated’. B/C he moves with grace.

Not easy. Might even say requires God’s help.

“I grew up in a religious movement that taught us to point the finger at the world around us. Accusing people of being sinful. I’m not sure why we thought that would be helpful. We were taught to lock the doors, baton down the hatches, and stay as far away from the world as possible. We thought we were becoming holy, when in fact, we were becoming irrelevant. I don’t want to be a part of a religious movement that points a dying finger, rather I choose to be a part of a life-giving movement that reaches out with hands of love.” (Steve Parsons)

Life is a mystery, love is a dancer.

Closing Statement: If you believe in the bible, one of the places we will find Jesus is in the celebration of humanity. So we go to the wedding, we belong to the human race, we join Jesus in the dance. Because that’s where Jesus turns the water into wine, and people see Him and believe. / No, we will not be sucked in to the false world of idolatry, immorality, and injustice. That’s what the instructions of Jesus are there to do. To form us. Love the lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself. God help us to learn that dance. We commit to be involved in the conversation, but as salt and light, bringing the grace of Jesus into our interaction with humanity.

I agree with Louie Armstrong: What a wonderful world.

Close communion

Sacrament – symbolize something.

For us, this symbolizes eating and drinking with Jesus.

Amazing about today’s story: only the servants knew the secret. That it was Jesus who turned the water into wine. Our goal tonight, as servants, is to recognize Jesus for who he really is. A celebrator of humanity.

Wasn’t like Pharisees who bragged about their separateness. Someone who deeply loved people.

Yesterday – grandpa funeral

It’s always a huge mix of emotions. For me, things like that remind me that life is this huge, and strange, and happy, and sad, weird, long, and short.

But this, right now. This is your life. I don’t want to waste my life doing fruitless things that in the end, don’t really matter. Amazing about Jesus, doesn’t stop you from living. He helps you live life to it’s fullest.


Beautiful things about Jesus Comes into our lives – not our religious lives – actual lives. Makes his home in us.

Not a separatist. Stays away until you get your act right. No, he comes in, and he dances, and laughs, and smiles with us, lives in us.

  • Our imperfection
  • Our sin
  • Our shortcoming.

‘Eat and drink with me.’

This is His Body – broken for you

Blood – poured out for you.


(Pray) We’re seekers – want – find you.

Outside – religious categories.

We’re seekers, we want to find you. Outside our religious categories.

Jesus help us to be with you. At wedding. Celebrating – good – humanity.

  • Forgive us – pinched face world-deniers, missing the party.
  • Forgive us for being pinched face world-deniers, missing the party.